The Four Stages of Personal Evolution- Becoming Worldview Aware

Wisdom could be considered as the ability to think beyond our own personal worldviews with an ability to consciously hold multiple perspectives or worldviews at once. This may sound quite logical but in reality, requires an evolved way of thinking and continued practice of self-awareness. The ability to see beyond the limitations of our own lens can only be exercised and practiced in relationship with Others (including Nature.). I am suggesting that there are four significant stages of a personal evolutionary or transformational process. These stages can be developed within the practice of deep Dialogue and time in Nature.

Our Worldview impacts how we see and interact with the world, events, situations and other people.  They influence our communication, decision-making and workplace cultures.  Most of this happens unconsciously.  When we become aware of the lens through which we experience the world we can consciously begin to explore individual and collective assumptions, beliefs and value systems with curiosity and non-judgment.  This opens the potential for more comprehensive approaches and solutions to emerge on a range of issues and opportunities, including those that might be mildly oppositional to completely divisive to seemingly unsolvable.

Self-understanding is the first stage of the evolutionary cycle, providing the foundations to then journey out and explore and incorporate the universe of other perspectives. Our relationship with Nature provides the most conducive place to begin this practice. When we begin to explore our own thinking and deeply observe our own mono-centric lens on the world we naturally go through a profound self-transformation. We are able to enter into a global perspective and hold very diverse worlds together and act with courage, empathy and wisdom. A “worldview intelligent” workplace is a creative inspiring and innovative place to be.

There are four phases I believe we move through on the way to becoming a worldview aware. These do not always occur in a linear order since we may sometimes enter a feeling of oneness or wholeness discussed in states three and four following a retreat or time alone in nature then return to our old selves shortly after.

I have deliberately excluded the word “change” out of the summary here as it suggests a forced energy that needs to be practiced in order to evolve from on experience to the next. The transformation I am suggesting emerges when we drop the want for change and simply learn to observe.

Stage 1- Radical encountering of difference of the Other (The Other refers to people or Nature)

In this first phase, we unlearn misinformation about each other and begin to know each other as we truly are. In this phase, we start to learn to listen deeply with Others and hear their perspective.  In this phase I often find it difficult to move beyond a tolerance of the Other but we practice listening when deeply whilst remaining aware of our own worldview. I listen but then return “home” to my own safe haven and perspective. I may find that this first encounter comes with a certain shock, with a realization of the Other, a different way of life, a different worldview, an alien Other that resists, interrupts, disrupts my settled patterns of interpretation. With this encounter, there is a new realization that my habits of mind cannot always make sense of the Others perspectives.

 Stage 2- Crossing over, letting go and entering the world of the Other

In phase two I begin to discern values in the Other’s story and worldview and may wish to adapt them into my own. I feel challenged to inquire, investigate, engage and enter this new world, to engage in critical-thinking. As I open my Self to this Other I realize that I need to stand back and distance myself from my former habits and patterns of minding the world. I begin to realize that this other world organizes and processes the world very differently from my way. I realize that I must learn new habits and ways of interpretation to make sense of this different world. I must learn a “new language.” Indeed, I must translate myself into a different form of life that sees the world differently. This involves a bracketing of my prejudices. I feel a new horizon opening.

Stage three- Inhabiting and experiencing the world of the Other

 If we are serious, persistent, and sensitive enough in dialogue, we may at times enter into phase three. Here we together begin to explore new areas of reality and new ways of acting, new insights into meaning—all of which neither of us had previously even been aware. We are brought face to face with new previously unknown dimensions of reality and possibility of action.

I begin to feel a new and deep empathy for my new habitat; I am keen to free myself to enter, experiment, learn and grow in this new way of being. I embrace critical-thinking and hold on to my prior views as much as I can, but I experience an excitement in discovering, in inhabiting a new and different worldview. I have a new profound realization of the Other, an alternative reality and form of life.

I realize this is not my place of home but start to question what is my home?  I experience a deep shift in my perspective.  Who am I?  What is my true identity?  Is this Other part of me?  Is my world transforming now?

Stage 4- Crossing back with expanded vision- Self returns home with new knowledge

 I now cross back, return, to my own world, bringing back new knowledge of how to think and act (critical-thinking), and may even wish to adopt/adapt some of it for myself. As a result of this encounter with the world of the Other, I now realize that there are other ways of understanding reality. I am therefore open to rethinking how I see myself, others and the world. I encounter my Self with a newly opened mind which now begins to challenge my former Identity. There is no return to my former unilateral way of thinking.

I now start to perceive deeply the oneness of all people and our unity with nature. I now begin to realize that there are many other worlds, other forms of life, other perspectives that surround me. I now open to a plurality of other worlds and perspectives and this irrevocably changes my sense of Self. I feel transformed to a deeper sense of relation and connection with my ecology. I feel more deeply rooted in this experience of relationality and community. I now see that my true identity is essentially connected with this expansive network of relations with Others.

This last stage can be the door to spiritual awakenings and the blossoming of wisdom.  We have developed both the mindful Dialogue programs and Wild Mind days in nature to support you through your own evolutionary journey.

Participatory Leadership is simply Quantum Science in action

The science of Quantum physics proved what our indigenous ancestors have known for ever that we are part of a world of relationships. At the heart of the Quantum is the capacity to relate which is at the foundation of all forms of life.  The universe unfolds through relationships–multiple, messy relationships–that bring together all things in creative symbiosis. Life is less the survival of the fittest than the flourishing of those that fit together.  Simply put, life is Dialogic. We need to practice skilful dialogue to build these sustainable relationships for resilience, creativity and innovation. This understanding of the world is at odds with current worldview of competition and the importance of the Self.

The capacity to relate constitutes all things. The implications for this understanding in the world of business dictates how we can manage resilient productive workplaces.  Life emerges, the scientists tell us, as a chord that explodes out of separate notes held together into something that had no reality before the relationship, and has no reality when the relationship ceases. All things are energized by the creative force of the universe and shaped by relationships.

The ability for most CEO’S and political leaders to understand that we exist in a web of balanced relationships rather than the competitive monocentric worldview is however understandable.  In the business world, many business leaders have reached that position of power because they have been competitive in a deep driven way at each stage of their careers. However, they potentially become victims of the competitive behaviour when they reach the top, precisely at the point where they need to think relationally and dialogically most of all.

The same is true in politics where we see good campaigners who get elected but extremely poor leaders. They may get elected because they represent an ideology, but to be an effective legislator you have to be able to dialogue and relate across ideological boundaries. Not all of those people that are in those positions have been able to do this. The skills that get people power are not the skills that make them effective when they have it.

The three levels of reality

The universe is basically comprised of three levels of reality: The Virtual, the Quantum, and the Material. The Virtual can be described as the unknown or the not-yet. It is the source of life where all potential lies and all possibility exists. Everything exists here as unmanifested potential. It might be defined as a reservoir of energy that feeds all things, the ground of being itself, the life force that drives the universe.

The Quantum level of reality is the world of relationships: patterns of interaction beneath the surface of things that suggest probability, which is how physicists would define objects–“patterns of probability.” One example of these patterns of probability is the relationship of electrons that circle a nucleus and which constitute–are the foundation for–an atom. Atoms, which we tend to think of as the building blocks of things, are, in fact, mostly space (possibility) where particles relate in patterns (probability) that allow the atoms to exist.

We all exist in this world of potential that is manifested in the way we relate. These ideas are shaped by the findings of modern science which describe reality to us as vast space filled with potential (the Virtual): A Quantum world of relationships that underpins all things. Life emerges, the scientists tell us, as a chord that explodes out of separate notes held together into something that had no reality before the relationship, and has no reality when the relationship ceases.

 

 

View life from Outside of your Cave

The Seven stages of the Dialogue and critical thinking for a total group transformation

The practice of skilfully facilitated conversation and deep Dialogue in any group offers the opportunity to increase our awareness of our own assumptions and perspectives and participate more consciously and carefully in the way we interact with the world. We are no longer help captive by one “privileged” worldview.  Our practice of Dialogue disrupts our worldviews and aids our ability to hold multiple perspectives at once; this true is wisdom.  Peter Senge coined the term creative tension to indicate how a group feels when it experiences the gap between where it is and where it wants to go.  When in deep Dialogue, we are constantly experiencing this creative tension which underpins all change work. Without the gap “there would be no need for any action to move toward a vision. Indeed, the gap is the source of creative energy.

The Art of Dialogue program teaches and supports groups to move through seven distinct stages of transformation that are universally experienced when engaged in the deep Dialogic processes.  These are not a random back and forth, but there is actually an awakening that occurs through a specific and disciplined process. The participatory leadership skills of hosting conversation and dialogue is the combination of art and science. The Art of Dialogue workshops teach leaders the disciplines and ground rules but it is the practice of hosting conversation that ultimately supports the artistic element of great participatory leadership.

Stage one- A radical encountering of difference in world-views

 This first encounter comes with a certain shock, with a realization of an Other, a different way of life, a different worldview, an alien Other that resists, interrupts, disrupts my settled patterns of interpreta­tion. With this encounter, there is a new realization that my habits of mind cannot make sense of this Other.

 Stage two- crossing over, letting go and entering the world of the other

 I face a person who has a worldview alien from mine.” We are now encountering a subject who has a view of us, which we hadn’t really thought of before. We always thought we had a view of every-thing else and we incorporated everything else into our worldview.

After the initial shock and realization that I now face alien worldviews very different from my own, I feel challenged to inquire, investigate, engage and enter this new world, to engage in critical-thinking. As I open my Self to this Other I realize that I must learn new habits and ways of interpretation to make sense of this different world.

Stage three-  Inhabiting and experiencing the world of the Other

 I begin to feel a new and deep empathy for my new habitat; I want to let myself go, experiment, learn and grow in this new way of being, to embrace critical-thinking. I hold on to my prior views as much as I can, but also experience the worldview of the Other. I have a new profound realization of an alternative reality. But in the end, I realize this is not my home.  I experience a deep shift in perspective and feel the start of a transformation.  We feel our thinking has been expanded and enriched by taking aboard other worldview. Something profound starts to happen.

Stage four –  Crossing back with expanded vision and knowledge

I cross back, return to my own world with expanded knowledge of how to think and act critically and may adopt the new worldviews into my own world as a result of this encounter. I now realize that there are other ways of understanding reality. I am therefore open to rethinking how I see myself, others and the world. There is no return to my former self of seeing the world from the confines of my own small worldview

 Stage five – the dialogic/ critical awakening: a radical mind-shift

self inwardly transformed

 As a result of this new encounter with other worldviews, I cross back and begin to experience a profound shift in all aspects of my world; in my inner experience, in my encounter with others, in my relating to the world. I begin to realize that my encounter with the Other has shaken the foundation of my former worldview, my former identity. I can no longer return to my former and now begin to realize that there are many other worlds, other forms of life, other perspectives that surround me.  This stage is almost like a spiritual awakening or a classic transformation and the blossoming of wisdom.

 Stage six- the group awakening- the paradigm shift matures

In my transformed Dialogical/Critical Awakening I discover a deeper common ground between the multiple worldviews and perspectives that surround me. I have a new sense that myself and others are inseparably connected in an inter-relational web. I realize that multiplicity and diversity enriches my Self and my World.

As my new inner dialogue and critical-thinking evolves I find myself in a new and transformed relation with others. This new phase of relations with my peers can be disorienting and disconcerting, for as I now dramatically grow in my new identity I find myself in an estranged distance from many of my old relationship. I am learning how to live from a new world view which requires a new language.  As in all transformations this period can often be challenging and confronting.

Stage seven – personal transformation maturing

As this paradigm-shift in my life matures I realize that there is a deep change in all aspects of my life, a new moral consciousness and a new practice. As my new dialogical/critical consciousness becomes a habit of life I find that my behaviour and my disposition to others has blossomed. I feel a new sense of communion. I have a deeper sense of belonging to my world, to my community, and with this a boundless sense of responsibility in all of my conduct. I now realize that I am transformed in the deepest habits of mind and behaviour. I find a deeper sense of Self-realization and fulfilment and meaning in my life and my relations with others and the world around me.

 

 

Freedom from the Known

There is a common theme that emerges from all of the great philosophers throughout history; an ability to say “I don’t know”.  Renowned Indian philosopher, Krishnamurti, believed that only when a mind is not seeking, not expecting or looking for answers can we say “I understand”.  It is the only in this state he concluded that “the mind is free, and from that state you can look at the things that are known – but not the other way around. From the known you cannot possibly see the unknown; but once you have understood the state of a mind that is free – which is the mind that says, “I don’t know” and remains unknowing there is wisdom. But most of us unconsciously remain in the field of the known, with all its conflicts, striving, disputes, agonies, and from that field we try to find that which is unknown; therefore, we are not really seeking freedom. What we want is the continuation, the extension of the same old thing: the known.”

Likewise, the path of wisdom for Greek philosopher Socrates was launched in the idea that one should know thy Self. Socrates was a heroic figure and was said to be the wisest of humans because he realized he didn’t know, he realized he didn’t have the answers. He couldn’t believe that he was wise, and got into a lot of trouble trying to prove this by questioning other “wise” people who, as it turned out, didn’t have the answers either, but who thought they did.  This was the motivation for the now infamous Socratic Dialogue; to enter into the unknown together and discover things beyond our individual knowing.  One should know oneself by entering into Deep-Dialogue. Part of the openness is being open to self- revision and self-criticism, both internal and external. Do that in a healthy way, whether individually or for your group. Socrates famously echoed a lineage of philosophers believing that only the examined life is worth living.

 

Cultivating new ways of being

Cultivating new ways of being through “living thinking”.

New Renowned Indian philosopher and educator Krishnamurti argued that our ways of thinking and learning currently places barriers between ourselves and the object we are dealing with. He wrote that “by being aware, one discovers how one is conditioned- “don’t sit on the bank and speculate about the river; jump in and follow the current of this awareness, and you will find out for yourself how extraordinarily limited our thoughts, our feelings, and our ideas are. Accordingly, he argued that for ‘true transformation’,

“There must be a constant awareness…an awareness in which there is no choice, no condemnation or comparison, that is, there must be the capacity to see things as they are without distorting or translating them. The moment we judge or translate what is seen, we distort it according to our background. It is this very discovery of ourselves as we are, without any sense of condemnation or justification, that brings about a fundamental transformation in what we are -and that is the beginning of wisdom”.

When we become increasingly aware of our own assumptions and perspectives, we notice that they only illuminate certain aspects of other phenomena in the world around us. Scientist, researcher and author Craig Holdrege of the Nature Institute believes that by increasing our awareness of our own assumptions and perspectives we participate more consciously and carefully in the way we interact with the world. Importantly Holdrege states that the physical world of our lived experience informs our knowing more and more as we transform ourselves.

Author, poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau believed that we need to learn with new eyes and ground our knowledge in the world of the lived experience of things rather than in ideas, concepts and theories (abstract thinking). Thoreau wrote, “it is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know…If you would make acquaintance with the ferns you must forget your botany…. Your greatest success will be simply to perceive things as they are… I must walk more with free senses – I must let my senses wander as my thoughts – my eyes see without looking…. Be not preoccupied with looking. Go not to the object let it come to you…. What I need is not to look at all – but a true sauntering of the eye.”

In order to experience the flow of life and its specific qualities in all living and non-living things, we need fluid dynamic (process orientated) thinking. I have come to realize how nature can teach us about a living, dynamic way of thinking. If I am willing to pay attention I can learn from nature how to think in a living way without casting my own filters onto the world. My trips into the wild offer a chance to practice deep observation using the growth and development of plants as an especially vivid and rich model to learn the idea of living thinking.

Holdrege reminds us that a growing plant sends roots spreading intimately through the soil, taking in and exchanging with the earth. These are qualities we, too, possess when, as sensory beings, we explore and meet the world with fresh eyes. Always growing, always probing, meeting things anew, we become rooted in the experiential world.

As a flowering plant grows, it unfolds leaf after leaf. When the plant grows up toward flowering, the lower leaves die away. So a plant lives by unfolding something very important at that moment, then moves on to make new structures while past forms fall away. This is a great metaphor on how we can work with our own concepts: instead of falling in love with a particular idea and holding on to it at all costs (object-thinking) – we could learn to form a concept, use it, and then let it die away as our experience evolves. Our deeply felt sense of our own boundaries and ignorance allows us to keep knowledge alive, open, and growing. The wilderness provides great lessons in what it means to be undogmatic, dynamic and adaptable.

If we were to think plantlike, our concepts would stay closely connected to the context they arose from, and if that context changed, we would metamorphose our ideas to stay within the fast flowing river of life. By practicing this we can experience ourselves as active receptive participants in an ongoing, evolving conversation with everything around us. We are no longer distant onlookers gazing coolly at a world of objectified things. While gaining this re-connection and rootedness in the world is exhilarating but not always going to be easy.

The moment we become aware of the participatory, interactive nature of knowing, everything changes. We become directly aware of the implications on all our actions and thoughts. A living thinking is a thinking that knows itself as firmly embedded in the world. It is also a thinking that knows it does not have all the answers,

Holdrege writes that the seeds of this transformation are created every time we catch ourselves considering a problem in our lives through some pre-formed conceptual lens and then drop that lens and turn back, in openness, to the things themselves. With heightened awareness we can begin forming concepts out of interaction with the world rather than imposing them upon the world. This is living thinking.

Often I find myself at the beginning of a multi day walk, full of purpose and high expectation. It’s hard to escape the craving for results from everything we do. It usually takes two full days of wilderness immersion before I drop my expectations and fall into nature’s rhythms. This strong sense of purpose can prevent us from seeing the unexpected. So, by going out purposefully with a broad focus of open expectation, I can overcome limitations and invite the world in.

An exercise to practice openness in our daily living is to pause during the evening and think back over the day. “What did I experience today that I wasn’t expecting?” When I bring awareness to this we realize how much of what I experienced was actually expected. To really appreciate those few moments when something new and unexpected appears, and then to vividly re-picture those experiences to myself can help cultivate sensitivity to the unexpected. When I practice creating this field of openness. I can begin to experience another person, a landscape, or a social problem as a living thing with openness and fresh eyes.