Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
WRT "home" as a catalyst for the evolution of consciousness, I am struck by
the phenomenology of home as a mirror of self,
the relevance and power of the sense -- and function -- of home
Those ideas resonate strongly with the following beautiful description of what a Sense of SELF is, when it develops naturally in the ideal timeframe in infancy and early childhood, because of the appropriate kind of parental "mirroring" to the child. This description is from a draft of a book now available on Kindle and soon in print, by Antoinetta Vogels: Healthy Sense of Self: How to be true to yourself and make your world a better place.
Begin excerpt from draft:
If a person is unable to sense her Self it means that there is no conscious awareness of the always-existing purest core of that person’s physical and non-physical being. Lack of Sense of Self leads to the development of what this Theory calls a Substitute Sense of Self.
A Sense of Self, then, is a subconscious awareness of our independent existence as a definite and unique human being. A normal (Natural) Sense of Self includes our awareness that we exist as a definite and unique human being simply by virtue of the fact that we exist at all. The Sense of Self is one of the central structures of the natural anatomy of every person's consciousness/psyche. More concisely we can say that the Sense of Self is the backbone of the human psyche.
A Natural Sense of Self is the most rudimentary and natural awareness of Self. In this fortunate situation every layer of Self is healthy and functions satisfactorily according to its natural function in life, having developed at the right time as we grew up. It involves awareness of being a separate entity from others, specifically from the primary caregiver – ongoingly more and more separate as we grow up -- as distinguished from awareness of being (identified as) an extension, a part, a pawn in the emotional games of the primary caregiver.
A Natural Sense of Self is an abiding, unshakeable, subconscious awareness and sensation of being an autonomous human being, ultimately independent of others – especially from the parent. This doesn’t mean only physical independence, which obviously doesn’t happen until adulthood. It means psycho-emotional independence: one’s existence as a being is not sensed as dependent on, or only experienced through, others’ behaviors or emotional responses.
A Natural Sense of Self is the anchor of our 'be-ing.' It is our ultimate inner home, or more exactly it is who/what/where we mean by 'I' and 'me.' It is the place we act from and are motivated from.
A Naturally-developed Sense of Self feels ‘natural’ by which I mean unquestioned, unquestionable, foundational, basic, intrinsic. It has grown with the person from when he or she was little and so has always been there. There was no need to even become consciously aware of it There was no need to refer to it by words, nor name or label it by verbally describing bodily sensations that come with it (or that in large measure ‘are‘ it.
A Natural Sense of Self is a steady and ongoing not-doubting your authenticity, and being grounded in it in an unshakable way. There is one characteristic that is important and automatic for a person with a Natural Sense of Self: the person is able to be at rest. (The good news is that this can be achieved to a reasonable extent by instilling a Restored Sense of Self).
With a Natural Sense of Self, internal peace and confidence are the rulers of your being even when the world around is in turmoil and chaos. The Natural Sense of Self is rooted in one's 'being' – as such, as alive, as existing per se – and cannot therefore be affected by more surface matters.
It is precisely a Natural Sense of Self that enables us to experience ourselves as being alive, present in the here and now, as being a distinct ‘someone’ different from other ‘someones.’ In short, it allows us to fully be ourselves. In regular circumstances, a Natural Sense of Self (or a Restored Sense of Self) allows us to focus on getting things done (in the simple ordinary meaning of that) and enjoy being alive as who we are.
Our Sense of Self, be it Natural or ‘Restored,’ is the one and only abiding experience we might call a 'safe haven in life.' Underneath everything I might like or not like about myself or life, and underneath everything life and others throw at me, there is the simple bedrock of 'I am.' A healthy Sense of Self is ultimately the one and only secure place to come to rest in.
It is the place we retire to when we feel exhausted or are going to sleep. It is the place we withdraw into when we need to replenish our energy. A Natural Sense of Self opens us up to experience joy and personal satisfaction. A Natural Sense of Self allows us to be free to truly experience what we truly feel, and to relate to other people authentically, without unhealthy filters, and to feel compassion.
Pretty much everything comes and goes, in life. Our body grows and changes; even how we experience ourselves to be grows and changes. What persists unchanged is the substrate nonverbal knowing of 'I am, I exist.' One could say it is actually all we have and are.
Natural Sense of Self is more of a verb than a noun
Note: Contrary to what some of the languaging just above might suggest, we don’t really “have” a “thing” which is a Natural Sense of Self. It is an experience, not an object of perception. Even though language-wise the term Sense of Self is a noun, it refers to our ongoing presence to the core of our being.
We could say that it is the degree to which you have developed this presence to your own being can be seen as an attribute, skill or characteristic that is indispensable for growing into a healthy, happy, and productive individual.
When a Sense of Self is called “Natural” it means that your relating healthily to your uttermost authentic potential and manifestation as a person has had a chance to develop from early childhood on and has become inherent. Learning to Sense the Self in the appropriate way at the appropriate time leads to an ongoing process of being tuned in to our own life and being, a process which is inseparable from us as a person.
She elaborates at length and in detail how, without this sense of INNER "home," one becomes dependent on approval by others for performing and fulfilling conditions for getting approval. This probably translates/corresponds directly into whatever the downsides are of not feeling a sense of "home" in the external aspects of life.
And as Vogels points out at length, it creates a profound kind of narcissism which is inimical to loving, caring relationships with others and the world at large. It is a profound "stuck" place in the evolution of personal consciousness. So this "home" is really a central issue to creating a better world!
"home" reminds me of a quality which describe sentience. wherever i go, there i am. but it might not be a quality which scales to the whole planet. home has a sense of comfort and family unity. sentience is a unity, my waking dream is my dream. but unitary sentience doesn't scale to global, and it doesn't even scale to me and my partner. she has her experience bubble, and i have mine.
i think scale is a problem. my physical house can be a sort of projection of my own self -- jung wrote about the house as self, as various rooms and their function mirrored his own psychological development, and the architect frank lloyd wright boasted that he could destroy a family's relationships by mis-designing their house. you can walk into a house and see everything about that family's values, their priorities, their outlook, and so on.
but that is all from the perspective of a sentient human being. a house, as a building, or any building, will have been designed to satisfy multiple different perspectives and analyses at the same time. a hotel isn't just a place of comfy beds and en-suite bathroom. it is also analysed from the perspective of HVAC services (heating, ventilation, and air con). it is designed from the perspective of fire regulations. and from the perspective of the driver of an articulated lorry who has to reverse into the service entrance. it is designed in terms of public and private flows of people down different corridors. it is designed from the perspective of structural engineering principles, and the QS perspective of cost. it is an investment for the owner. and somewhere down the line it is also designed from the perspective of the AIA judges who might note its aesthetic and political messages.
there's a perhaps interesting question about architectural design, namely, just how does an architect manage to do this? research conducted by interview with the world's best designers suggests that they have something like a couple of hours of intense mental "juggling", during which they cycle throug a variety of plans, switching rapidly between perspective. that's what i find interesting, they can't see it as one thing, they have to switch between perspectives. you can't feel the mood of the cafe, and scribble the cost of the superstructure, at the same time.
we know the world is a multitude of processes all occurring in parallel. unity for a human being might mean peace, coming home as it were, but i'd question how that unity scales to multiple independent yet interacting processes.
the spiral of vmemes is happening simultaneously. we have every level present on the planet, and thats just the values-systems line.
i gather don beck commented that rather than imagining global problems being solved by a coming together into a new even higher level of political unity, a sort of post-united nations, a single world government (which any major monotheistic amber religion would presumably aim for anyway as an ideal -- the world will work when we all follow god's laws) beck saw it more as a set of capabilities around the world which would assemble in response to a specific novel problem thrown at us from the unpredictable future, and as soon as that task force had completed its mission, its people and resources would return to their regular duties. something about an integral cognition and values would allow these task forces to organise rapidly and effectively. i gather that was the jist of what he was saying, which sounds remarkably similar to the mention of sloterdijk's disdain for one-world empire building.
"holons" as a concept tends to evoke a desire for unity, but i like to remind myself that the term holon was coined by amber ecologists who thought everything had its place in the grand scheme of empire, gee the white people have to rule the black people, well that's just the natural order. so perhaps, it is worth looking at the parallel nature of the world's processes, just like our brain are massively parallel processes, which somehow also communicate with each other, doing different things, but interdependently, and our integral development might need to explore more this skill of switching perspectives, rather than seeking a sort of uber perspective.
i don't know how many bacteria inhabit my body, and their perspective on it is unimaginably in a different class altogether than my sentience, yet somehow these parallel processes, me and my bacteria, in the same body, are interacting, sometimes in a healthy way, sometimes in a not healthy way. the notion of "unity" is part of my own psychological meaning making, i doubt it means anything to the bacteria.
the term holon was coined by amber ecologists
Really? I thought it was coined by Arthur Koestler. You seem to be saying that the concept of holon is incompatible with the idea of parallel processing? I don't see any incompatibility there.....
I really resonate with the image from Don Beck and your examples of "parallel processing." I believe that a perspective which sees "unity" always has to be at least one zoom-out setting from the particulars, so it cannot be found IN them or AMONG them.
I see differently from you, I see that any number of perceived "unities" can be scaled to any scale we choose to view from. But they do pertain only for those whose perspective is AT that zoom-setting. That's the challenge with a "planetary perspective." Too few people are willing or able to zoom out that far, at least, on any consistent longterm basis.
However, the first actual photo of our planet from space plopped into human consciousness the first "artifact" of that zoom-setting, and IMO it has been growing in leaps and bounds, so "our home planet" is definitely a meme found increasingly around the world.
thanks, I found your whole post rich with ideas to explore!! So true, IMO, about architectural design, and the perspectives involved, and the potential effect on people.
Oh look what TED just tossed out to the world!!
n the center of Caracas, Venezuela, stands the 45-story "Tower of David," an unfinished, abandoned skyscraper. But about eight years ago, people started moving in. Photographer Iwan Baan shows how people build homes in unlikely places, touring us through the family apartments of Torre David, a city on the water in Nigeria, and an underground village in China. Glorious images celebrate humanity's ability to survive and make a home -- anywhere.
Photographer Iwan Baan captures the many ways people shape their shared built environment -- from glossy starchitecture to handmade homes. Full bio
ah, sorry, i was mixing up holon and holistic. it's "holistic" that jan smuts coined. i guess the two men, koestler and smuts, were percieving different problems, in their life experience, and tried to use similar terms and concepts but with different nuances. "everywhere we look in nature, said the philosopher jan smuts, we see nothing but wholes. and not just simple wholes, but hierarchical ones: each whole is part of a larger whole which is itself a part of a larger wholes" — kw, the atman project.
i don't disagree that if you stand back, you see a thing, ant... further back...cow... further back... mountain... further back... planet...
but each bigger view is also limited. the view from space of the earth, can suggest a perception that we are one earth, one sphere, but then from there you can't hear anything either, you can't hear two people talking to each other, the culture which connects them.
also, you can't see the environment which the planet is situated in. buckminster fuller called the sphere "spaceship earth" which suggests we must rely on and steward our earth-ship to provide all our needs. but that picture omits the wider context of the solar system. how does the picture look from the surface of a rock in the asteroid belt, "4 trillion tonnes of titanium here". should we see ourselves as spaceship-earth, a self sufficient beautiful home of limited resources... or should we instead... be building spaceships?
design often deals with multiple perspectives at different levels. the great modernist architect mies van der rohe, creator of immense structures, said "god is in the details" — there are just many ways to break a great design with poorly implemented details. it is what wilber referred to as parts which destroy the whole, and wholes which oppress their parts. a green meme united nations could create a whole at the planetary level which proceeds to destroy its parts thoroughly.
the "universal" style of modern architecture ran into problems when they discovered that buildings become very uncomfortable when placed in foreign climates. there was a renewed interest in "architecture without architects" -- how did the dirt poor ignorant peasants construct their dwellings, using thousands of years of vernacular experience? a big-picture view, the planet, the globe, the universal, isn't better, it is just another perspective which needs to operate in parallel with all the lower perspectives. maybe we highly educated cutting edge cultural creatives with professional titles, ought to design buildings more like peasants do. can we shift?
i guess all i'm trying to say is, in my own perception there's a slight imbalance in that essay about home, a slight overemphasis of the higher order, and not enough time spent on asking, how do we tweak all the lower orders in order to make a higher order even possible? seeking material wealth is not a fake principle, simply waiting for the arrival of spiritual peace, any more than a cathedral is a substitute for a comfortable sheltered room to sleep in.
too many architects learnt painful lessons in the 50s and 60s that grand designs for transformative social housing, simply produced awful places to live, because they didn't understand how people live in the most basic sense. later they learnt from the mistakes, they saw that communities work when there is the right level of separation, providing "defensible space". this is when we understand how each level works. nationhood is not outdated, not whilst we still have large areas of the planet existing as failed states, feudal bad lands, and theocracies longing for the golden age of empire.
can we build functioning nation states, let alone planets? rudyard kipling's sense of, oh please won't someone invade and colonise those lands, remains a moral dilemma. do they really wanna be like you?
the view from high up there in the deep emptiness, is calm and peaceful, the earth is a blue marble hanging in space. but down here we're in a quagmire of memes, conflicting codes, and failing sub-systems. adding another storey on top may simply stress the foundations further.
Yes, every zoom-view is true, but partial. That becomes ever more intensely, fiercely, poignantly true for me, and you pointed out some specifics beautifully. I didn't mean to imply that the most-zoomed-out was "best." It might be best for some purposes, but not "holistically."
Don't get me started on "nation-states." No, we cannot build HEALTHFULLY functioning ones, because they are not natural, they are created only by force and enforcement. Cities are the largest natural aggregates of human beings done on a voluntary basis. integralcity.com.
nation states not natural? that's an astounding idea. sometimes i wonder that new structures aren't necessarily required, like is green vmeme really a stage, or is it more of a transient aspect of late orange? perhaps the unification of states into nations, was done (painfully) to solve a set of problems, and might gradually dissolve if better solutions to those problems appeared. for example, howard bloom talks about the tyranny of the filling cabinet, an ancient technology which required centralisation and the growth of enormous bureaucratic (desk based) institutions. but isn't that now obsoleted by technologies like the internet? can't services function better more decentralised? or another example, steven pinker asks what things led to the enormous reduction in violence through the ages, everyday common barbarities which would simply horrify us today. one major factor seems to be urbanisation, the city (although he lists perhaps a dozen others also). but if the city is the key, and the nation state was merely a response to a different problem, perhaps the key developmental stage for the world is city building, rather than nation building. and perhaps the global village is a network of cities, if that makes sense. individuals can choose to make the (painful but hopeful) migration to cities, arriving in slums, perhaps, but with the hope of earning enough to send their children to school, and beginning a multi-generational transition up the vmeme scale, as documented in "arrival city" -- the key is, make sure they can transition, rather than simply arrive in a dead end slum. actually, a mistake some 1st world towns have made is try to house people in middle class neighbourhoods where planning laws forbid the creation of small businesses, dooming the immigrants to life on state benefits. so the whole transition can happen in a city. as you say, do we really need nation states? perhaps the map of the world could disassemble from 197 nations, to a patchwork of thousands of large cities, linked by economic, cultural, and spiritual activity -- less of a west and the rest, and more of a series of global nets, with amber, orange, and yellow nodes, intermingled. so to get from purple to yellow, you don't have to move from mogadishu to amsterdam, you just need to move from one city to another city area nearby. rather than a top-heavy developed north and underdeveloped south, cities resonate with other cities across the world, each vmeme network is global, but not dominant. but every urban city offering most of the civilising amenities of health and entertainment and spirituality to all its citizens. the great thing we remember about the roman empire, is rome.
well then it would pay to be born in the right neighbourhood : ))
if you read sloterdijk ,in his latest big work, the sphere trilogy , he sees something like this as the future
anyhows. he call s it the aphrodite foam culture
stefano I am copying your post to Marilyn Hamilton (http://integralcity.com) (there might be a www. there.) Her vision is a "Planet of Cities" not of nations, and you've done a wonderful job of musing about what that might look like. The closest physical representation is photos of the earth at night. The bright spots are the cities. National boundaries are invisible -- even in daytime they are marked only by places of enforcement.
Can you think of a "nation" which was created by voluntary agreement among people, and not by enforcement of a government? I can't. I am equating "natural" with "voluntary." It means chosen, not imposed.
Perhaps there is an alternative to zooming out (blurring the details in order to include a broader range) and zooming in (losing perspective of the whole in order to examine the threads in the weave). I'm reading "My Stroke of Insight" which tells the story of a brain scientist's experience of her own left hemisphere stroke. During the painful and long years of recovery, the author, Jill Bolte Taylor, encountered a blissful sense of being undifferentiated from the whole, and--although she couldn't express herself or function in ordinary life--she saw directly how compassion for all was her natural way of being. Could it be that such right brain intuitions and the concomitant experience of belonging to a greater whole offers a reprieve from the side-effects of every specific focal setting that our left brain is able to take? If people could feel from inside that they belong, wherever and however their interest draws them, might architecture, political and social organizations, and the health of earth, all blossom?
In the closing scene of the movie, "An Incomplete Life", Robert Redford says to Morgan Freeman,
"I hear you had a flying dream."
And Freeman responds (something like),
"Yes. I flew so high I could see where the blue turns to black. From up there you could see that everything has a reason."
Starting with this post (and several following) are some quotes from Morin's article "From the concept of system to the paradigm of complexity." Resonant with some themes above is this post:
"Also, we must found the idea of system on a non-totalitarian and non-hierarchical concept of the whole, and, more particularly, on a complex concept of the unitas multiplex as a means of access to poly totalities. This preliminary paradigm is, in fact, of capital social and political importance. The paradigm of holistic simplification leads to a neo-totalitarian functionalism and accommodates itself easily to all the modem forms of totalitarianism. In any event, it leads to the manipulation of the individual units in the name of the whole" (6).
Which reminds me of the Slot material Balder mentioned in this post:
"If a new planetary cathedral or 'Home' is to be erected, he suggests instead that it will be in the form of foams: a profusion of livable spheric spaces which share walls and are interdependent, but do not have -- and cannot sustain -- a single center or a single outer membrane."