Open Source Learning

532854_344588988923886_1825172899_nIntro note: I actually wrote this back in 2000 when we were establishing Engage! InterAct. I came across it just now and was struck by how relevant it is to the work I am now doing with Ubiquity – nearly 15 years on! Gosh I was smart back then – I wonder what happened…

Link to original pdf.

Open Source Learning

A Key to Multiculturalism, Citizenship, and the Knowledge Society

Contents

Introduction

Exploring the Problems and Challenges

  • Multiculturalism, Diversity and Difference
  • Citizenship, Participation and Motivation
  • The Knowledge Society

The Foundations of Open Source Learning

  • Skills, Qualities and Values
  • Beyond Certainty and Control
  • Systems Thinking
  • Think Subtly, Act Simply
  • Love your Enemy

Open Source Learning in Practice

  • Critical Thinking for Conscious Action
  • The Role of the Educator
  • Structures and Methods
  • Why “Open Source Learning” ?

Continue reading

Healing Traumas of Power and Place

Fire-flameHealing Traumas of Power and Place

I recently received two emails that triggered some reflection in me. One was from my Ubiquity colleague Dr. Will Taegel, Dean of the Wisdom School, who carries deep indigenous knowing as well as modern scientific perspectives. The other was from an Irish woman Anne Marie who had listened to this interview I gave about my upcoming book called The Pain and the Promise.

Will wrote to us about his perspective on the US Thanksgiving celebration. Here are some of his words:

I will follow the lead of the United American Indians of New England who in 1970 reframed this holiday to include a Day of Mourning.  I will utilize Saturday as a day of fasting and mourning for the policy of extermination directed toward American Indians by the United States government.  Over 600 formal treaties were broken along the trail of tears and dashed USA integrity. To this day we harbor a terrible national  secret of systematic extermination, a denial that grinds at our innards.  Until we face this secret our nation will continue as dysfunctional.

When I read it first it resonated with me as I recognized his perspective but it didn’t move me beyond that. A couple of days later I received the mail from Anne Marie. Here is an extract:

I have pondered today about why I was so stuck with my pain and come to the possibility that it is because, with access to racial memory, I am indigenous in my Ancestral lineage back to Neolithic times, colonised and then post modern. The colonised journey in the middle annihilated the indigenous self belief and the trust in what had gone before, and even with those parts restored the interface with the post modern is terrifying. A stranger in a strange land.

I worked with Joanna Macey 13 years ago at Findhorn in a Deep time workshop. We did the Truth Circle accessing the power where the pain is and that is when I was opened to it. Joanna moved on to an evening of celebration and lifting of spirits afterwards. I and two others could not lift. We were all three, women and the other two were South American Indian and Australian part aborigine. I am Irish. 

[After listening to your interview] I feel healed just because another human being knows it too and can face the pain of the split and it’s consequences. It feels a joy now to go on and release it. Do you mind if I say thanks in Irish; Go raibh mile maith agut – just because it means there are a thousand goodnesses with you. 

Her mail touched something deep in me. As I contemplated my reaction, I began to get a sense of where it was coming from. As primarily an Englishman (I also have ⅛ Irish and ⅛ Scottish blood), I have had to deal with what it means to embrace the identity of a nation that has created much suffering for others in the past – the colonial violence overseas as well as the oppression closer to home in Scotland and Ireland. I worked through much of this with my Irish friend Gavan and during my MSc in Human Ecology in Edinburgh many years back. In that period I found my peace by identifying with those movements in England that had resisted the enclosures and disempowerment – such as the Levellers, Quakers and Diggers – and by my commitment to work for a just and sustainable world today.

So what was touching me in Anne Marie’s mail? As I probed, I found that what moved me most was her words of thanks in Irish. It felt like something systemic was being healed in me through that. That set off a thought process.

The thought that started to form was the following: could it be that peoples who damage other peoples’ relationship to their land, their collective identity and core sense of belonging also have their own foundational belonging-system repressed which in turn is what enables them to continue to undermine that of others? (This relates to the “purple” energy dynamic, for other Spiral Dynamics geeks).

You see how this relates to Will’s points now. The implications would be that the oppressor nations are so damaged in their foundational energetic of belonging, which is what provides rest and relaxation in the embrace of the Mother, that they flee into a restless ungrounded pursuit to fill a deep hole in their own sense of themselves. That pursuit involves the ruthless exploitation of the external world around them in a desperate quest to quench a thirst that ultimately can only be satisfied through a healing of their own internal collective cultural trauma, in relationship with the place which is their natural home. Anne Marie, in a follow-up mail, wrote “That is what made them so frightening, there were no natural limits to what they would or could do. They were not in their bodies and their hearts were frozen.”

I have seen this reciprocal dynamic demonstrated explicitly at individual level during one of Lynne McTaggart’s events. She had a Russian scientist with her who was able to show the energy fields of two people on screens. When one person got angry at the other you saw the anger energy leave one person and hit the other, shaking their energy bodies. At the same time you saw how the same negative effect took place in the fields of the person expressing the anger. You literally do to yourself what you do to the other.

It is the “great” nations that have built empires and repressed native peoples in the process (e.g. England-Ireland, USA-native Americans, China-Tibet) who seem to have most lost touch with nature and the basic principles of life and are fueling our collective planetary demise. These nations and peoples – and there are many more than I have mentioned – need to acknowledge our past oppressive roles, apologize, and ask what we can do to heal any pain. At the same time we need to reconnect to the land that hosts us and ask for support in our own collective healing. For by harming others at their roots we have been made rootless and restless ourselves – a numbness that has allowed us to wreak the havoc that we have on this planet that is our home. Now we need to heal our relationship to those we oppressed and to that we repressed in ourselves, to be able to navigate our uncertain future with dignity, integrity and grace.

Books that helped me on this journey: The World Turned Upside Down, by Christopher Hill; The Progressive Patriot, by Billy Bragg

Evolutionary Leadership interview

Here is a recording of an interview that Barbara Marx Hubbard did with me for her Shift Network course on Generation One. It was lots of fun and great to have Barbara asking the questions and holding space.

Suffering in transition

The question of why there is so much suffering in major transitions is really quite simple. It is caused by a combination of people from the old order clinging on desperately to what is ready to be released and people from the new order passionately obsessed with forming the new without honoring the foundations of the past that the new has emerged from. When we hold on to what is ready to be released we are afraid of losing what we know. When we obsessively push ahead with the new we are afraid of being pulled back into the old. Both responses are based on a lack of wholeness ourselves. Both are running away from something, one the inevitability of renewal and the other the embrace of the good in the old.

So all we need to do is be ready to release that which is longer fit for purpose while honoring the past for what it has given us, and integrating the foundation stones of the path we have walked so far. This is the difference between an ecstatic birth and a traumatic birth. Which we choose is up to us.

From Evolution to Volution

From Evolution to Volution – the implications of cosmic geometry (cosmometry) on our understanding of life and the human story.

This is based on a paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for my PhD in Wisdom Studies at Wisdom University, following the course Fundamentals of Cosmometry, lead by Marshall Lefferts with guests.

The images of torus, jitterbug and vector equilibrium used with thanks to Marshall Lefferts.

Introduction

The idea that we as humanity have evolved in a linear process over time is probably one of the most widely accepted ideas across the human species. There is debate between more religious fundamentalist perspectives and more scientific-rational perspectives about exactly when it all began (eg a few thousand years ago versus 14 billion years ago), but they all agree on the idea that since that beginning we have been evolving through historical time with a past, present and future. Indeed, even our most popular philosophers and spiritual teachers tend to promote an evolutionary perspective (Wilber (1996), Cohen (2011), Laszlo (1996)). In my own book (Merry 2009) I adopted and connected these various evolutionary theories.

However, over the last year or so, I have come to question this perspective, and the cosmometry retreat has strengthened my belief that there is a more adequate perspective on our human reality that better reflects the fundamental dynamics of life. This paper attempts to explore the broader perspective and apply it to our human story. Continue reading

Death and Life

I have just completed the original Quantum Light Breath process guided by Jeru Kabbal during which I sobbed with laughter at the realisation of who I am, who we are and what this is. I took life in and let what is dead go – and I allowed myself to accept that what is dead is actually dead, an old memory hanging around and in the way of what wants to be born.

And I realised that the old beliefs and structures of our civilisation are also already dead. They are dead. Dead. Let it in. They are dead. They are dead and they are deadening for us as long as we cling to them. They are still interfering because we are holding onto them, but I can assure you that they are dead. That is why we are in so much turmoil at the moment.

An economy based on monetary debt, competition, unlimited growth, the privatisation of wealth and socialisation of costs is dead. Energy use based on petrochemicals, consumer excess, unlimited consumption, conflict and pollution is dead. A relationship to nature that involves exploiting raw materials for solely our ends, industrial use as if resources were unlimited, waste and degradation is dead. They are all dead, but not yet buried – and that is the problem.

Anything that dies needs to be honoured for the life it had, blessed and released. For us to let go of our fascination with the dead beliefs and structures of the past, we need to see in them the beauty of the gift they gave, the contribution they made and give thanks. And grieve for their passing. Weep, sob, grieve for the end of something beautiful, honour it and let it go. For it is dead. We are then able to carry forward the essence of the gift that past form held.

We don’t have to fight against the old system, it is already dead. We will only create zombies if we fight it. Bless it, grieve for it and release it. That may be hard to accept, because pushing against something can help to define your identity and give you meaning. But you are pushing against a shadow – it is already dead. And it will deaden you as long as you allow yourself to be defined by it. Let it go – it is dead and wants to be released, not bound in the twilight zone, hanging around to haunt us. Ritually honour it and bury it. It’s dead.

Now turn your attention to life. Life is right here, under your nose, in this very moment, happening. It’s dancing in front of you, trying to playfully grab your attention and seduce you into dancing with it. It’s pushing its way through cracks in the dead concrete of the past, at every moment. It is pure joy, acceptance and love. Let it in. It’s right here, now. Raise your eyes, stop reading this and look around you. Yes, that’s it! you feel it in your heart. It’s so simple people, it really is. We make it so difficult for ourselves. I laugh tears when I see it – oh my word we make it so difficult. Yet it is so simple, so simple.

The past is dead. Life is the present. And the future is calling. Let’s let go, come present and bring this species of ours back to life.

Thank you Greece

I recently read a quote attributed to Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s prime minster and head of the euro group, to the effect that “we know exactly what we should do; we just don’t know how to get re-elected if we do it” (quoted in Guardian Weekly 25.05.12). I then heard Yiannis Milios, top Economic Advisor of the Syriza Party, currently polling highest in the run up to new elections, on BBC World Service’s Hardtalk.

Think for a moment about what Juncker is saying – according to our economic policy framework and paradigm, we know what we should do, but we also know that it would be immensely unpopular with people. What does that tell us? One of two things: either the people are ignorant and don’t know what is good for them and their countries, or the socio-economic paradigm from which our politicians are trying to manage the crisis is fundamentally flawed. I tend to go with the latter. They are trying to impose more of the old when the old itself is the problem – because they don’t know any better.

Listening to the Hardtalk interview, I was struck by how, for the first time in a long time, views that fairly fundamentally challenge the current economic paradigm and assumptions were given a serious airing. Something is shifting. And Greece is leading the way.

This is not to say that I agree with everything Syriza stands for nor the energy with which they are going about it. But that is not the point. The point is that life is giving form to a new way of thinking about our societies, and Greece and Syriza happen to be the channels for the new birth. Passion, positioning and polarisation is part of the process. This may sound romantic but is actually a blessing very much in disguise. Greece is the innovator here, and for an innovator to carve out a new paradigm at this level is going to be extremely tough.

The transition will be painful, as people struggle to make ends meet playing by the rules of a game that is dying. It will take time for the new ways to emerge and crystallise in such a manner that they really serve the needs people are feeling and can be widely adopted (see this emergence of local solutions as an example of innovation due to need). There will be recriminations towards the old order, babies will be thrown out with bathwater, sides will be taken, society will be polarised. But eventually the new order will settle down, people will have space in their hearts to forgive, they will remember the good elements of the old and will re-integrate what has been rejected too hastily, and Greece will once more have been the cradle of a new civilisation.

Thank you Greece for being so bold. Thank you for cracking the old mold. And thank you for the suffering you undergo for us all. We hold you in our hearts.

The role of pain and tension in evolutionary leadership

 

[This piece is written for Dutch book Bloei! on leadership and organisation. I was asked to write on “lijderschap” which in Dutch is a play on words. Leadership is normally “leiderschap”. “Lijden” means to suffer.]

 

Passion – pp. stem of patī suffer (Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology)

Practice

We are on retreat with the Center for Human Emergence Netherlands. It is the last morning and we have just completed a forty-five minute session of Quantum Light Breath. I am sitting in a circle of seventeen people who fill a role in the organisation I founded and lead. I have just announced that I have something to say. My voice trembling with the emotion of the realisation that I have just had, I open my mouth to speak. I share that it has just hit me really hard what an honour it is to be entrusted with the leadership of these amazing people I see sitting around me. I tell that I allowed myself to accept that I may be worthy of their trust, which is a huge thing. I say that I realise that I have not always been able to see them for the great souls they are and have not honoured them fully in my leadership. For that I apologise and commit to remembering. The room is still. Then our master of ritual tells me to stand in the middle of the room and has everyone put their hands on my shoulders. People call out qualities that they respect in me and my leadership. I am rooted to the spot and feel my self expand. The pain of the realisation has bonded us more closely and installed me more deeply in my leadership role. Natural order is honoured. Continue reading

A beautiful moment in time

I sit here my body shaking lightly, blurry eyed with tears that seem to contain both gratitude and sadness, both release and emergence, both pain and promise. The last week or so I have been feeling depressed, in the dark, not quite knowing what was happening but trusting that something was working its way through. Various events in my private and professional life showed up to reinforce the experience – thanks life!

We (Center for Human Emergence Netherlands Alignment Circle) just completed what should have been our holacratic operational call this morning. Of the nine souls in roles who should have showed up five cancelled last minute, one couldn’t get into the call, one had a poor connection and we decided to cancel it. I was left online with Leidje Witte, our Salons Co-ordinator. Just after we decided to end it, Lisette Schuitemaker, our Organisational Spaceholder, managed to get into the call. I ended up taking the opportunity of having these two wonderful women with me to unload my heart and tell them what I had been experiencing the last week. As I let it go, an insight began to emerge between us.

Leidje wanted to ask me about the salon coming Monday (16 April). I had forgotten about the theme, which was traumas and constellations (Hellinger-style), and had also forgotten that we would be marking the Center for Human Emergence Netherlands’ (CHE NL) seventh anniversary (formally on April 20). The very fact that it was our birthday had slipped to the back of my awareness in the depths of the last week. As all of this came back into my awareness, my whole body, heart and soul started to resonate. Funny how life organised our planned operational call to end up this way…

As the founder of the CHE NL, I have of course a certain energetic relationship to the system. In past transitions, I have also experienced the organisational transition in my own body. Now I realise that it is happening again. We and I are approaching our seventh birthday. Our physical body has completely renewed every cell after each seven years. The seven represents renewal as we enter the octave of the eighth that completes and heals the previous seven notes of existence to bring them into alignment and lay the foundations for the next step. So here we are.

No wonder that my experience this past week has been one of letting go of things that no longer fit with my vision of the next phase of my work, combined with energising glimpses of what it would be like for me to fully embody that work. Last Saturday, working with Dylan Newcomb, my new identity emerged: I am a writer, speaker and consultant who supports life-affirming leaders to understand and work with the energetic dimension of reality. Now I am being invited and challenged to fully step into that. Letting go, letting come, and the space in between – silly how one forgets that you actually have to go through it yourself… As I tweeted over Easter: you have to die to be re-born…  The universe tweeting to itself…

The CHE NL is also growing into a new purpose (what we are jointly becoming): “a sacred partnership in evolution”. Exactly how that shapes up is what we are currently leaning into and playing with. At the same time, we are solidifying our expertise from the past seven years into clear products and services that can act as stepping stones for others to find their way, through CHE Synnervate.

I now feel relaxed, a little tired and deeply grateful. My system feels calm. I guess it is happy to have been seen for what it is. I am very curious about what will happen at our salon on Monday, when we constellate what the CHE NL has to release from the last seven years to be able to move freely forward into the next phase. I guess there will be implications in that for me too…That’s the work.

Watch this space.