Divine Love and Organisation
5.1 Introduction, 5.2 The Ground of Being, 5.3 Grace, Silence and love’s logic, 5.4 Organisation.
For this Chapter I begin by thinking about the space between the in-breath of Eros and the out-breath of Agape. This is the place of the unimaginable where the breath is suspended, hanging momentarily between the inhalation and the exhalation, and between the exhalation and the inhalation. And as the breath happens whether we are aware of it or not, so the polarity of the in and out breath, like the duality of Eros and Agape, ceases in the infinitesimal gap between them and where the vital energy (prajna) of the Cosmos can be felt. There are many similar places where we can slip out of our everyday world, and these places and spaces have existed since time began, they happen as the sun rises and sets each day, at the equinoxes of the year, through rituals and transitions of the human life cycle, and finally through death.
And the way that we have made sense of these events are recorded in the Greek Myths, in the Upanishads, in Celtic Runes, in ancient pictures, and in all the religions of the world. We have made sense of the inexplicable and unimaginable and become wiser by telling ourselves stories about the landscape, about the natural world, about special people and terrible events; and more recently we in the Western world have made sense by attempting to investigate, explain and predict through Science.
What I think matters is not the facts or the stories, so much as the sense that we make of them in our everyday lives and our willingness to be open to our experience of what we believe to be true, and to notice what effect those beliefs have on our thoughts and actions. This means that I am willing to reinterpret my beliefs if life shows me something different or contradictory, whilst I remain willing – I might say determined - to hold an understanding of Divine Love that defies any of the foundational interpretations that language and social construction might attribute to It. My interpretations are strange mixtures of Eastern and Western philosophy (see 4.7) which is based upon an acceptance that there is a way of seeing the world that is not dependant on sensory perception or on a socially constructed mental framework.
This is not a relativist or nihilistic position because I hold a belief that there is a transcendence that goes beyond the body, a universal spark that is both within me and at the same time is the whole Universe. I am committed and determined to act as if this Absolute is true until I know from experience that it is. I do not care if you do not believe me, and I am not terribly interested in persuading you to understand what I understand!
I interpret all religious and spiritual writings with that foundational perspective, expecting that each ‘story’ will add another dimension of meaning to my belief. And anyway, I also believe that everything we say to each other is but a shadow of what we really mean, which is not to say that what we say is not true!
Paul Hoggett puts this rather well I think:
‘The task, for each one of us, is to be just enough of a liar to make life bearable whilst sustaining a certain openness to experience. Each lie, being a deadening of experience, is like a deadening of life itself. … There is a fine balance to be struck here. … To choose life we must deaden ourselves but only sufficiently to remain confronted in our discomfort; to make disintegration when it comes, a manageable disintegration. We know, from our study of individual lives and from our experience of civilisation, that this is no easy thing to do. Lest we all become “dead men on leave” we must quickly learn to choose survival a little less and life a little more.’ (Hoggett 1992:69)
I imagine being outside culture and language as an experience of infinity that arises perhaps through a synaesthesia of the senses that goes inwards to the inner body, or perhaps through the spaces found between bodies and between times. Both of these ways of knowing are outside normal experience whilst taking place firmly within the body situated in the material world. It is not a dissociation of the mind from the body or a retreat from the world so that I become immune from its effects behind a protective spiritual wall. My expectation is that the finite is present within the infinite, and in reflecting on my practice I want to be able to identify and increase my awareness of the transcendent nature of that action.
‘The vanishing of the finite in the infinite is effected by no heterogeneous authority; in this vanishing the finite relating itself to itself obeys its very own nature; vanishing in the infinite the spirit as relation to itself has ceased to be not nothing in the light of its own thought, universality and freedom; vanishing in that light the spirit becomes the light.’ (Leahy 2003:38)
The route to the experience of the infinite does not rely on a priori knowledge, but travelling along the path towards it arouses a ‘sense memory’ not dependant upon mental or sensory objects. This exploration is not to attempt a transcendental idealisation of everyday reality, but becomes an ontological reality arising in the Mind, which (I am told, but do not ‘know’) is not the mind of thoughts but is the Higher Mind or Bhuddi as described in Hindu philosophy.
‘Experience implies an experiencer, an entity as an experiencer. Therefore when he experiences, he must recognise what he experiences, otherwise it is not an experience. And when he recognises, it is already known, therefore the experience is of the past….
And when you are seeking experiences you will always find them within the pattern, within the conditioning of the mind of experiencer. So there is a division between the experiencer and the thing experienced and therefore always a searching a wanting, groping, a conflict. … The highest form of sensitivity with the brain completely still is the quality of love. You know love is the most extraordinary thing if you have it in your heart. Love is not a pleasure. Love has nothing to do with fear. It is not related to sex. It is the quality of the mind that is free sensitive, intelligent with the brain not responding in terms of the past and therefore still. Then the heart comes upon the perfume called love. The understanding of that is meditation. That is the foundation of meditation. (Krishnamurti 1991:167/168)
So, glimpses of infinite love and of the unknowable, will be explained and described differently for each person because it is lived through the sense perception and the mental frame of that individual, and being beyond words it will be described differently anyway. That does not mean that the existence of these Higher Realms is in doubt, for every enlightened being gives similar expression to the experience, and so I ‘know’ that what they speak of is ‘true’.
‘(S)o what if spiritual experiences cannot be captured in words either? They are no more and no less handicapped in this regard than any other experience. If I say “dog” and you’ve had the experience, you know exactly what I mean. If a Zen master says “emptiness” and you’ve had that experience, you will know exactly what is meant. If you haven’t had the experience “dog” or “Emptiness”, merely by adding more and more words will never, under any circumstances, convey it.’ (Wilbur1995:279)
In living our ‘natural loves’ to coming to a new ‘heavenly love’, CS Lewis, writing in the Christian tradition, compares this to the way we live out our natural life cycle:
‘The fashion of this world passes away. The very name of nature implies the transitory. Natural loves can hope for eternity only in so far as they have allowed themselves to be taken into the eternity of Charity; have at least allowed the process to begin here on earth, before the night comes when no man can work. And the process will always involve a kind of death. There is no escape.’ (Lewis 1960:165)
However the contemplative traditions of the East do offer an ‘escape’ by the expansion of consciousness through to a deeper perception of the world that goes beyond the physical and material body, into the subtle realms of experience.
‘Knowing the senses to be separate from the Self,
And the sense experience to be fleeting, the wise grieve no more.
Above the senses is the mind, above the mind is the intellect,
Above that is the ego, and above the ego is the unmanifested Cause.
And beyond is the Brahman, omnipresent, attributeless.
Realising him one is released from the cycle of birth and death. …
When all desires that surge in the heart are renounced,
The mortal becomes immortal.
When all the knots that strangle the heart are loosened,
The mortal becomes immortal.
From the heart there radiates a hundred and one vital tracks.
One of them rises to the crown of the head.
This way leads to immortality, the others to death.
The Lord of Love, not larger than a thumb, is ever enshrined in the hearts of all.
Draw him clear out of the physical sheath,
As one draws the stalk from the munja grass.
Know thyself to be pure and immortal.
Know thyself to be pure and immortal. (Katha Upanishad in Easwaran 1987:96/97)
This Chapter is being written with that first experience of Divine Love held in my mind, an experience whose meaning is still unravelling. There have been other spiritual experiences since then, but none have been so powerful. And so I write about Love knowing that I have not reached that point of enlightenment where I can say that I ‘know’ what I say is true from my heart as well as my mind. I am not so concerned with ‘Truth’, or to argue about God’s existence, so much as to discover what Love is asking of me, and to know the essence of Love and its meaning in the way I live life.
It is also my belief that this Love is intelligent and that whilst it is outside me, It acts in such a way as to bring my knowledge of It closer to It’s essence. What I am saying is that ‘Divine Love’ is a term (the signifier) for an indefinable feeling that arises from but is also outside my everyday experience. Yet It stills informs my experience and when I resist, It calls me to my spiritual practice. And it is as if writing about Love has become a source of learning for me. I am not writing in the present, but in the past (as in Derrida’s sense of deferring meaning) and yet as I write these words it is as if I come closer to the source of Love. I begin to be called by the act of writing these words to embody Its presence, and I become imbued with the passion of Eros, feeling the ache of Its absence.
Beyond Social Construction
Is it possible to move outside conventional values and definitions of what is good or bad? Is this desirable or beneficial? I guess that I think so, because it means that bringing new awareness creates the possibility of increasing our capacity for ‘love’ and ‘goodness’ in the way we live together. If the intention were unworthy, then going beyond conventional boundaries would be dangerous! But paying attention to what is acceptable and conventional and noticing the way that these definitions shift and change, brings critical attention to what I am doing.
So now I am beginning to inquire into the space between the in and the out breath, the space between Eros and Agape. What do I see in that gap – infinity, nothing, God? I assume that there is something in-between everything that I call relationship (and which others might refer to as intersubjectivity). Psychologists describe the nature of the links between these objects (both material and mental) in emotional terms, phenomenologists describe them in terms of the sense/mind, Western philosophers make sense of them cognitively and Eastern philosophy brings the dimension of enlightenment. What these different perspectives have in common is that the recognition that being in relationship causes a shift in the dynamic of energy – whether it is bodily, cognitive or emotional - and when a shift occurs it carries new meanings with it. Creativity emerges out of relationship. Some maintain that this creativity is divinely given, others take a secular view.
Griffin writing from a Complexity approach (Griffin …) says that human society is bound by a view of organisations, and of the world, which assumes that we have no control over our collective lives in that we assume incorrectly that organisations and systems have a life of their own that cannot be influenced by any one individual. The Complex Responsive Processes approach maintains that if we act/speak together in the present without the imaginary constraints that we place upon our thinking, then conflict and paradox is not avoided but arises out of the action and within conversation. In this way creativity arises as a consequence of noticing and responding to paradoxical patterns as they inevitably occur between us, as they affect our relationship. The Complexity approach suggests a world in which human beings only have each other, and where we must be responsible for our difficulties, and what we create together. This approach emphasises the importance of diversity, sees interaction as having its own cause and that what we need to do is to explore the immediacy of our experience of being together with no preordained or ideological starting point.
Although I start from an assumption that there is a pre-given Universe it is not necessarily one that is describable and is certainly not prescriptive. I feel pleasure in using the Complexity approach in describing interactions, conversation and relationship in organisation because it describes the reality of organisational life and gives credibility to the importance of emotion and experience at work. What this theory lacks is any capacity to see beyond itself, to see creativity born of a mysterious unknown.
If there is a pre-given Universe, then we as human beings are not just dependent on each other, but are just one of the many creatures created by God. And we have relationships not only with the natural world but also with the Godhead. Within these relationships we not only give and receive (both the expected and unexpected) from each other, but also from God and God’s giving is beyond our comprehension. The inequality of this relationship moves me from what Ricoeur calls the ‘logic of equivalence’ to the ‘logic of superabundance’ (Ricoeur 1996:34). And it is how I can see that all possibilities become possible, how it is possible to accept the unacceptable, and how – ultimately - Love wins because It is like an ocean where all the love that I can imagine is only equivalent to one cup of its water. In seeking a relationship with God, I seek a relationship that is in no respect equal or imaginable.
How else can the hyperethical and the hypermoral be explored unless they encompass a worldview that includes some form of benign and beneficent external perspective? It is my intention to enter into a relationship with God in humility through the practice of the Great Virtues (and love being for me the greatest virtue of them all) as a result of which I hopefully will act well. However it is the quality of the relationship that matters more to me than the result of any action.
If you have no belief in the unimaginable, then I guess you may say that this is a solipsistic and narcissistic endeavour, that it is not possible to be outside of what we know and that it is one big ego trip.
5.2 The Ground of Being
Although I resist social construction, the naming of form, I seek always for the deeper context through which I understand who I am. Part of this resistance to theories of social construction combines also with concepts of the self that are constructed purely from social interaction. So whilst intersubjectivity: giving, receiving and creating together is essential for our sense of self, I perceive this happening in the context of the mandala which is born from a context that is subtle, not experienced with the mind or with the senses. This is the energy of the mandala, which is possible to intuit where two or three people are gathered together with the intention of teaching and learning from each other.
Sometimes this mandalic energy, this ‘ground’ is described in historical and relatively neutral terms as a natural phenomenon that we have forgotten:
‘The circle, or council, is an ancient form of meeting that has gathered human beings into respectful conversation for thousands of years and has served as the foundation for many cultures. In some areas of the world this tradition is intact, in other societies it has been nearly forgotten. PeerSpirit circling is a modern methodology that calls on this tradition and helps people gather in conversations that fulfil their potential for dialogue, replenishment, and wisdom based change.
In this sense the circle offers the process (the way of being together in conversation) and the intention of the group offers the content. A circle among business colleagues, and a circle among family members may have similar rituals of opening and closing, but very different content, while a circle of community leaders in Vancouver, Canada and a circle of community leaders in Harare, Zimbabwe may share similar content with very different rituals. Whatever the setting, what makes a meeting into a circle is the willingness of people to shift from informal socialising or opinionated discussion into a receptive attitude of thoughtful speaking and deep listening often referred to as “the sacred space of the council”. (Baldwin 2001)
Jaworski relates his meetings with David Bohm (Bohm…) and Robert Sheldrake the depth psychologist, and describes ‘nonmaterial regions of influence’ like this:
‘We cannot see it, it’s not a material object, but its nevertheless real. It gives things weight and makes things full. There are also magnetic fields that underlie the functioning of our brain and bodies. Countless vibratory patterns of activity occur within these fields which we can’t detect with our senses … Fields are states of space, but space is full of energy and invisible structures that interconnect.’ (Jaworski 1998:150)
And from the spiritual perspective, Aldous Huxley writes in the preface to Christopher Isherwood’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita:
‘At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines.
First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualised consciousness – the world of things and animals and man and even Gods – is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.
Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realise its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal self, which s the inner man, the spirit, that spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, t identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which id of the same or like nature with the spirit.
Fourth: man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose; to identify himself with his eternal self and so to come to intuitive knowledge of the Divine Ground. …
In Mahayana Buddhism the Divine Ground is called Mind is the Pure Light of the Void. (Prabhavananda and Isherwood 11987:7)
How we might, together, reach this Divine Ground – however you might construe it – underlies my interest in group facilitation. Meeting in this way, working with what is, in contrast to what we desire or what we pretend, is a way of reaching towards an experience of Divine Love together, which is what happens in churches when the Eucharist is celebrated. This is holy ground, when we are fully present to each other, where culture and language just hover above that sacred space.
Often we do not reach this place because anger, fears, power get in the way. When I write of these blocks that prevent us from being fully present to each other, I do not think of them as emotional, as feelings, emanations of our socially constructed selves, so much as evil qualities that are always present, hanging around all of us. The presence of Divine Love banishes evil as light banishes darkness, and to be afraid of the dark is like being afraid of evil and gives it power. Going beyond these contradictions and entering the dynamic of mutuality is to find the Ground of all Being. This is how the outer arc of attention leads to Divine Love.
5.3 Grace and Silence
The inner arc of attention also leads to the Divine spark within.
Seeking to know the unknowable I strip away the rational. If I am completely silent, if the body does not move and the mind thinks no thoughts and there is no feeling left in the body, what is left? There is no-thing. ‘God alone will tell me who I really am’ (Williams 2003:50). This is Brahma. This is the true goal of passion, of Eros.
Being unique as an individual does not give me a unique purpose (compare Quinn in 2:? above, instead it gives me a distinctive way of seeing and understanding myself and the world. As I struggle to become an embodiment of Love, my thoughts about who or what God is are uniquely mine, informed by my contemplation, reading and actions in the world. My purpose is not to contribute some unique insight of leadership that can inform others, or to influence new structures, or think up new rules of organisation. Instead my discovery of my uniqueness shows me a facet of the Godhead, through which I learn more about love, and in my willingness to give up and lose that sense of individuality, I understand It’s nature.
Through the embodied enactment of passion, the passion to know God, it is possible to come into the presence of God through His Grace.
‘We must try to relate the human activities called ‘loves’ to that Love which is God a little more precisely than we have yet done. The precision can, of course, be only that of a model or a symbol, certain to fail us in the long run and, even while we use it, requiring correction from other models. The humblest of us, in a state of Grace, can have some ‘knowledge-by-acquaintance’, some ‘tasting’ of Love Himself; but man even at his highest sanctity and intelligence has no direct ‘knowledge about’ the ultimate Being – only analogies. We cannot see the light, though by the light we see things’ (Lewis 1960:152/153)
Here CS Lewis is making the point about self-referential systems, that cognition, our thinking processes are all circular in the long run, and that what we do is move to greater understanding as we tire of each symbol and move on to another. However, Lewis is writing from a Christian perspective, and if he had been working with an Eastern philosophy, then he may well have linked his changing understanding of what love is and with perhaps linked that with questions about the sense of self and changing consciousness, which brings us much closer to a mystical appreciation of what God is.
If there is nothing, then there is no-thing and no relationship, but what comes next is a sense of awe in this unknowingness, and finally that has brought me to some understanding of what humility means.
At night, as I am falling asleep I move one of my pillows so that my head lies flatter. I make the same move every night. Occasionally, as I pick the pillow up and fling it down by the side of the bed, I get this sense of being no one and being nowhere. I do not recognise the mover or its surroundings – so who is this? I move with no familiar sense of anything, it is a mysterious freedom.
‘Such is the nature of God that we know it by nothing better than naught. How by naught? By getting rid of all means, not merely by spurning the world and the possession of virtue; I must let virtue go if I would see God face to face; not that I would flout virtue, but virtue being innate in me I transcend virtue. When a man’s mind has lost touch with everything then, not until then, it comes in touch with God’ (Eckhart in Fleming 1983:47)
So it is not just thought, feeling and senses that are left behind, but virtue itself, love as I know it now is also absent. And I believe that Divine Love is that which comes across the void when all that we know has disappeared. The allegorical (some might say literal) meaning of this is described in the Gospels during the three days after the crucifixion of Christ and His subsequent resurrection. It is the place of death that CS Lewis refers to (see above). In Hinduism and in Bhuddism, as well as for the mediaeval mystics, this is the understanding that happens when a person is poised to enter the transpersonal, the higher realms of consciousness.
And is all this SO extra-ordinary, so unusual as to be unbelievable or to be dismissed as a political trick of the religious to ensure the powerful keep us subservient? I think not. This transpersonal state has been recognised and legitimised by all religions and traditional societies as well as being acknowledged by a minority of people living in the Western world. It is a natural step for all adults, it is our birthright, and it is the message that growing older gives us, what we come to realise before our bodies die. Only in the West with our obsession with Science, our prejudice and horror of fundamentalist religion and with our perceptions befuddled by stressful lives, we miss out on what we have to look forward to as we get older.
So, it does not matter what I believe, provided I do the (spiritual) practice. What does matter is to remain open to my experience because there are whole variety of mental frames that can describe, explain and promote ways of thinking about the world, but unless the mind is silent, watching and witnessing without naming, then I cannot experience the nature of the Divine.
5.4 Love’s Logic
It starts with a lack or a loss of love. Feeling this lack is debilitating and enfeebling, it makes me feel weak, powerless and unable to move. My life experiences begin to show me how unhappy I am. Feminist ideas contextualise a rational explanation for those feelings, and in the companionship of others who share similar experiences, I start to develop a sense of personhood. This acceptance enables me to own some of what I already know.
Knowing what I know is making me unhappy, at work no one recognises what I know. I cannot speak my mind, I must learn to speak to what ‘they’ know, to want what ‘they’ want. I want to make whole, to bring completeness, to understand what others want as if it is my desire also. And so I want others to desire as I do, so that we might strive together, so that we might come to recognise each other, to accept each other. This does not happen.
I have an experience of acceptance, of Love, from a total stranger, someone who does not know me.
I find that it is not necessary to voice my feelings about loss of love and over time my family remark upon it.
I notice the resistance of others at work to my idealisation of strategic goals, and I wonder how they might come to understand my ideals. I realise that some do not understand because they do not recognise meaning in what I say. I realise that there are many reasons for this that has cultural and / or psychological roots. I have been empowered by position at work to impose my meaning. I understand the abusive power of eroticism. I think about how I might rephrase my meanings, sometimes this is coercive. I feel the lack of love in me. No one recognises what I know.
My passion fades, and I ask ‘What makes people co-operate at work?’
When someone I do not like very much ‘makes up’ with a woman who ‘did the dirty’ on him in an office row I am curious to find out what logic brought him to act in that way. I am privileged and humbled to learn the logic of his magnanimity.
I become a chronicler of team and interdepartmental behaviour and begin to think that the first law of thermodynamics applies to emotional releases. Emotion can neither be created or destroyed, it just keeps being recycled around. I decide that the role of the leader is to shift the negative into the positive wherever possible, and then to recognise when the passion needs to run its course. Abuse and cruelty, victimhood and passive aggression, we all suffer from it. Passion becomes compassion. We all suffer. We all lack recognition.
No one recognises what I know. The lack of love is now compounded by what I know and cannot say. There is no one now who can contextualise my experience, except my Self.
I do not understand the logic of love any more.
I describe my learning of love’s meanings as a series of steps surrounding events. I reflect on what these events tell me about how to improve what I am doing. I describe these events, but it is never enough. Love escapes; every time.
I cannot make these events happen, they just happen. I cannot imagine what events might help me to learn, they just happen. The more I notice what is happening, the more dispassionate I become. Am I losing the capacity to love? What is my lesson here? I have lack, dispassion, unpredictability, and learning. It is not fair; I ought to feel happier. Love is not fair. Love does not possess my logic; it has its own quality. I know this with my head, I know that I do not feel love. It hurts.
Where can I go other than inwards towards the heart, there is nowhere else unless I seek madness or oblivion. Cognition ends in silence, how do I reach beyond these words, beyond this yawning sense of loss, how can this emptiness be filled?
I comfort myself with practice, with reading, with writing out these words, by the feeling presence of good friends, by exercising out the physical dissatisfaction, by working. I might say that I comfort myself by meditating, but there is little comfort to be had here, only awareness of the gaping hole longing to be filled by holiness, by Love.
Hindu’s say, ‘I have a body, but I am not my body. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions. I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts. I am the centre of consciousness and will.
Continuing to watch, continuing with determination to practice as I have practised for almost 20 years. Not knowing love’s logic, trusting that the nature of love will eventually come home to Itself, I continue...
Love’s logic goes beyond words, but still I am not silent. My body will not quieten; it demands that I become satiated with love, become so totally satisfied that there is no yearning left.
This is my inner struggle. I cannot go beyond love, I cannot deny the power of love, and I cannot win it for myself. Deep in my bones my embodied knowing tells me that this will not stop until I cease to make demands and allow myself to flow into Silence.
What I must cultivate is contentment in this void of longing; I must find courage to accept the unthinkable. In this breath-less space that is beyond Eros, and beyond Agape, I remould my constellations of values, come to know myself differently.
5.5 Divine Love in Organisation
At this point I thought that I might have finished this thesis, until I remembered that I am writing about practice. I am writing about love at work, and not just about me being loving, not about my finding love. Whilst I have written about my capacity for identifying and experiencing love in all its forms, most especially Divine Love, the reason for this is so that I might learn more about how I might contribute to Its expansion.
The cognitive ‘I’ that expresses a wish to integrate its experience of Love is writing about its embodied knowledge using its cognitive faculty. On this level, I think that this ‘I’ is writing from within or in contradiction to, the dominant discourse and is searching for, rediscovering and remaking the enchantment of the world (Berman 1981) before Science arrived. Integrating the discoveries of the New Science into a reformulation of management theory (Wheatley 1999, Oshrey 1995, Bohm 1996) embodiment, sensing and relationship become included in my thinking. Whilst integration must a good thing because it widens broadens and creates new perceptions it remains primarily a cognitive exercise.
As I write and reread my writing, I am realising and renewing my passion for working within organisation, rather than leading from the top. I remember that this is the way I used to feel before my career became ‘successful’, it might even have contributed to much of my discomfort as a leader and manager. What the renewal of this commitment means is that I am beginning to resist more strongly ways of thinking about managing in organisations that are prescriptive, that could be used or adapted or imposed on those that do not see the world the way that I do.
I want my ‘I’ to become the ‘eye’ of consciousness. This ‘eye’ sees all that it sees, avoids nothing, seeks to understand everything, expects to be interrupted and has no boundaries other than that which it cannot imagine. There is absolutely no academic rigor here, but there is discipline. There is discipline over the faculties of thinking, feeling and sensing. This discipline is what I call spiritual practise, and it is the basis of all my practice. It is where the ‘I’ that acts in the world is derived.
This ‘I’ lives in the hope of seeing the possibility created in the mandala of the thousand-petal lotus flower, which arises from the foul, rich mud at the lake bottom. Lives in the hope of recognising the possibilities arising through the unique contribution of the multifarious varieties of people and events. These petals shove up, intermingle, absorb, spit out, create, and they affirm each other. With this vital, mandalic life affirming energy that I call Divine Love we create a shared sense of the perennial ground (Prabhavananda and Isherwood 1987). In this field of possibility I expect to influence and be influenced by others, through their ideas, their hopes and fears.
Are there ways in which I can connect this ‘eye’ with theory and also with my practise in organisation?
I have written about linear leadership models development, made reference to Wilber’s Four-Quadrant Model of the Kosmos, and critiqued them as cognition based and thus limited. The theoretical logic closest to my understanding of the mandala is the logic of inclusionality (Rayner 2003). It seems to me that this view encompasses contradiction and mutuality, brings together polarities and all shades in between, creates a potential space to integrate infinite variations and varieties of uniqueness and offers permeability of boundaries so that one ‘thing’ can slide towards another, be influenced, be absorbed by another.
‘Inclusionality is that space, far from passively surrounding and isolating discrete massy objects, is a vital dynamic inclusion, within around permeating all natural form across all scales allowing diverse possibilities for movement and communication. Correspondingly boundaries are not fixed limits – smooth, space-excluding, Euclidean lines or planes – but rather are pivotal places comprising complex, dynamic arrays of voids and relief that both emerge from and pattern the co-creative togetherness of inner and outer domains... (Rayner 2003)
Taking this idea of inclusionality alongside the ‘eye’ of consciousness, rather the ‘I’ of cognition, means altering the linear nature of leadership development. Scharmer (Scharmer 2000) moves through linearity into a U-shaped learning loop, which is described as a regenerative process in which the sense of ‘I’ is lost and individuals enter a common space of primary knowing naturally bringing forth new commonly held ideas. In this new space created by the merging of individual knowingness, time and action become instantaneous. The action just happens, as enaction in an instant.
‘Seeing sensing, presencing and envisioning will not make a difference unless they are translated into action. Brian Arthur sees the way to operate in the new economy as a sequence of (1) observe, observe, observe (2) allow inner knowing to emerge (3) act in an instant. Says Arthur, “In oriental thinking, you might just sit and observe and observe – and then suddenly do what’s appropriate. You act from your inner self.’ (Scharmer 2000:15)
Importantly, and similarly to Griffin (Griffin 2002) Scharmer suggests that we do not think of the emerging wholes as a ‘thing’:
‘Bortroft claims that we cannot know the whole in the same way that we know a thing, for the whole is not a thing. Thus the challenge is to encounter the whole as it comes into the presence in the parts. (His Italics) (Scharmer 2000:27)
In this way the parts do not have to know the whole in order to come to know because parts ‘show us the way to the whole’ (Bortroft quoted in Scharmer 2000:27).
‘Presencing’ is enabled through shifting the locus of listening through four different perspectives, and understanding the nature of language through a similar number of frames. Talking from politeness, through debate, through inquiry, and on to flow.
This is not so much about the recognition of mental frames, as the opening up of consciousness, changing the ‘eye’ of consciousness. Like changing the shape of the body, disappearing into the sound of music, listening and speaking through levels of awareness. These levels are not necessarily in a linear relationship with each other. Neither do they necessarily have a circular relationship. I think of these levels as also forms of consciousness that come and go, that might be switched on and off, as well as learned through cycling and recycling, as well as absorbed through the practice of spiritual discipline.
Scharmer’s ideas about presencing are brilliant! And seem to be an ongoing development of Torbert’s Four Territories and Fourfold Awareness (see section 1.5). However Scharmer has developed a clearer articulation of the relationship between the self and the collective, and theorises the quality of perception that might be linked to the quality of action which makes room for other qualities of embodied knowing other than through reason and cognition.
I think one of my problems is that I am not very good at being polite, at what Scharmer refers to as ‘talking nice: reproducing or “downloading” an existing language game’ and because I have difficulty with this, moving on to the next level I can appear to be even ruder (some people call me “direct”) because the next stage is, ‘talking tough…adapting the language game’ (Scharmer 2000:34)! It’s almost as if I attempt to see a mandalic picture before I am able to speak! Scharmer puts ‘presencing’ as the picture of the common whole, because ‘we’ are all there at once -in the flow. I must be travelling in the opposite direction again. (See reference to ‘going backwards’ from the 7th limb of yoga in section 1.5).
Now I am noticing that I wrote about Rayner’s model of inclusionality before writing about ‘presencing’. Both concepts resonate their similarities in my mind, and what is interesting to notice (for my learning) is that I seem to need the ‘permission’ to hold the broader perception in my mind before I am able to concentrate on a particular aspect of that whole. The ‘thing’ that I imagine creates a context for my learning but I hope does not limit it. So that what I discover from going into the detail does not need to ‘fit’ into my mandalic imagination because I understand that just by delving down deeper I create an ability to alter the nature of that whole.
The corollary of this is that by going deeper within myself I become wiser in relation to humanity-in-general because I am part of the whole, the human collective, and by doing this I will come to ‘know’ how to bring this about in the organisations in which I work. In some sense I ask for a miracle of Love, a leap in my capacity to know and speak. In another sense I just work at it, learning laboriously, practising hard!
‘ “When you open your soul and when you bring your whole heart into the room, it changes the structure of the room.” The question though remains: What interior conditions allow us to access this mode of presencing? …there is only one source that allows this to happen: love’ (Jaworski and O’Brien quoted in Scharmer 2000:29)
I practise my spiritual disciplines, knowing that controlling the faculties of thought and appetite are a key, a gateway, to this level of knowing.
And I offer the same questions that I posed writing about leadership development (in section 2:3) once again: What is your intention, what are your deep driving desires, have you mastered your senses? And I continue my questioning, thinking that there is very little reference in American management literature to diversity, difference, contradiction and power in organisations. Whilst the style of the management literature has moved on from Erotic instrumentalism to Agape and relationship, the hegemony of love has not yet been adequately challenged.
How do I know that this is a good thing to do?
Is Divine Love above the Law? Yes, the poet (Auden) and the philosopher (Ricoeur) both agree.
Are my mandalic imaginings above the Law? In the context of organisation most definitely not. So does that mean that I am bound in my professional practise by the rules of convention? Most definitely not! So, let me examine my position further.
I have been making a feminist distinction between the public and the private, but at the same time wanting to bring more of the personal into the public arena. Most of my decision making is malleable, possibly changing position as I understand more about it, at the same time knowing that once I have made a decision I need (most times) to follow through, to finish, to complete the logic of it. Other than staying logical within the decision itself, surely I have fixed points, a place from which to distinguish right from wrong action?
The constellation of values that arise from Divine Love, Eros and Agape are judged by the ‘authenticity / respect / integrity / equality’ constellation as they resonate with my actions on my inner sounding board.
Repeat drawing of constellations here
I come to know what these constellations mean through my embodied sensing of how they feel to that inner sounding board (perhaps some might call this ‘conscience’ but this word carries religious connotations of guilt and original sin for me and I do not ascribe these meanings to it). And I seek to make these values more meaningful through my professional practice. Feedback from others, in my practice, from my writing, fills out my understanding of these values by listening and seeing how others interpret them for themselves, as well as indicating to me where my failures and avoidance’s might lie. This is how I know whether what I do is good.
I could also add that I ‘believe’ in the Ten Commandments and in the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Whilst I believe this to be true, this provides no indication of how the quality of those beliefs affect the way that I live my life.
What I have learned about ‘goodness’ in this writing, is how much I value unified energy. This means that I value the energy that arises from the integration of mind, body and spirit, and the process of inclusivity, the dynamic of integration of differences and similarities between people.
Knowing this I understand why I applaud Archbishop Rowan Williams for his decision around the appointment of openly gay, or practising homosexual bishops from the Anglican clergy. I see him putting Church unity above sexual orientation, whilst doing encouraging the Church leaders remaining in conflict, to keep talking. Faced with a decision, which was ‘wrong’ whichever way you looked at it, he chose collective wisdom above individual passions. Not a very politically correct decision, but in my opinion, very wise.
On the other hand, the findings of the Hutton Report (in relation to the death of Dr Kelly) show an overwhelming bias in favour of the status quo in the Civil Service and Government, to the detriment of the BBC. Here I find ‘good’ not in the findings of the report, but in the process of establishing the events that led up to Dr Kelly’s death. So here, I find the truth in the process rather than in the decisions in the report.
So what my writing, my practice and these examples show me, is that while I seek to live lovingly, answering to my own embodied values, I also seek to find love truthfully so that I may also be judged through my actions.