Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Forgive the pun! This new thread is to take up the question that theurj raised here, about innovative ways to use our forum exchanges more deliberately as a means of transformative practice (to the extent that this medium allows):
theurj: So it seems that for Mark some type of socially engaged transformative practice of the unprecedented is needed for spirituality. This might include, besides meditative communities, things like
"collective and ritual dynamics [...] that incorporate a dose of spiritual aspiration or idealism into the mix. There are also many different kinds of potent esoteric ritual spaces in the broad sense of that term, which can have reality-generating impact. In short, the very fabric of reality is experienced as transformed or reconfigured in such spaces, so that a lot of this is about investigating, in my mentor Jeff Kripal's words, altered states of history, and altered states of consciousness and culture...."
Can we even have such shared enactions in a 'discussion forum?' Or would that require real-time meat-space local practice communities? If the latter, we'd still be engaging with said local practice groups, often and usually of different varieties (cultural, religious etc.), so would there be enough commonality to share and relate such spiritual 'experiences' here? Per Balder's work, they would not be enacting the 'same' spiritual experiences, though there might be some homeomorphic equivalencies.
Given that, how then do we engage in a forum like this to move an IPS agenda forward? It seems the translative is the only avenue open. Or are there some innovative ways we can indeed engage transformative 'practice' together? Also Mark affirmed that some kinds of translation can indeed support and engender transformation, so how so? Can that be achieved in this forum?
From the FB "mirror" of this discussion:
More from the FB discussion:
JOSEPH CAMOSY: Bruce, liking a post could be seen as taking a kind of
meta-perspective on it, where the "like" is an indicator that the
posting was thoughtful or original. As an experiment in on-line
transformative praxis, "liking" a post could register one's opinion that
the "liked" post was in the spirit of the One Rule.
There is another element to this practice which is less obvious, but
extremely important. In Terry Patten's 2103 ITC paper on
“trans-rhetorical praxis” he writes:
"This trans- rhetorical praxis is intended to be available to as wide a range
of people as possible. Unavoidably, people must be adequate to the
undertaking (which means they must possess sufficient degrees and levels
of clarity, states and stages of personal development, sincerity,
transparency, and light-in shadow). This represents an enormous
constraint on how widely this can be practiced. Further constraining it
to require participants to accept anything extraneous, such as a
particular teaching or teacher, constrains adequacy so severely as to
frustrate its very purpose. " (p.25)
The problem is that any presumption of adequacy makes the practice
immediately non-scalable. Therefore, you cannot assume or even demand
adequacy. Instead, the praxis itself must act as the means which
develops it. The One Rule does this.
If we look at Patten's "formula" we have:
"In Scharmer’s Presencing and Generative Dialog they are codified as a
methodology. The individual is directed (1) to suspend thoughts,
emotions and judgments as they arise with the intention of seeing
through the tendency to live from past associations and previous
knowledge to enhance the ability to connect in the present with what is,
and (2) to continually redirect attention back into the present moment,
paying attention “to the source rather than the object,” thus
redirecting the place of listening from within oneself as a separate
individual to subtly participating in co- enacting a group field, and
(3) Letting Go of resistance and loosening the grip of the familiar
self-sense, thus changing one’s quality of attention from “looking for”
to “letting come” (Scharmer, 2000).” More recently, Gunnlaugson and Moze
(2012) distilled what is perhaps the essence of this practice,
“surrendering into witnessing.” " (p.19)
The One Rule implements all of these elements naturally and automatically,
while simultaneously providing a simple unambiguous means of feedback
from other members of the group to help each person develop competency
Patten, T. (2013). Enacting an integral revolution. In Paper presented at the
integral theory conference 2013. San Francisco, CA.
JOSEPH CAMOSY: I wanted to add one more minor observation or afterthought regarding what I wrote about this rule option: "Not agree [or disagree] with any of the previous [N] postings."
By setting the value of N, you are effectively setting the minimum radius of the circumambulation as the number of new perspectives required before potentially completing a loop. N=1 requires the most discipline to not go back and comment in agreement/disagreement with older postings. Setting N to larger values requires a deeper thought process and meditation to come up with new perspectives before agreeing/disagreeing with an older posting.
Example: N=1 Post 1. expresses perspective A. Post 2. expresses perspective B which is neither in agreement nor disagreement with Post 1. Post 3. could potentially express agreement or disagreement with Post 1, thus completing a loop.
Example: N=3 (neither agree/disagree with previous 3 postings) Post 1: Perspective A (p.A) Post 2: Perspective B (p.B) Post 3: Perspective C (p.C) Post 4: Perspective D (p.D) Post 5: could potentially agree/disagree with Post 1, resulting in an isomorphic form of p.A or NOT(p.A) and thus completing a loop.
Since it is likely that there are a finite number of perspectives on any topic, at some point, the discussion will complete a loop or circuit and certain perspectives will begin to show up again although with different context and content. These recurring perspectives would constitute a form of polymorphism.
The other observation I'll offer on this regards the connection between the practice of dialogue (intersubjectivity) in the LL quadrant and what occurs in the UL quadrant of any individual participating. Essentially any expressed perspective in the LL has an isomorphic counterpart in the UL. In other words, each perspective resides within us as well as in the intersubjective space. Therefore this praxis becomes a kind of yoga, where developing the skill to tolerate competing narratives and perspectives while accessing new perspectives also becomes a symbolic enactment of doing the same for our own inner "parts" (to use terminology from Internal Family Systems theory) or our own complexes (to use Jungian terminology). Thus the praxis is also a form of shadow work helping us to deal with overactive parts of ourselves (firefighters) while developing awareness of other exiled parts. Out of this process of developing awareness of these perspectives, we integrate these parts, shadows or complexes and equanimity develops, resulting in greater ability to access multiple perspectives which then feeds back into the dialogue resulting in more complex circumambulations which then constellate a greater degree of presence in the group as the group metaphor (generative enclosure) begins to spin with greater force or jouissance.
MARK SCHMANKO: Joseph, I appreciate your words above. Here are some of my initial thoughts. First, per your tripartite model of 1) not agree, 2) not disagree and 3) stay on topic - this is succinct and may be rather useful. However, we'd do well to articulate an inverse tripartite, that is, stated in the positive. Not sure how that would be articulated, but it helps cover our ground given the limits of dialectical language (a side note, in a basic sense, not doing something is actually doing it in the negative, isn't it?).
Anyway, we might as well enact the dialectical practice fully - until we can move beyond it, which I don’t feel is possible given the form and mediums of our writing (To answer Edward's inquiry, which I'll elaborate on a bit more below). Bonnitta, any suggestions, offerings, here?
Second - in practice - the lines between these three (and their inverse positive iterations) will surely blur, as they just have in my partial agreement and partial constructive departure from your tripartite heuristic.
Third, we might add a 4th aspect to your tripartite which is 4) focusing on the experiential and concrete in the foreground, and the abstract and propositional in the background, so that the latter are subordinate to a more process-oriented exploration via lived experience, which, hypothetically speaking, would entail verifying transformations unfolding in and through dynamic material and intrapsychic conditions, which, to address Edward's inquiry, doesn't seem possible on a FB forum, but perhaps the latter can compliment face-to-face intersubjective engagement by inscribing the processual results herein after they've been communicated/inscribed in our bodies via the localized morphogenetic space (after all, how direct, transmissive, processual and thus transformative can an online forum really be? In the future, advanced mediums will allow us to engage multidimensionally so that a lot more can happen beyond spatial, and eventually even temporal limitations, but I suspect flesh blood bodies with breath and earth oriented exchange will remain indispensable and vital for "transformation"!).
Anyway, in this regard I'd ask you, Joseph, to share some intersubjective experiences of using your proposed model beyond the abstractions you elaborated regarding Patton and the dynamics and usage of perspectives. Actually, and this would be my fourth point: as I see it perspectives are themselves ontologized in the way you use them, which is symptomatic of humanistic (via hermeneutics), logocentric (via rational critical methods) and integral metaphysical (via the person realizing brahman and samsara in conjunction with a perspectival based development, which still lies at the neoperrenialist heart of Wilber's work) endeavors. This points to a related underlying issue, a fifth point if you will, namely, the inevitability of consenting to basic presuppositions and rules in the first place, and thus throws into suspicion your whole approach (I’m frankly less and less compelled or persuaded by the viability of Integral-ish models for enactment (even the word enactment is so stiff!) these days, but this could be a passing phase on my part). Put another way, in using your tripartite heuristic we're starting already with a problem: how do we negotiate the starting point which seems to necessitate a foundational consensus, and where does that begin and end?
Finally, affirming agreement seems necessary in intersubjective spaces, not as an end in itself but as the translative matrices which allow for engagement in the first place; thus a micro snapshot of any process reveals multiple agreements that are sustaining and somehow permitting and excluding what is even possible in a space; hell, from one "perspective" holons are themselves not perspectives but 'agreements' that are the sticky stuff of mutual recognitions that our co-existence is real! . To refer to your comments, it’s not so much about “I agree”, but we are – by virtue of highlighting features of a topic on a thread – giving our selective attention/consideration/ontic weight to those aspects of our 'focalization' as it were. This selective attention and implicit translative agreement of different aspects of our engagement is especially vital and ontically generative in face-to-face intersubjective spaces of transformation. So, perhaps the wording needs to change, but surely some deeper feature of agreement—that is, selective treatment of aspects of a topic on a FB thread like this which form a kind of translative affirmational backdrop, from the ground up—and disagreement—that is, selective (or implicit) exclusions of aspects of a topic -- are necessary to the reciprocity of translation and transformation in service to bringing forth the unprecedented. I apologize for geeking out here a bit. I can definitely get more concrete in terms of my own experiential compass informing what I'm saying (and thus walk the walk of my talk). Bonnitta, Bruce , meant to tag you here.
ERIC PIERCE: There have been some crude attempts to make this kind of stuff work in political terms.
My recollection of reading about the Transpartisan group (which is part of the "Coffee Party" coalition) some time ago is that they were able to get people like Al Gore (on the Left) and Grover Norquist (on the right) to sit down at a spiritual retreat site and do serious work on "common ground" political issues (also see Ralph Nader's populist coalition work on practical, anti-corporate "common ground" issues, such as energy) by defining a process of setting aside the usual partisan/paradigm "hostilities".
Frequently this involves consciousness raising around the myths in the "big business vs. big government" debate. (they are both parts of something larger and more evil, the state-corporate order, of by and for the plutocratic elites.)
Despite the surprising success that the transpartisans found they could achieve in these experiments, the temporary experience of transpartisanism at a spiritual retreat was very difficult to sustain once the participants went back to their "tribal" lives "in the real world", where they were subject to the usual forces that drive people apart (into tribal-paradigm camps) for economic, political and cultural/religious reasons, the corrosive effects of "paid fake discourse in the public square" by corporate mass media, etc.
JOSEPH CAMOSY: Mark Schmanko, thank you for the thoughtful response to my modest proposal.
There is a positive way to state the One Rule, which because it invokes a visual metaphor is quite simple. Bruce knows where I'm heading with this, but I'll try to maintain the suspense as long as possible. First, we need to look at the 3 parts of the rule from a spatial viewpoint.
1. Two statements in total agreement would be analogous to a conjunction of 0° of separation. 2. Two statements completely opposite to each other would be in opposition of 180° of separation. 3. The requirement for staying on topic indicates that there is a special relationship between the topic and all other statements in the discussion. If spatial distance is seen as analogous to relatedness, this third part of the rule says that all statements must stay within a certain distance or radius of the original topic, so that there is a recognizable relationship, but with no limitations on the positions of the various postings other than not having two consecutive postings assume a relationship to each other of 0° or 180°. Basically, this third part of the rule establishes a sphere or cloud with the topic at the center. The topic therefore acts as the an initial pointer or placeholder for what might start to form, like the grain of sand in the oyster that may or may not develop into a pearl. The topic is the starting signifier in the chain which begins to propagate as metonymy, but which hopefully develops into a circulation to become a metaphor, a dissipative structure. The three parts of the rule are therefore designed to maximize the possibility of kick starting a new dissipative structure, group metaphor, archetypal field, or social holon which is fundamentally different from the usual repetition-compulsions that dominate discourse.
So, if we use the simplest geometry for relating two statements, we have the following relationships: 0°, 90°, 180°, and 270°. 90° and 270° can also be seen as +- 90° Thus in its simplest representation, the first two parts of the rule (neither agree nor disagree) is basically saying that the next statement needs to be at +- 90° to the previous statement. +-90° is another way of saying that the next statement needs to be orthogonal to the previous statement. Therefore the One Rule essentially boils down to this POSITIVE formulation:
MAKE AN ORTHOGONAL STATEMENT THAT STAYS ON TOPIC.
These spatial representations suggest a number of visual metaphors for the process:
- A signifying chain proceeding by orthogonal steps, but staying within a certain radius of a topic will of necessity orbit or circumambulate the topic. It is my hypothesis that if the signifying chain is maintained it will start a kind of convective flow at which point the topic itself (which was acting as a placeholder) becomes irrelevant and gets replaced by the constellation of something equivalent to Lacan's "objet a" as the object cause of desire. This void acts as the mysterious withdrawn core of the object or holon forming around it.
- In the formation of a hurricane as a dissipative structure, the direction of the convection (up and down) is orthogonal to the rotation of the hurricane which rotates counter clockwise in the Northern hemisphere.
- The two images of being at right angles to something (orthogonality) and of circulation now gives the explanation to what I wrote in my original posting: "Orthogonal circumambulation is what squares the circle." We therefore have the image of the "Squaring of the Circle" from alchemy as a metaphor for the creation of the Philosopher's Stone. What this metaphor implies is that something IS being created or brought into manifestation by this action.
To address your second point, in practice any two statements can relate to each other in a whole host of ways from 0° to 360°.
As you write: "the lines between these three (and their inverse positive iterations) will surely blur, as they just have in my partial agreement and partial constructive departure from your tripartite heuristic."
So what happens if two statements are in partial agreement (45° apart) or partial disagreement (135°)? Since a 360° circle can have an infinite number of subdivisions, in practice you would have to allow for some leeway and so like I wrote earlier, you can have other discussion members "like" a posting to indicate that in their opinion a posting meets the SPIRIT of the rule. If nobody "likes" your posting, you would need to fix it and get a "like" before making a new posting. Facebook allows for editing posts so this could be one way to work this out.
I'll address your other excellent comments in my next posting .....
BRUCE ALDERMAN: Another positively framed set of rules or guidelines, distinct from (but I think potentially complementary to) Joseph's ritual narrative circumambulation, come from the Insight Dialogue practice. Insight Dialogue grew out of onlne experiments, by vipassana practitioners, with Bohmian dialogue, so it is potentially useful even in a forum context (though most often now it is practiced in live, in-person sessions). The guidlines are very simple:
1) Pause ('stop' occasionally in communication to mindfully check in on the state of body, mind, heart);
2) Relax (when we stop, we often notice we are in various postures of mental tension, resistance, etc, so we take time to let that go);
3) Open (from a more mindful, relaxed frame of mind, open to mutuality, to the intersubjective field, to the person(s) or communcations confronting us);
4) Trust Emergence (Noting, from a place mindful, relaxed, open presence, the transiency and dynamism of mind states, thoughts, events, etc, where impermanence also means the new is always surfacing or emerging, we come to develop trust in open engagement with the flux of emergent meanings, rather than needing to hold to fixed or defensively polarized positions);
5) Listen Deeply (all the preceding steps prepare us to listen more deeply to our partners); and
6) Speak the Truth (speak with integrity from this place of mindful, relaxed, open, 'faithful'/dynamic attentiveness). The steps above are laid out in a linear way but the creators of this approach also describe a number of ways each of these elements are nonlinearly, recursively interrelated and mutually reinforcing.
JOSEPH CAMOSY: Bruce, an excellent set of suggestions. I see these as complementary to my One Rule hypothesis and in many cases these 6 guidelines as an UL Quadrant set of aids, may actually be necessary in order to follow the intention of the One Rule. Since the One Rule Rings them All (meaning that it will trigger our complexes as well as bring up new perspectives), we will in many cases find it necessary to pause, relax, open, trust, listen, and speak the truth in order to follow the intention of the rule and maintain the circulation of perspectives.
The interesting thing about the One Rule is that it is essentially a specification on the signifier and the chain of signification taking place in a discourse. Since the signifier is in the UR Quadrant, it is an artifact that is observable by everyone in the discussion and does not require access to another person's interior. The individual in the discourse has the freedom to employ whatever (UL Quad) spiritual or psychological means (meditation, shadow work, etc...) at their disposal in order to maintain the intention and further the circulation of perspectives.
Then, if an individual chooses to make a posting, they are entering into the intersubjective field (LL Quad) where their posting will have an impact on others and will influence the circulation from that point forward. To make a posting that follows the intention of the One Rule, one might find themselves performing one or more of the following:
1) Read the previous [N] postings to get a sense of what perspectives are being expressed.
2) Notice what is arising within you own interior. Agreement, disagreement, some affect, thoughts, new ideas, etc... How do these arisings relate to the topic?
3) In choosing what to express, you will need to have a sense of how your perspective is positioned relative to the previous [N] postings. Here things can get subtle. Am I essentially in agreement but want to add some small additional detail? Am I essentially in disagreement, but want to use the previous posting as a foil to launch into another direction? How can I express my perspective while staying as close to +- 90° as possible to the previous [N] posting(s)?
I list the above 3 as possibilities, but nowhere does the One Rule require them.
Another beauty of this is that the One Rule also immediately thwarts a dynamic that is extremely common in spiritual and psychological circles, and that is the teacher-student or Master-disciple dynamic. The classic teacher-student dynamic is linear and if it crops up, will kill a circulation by establishing a privileged perspective. To follow the One Rule, there can be no teaching. There is no guru. If the Buddha were to show up on this road, he wouldn't get slain immediately, but might get booted out if he/she kept violating the One Rule. And that's why the One Rule is a RULE. Because we're dealing with signifiers, there CAN be a group consensus on whether or not a posting is following the spirit of the rule. The thing being evaluated (the signifier) is in the UR Quadrant. No one is trying to make a judgement about another person's UL Quadrant "Level" or fitness or enlightenment, etc..
Of course this begs the question: Is the One Rule itself a privileged perspective? YES & NO. It is and it isn't. It's a paradox. It is a form of non-dualism. You CAN challenge the One Rule, as long as you follow the One Rule. What this indicates is that the One Rule is not arbitrary. It is the reflection of some kind of LAW, like gravity or Emanuel Kant's synthetic a priori. If I had to give it a name, I would call it:
THE LAW OF HOLONIC FORMATION
If you want a vortex to form, it you want to create a new metaphor or dissipative structure, or give birth to something, certain things have to happen. It's like the laws of thermodynamics. You cannot break the law. If you do, then what you end up with instead is a binary opposition, privileged perspective or the reenactment of some preexisting repetition-compulsion. You end up with an amalgam and not a new living thing.
JOSEPH CAMOSY: Mark, continuing from my last post, I'd like to address your final points.
You write: "Third, we might add a 4th aspect to your tripartite which is 4) focusing on the experiential and concrete in the foreground, and the abstract and propositional in the background ..."
As I wrote above in my post to Bruce Alderman, the One Rule is essentially a specification on the signifier and signifying chain. In order to actually follow the rule, however, one will automatically find it necessary to do address things in their own UL interiors. Therefore, each person if free to discover for them self what works and what does not. There is NO privileged perspective telling them HOW to meet the rule. Therefore, if one poster is at Amber and another poster is at Orange, and another is at Green, they can each choose their own UL interior method for getting their postings to meet the One Rule.
Thus the One Rule immediately solves the problem of people being at different "Levels." If you can follow the One Rule, you can play with others at all levels. ALL CAN PLAY as long as they follow the One Rule.
You write: "Anyway, in this regard I'd ask you, Joseph, to share some intersubjective experiences of using your proposed model beyond the abstractions you elaborated ..."
I'm elaborating the One Rule here for the first time, but this expression is the culmination of over 20 years of both facilitating and participating in discussion groups, both in the flesh and on-line, as well as some recent discoveries I've made in my independent research. Since the mid 1990's in my in person group participation, I have taken the orthogonal approach as my own natural mode of interaction. I've always either followed up to find out more about someone's world-view or I've been that guy who would add an unusual perspective that would give others pause. In my own experience with in-person group facilitation (a total of 5+ years over about a 20 year period), there were times when the group interaction would result in a deep feeling of communion. There were also times when the sacred fire would start to build, but then get extinguished by any number of counter-productive interactions. I've spent many a year pondering what was happening when things went right, and what was happening when it all too often went wrong. The One Rule is my hypothesis for describing the necessary conditions for a certain kind of interaction which can stoke that sacred fire.
You write: "this would be my fourth point: as I see it perspectives are themselves ontologized in the way you use them, which is symptomatic of humanistic (via hermeneutics), logocentric (via rational critical methods) and integral metaphysical (via the person realizing brahman and samsara in conjunction with a perspectival based development, which still lies at the neoperrenialist heart of Wilber's work) endeavors."
The One Rule is agnostic to these formulations, making it essentially post-metaphysical. If I happen to dip into logocentric or metaphysical explanations of certain aspects of the One Rule, that's just something that I'm bringing to the explanation - reaching for whatever metaphor is handy at the time. It's not in the One Rule itself.
You write: "This points to a related underlying issue, a fifth point if you will, namely, the inevitability of consenting to basic presuppositions and rules in the first place,[...] how do we negotiate the starting point which seems to necessitate a foundational consensus, and where does that begin and end? "
The ONLY reasons to try the One Rule are: 1) One is dissatisfied with the status-quo: binary oppositions, privileged perspectives, and the reenactment of preexisting repetition-compulsions, 2) AND they see the value of attempting to create a new living metaphor 3) AND they can understand enough of the rationale behind the One Rule to have some degree of confidence that it might actually work in practice.
You write: "This selective attention and implicit translative agreement of different aspects of our engagement is especially vital [...] but surely some deeper feature of agreement [...] a kind of translative affirmational backdrop, [...] and disagreement—that is, selective (or implicit) exclusions of aspects of a topic -- are necessary to the reciprocity of translation and transformation in service to bringing forth the unprecedented. "
Yes, and it is my hypothesis that this will happen automatically with the One Rule. Here are some expressions which DO FOLLOW the One Rule:
- Asking for clarification.
- Acknowledging the value of someone's previous posting regardless of one's position on that posting. Acknowledgement of certain posts or the selective lack thereof could be used to subtly privilege certain perspectives, and so over time the group members would likely learn how to sense the quality of the circulation and add acknowledgements like wheel weights where necessary to balance the rotation so to speak.
- Choosing not to comment on a posting
- Paraphrasing someone's posting as a way of asking "did I get your meaning?"
- The intention of wanting to understand the other, follows the spirit of the One Rule, like the old adage: "before I can say if I agree or disagree, I must first be able to say: I understand."
For those familiar with Harville Hendrix's Imago therapy, his "over the bridge" exercise also meets the One Rule.
BRUCE ALDERMAN: Posting this more to relate to the opening post of this thread, though it is relevant to Joseph's circumambulatory method as well: The Seven Stages of Deep Dialogue.
Here are a few more posts from the FB version of this thread. I'm quoting those in which I was directly involved; theurj, I invite you to copy your posts on Levin here as well, if you like.
MARK SCHMANKO: Hi Joseph, here are some thoughts. I’m going to cite you quoting me and your response, and then comment. Here goes:
""Third, we might add a 4th aspect to your tripartite which is 4) focusing on the experiential and concrete in the foreground, and the abstract and propositional in the background ..." (me)
As I wrote above in my post to Bruce Alderman, the One Rule is essentially a specification on the signifier and signifying chain. In order to actually follow the rule, however, one will automatically find it necessary to do address things in their own UL interiors. Therefore, each person if free to discover for them self what works and what does not. There is NO privileged perspective telling them HOW to meet the rule. Therefore, if one poster is at Amber and another poster is at Orange, and another is at Green, they can each choose their own UL interior method for getting their postings to meet the One Rule.”
You seem to be saying that having a ground rule for “how to meet the rule” is not integral to the One Rule. Well, if that’s the case, alas, I disagree! Why? Because the topic of this thread is giving rise to the unprecedented, not enacting inclusivist pluralistic dialogue, though, it goes without saying, I fully respect the latter. That is, the original inquiry of this thread is how we might enact ‘transformation’ and not merely translation on a FB forum like this. And while I feel that the probability is very low to begin with, if we are to dig in the muddy sphere of the as-yet-manifest, then following your One Rule would be a wonderful exercise in constructive-generative inquiry, but not as conducive to transformation.
So, when you write “Thus the One Rule immediately solves the problem of people being at different "Levels." If you can follow the One Rule, you can play with others at all levels. ALL CAN PLAY as long as they follow the One Rule.” That’s quite brilliant—I can see how many years of facilitating have brought about your sensitivity to this and, in the long run, it might work rather well in engendering a wonderful multiplex tapestry of perspectival ideas, dialogical exchanges and constructs—but, as I see it, such a Rule does not foster the best practices needed for generating conditions for the possibility of the unprecedented. I’d basically call for certain kinds of disruptive-cum-productive pressures and forms of selectivity or exclusion here, in an experimental and deliberate fashion. Again, as an exercise in pluralistic dialogue and generative exchange, your rule seems very applicable, but I'm not persuaded we'd get anywhere deep, uncharted, or revelatory in the ontological sense - toward co-experiencing and affirming more than just a meaningful horizon of metaphor and a rich orchestration of signification; that is, something that becomes orthogonal to the language game itself(!), beyond intersubjectively generative mental constructs and a multitude of individual interiors transmitting and receiving information.
Bruce, how would you distinguish efforts to arouse and generatively engage in an actual ontological surplus that would take us beyond the linguistic limits and person centric underpinnings of pluralist dialogue, somehow paradoxically through the maximal usage of language? Also, do you think the One Rule is sufficient to this? My sense is that under certain conditions in pursuit of transformation into or discovery of the More, more rules and qualifying conditions are needed! Of course, this is all very slippery via the written word, since as I said above the face to face intersubjective space is the heart of the matter.
JOSEPH CAMOSY: Mark, this is a great question! In my opinion, the One Rule IS necessary AND sufficient to create a group metaphor, collective complex, dissipative structure, social holon, anthroparion, homunculus, simulacrum, "generative enclosure", etc... BUT then the question becomes: What kind of homunculus are we trying to create? What kind of Holon are we generating? What kind of life-form is it?
Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species?
And the other possibility is that if what gets created is a kind of collective life-form, that life-form itself can evolve as well. If we can see the concept of a "level" (from Integral Theory) as a stable and adaptive collective complex, then we can see that this is also how a new level gets started.
But to your point, it doesn't matter at what "level" the homunculus initially comes into existence, as long as it is allowed to continue to evolve. As Wilber writes, we all come into this world at level 1.
What typically happens, however, is that once the group metaphor gets established, there is a tremendous pressure to preserve it and it develops a kind of immune system that privileges that core like a transcendental signifier. The group metaphor itself begins to create meaning as it accretes to itself more and more signifiers. When this happens, the group metaphor's vertical evolution slows down or even stops and it becomes very difficult to continue to follow the One Rule. The transcendental signifier becomes THE privileged thing around which all else revolves. Every "Level" has its own (version of) the Transcendental Signifier as the ultimate value for that level (vMeme). However, if one can somehow continue to follow the One Rule, the group metaphor would continue to evolve. That is my hypothesis.
So in order to keep following the One Rule, the individual group members have to evolve as well. This whole process acts like an evolutionary conveyor belt being driven by the mysterious sucking force of the vortex at the center of this dissipative structure, this group life-form, this machine of desire that opens up a kind of portal to Eros.
BRUCE ALDERMAN: Mark, thinking about your question, I'd say Peter Fenner uses a variant of Joseph's One Rule in his dialogical practice. He neither agrees nor disagrees with those with whom he is in communication, while still remaining very much in connection to, or present with, them. But this is distinct from 'staying on topic,' because he doesn't really attempt to maintain any topic either. I've been in a group with him working and have experienced his skill at "undoing" conceptual fixation of all sorts, eventually disclosing or generating a very palpable and pregnant sense of openness and clarity. If I think about what he does beyond 'neither agreeing nor disagreeing' with whatever someone might say, I'd have to describe it as identifying and dismantling conceptual fixations through deconstructive inquiry and impossible questions.
So, while similar in some respects, this approach is distinct from the One Rule proposal -- mainly because the aim isn't to continue the exploration of a topic through circumambulation, but to confront the mind's tendency to take positions, to fixate, to relate in terms of attachment or aversion. I don't think Peter's method would work well on an asynchronous discussion forum; it requires a live setting.
How to define the difference between these approaches? My sense is that it may be more a difference in degree than in kind; that the conceptual suspension of Bohmian or circumambulatory discussion, while less confronting or disrupting than Fenner's deconstructive questioning, nevertheless allows for 'postural' shifts in bodymind processing that may, in time, induce new ways of being (not 'just' of thinking or talking).
JOSEPH CAMOSY: Bruce, as you've described Peter Fenner's method it seems to be more of a linear Master-Disciple kind of transmission, than a circular dialectic. The One Rule does not require a master facilitator, and would likely be antithetical to someone playing the central role of the Koan Master dissolver of other's fixations.
Having said this, I would also add that if there's a group where only one person is a master at the One Rule, then their ability to give other perspectives that "orthogonal tap" WILL have the effect of desynchronizing their stuck perspectives. The challenge in such a situation would be to do this and yet make yourself invisible so that things don't end up revolving around you. One has to be very careful, otherwise you will become the carrier of the Master Signifier and be seen as the Master, Guru, Teacher, etc.... That might be great for job security or building a church or making a name for your self on the New Age workshop circuit, but in my opinion the Master-Student dialectic is not so great at constellating the new emergent that the One Rule is attempting to facilitate.
BRUCE ALDERMAN: Fenner comes out of the Buddhist tradition where such social ordering is common, but there is nothing about what Fenner does that requires a master-disciple relationship to be generated; he is transparent about what he is doing, invites anyone participating to engage in the same way, and doesn't set up a system where you must 'go to the master' to receive something special. But his approach, while dialogical, is not ultimately about fostering dialogue, 'exchange of meaning,' or conceptual elaborations; it is for 'cutting through' certain mental habits, realizing non-abiding, and generating or disclosing nonconceptual clarity or awareness. (There is an immediate, palpable, embodied sense of pervasive intersubjective silence and presence that emerges in such exchanges, that is typically hard to realize through an online discussion). From what I have gathered from your approach, it lacks the confronting and deconstructive elements that Fenner's approach emphasizes (while still being able to accommodate them), and doesn't aim directly at the nonconceptual state experiences that his method intends to invoke. So, his approach is more specialized. I think Mark is right that your approach aims more at translative circulation than at contemplative state realization per se, but I also wanted to suggest that the general practice of circumambulation is not without 'ontological' effect. In other words, I wouldn't want to say that it is good *only* for a more open translative play, since I think it can invite new modes of being as well. (Edwyrd, of course I like your posts on Levin...)
JOSEPH CAMOSY: Bruce, you bring up some excellent points.
First, I'm glad to hear that Fenner does not allow a master-disciple or teacher-student dynamic to pervade his method. I'm not familiar with his work and so I'm going by your description of his process.
You write: " But his approach, while dialogical, [...] is for 'cutting through' certain mental habits, realizing non-abiding, and generating or disclosing nonconceptual clarity or awareness. "
Yes, and the One Rule is also about these things, but does so in a gentle, gradual way - assuming of course that people have the resources and discipline to be able to follow the One Rule. The subtle effect of continuous "orthogonal tapping" upon one's expressed perspectives over time should not be underestimated.
You write: "From what I have gathered from your approach, it lacks the confronting and deconstructive elements that Fenner's approach emphasizes (while still being able to accommodate them), and doesn't aim directly at the nonconceptual state experiences that his method intends to invoke. So, his approach is more specialized. "
I would not agree with this evaluation. The orthogonal tapping that results from the One Rule IS confronting and deconstructive, but in a subtle, gradual way. The advantage of the slower and more subtle approach is that anyone can participate at whatever "level" they are at and are not required to accept any privileged perspective, belief system, Master Signifier, Master Teacher, or hierarchy. The One Rule moves them along gradually on the evolutionary conveyer belt. Sometimes it's the Turtle and not the Rabbit that wins the race.
You write: " I think Mark is right that your approach aims more at translative circulation than at contemplative state realization per se, but I also wanted to suggest that the general practice of circumambulation is not without 'ontological' effect. "
The One Rule does NOT make this "translative" Vs. "contemplative realization" distinction. I know that Integral (Integral Life Practice) DOES make a distinction between the "Shadow Module" and the "Spirit Module" as if to imply that these two modules involve two very different kinds of work. This is unfortunate, in my opinion, and indicates a failure to see the underlying framework that's behind them both.
The One Rule can be taken as far as one wants to take it. There are no limits. As I wrote earlier, as the dialectic progresses and the dissipative structure takes hold, the "topic" as placeholder falls away and is replaced by the "objet a" or void. As long as one can resist assigning a transcendental or master signifier to this void, I don't see any limit to the depth, height, or contemplative realization that could result.
BRUCE ALDERMAN: Joseph, as I mentioned in my earlier post, I see your approach as different more by degree than kind from Fenner's, so I also am not intending to suggest a firm or absolute distinction between translative and contemplative/transformative practices. Your primary injunction is the same as Fenner's (neither agree nor disagree). However, the rule to 'stay on topic' places the focus on conceptual discussion and exchange, the balanced circulation of perspectives, whereas for Fenner, the focus is on the irruption of nonconceptual experience in which there is 'nothing to say' (without falling into dissociation or unconsciousness).
Given our usual habits of communication (and thinking), the two primary injunctions of the One Rule amount to a 'not-doing' exercise (a la Castaneda or TSK) -- a practice which, by disrupting our habitual behavior, breaks the spell of consensus reality (or the fixation of our assemblage point) and allows potentially for novel emergence. In this sense, yes, the One Rule is as much a contemplative injuction as a translative/dialogical one. And as such, I would NOT say that following your One Rule would confine us only to (pluralistic) conversation, lacking any transformative impact. (I've been saying that from the beginning: if followed faithfully and with discipline, I think this *can* lead to new ways of being as well).
And yet, I still think non-negligible distinctions can be made -- and that Mark's concern that additional injunctions might be necessary to maximize potential for the emergence of the unprecedented in our exchanges here are valid. As you've noted, the effects of following the One Rule would likely be slow to manifest. The requirement to 'stay on topic,' and the limitation of the not-doing practice to one habitual mode only (conceptual agreement or disagreement), keeps the orbit fairly closely around conceptual circulation and exchange. Of course, that's valid for a discussion forum. And yet there might be other novel ways we could interact -- other 'pressures' we could put on one another through this medium, through styles of languaging, or other limits we might set, or the inclusion of practices to be done concurrently with or as a precursor to discussion, etc -- that might be worth considering. I don't think there's any reason, at this point, to take the One Rule as fully sufficient for the question at hand. But I do think it's a valid and valuable idea, and fully support our experimentation with it.
"theurj, I invite you to copy your posts on Levin here as well, if you like."
Thanks but I've put them in another thread where they seem more appropriate than this very focused discussion.
Back on the Gaia forum I discussed Fenner's deconstructive contemplation in relation to Derrida's deconstructive (methodless) method. Fenner's method is based on various Buddhist ideas. I've also made much hay on the relation between Derrida and Buddhism. The latter connection has been much researched, and Fenner's bibliography (link above) cites a number of those studies. Like Fenner's method, Derrida's deconstruction is not a fixed method but particular to the matter at hand, which is always singular and novel. Same with his notion of iteration, which like Levin acknowledges the repetition of the always already and yet includes the not yet, given the novel singularity of each particular. Like Fenner it is a 'way' to enter the ineffable and talk about it! And a way to talk ourselves into it!
Recall Cameron's post on Derrida here, which caused much consternation to the kennilinguists at Integral Life.
I'm also reminded of the discussion on the book Integral Life Practice, particularly on integral inquiry.
I'm struck by how every written or spoken communication is an occasion of the unprecedented. Yes, we use the same words we've always used, maybe a new one on occasion. But each time we speak or write is novel in that we've never done it exactly that way before. It seems ironic that we're searching for ways to elicit the unprecedented when we do it naturally with every utterance.
Which reminds me of this post.
From the FB thread. Joseph excerpted:
"Often, highly evolved or individuated persons, especially if they have had certain STATE experiences, will already be carrying a Master Signifier - as their own interpretation of that state experience. As Wilber wrote, a person will interpret their state experience in accordance with their level of development. So for someone of this ilk to be in a group whose purpose is to create some new emergent, they will have a HUGE hurdle to overcome - they must be able to lay down their own PRECIOUS, their own Master Signifier that they're carrying in their pocket. This Master Signifier is their privileged perspective.
"As I wrote in an earlier post, there are a couple of ways that things can go terribly, terribly wrong. All of them have to do with the emergence of this Master Signifier, or in the example I cite in this posting, the problem of someone in the group carrying their own Ring of Power (their own Master Signifier as privileged perspective) in their nasty little pockets."
That aligns with something I was thinking after my last post. My suggestion that the unprecedented is a rather common and mundane affair brought up an immediate objection: But that's not what we mean by the unprecedented! It's got to be something special, something sacred and sacrosanct, something spiritual. It's got to have that master signifier, as you call it, one meaning to rule them all. Perhaps it's time the mountain became the mountain again?
I think there's value in acknowledging that there is something unprecedented in even moment-to-moment, "ordinary" experience -- it always contains a bit of unexpected novelty. But often this novelty can be quickly assimilated into the 'already known.' So I think it remains important to leave room also for those events and experiences which have the potential to fundamentally or radically challenge the 'known,' which confound understanding and resist easy assimilation, which initiate seismic shifts in our self-world construction and catalyze transformation, etc. (This can have "Lovecraftian" dimensions and need not be just beautiful spiritual stuff!)