The Pain and the Promise – Recording and Transcript of Presentation

I am currently writing a new book called The Pain and the Promise.

Here is a recording of a recent presentation with questions and reflection that I gave for the Integral Leadership Collaborative, a great initiative with a vast array of Integrally informed folks (see http://www.integralleadershipcollaborative.com). It lays out the essence of where I am at now and what the book will be about. It is 2 hrs in total. My core presentation goes for c 35 mins from c 10 mins in. The questions and discussion also proved very rich.

Listen to The Pain and the Promise audio

Download The Pain and the Promise transcript

Pre-Ego, Trans-Ego and the Archetypal

Here is a paper I wrote following the great teleseries that Wisdom Univeristy put on with Stan and Christine Grof, and their colleagues.

Pre-Ego, Trans-Ego and the Archetypal

Introduction

The key insights that I gained from reading Stan Grof’s work and following the teleseries resonated strongly with a theme I am exploring at the moment. It seems to me that the power of the work is that it is working in the non-egoic realms. Part of it is in the pre-ego (the peri-natal and birth work) and part is in the trans-ego (transpersonal). When those two are combined they serve to create energetic conditions for healing in the physical, emotional and rational realms.

A Hypothesis on Where Grof’s Work Resides

When I use the term “ego” I use it to mean one’s sense of separate self. There is a moment in our development when we become aware of ourselves as being distinct from our environment, and the egoic sense of unique self emerges. The ego goes through a process of formation and we then transcend the ego to see ourselves as part of a bigger whole. This graphic best describes how I see the work of Stan Grof and colleagues and is one I will refer to throughout this piece.

This image comes from the work of Dylan Newcomb[i], and builds on some research that we did together. The vertical sequence of colours, reflected in the shaded semi-circles, represents the value systems as described in the evolutionary model of bio-psycho-social systems known as Spiral Dynamics[ii]. The first column to the left describes the nature of each of the eight value systems, but it is the column to the left of that that I want to draw our attention to. Continue reading

The Hague Center for Global Governance, Innovation and Emergence

Just a note to say that the Center for Human Emergence Netherlands has submitted a proposal to the Dutch government to host the Hague Center for Global Governance, Innovation and Emergence. There was a funding opportunity which made us focus an intention that had been around for a while. This is going to happen, whether this particular funding comes through or not. Great partners have emerged, and conversations show that the time is right. A go-to place that initiates, supports and promotes an integral approach to global problem solving. You can download the proposal and accompanying documents, including letters of support from here. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what this Center could do.

Center for Human Emergence NL – Landing

We’ve been through an intense few weeks! Following on from the “releasing our claims” session and energetic dissolution of the Board mentioned in the last blog, we spent two days with Brian and Tom on holacracy, and an afternoon with Terry Patten from the Integral Institute.

One of the key things we learned from Holacracy was to look really clearly at what is actually there at the moment in terms of organisation – what is the organisation actually counting on people to do (accountabilities) – and to organise around that, rather than around the grand visions that we have of what we would like to be doing… That has provided great clarity and simplicity as we move into creating supportive organisational structure and processes that enable what is, whilst holding space for current tensions to manifest next steps.

There was a similar theme in our work with Terry, which was facing up to what is really present for people – surfacing the current tensions – “face everything, avoid nothing”, as one of Andrew Cohen’s tenet’s goes. It’s amazing how much we don’t say to each other, even though we consider ourselves to be “brothers/sisters-in-arms” on this evolutionary edge. Naming the judgements and tensions we are carrying releases huge energy to actually do the things that need to be done – engaging the issues that have been unspoken. It felt like a collective landing in the messiness of our relative reality – re-entering the marketplace as friends.

It feels to me as if dissolving the formal roles in the organisation has also helped people to be more themselves and get clearer on what their actual work is. And the funny thing is, the work that people are feeling called to still happens – without any formal structure! And that is what we are looking for – how can we create a minimal structure that simply aligns and supports the work that people are naturally being called to – whilst at the same time consciously identifying work that the organisation needs that currently isn’t being done – and finding the people that best fit that work.

It feels as if things are naturally falling into place, the dust of letting go attachments and fears is settling, and an eerie kind of calm is forming – fragile, delicate and real. As we enter the darkest period of the year, our roots are dropping deep, and we gather ourselves for the return of the light. The Spiral spins, the cycles turn and all is very well.

Devolutionary Leadership

OK, here we go. Feels like the start of a whole new domain of practice…

The first book I wrote was called “Evolutionary Leadership” (currently out in Dutch and looking for publishers in English and other languages), and focused on what an integral approach to facilitating emergence into integral evolutionary consciousness in self, culture and organisation might look like. It focused on the emerging second curve in this graphic:

s-curves of emergence


The book synthesised WilberSpiral DynamicsTheory ULaszloArt of HostingPeter Senge etc.

During our recent Art of Hosting Integral in the Netherlands, the following thought crystallised, which had been hovering in the background for a while:

The manner in which our dying paradigms, behaviours and systems are let go of is going to have a major impact on the quality of the space in which the new grows.

When an apple is not picked,  it falls to the ground and rots, fertilising the soil and potentially seeding a new apple tree.

As people in positions of power in our established institutions become increasingly aware that the paradigm on which those institutions have been built is largely inadequate to deal with the rapidly evolving and intensifying challenges of the world around us, there are essentially two paths we can take:

  1. We contract into a fear of the unknown, digging ourselves into denial, and lashing out around us to fend off anything that may prove to us that which we do not want to accept, holding on to our old ways for dear life (ironically)
  2. We relax into the inevitable, and open up to the opportunities that that may offer, letting go of what needs to be let go of, in order to take the next step

It has become clear to me that an essential part of our Work that does not seem to have been given much attention, is to find out how we can best nurture the natural decay of that which wants to die in such a way that it fertilises and seeds the soil for the new, rather than poisoning the soil with toxic sludge (so the descending curve in the graphic above). This is very different to attacking and trying to destroy the old. It will go of its own accord. It comes from a place of deep compassion and concern for the energetic dynamic-balance of the whole.

As our conversation about this unfolded, I was reminded of much of the great work that we have done in supporting individuals in their dying process, and someone put me on to the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She identified five phases that people go through when they know they are going to die, and also that those around them go through in their grief. The five phases are :

  1. Denial: The initial stage: “It can’t be happening.”
  2. Anger“Why ME? It’s not fair!” (either referring to God, oneself, or anybody perceived, rightly or wrongly, as “responsible”)
  3. Bargaining“Just let me live to see my child(ren) graduate.”
  4. Depression“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
  5. Acceptance“It’s going to be OK.”

What I am interested in is how these could play out at a collective level. I remember reading an article once where someone said that individuals when they realise they are going to die get very clear about their life. The author pondered if it would help humanity if we woke up to the fact that we were part of the Sixth Great Extinction on this planet and that our survival was far from guaranteed. Would we then collectively get much clearer about our priorities?

I still notice a lot of denial around me in the formal institutions, and until we start to notice the anger I guess it means we’re not far beyond that denial. However, when the anger sets in, it may not look very pleasant. So how do we develop the capacity to help those in relevant positions to flow through these stages in such a way that they leave more fertiliser than sludge behind them? Clearly practices such as Tonglen have a role to play at individual level. However I would love to hear from people who have experience of or ideas about nurturing the natural decay of established and outdated institutions and practices, and ways of supporting leadership in this process go through a transcend and include process.

A part of the context for this for me is the approaching Fifth Night of the Galactic Underworld (as per the Mayan Calendar work of Carl Johan Calleman) – the phase that in all previous eras has heralded the collapse of the dominant civilisational form. The main difference being that in this Underworld it will happen over a period of 360 days (starting mid-November) rather than hundreds or thousands of years. All the signs are lining up so significantly that for a pattern-scanner it would be irresponsible to deny the building evidence.

So thoughts, links, references please, on how we might facilitate devolutionary leadership…

MeshWorks

I just wrote this as part of the preparation for our Global SDi/Human Emergence EuroConfab, and thought it might be good to share. This is a core capacity that we are being recognised for in the Netherlands today.

MeshWorks are one of the core products of SDi and Human Emergence practitioners. A MeshWork is a form of next generation network, where different parties are consciously woven together to serve a higher collective Purpose. What a MeshWork can achieve is way beyond anything that any of the individual parties could achieve on their own.

In a MeshWork, special attention is given to what the specific qualities of the different parties are, how their uniqueness can be enhanced and vitalised through their connection to other unique parties. We release a part by limiting it to its specific place in the whole. The combination of alignment behind one higher Purpose, buy-in to a collective set of Principles, and the uplifting of the identity and capacity of each of the parts, creates a powerful dynamic MeshWork that has a clear identity of its own, is diverse in its make-up, and is rapidly responsive and adaptive to the world around it.

Good MeshWorking requires giving attention to an integral combination of Leadership, Culture and Structure, reinforcing each other and strengthening the fabric of effective collaboration. It is the next emerging form as we explore how to organise ourselves to deal with the complex and urgent challenges we face in the world today.

Dutch Emergence 2 – Healing Collective Trauma to Enable Action

Download the PDF here.

The ego … in its zeal to assert its independence, not only transcended the Great Mother, which was desireable; it repressed the Great Mother, which was disastrous. And there the Western ego demonstrated not just an awakened assertiveness, but a blind arrogance. … The Western ego did not just gain its freedom from the Great Mother; it severed its deep interconnectedness with her. … When the Great Mother [Purple] is repressed, the Great Goddess [Turquoise] is concealed. … And one may – it is a terrible realization – look in vain through Judaeo-Christian-Islamic religion for any authentic trace of the higher touch of the subtle Goddess herself. And that, we will see, would become a perfect and terrifying comment on an entire civilisation.” (Ken Wilber, Up from Eden – my additions in [square brackets] )

We are entering a new phase of our work and evolution as the CHE Netherlands, and it feels like this step we are taking is a fractal of the step the nation is being called to take, and indeed the planet as a whole.

During our retreat at the mid-point of the Fifth Day of the Galactic Underworld (May 22-23) – as the new consciousness really starts to take form in the mainstream and at the same time the shadow energy of the Fifth Night starts to seep in – we were called to a new step. It manifested in patterns such as the need to create clear structure, process, agreements etc, combined with a call to make explicit dissonance that we are feeling as individuals about the way the organisation might be shaping up, and about the way we are choosing to behave as individuals. The general theme was for more earthiness, realness, authenticity, clarity – basically “descending” energy as compared to the “ascending” energy that had been guiding us in recent months. The physical gestures that often accompanied the conversation included a strong slapping of the belly region!

At the beginning of the Fifth Day, we made a conscious choice to push outwards, expand, explore, diverge, ascend – and then to take stock in May. Now we are being called to put the foundations in place so that the many initiatives that are emerging can become rooted and fully manifest (descend).

At the same time as this was going on in the organisation, we have been confronted with a reality in the Netherlands of a very serious issue with the dikes. Marieke de Vrij, a highly respected intuitive, has been getting clear images the last couple of years of weaknesses in some of the key dikes. She had been going through the formal institutions (who had already tested her intuitive capacity and accepted its validity) until a couple of months ago, when she decided that they were not taking it seriously enough, were not moving ahead quickly enough, and did not seem to have the capacity to collaborate cross-institution to do what needs to be done. She decided to sound the alarm-bell in public, firstly amongst the more conscious population.

As she told us her story during the Dutch Confab (on May 29), we probed deeper into what it was in the Dutch psyche and soul that was preventing people from moving into action. She revealed a very significant characteristic, that I feel is not only Dutch-related, but connects to the dynamic that Ken Wilber describes for Western civilisation in the opening quote.

She said that the Dutch have a tendency to stay very much in the head and analytical domain, and that the whole belly and groin area is constricted and cramped. Given that we should move ourselves from that area, it means that there is a sort of action-paralysis, whereby people often find good reasons not to act. Sensing deeper, she explained how the amount of animal suffering in this country is truly unbelievable is you let it in (there was a programme on TV the other day showing young chicks going through a shredder). Somehow, we have managed to cut ourselves off from our sensitivity to the experiences of the animal world, and nature more broadly. That denial has as one consequence the paralysis of action.

In Spiral terms, you can see what she is describing as the transcendence and repression of Purple (the Great Mother Ken talks of above), which is leading to the lack of a solid foundation for the healthy expression of Red warriorship and creativity (to learn about these colour codes from Spiral Dynamics, click here). The way she described the Dutch dynamic was one wherein when people do act it tends to be fairly harsh action that creates turbulence around them, and so rather than act in that way, they hold back and don’t act at all. An emasculated culture. Without the embeddedness of the masculine Red action system in the feminine Purple sensing system, it cannot function healthily for the whole. In the Martial Arts, this is represented in the way you bow to each other, where the action hand is always held in the compassion hand.

One of the things I am initiating to help us engage this dynamic, is some Deep Ecology work, building on initial work by John Seed and Joanna Macy (more recently they refer to it as the Work which Reconnects). In this work, you really connect to the Great Mother, feel who you are as part of that, and listen deeply to what the rest of life is telling you at this time. There has been much critique of Deep Ecology work in the Integral community, mainly because it is not being seen in this evolutionary context. If it is used as a sort of romanticisation of a back-to-nature way of living, then it won’t necessarily serve the evolutionary impulse. If however it is used in a way to deal with the repression of the Great Mother that we have experienced in the Industrialised world (the burning of literally millions of women as witches is but one example of what is creating our collective pathology), then the consciousness that is brought to the process and participants is likely to help release the blocked energy from that repression so that we can move into rapid and effective action in the world.

Building on this insight, I got another one yesterday. I was watching the Trooping of the Colour for the Queen’s birthday in London on TV, and was deeply impressed by the powerful Purple and Blue systems at work. The discipline and commitment of those soldiers to manage to keep it all together was truly remarkable – many having just come back from duty in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. It all made me feel a bit home-sick! When my Dutch wife returned, and we were watching the highlights in the evening with our 4-year old boy Finnlo (who loved it!), I was eulogising about the beauty and power of it, and she just could not resonate with it at all! That set me thinking…

The lack of healthy Purple over here is bound to have repercussions for the Blue system (Blue emerges out of Purple, under influence of Red). Blue is also a system that makes things happen – responsibility, commitment to a cause, discipline in the application – all things which I know Andrew Cohen laments as lacking in this country when he is over here. The reputation the Netherlands has as a liberal country reflects a more individualistic tendency – people can choose what they want to do. That freedom of choice, if not embedded in healthy collective systems, can lead to paralysis – and so we go full circle to the water issue. Healing the individual interior Purple and Blue, will create healthy and rapid action out of Red and Orange. Healing the collective interior Purple and Blue should enable the emergence of new systems in the collective to manage the life conditions threat that is now on the doorstep. Revitalised Purple and Blue will also lead to a functional Green where the capacity to engage the diversity in the nation is activated to enable the country to deal effectively with the complexity of the challenges it is facing.

So that’s it for now! Needed to get that down and out. I’m intrigued to know what the Cloggies reckon, and if there are others out there who see this also as a dynamic in their countries or communities.