Thesis: This volutionary perspective can be applied to human individual, cultural and societal development.
This section looks at both the implications at the individual as well as the collective level, starting with the individual level, within the context of the collective. The first part looks at how the birth and development process relates to the volution model described above, and how it informs a fundamental aspect of the current planetary challenges.
Incarnation and Separation
Part of what has informed the volution thesis has been explorations around the nature of the apparent split between humanity and the pre-cognitive experience of being one with the Earth, the sensory world and the body. Healing the perception of this split is key to navigating our current collective crisis (Taegel 2010, 50). This will also give access to the trans-cognitive consciousness from which it is possible to work more effectively and gracefully with the energetic and informational aspects of life.
This transition is framed using the theory of Spiral Dynamics in the image above. In this conception the pain is where the split lies and is due to people forgetting their identity as an expression of the Earth as our physical beings, as well as part of a bigger cosmic wholeness. When we incarnate out of oneness we need to forget the oneness or else it would be impossible for us to really be present in the relative world - it is like an actor stepping into a character. Yet somewhere we miss it and that is what creates great emotional angst. The promise is the access we are granted to the trans-personal realms and wholeness as the apparent split gets healed. Taegel (2010, 92) notes that “Jean Gebser argues for a retrieval of those qualities from the inner being that reach back to the archaic, the primordial mind”. That “reaching back” is to the earliest phases of our development, linked to our body and biology. Jahn and Dunne (2015) refer to research by the French biologist Rene Peo’ch which demonstrated how a group of baby chicks influenced the behaviour of a randomly driven robot. They concluded:
The capacity of these animals to affect the trajectory of the robot to their biological advantage by some anomalous means lends credence to the hypothesis that we may be dealing with a phenomena that is fundamentally biological in nature. (109)
Jahn and Dunne suggest that these kind of experiments “might be evidence of the life force itself–what French philosopher Henri Bergson spoke of as the élan vital that underlies the creation of all living things” (109). This reinforces the argument that for us to be able to access that kind of influence consciously need to heal our relationship to our body and earliest stages of development.
CG Jung (1995) describes this split as being the source of much of the neuroticism that he experienced in his day:
Among the so-called neurotics of our day there are a good many who in other ages would not have been neurotic – that is, divided against themselves. If they had lived in a period and in a milieu in which man was linked by myth with the world of the ancestors, and thus with nature truly experienced and not merely seen from outside, they would have been spared this division within themselves. (166)
Later on he connects that to the collective condition:
It is precisely the loss of connection with the past, our uprootedness, which has given rise to the “discontents” of civilisation and to such a flurry and haste that we live more in the future and it's chimerical promises of the golden age than in the present, with which our whole evolutionary background has not yet caught up. (263)
A sentence in Grof’s Healing our Deepest Wounds (Grof 2011, 187), broadens the perspective: “Although the process of incarnation separates and alienates us from our source, the awareness of this fact is never completely lost.” This points to incarnation as a process, and that process of coming into ever more crystalline form, goes hand-in-hand with an increasing experience of alienation from our state of prior unity. The process of incarnation can then be seen as being one where our soul chooses to leave its unity awareness where it resides between lives to incarnate, co-create and learn any lessons that it has to learn, as testified to by many of those who have experienced near death experiences (Talbot 1991). Spangler (2010) describes it this way: “The soul intentionally turns part of itself into a state of consciousness and a form that can manifest and function in a physical environment like the Earth” (85). Once it starts its journey from the unity field, it becomes ever denser energy as it manifests as the baby in the womb and continues to refine and crystallise its form until it reaches a level of density from which it starts the return to the unity field. This moment may be well into adult life. In the Kybalion (The Three Initiates 2006, 60) this process is described as the “outpouring”, where “the All” pours out unindividualised energy, vibrations get lower and lower until the urge ceases and then the return begins with the “indrawing” to “the All” as multiple individualised units of life through evolution and increasingly subtle energetic vibration.
From this perspective, the split that is identified above is just one of many stages in the incarnation and separation process. It is a key one, particularly for our current planetary condition, yet it changes the perspective to see it as one phase in a broader incarnation process.
Abram (1996) describes this healing through the integration of space and time, which from his perspective have been split off from each other, I would argue, as part of the same process described above.
The conceptual separation of time and space–the literate distinction between linear, progressive time and homogenous, featureless space–functions to eclipse the enveloping Earth from human awareness. As long as we structure our lives according to assumed parameters of a static space and a rectilinear time, we will be able to ignore, or overlook, our thorough dependence upon the Earth around us. Only when space and time are reconciled into a single, unified field of phenomena does the encompassing Earth become evident, once again, in all its power and its depth, as the very ground and horizon of all our knowing. (217)
From the body-mind research that I carried out with Dylan Newcomb, during which we took the Spiral Dynamics model as a starting point and then created a new understanding of the life process, the incarnation and densifying process is what happens up until the center of the octave of eight energy dynamics (i.e. between “Blue” and “Orange”), from which point the return to unity begins as the mind starts to expand into the space beyond the personality that it formed, thus expanding its sense of identity from more ego-centric, to world- and kosmo-centric (Wilber 1996). This is illustrated below in Newcomb’s image with the labels on the left, as the perspective shifts at the center point of the octave from “local” to “global” and from “one” to “many”, ending in an internalization of the other as we return to identifying ourselves as a unity with the world around us.
The Return to Unity Awareness
During a teleseries with Stanislav Grof and friends (Grof 2012) it was emphasised a number of times that the Nature of the transition that humanity is in has much to do with a re-integration of the more feminine, yin qualities. Grof noted how a significant group in the population was shifting “to a sense of fundamental embeddedness in Nature.” Paul Ray’s work pointing to the emergence of the Cultural Creatives (a large segment in Western society in particular that has developed beyond the standard paradigm of Modernists versus Conservatives) and their more feminine values was referenced (Ray 2001). New “yin economics” was quoted, pointing to the rise of complementary currencies that emphasise collaboration rather than competition. These expressions all seem to point to the more fundamental shift that is going on as described above - the reintegration of yin in the co-creative sacred marriage and dynamic balance of the yin and yang. The Yellow Integral value system looks to build relationships between the parts and the Turquoise Holistic eighth value system sees it all as one whole.
Abram (1996) describes the role of the tribal shaman in a way that demonstrates the kind of work needed to maintain the “Purple” integrity of our relationship to life that has been so lost in industrial civilisation:
By his constant rituals, trances, ecstasies, and ‘journeys’, he ensures that the relation between human society and the larger society of beings is balanced and reciprocal, and that the village never takes more from the living land that it returns to it–not just materially but with prayers, propitiations, and praise. (7)
In the previous graphic of Newcomb’s the first (lower) two energy dynamics (Beige and Purple) are labeled as Internal, as are the last (highest) two (Yellow and Turquoise). The central four are labeled as External. This points to a basic difference in characteristic in those sets of value systems. The internally-focused systems have a more yin-based experience of interconnectedness, whereas the externally-focused systems have a more yang-based experience of distinction (Merry 2012). In the context of our collective human development (Wilber 1996), our current form of civilization really emerged at the point of the split, when the first of the External systems (Red) appeared. We are now reaching a point where a significant percentage of the human population is getting access to the Green value system, the fourth of the External, yang-based systems (some people may be surprised to hear the Green system categorized in this way, as it is often labeled as being harmony-driven, which it is, but it still essentially focuses on the parts rather than the whole, emphasizing diversity and difference, and respect for the individual). The Cultural Creatives are a good example of the emergence of the Green value system.
The development beyond the Green value system signifies that humanity is now on the edge of re-entering a way of looking at the world that has its basis in an Internal, integrative yin focus (with Yellow integration and Turquoise oneness). This would explain why Grof and others identify so much emergence of yin-based thinking, whilst at the same time it has not yet matured enough to morph into new forms of organization and governance structures. This would also explain why Clare Graves, who did the original research behind the Spiral Dynamics model, identified the step from Green to Yellow as being a great leap for humankind (Graves 2002).
Our volutionary relationship to Nature
One of the critical reasons that the volution model is important is around how people experience and conceptualise their relationship to Nature (in this context I use Nature to mean the physical non-human life on planet Earth). Up until now the developmental models have usually been linear and emphasising a move away from the “lower” more embodied levels of development. In the Living in Relationship course in 2011 with Dr. Matthijs Schouten and Irene van Lippe and in their co-authored book (Lippe &Schouten 2010), they explore a number of phases that humanity has passed through in our understanding and expression of our relationship to Nature: Ruler, Steward, Partner, Participant, Mystic.
The ruler relationship describes a position where humans put ourselves above Nature and see ourselves as needing to dominate and control Nature. This correlates with the Spiral Dynamics Blue order-driven value system, which emphasises hierarchy and control. The emergence of this value system in itself is critical to our human development (it enables us to find collective agreements on how to live together, for example) – as a developmental code, it is a key part of our journey. However each code can give rise to different content. In this case, in particular in the emerging industrial societies, the content that emerged in relationship to Nature was one related to fear of the natural and a story of our right to dominate and exploit the natural world for our own ends, emphasised by the Abrahamic religions (Baring 2013) (which although they began with a story of dominion and stewardship, ended with a story of domination (Currivan, pers.comm. 2016)).
The steward relationship describes humans as looking after Nature. Having controlled it in the ruler phase, and feeling safer around Nature, we start to relate it more as a child, in parent-child relationship. Note that the need to control still lies beneath the surface, but once under control, we can “help Nature develop”. This correlates with the emergence of the Orange Achiever-Self value system in Spiral Dynamics. With the underlying drive for continuous progress and growth in this value system code, the emergence of the Industrial Revolution as content within that code became a potent recipe for the use of Nature to further humanity’s ends for ever more comfort and wealth. Nature was tamed and kept in parks and reserves, where we continued to “steward” it for our own recreational use.
The partnership role correlates with Spiral Dynamics’ Green Sensitive-Self value system. In this phase we have had enough of the ongoing strive-drive for more and better. Often it is exhaustion that brings us to the realisation that there is more to life than the illusory rewards of the outside world. We re-connect to our inner worlds, to our emotions, and become aware of the pain and damage we have caused to ourselves, each other and the world around us. At this point we have a strong urge to reconnect to Nature, and start to see ourselves more as an equal, yet still apart. As a partner, there is still us and Nature, yet now we do start to see and honour Nature more, and look for possibilities to develop a more conscious relationship to Nature. We feel how wrong it is to exploit Nature for our own means and will often make our voices heard in protest at exploitative activities and plans.
Participant is closest to Spiral Dynamics’ Yellow value system. Where the partner still really sees Nature as something to feel sorry for, the Participant starts to realise that there is no choice here – the reality is that humanity is a participant in the broader unfolding of life and that we need to start acting as such. The Participant understands that all life is connected up, and that humanity is a part of the Earth. We seek to participate in the natural processes, look to get closer to how life does things. As you will sense from the words above, there is still some distance between the Participant and Nature – we are still seeking to participate in Nature.
As Mystic, the boundaries finally fall away, and we dissolve into the web of life – yet now we are conscious of that process. There is no ruling over, stewarding of, partnering with or participating in – simply a realisation that we are life and Nature. There is no separation, even though there is differentiation. This stage is far more than simply a cognitive realisation. We feel it in our hearts as we remember who we actually are. Given the trans-cognitive Nature of the experience, it is hard to express in words, which is why it is called Mystic, and why mystics tend to be known for expressing themselves more in art and poetry than academic writings. This correlates most closely with the eighth phase in the octave, Spiral Dynamics’ Turquoise holistic value system - real communion with Gaia as a living planetary being.
As much as these are civilizational phases of development, each individual also passes through them as we grow up. I certainly recall them all clearly. The shift from Steward to Partner was particularly powerful, with the awakening to Nature as an alive part of my world. Most recently, Participant into Mystic continues to be a strong experience. The surrender that I experience in the realisation of our oneness with all of life is paradigm-shattering. It is particularly strong as it is the first time that our development transcends yet includes the cognitive. I feel the grinding of those gears daily!
In that journey, which has included spirals of learning and application, I have come to see the importance of integrating earlier phases of development. From that context, it is surprising that Schouten should leave out three earlier stages of development that are made explicit in the Spiral Dynamics model – Beige survival-driven, Purple safety-driven and Red power-driven. The reason it is important to spend time on these is not so much for historical accuracy, but more due to the relevance of re-integrating them into our consciousness and lives – so we become more whole and are able to resonate with all strings on our bow, as it were, and re-engage all of life (Taegel 2010, 2012).
In the Beige system we were one with Nature, a part of Nature, embedded in Nature, unconscious of ourselves as separate beings – a pre-cognitive unity state. In the Purple system, we were becoming aware of Nature around us, and were still very much communicating with Nature with non-cognitive senses – a natural participation. In the Red system we became aware of our own identity, our power to impact the world around and the power of the world to impact us. We were still in our wild state, connected to the wildness of Nature, but in an increasingly energetic way.
The research into volution has lead me to believe that this developmental journey is actually more than the linear pathway from pre-cognitive systems to trans-cognitive systems. One of the key findings was a relationship between Beige and Turquoise, Purple and Yellow, Red and Green, Orange and Blue, as described above. In the body-based research carried out around this with Dylan Newcomb (see above), these pairs each ended up having the same basic movements but with a different quality. The journey then reveals itself to be one of unconscious exploration of life up until the mid-point of the journey (between Blue and Orange), and then a process of the re-integration of the stages that one has passed through. So Orange striving needs to integrate Blue boundaries, Green sensitivity and collectivism needs to integrate Red power and individuation, Yellow interconnecting needs to integrate Purple belonging and Turquoise unity mystical consciousness needs to integrate Beige embodied unity experience, recognising the wholeness and the individual as a conscious co-creative expression of that whole. The echoes from the earlier partner systems point to what needs to be healed. There is a literal “re-membering” as the parts are put back together.
Regress to Progress
As described in the previous section, the integration of earlier phases is actually critical to release information and energy held in those stages so that the later stages can unfold. Wilber elaborates extensively on this in his book Integral Psychology (Wilber 2000). Let me turn to my own experience to illustrate this dynamic.
In recent months I have been experiencing a transition in my own awareness (when I described it to Jude Currivan, she identified it as the shift into what she called The Eighth Chakra (Currivan 2016 pers.comm.) in her book of the same title (Currivan 2012)), relating to the transition into the eighth Spiral Dynamics Turquoise holistic system. It started with a traumatic experience related to a loss of balance (identified by my doctor as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)), when all of a sudden the street in front of me tilted at about 45 degrees and I had to run down the hill I suddenly found myself standing on until I bumped into a wall and the street started to stabilise and return to its original position at 90 degrees to my body. While my doctor described this as a loose crystal in my ear (BPPV), my psychologist wasn’t surprised when I told her more about the moment in which it happened. I was walking along talking to someone I had just had lunch with, and they had said something which had set my mind off thinking about the future implications and actions I would have to take. At that same moment a lorry behind me started to lower its tailgate. The noise of the lorry startled me back to the present moment, I instinctively turned my head towards the noise, and when I turned my head back to face forwards again, the street tilted. My psychologist’s explanation was that the work we had been doing over the last year or so had been primarily about me preventing myselffrom getting so carried away by the thoughts in my head, and to be more embodied in the present moment. The experience with the lorry provided an extreme example of that polarity I was navigating, and the sensitivity of my body to that tension is what literally knocked me off-balance.
The experiences I have had of the fully embodied state that she is helping me to work towards match well the descriptions of the eighth level of the octave, or the Spiral Dynamics Turquoise value system. This would imply that the earlier level that I would be most involved in healing and integrating would be the pre-cognitive body-based Beige survival-driven level. That imbalance experience was a shock to my system, and my body clearly perceived it as a life-threatening experience, releasing large amounts of energy in a reptilian brain instinct to fight or flight. As Peter Levine documents in his book Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma (Levine 1997), if that energy is not released at that moment in a successful response to the life-threatening situation, it remains in your body and creates the symptoms that are associated with trauma, until it can be decompressed and discharged. It is important to de-link the emotions from the originating event, and fear from arousal, to be able to integrate the original experience. He also notes how a traumatic experience can create a resonance with a previous traumatic experience and trigger the emergence of the energy related to that trauma too.
Following on from the imbalance experience, I experienced ongoing panic and fear attacks - a continual state of high alertness and occasional extreme anxiety symptoms including uncontrollable shaking and tremors in my body. Any pressure from the world around me to perform in any way triggered panic and I was forced to withdraw from most of my daily activities. As I came to understand what was happening, I was able to adopt more of a witness position to my body’s responses and avoid getting caught up in the experience and making it worse through fear and stressful thoughts of what might be wrong with me.
As I learned to deal with this energy in my body, I discovered ways of transforming the contracted energy into flowing energy. When I feel the anxiety rising again in my body, I bring my awareness to the place in my body where the energy seems to be located, connect to it with acceptance and compassion, say hello to it, acknowledge the important role it has played in the past, and invite it to reintegrate into my system to help me move forward to the next phase. I literally dive into the tension with my awareness, becoming one with it, at which point it usually starts to move and decompress, spreading out in a tingling feeling throughout my body. I feel relief and joy, and interpret that as being the decompression of a particular traumatised energy.
This experience and Levine’s (1997) research and findings as a psychologist back up the idea of regression to heal past traumas and release energy held there, as part of taking a next step forward in our development. For the volution octave to therefore complete its journey from seed to fruit, the second half of the journey has to involve the integration and re-membering of previous stages and healing of past traumas, for the emergence of a next phase that is more than the sum of the past parts.
Psychotherapist and shaman Will Taegel (2010, 29) emphasises the importance of engaging the “sub-self” not only for our individual healing but also to enable us to face the ecological challenges we are currently experiencing, and getting beyond denial so that we may fully engage ourselves in appropriate responses. In his words, “Without Nature-based mysticism, non-dual mysticism cannot function, especially in relation to the complex problems of the environmental crisis” (80).
Richard Gardner (1978) frames it this way:
The evolutionary process will be seen to be the constant integration of the conscious mind with that of the subconscious. A really significant fusion of our dual consciousness will undoubtedly carry with it magical powers and a tremendous increase in understanding.
These subconscious patterns are often held in our body and the integration of the sub-conscious goes hand in hand with the conscious integration of our body, which we split off (as described in Section…). Aurobindo summarises it beautifully:
This new relation of the Spirit and the body assumes– and makes possible–free acceptance of the whole of material Nature in place of rejection; the drawing back from her, the refusal of all identification or acceptance, which is the first normal necessity of the spiritual consciousness for its liberation, is no longer imperative. To cease to be identified with the body, to separate oneself from the body consciousness, is a recognised and necessary step whether towards spiritual liberation or towards spiritual perfection and mastery over nature. But this redemption once effected, the descent of the spiritual light and force can invade and take up the body also and there can be a new liberated and sovereign acceptance of material Nature.
(Aurobindo in Harvey 1997, 65)
The promise is indeed great, however as I experience myself, the path is not comfortable. In Shambhavi Chopra’s book (2007) on Kali, the Hindu goddess of creation and destruction, David Frawley notes in the foreword that “ Purification, which implies the destruction of negativity, must precede any great creation or transformation” (xiii).
The human journey to wholeness
As outlined in the section above on our relationship to Nature, it is essential for humanity to discover a sense of conscious reconnection to life around us if we are to successfully navigate the ecological and social challenges that lie ahead. This would reflect the development of the Yellow Integral and Turquoise Holistic stages in the Spiral Dynamics model, and therefore the integration of the Purple connection/belonging and Beige survival/body/material - as Taegel (2010, 79) says, “return to our roots without losing the brilliance of later developments”. In the volution model these are the final steps in the journey from seed to fruit until a level of integration is achieved that provides the seed for a next major phase. A part of that integration and journey to wholeness for humanity seems to be related to abilities for us to be able to become more aware of the informational and energetic dimensions of our reality. In Western traditions this is often referred to as psychic abilities, clairvoyance or parapsychology (Radin 2013). In his book Supernormal, Radin documents the academic research that provides statistically significant evidence for the existence of psychic phenomena. Roney-Dougal (2010) in Where Science and Magic Meet also reviews the research and offers an integrative framework for understanding the different phenomena that have been observed. Importantly to our point here, she also makes the following observation:
Most esoteric traditions and recent experimentation in parapsychology share this concept: that greater awareness of the subconscious, and an ability to control its functioning more, will eventually enable us to live at a level of mind in which we can utilise our psi abilities with some form of conscious control. (28)
Once more we see the relationship between the integration of earlier stages of development and past events and the release of more advanced abilities to access a more interconnected reality. In human development seen through Spiral Dynamics, Beige and Purple are pre-cognitive stages of development, and so the experiences that we have in those phases of our lives are held primarily in the subconscious - which is precisely that Roney-Dougal says is so important to engage for us to have conscious control of our psi abilities, which would naturally emerge through the Yellow-Integral and Turquoise-Holistic phases. Currivan (2005, 2017) also documents research that “suggests that the conscious mind of the ego-self generally filters out nonlocal psi perceptions from its ordinary awareness” (140). This means that to access these perceptions we need to be able to consciously interact with the subconscious.
In my experience of dowsing and energetic work, and in the research and teaching of Hans Andeweg (2009, 2011), we access the energetic information through the body. We have to reconnect to the denser aspect of our being in order to develop the more subtle informational aspects of our being. It is like a tree having to grow deeper roots if it wants to grow higher branches. Many people have also documented how important it is to work with the body when trying to heal trauma that is held in the subconscious (e.g. Grof 2012, Levine 1997). This is explained well by the volution model as outlined above.
Why, one might ask, has life created this process of incarnating into a relative world with its seemingly linear journey full of pain and trauma, only to need to reintegrate and heal it all again later? In essence, it enables life to learn consciously. As described above, the process of informational entropy is what creates the linear reality of time (Currivan, 2017). As Currivan (2005, 138) notes, "these intrinsic conditions of causality not only enable the Universe to unfold and evolve but allow the level of human consciousness associated with the ego-self to experience the implications of making choices through the process of cause and effect and thereby accrue learning." For life to learn, it needs to be able to make choices which make an impact that life can learn from and improve on - and that has to happen in a linear, relative reality.
The individual experience of time
As outlined in the descriptions above, there are phases in the volutionary journey from seed to fruit, however they are not as linear as developmental psychology has generally described them until now. It is possible to look through the lens of the four volutionary phases and to look for example through the lens of Spiral Dynamics, one crystallisation of the underlying volutionary dynamics. Referring back to the image above, we can start to explore how the phases that unfold in the individual, impact they way they see and experience life and the volutionary process. The descriptions in the red box point to similarities between the top and bottom sections - both are internally-focused and neither are differentiated (“undifferentiated” and “integrated”). One of the major struggles of physics in the recent decades has continued to be how to explain the fact that things sometimes seem to show up as particles and sometimes as waves (as in the double-slit experiment). The difference seems to be whether something has been observed or not. If it has been observed as a result, then it shows up with the characteristics of a particle. If it has not been observed as a result but as a process, it shows up with the characteristics of a wave (Currivan 2005, 6-10). The volution model ties in nicely with this experience.
The characteristic of a wave is that it is an interconnected movement, as opposed to a separate, differentiated object, like a particle. The volution model proposes that the wave-like experience of reality dominates in the lower two and higher two of the Spiral Dynamics octave, whereas the particle-like experience of reality dominates in the central four value systems.
In the volution model described above, the torus is breathing in and out, from less formed and less differentiated reality on the expansive in-breath exterior of the torus, to more formed and more differentiated and crystallised reality in the contractive out-breath interior of the torus. In the lower outer value systems of the Spiral Dynamics model, Beige and Purple, people’s experience of reality is primarily a pre-rational one of an interconnected world, where the relationships between the parts dominate. In the upper outer value systems, Yellow and Turquoise, the experience is also one of increasing interconnectedness and interdependence, yet this time from a post-cognitive awareness that is conscious of earlier phases and can see their relationships to each other. In the lower central value systems, Red and Blue, the focus has shifted to separation and distinction - Red with the emergence of the ego-self and awareness of oneself as separate from the world around one, and Blue bringing that into the collective awareness by creating hierarchical distinctions between people and separating things into systems and structures. In the upper central value systems, Orange and Green, people engage with the differentiated more consciously.
Orange enjoys playing all the different parts off against each other in a game to gain as much as possible. Green thrives on seeing the uniqueness of each individual and celebrating that diversity. In the outer systems therefore the priority is more on wave-like relationships of the whole and in the central systems more on the particle-like distinctions of the parts. Time is also experienced differently. In the central systems, things seems to move fast as our attention is drawn to the externally manifest parts all zooming around. We experience more the flow of information within space-time as entropy (Currivan 2017). In the outer systems, we are more present in the moment (consciously in the later stages and unconsciously in the earlier ones) and things slow down, as the relational space shifts to the foreground of our awareness with the busyness of the parts moving to the background. We experience information more non-locally. The central four value systems also exhibit thinking that is much more about certainty, knowing and a fixed understanding of reality, whereas the outer four value systems exhibit thinking that is more about uncertainty and not-knowing (inducing fear in the lower two and wonder and curiosity in the upper two).
This makes sense if we see the first two stages as an entering phase of a new expression of life, where the system isn’t firmed up yet in its identity, and the last two stages as an exiting phase of the system, where it is starting to blur the boundaries of its identity as it starts to see itself as connected to a bigger whole and preparing to move on to its next incarnation. The central stages are where it really crystallises its form in this current manifestation. Both the particle-like and wave-like aspects of reality are always present, but our experience of them changes depending on the volutionary phase we are in.
The implications are that the more differentiated thinking of the central four systems co-arises with an experience of reality more as being composed of particle-like separate parts, which therefore informs the kinds of decisions that we make about how to engage with the world around us. This has the advantage of enabling life to see itself in all its uniqueness and diversity, yet starts to create problems when it takes this too far and forgets the inherent interconnectedness that underlies the diversity. That is a make-or-break moment for a system - can it re-member its wholeness in time to be able to reconnect its parts in such a way that it can complete its octave journey and fulfil its potential as a mature fruit-ion of its initial seed-potential impulse? Or will it tear itself apart by pushing the differentiation to such extremes that it destroys the relational tissue that holds it all together?
This is I suggest where we are at as humanity at this time, and why through me as an expression of humanity this dissertation is being written - in a quest to connect up the parts again. It would also be why Currivan (2005) would write things such as “All matter, which we consider to be solid, is thus essentially wave-like and energetic” (5), and why this perspective is growing amongst humanity - we are moving into the final two phases of the octave and starting to consciously perceive the interconnected Nature of reality, whilst also acknowledging that the particle-like reality exists - not exclusively particle-like, as the central four systems perceive things, but as an expression of reality that plays out in a bigger interconnected whole.
Another dynamic of the linear aspect of this process is that as a system unfolds, it becomes increasingly aware of itself - and all its parts. In the human story, as our awareness develops to be able to hold an increasing amount of reality, we see and at the same time co-create increasing differentiation in life. We are expanding our knowledge of space and the Universe on a large scale around us while at the same time becoming increasingly aware of the parts of life at the smallest scales. As well as this being true for our cognitive understanding, the same dynamic holds up at the emotional level. As our self-awareness expands, so we are able to reach down in the deeper parts of ourselves to transform trauma and blocked energy held from the past.
Another way to express this is that at any one moment there is a wave-like perspective on the moment that describes the relational space. At the same time there is a particle-like perspective on that moment that describes the material aspects. They are two perspectives on the same moment. They grow closer and become more integrated therefore enabling the consciousness of the entity to perceive more of both. They are two poles of one spectrum breathing in and out.
The implications of this thesis are not that the particle-like differentiation suddenly decreases as we move into the more wave-like relational awareness of the later phases. On the contrary. Our more expanded wave-like awareness is able to hold more of reality without getting fixated on specific parts, and in doing so is able to observe more of life, and therefore in observing we can identify more of the parts (observation is what creates the particle-like characteristics of something), and engage consciously with them. From this perspective, although a wave-like or particle-like awareness dominates different phases, both the volume of the interconnected wave and the diversity of the unique particles continue to increase on a system’s volutionary journey from seed to fruit.
At the same time, in the later phases, the ability to hold a wave-like perspective that is increasingly able to suspend knowing and judgement, enables our experience to be less fixed in its current form and to transform more rapidly in relationship with everything around it, in a way that is beneficial for the whole. In this way, the wave-particle distinction starts to converge as the characteristics of fixed matter become increasingly malleable and the probabilities and possibilities of wave-like reality become increasingly able to manifest in form. This is a final integration of relative diversity and absolute connectedness in non-duality. It is the integration of Currivan’s First Law of Information where information is expressed as energy-matter and is universally conserved (as in Quantum Theory) and her Second Law of Information where information is expressed entropically as space-time where space expands and time flows (as in Relativity Theory) (Currivan 2017, 114). Currivan summarises in this way: “The first Law enables our Universe to exist, the second to evolve” (Currivan 2016, pers.comm.)
Neuroscience and Eco-fields
During a course on Neuroscience and Eco-fields (Hickman & Taegel 2015) and my own experience during the period of this course I gained clarity on a thesis that I will expand on in this section, and that reinforces the volutionary holographic nature of reality. The thesis is that as people shift their interior experience and patterns, so the world around us changes. On top of that, the reverse is true – as people create change in the information fields of the world around them, so that is reflected in changes in our interior experience and nervous system. This is the reason for connecting neuroscience and eco-fields, and selecting the Hermes Trismegistus’ “as within, so without” quote above. The two main faculty members of the course also reflect these two aspects – Jim Hickman on neuroscience and Will Taegel on eco-fields.
As was pointed out numerous times by Hickman and Stanley Krippner during the course, there is now significant scientific evidence that demonstrates that human beings can alter our own nervous system. This can be achieved through practices of inner awareness and consciously-directed intention. Hickman referred to Stephen Hawking’s term “model-dependent realism” (Hawking 2010) which describes how the models in our brains shape our experience of reality. These models can both limit us to our existing patterns and ways of experiencing the world around us, and be re-scripted as we take more conscious responsibility for how we experience and therefore engage and contribute to that world.
Hickman referenced research showing how spiritual and religious practices can positively impact our brain and nervous system (e.g. Taylor 2010; Childre & Martin 2000). He also noted how many of the patterns that deeply influence people’s interaction with life are rooted in layers of the brain that developed early on, before the emergence of the cognitive and self-reflective layers and abilities. This implies that we cannot access those layers purely through the cognitive mind, but need to address them through more emotional and somatic interventions, as described in previous sections. This has been demonstrated for example by the comprehensive work of Stanislav Grof with his holotropic breathwork practices and research (Grof 2012).
During the period of this course, I was processing some traumas from my childhood that had risen to the surface at that time. On the one hand, I was working with a therapist who was helping me become more aware of some of the dynamics going on, enabling me to name them and see them, bringing the light of my awareness into some of the darker shadows, converting those patterns from “subject” (where they are so much part of me that I can’t see them) to “object” where I can consciously choose whether to associate with them or not. On the other hand, I was taking these traumas and the implications into a breathing practice that I have been doing for a number of years, and that has always proven powerful in transforming limiting beliefs and patterns that no longer serve me (the practice is called Quantum Light Breath, developed by Jeru Kabbal – see also Kabbal (2006)). It is this breathing practice that I would like to focus on for a moment.
As stated above, neuroscience shows us how foundational patterns in how we engage the world are located in pre-cognitive layers of our brain. To access and transform them, we need to engage in practices that are more somatic. This has been my experience with the breathing practice. The process lasts normally about an hour. The basic instruction is to develop a deep breathing that fills both the lower and upper lungs fully, and then release it. You start slowly, getting used to the full breathing, then increase the pace, then go through a few minutes of breathing as fully and fast as possible, then relax the breath again and slow it down as you come to the end – always maintaining the full breath. Biologically what you are doing is pumping more oxygen into your system than it is used to, more than it needs for normal operation, providing an excess to feed other processes that you can direct with your intention.
The breathing process is accompanied by instructions from Kabbal. In essence, he continually brings your awareness back to the breath, allowing other thoughts and emotions to be there, but not directing your attention to them. At the outset, he asks you identify the issue (belief, emotion, quality) you want to transform, and imagine it written on a sticky label and stuck on your body at the place of your choosing. After the first warm-up period of about 20 minutes, he then reminds you of the issue that you identified at the beginning and invites any early memories to come to the surface that may be related to that issue. At the same time he asks you to increase the pace of your breathing, culminating in an intense few minutes of maximum speed (whist maintaining the fullness of the breath).
At the end of the intense period, he slows the breath down again and invites you to see the sticker with your issue on it come loose from your body, fall off your body, shrink and disappear (I visualise it disappearing down my grounding cord to the center of the Earth). After that the instructions focus on allowing the light and love in, connecting to your heart, to the center of your joy, and to remembering who you truly are.
This process has always been a powerful experience for me (I do it weekly). It is a very physical and emotional experience. I usually shout at some points, sometimes with anger and frustration, sometimes with joy, sometimes in defiance. In these sessions I have sobbed like never before and laughed hysterically. My body always responds physically, with energy flowing to different parts of my body, with me often kicking or stamping my feet, and banging my fists on the floor (I do it lying down). Sometimes clear memories arise of moments from earlier in my life, other times I just get raw emotion and energy in my body. Letting go of the sticky label is without exception a massive release that brings relief, joy and love flooding into my system. I usually come out of these processes feeling completely different to when I started an hour earlier – grounded, with extreme clarity and in authentic compassionate relationship with those around me. In my journal on June 4th2015, following my breathing practice, I wrote:
In QLB today I took in the feeling of being disconnected and isolated - from primarily the feelings in myself and in others, but also the simple feeling of being alone as I had at school. Again, tears and sobbing at the release. Ultimate insight was that it was all about love - love is connection. Accepting the love for myself, my partner, the kids, the Earth and all life.
I share the example of the breathing practice as for me it backs up the claims of self-directed neuroplasticity. There is no doubt in my mind, from my direct experience, that I can shift limiting patterns and beliefs in my system that would otherwise have remained hidden to me, and both experience and co-create a different world around me as a result.
I also share this because the very physical experience that I have in this breathing process also occurs, though with less force, when I am working energetically with a system “outside of” myself – such as an organization or relationship. In the next section I will explore my experience of interacting energetically with “eco-fields” and the correlation with our neuroplasticity.
In Merry (2012), I wrote:
In Wild Heart, Dr Taegel (2010) describes what he calls an eco-field:
I define an eco-field as that region of influence which underlies a given ecology, a specific locale. The various eco-fields emerge out of a more profound field, itself emergent from the Primordial Mind. Within the specific environment energy, exchanges occur in such a manner as to encourage the resilience and evolution of the intertwined parts making up the greater whole. (p. 10)
Hans Andeweg (2009, 2011) describes natural systems in a similar way, and then goes one step further to extend the concept of an eco-field to other entities such as organisations and projects. In her work on co-creative science, Machaella Small Wright (1997) also expanded her work with energy in gardens to apply the same principles and practices to what she calls “soil-less gardens”. It is my belief that anything with a name and a boundary has an energetic field in which “exchanges occur in such a manner as to encourage the resilience and evolution of the intertwined parts making up the greater whole”, as Taegel describes. Even with a more abstract project that has no specific permanent physical and geographic location, such as Wisdom University, all different levels of energetic entity are participating, such as angels, devas and nature spirits (Andeweg 2011, Small Wright 1997).
Since writing that paper, I have continued my energetic work with organizations and systems, and with Ubiquity University in particular, applying both the practices I learned with Andeweg in the ECOtherapy training along with the self-taught Perelandra work. One of the things that I have started to notice and be curious about more recently is how my body reacts when I am carrying out an informational energetic intervention. I will take the Perelandra work as an example.
In the Perelandra co-creative process, you set up a “coning” with different energetic entities – the deva of the project you are working on, Pan and the nature spirits, the angelic realm and your own higher Self (Small Wright 1997). Every so often, in my case usually weekly, you call a meeting in the coning with your energetic partners, give an update on recent developments, frame your goals for the coming period, and ask if there is any intervention needed to help the system to achieve those goals. There is a list of possible interventions that you dowse for relevance. Once you have identified what needs doing, you then carry out the intervention. It usually includes the use of some kind of essence, which is liquid imprinted with information. You then administer a certain number of drops of the essence by putting them on a spoon and asking the essence of the drops to be shifted to the project – during which the information contained in the essence is transferred to the energetic architecture of the project (Merry 2012).
It takes about ten seconds. It is during this ten-second process, when the information is apparently being transferred from the essence of the liquid in the spoon to the energetic field of the organization, that I get a physical reaction. My body always responds in some way, most often with movement in the skin around my scalp, and with a sense of high voltage interactions going on in my brain – literally as if it is being rewired. My spine normally also tenses in different ways. After a while my body relaxes again, which I take as being a sign that the information transfer has been completed. The question which arises for me, is why should my body physically be responding like that when I am transferring one thing from outside of me to something else outside of me? If we following the hermetic statement “as within, so without” and many other teachings that emphasize how our inner worlds and outer worlds are reflections of each other, then it is not so surprising. The implication is that the informational and energetic changes that my intervention is creating in the systems I am working with is being reflected within my own body and nervous system.
This statement may be easy to accept conceptually, but when I actually experience it and contemplate that experience, it really does challenge the way I and most people assume the world works (through cause and effect interactions of separate parts). For me, although I have not yet done enough research to scientifically validate this thesis, it points to a realisation that the informational changes I make in the world I perceive around me are mirrored in informational changes within my own system. This is where neuroscience and eco-field science start to engage each other. Dr. Taegel, in the early stages of the course, pointed to the way the human brain and the Earth’s system mirrored each other. He also described how microtubules in our cells link us to informational fields in the world around us. All of this points to a growing realisation of the unity of interior and exterior that Hermes pointed to all those years ago.
As Within, So Without
I noticed when I came back from my therapist the other day and was completely connected with my caring loving energy, how immediately the world around me responded. Marcella [my wife] was caring and relaxed, as were the boys. It really is true that our inner state is reflected in the world around us. I felt it even in the moment as more recently I shifted my energy as we interacted and Marcella’s energy changed with me. (Journal entry, June 4 2015)
My experiential learning in this domain of inner and outer interconnectedness and mutual plasticity has been mostly in the field of the relationships closest to me, namely those with my wife and my three sons. The journal entry above describes an experience I had that significantly helped to embed this perspective in my view of the world. I suddenly became acutely aware of literally how the world around me responded as I shifted my inner state. It wasn’t a cause-effect type of experience, as there was no lag time. It was literally changing at the same time, as if it was one thing. There was a moment of deep shock as I saw myself shifting my irritation into care and in the same moment my wife literally become a different person right before my eyes; from an expression of stress and repressed anger to openness and connection. Since then I have practiced it in different contexts, and my experience bears it out each time. On our fridge, we now have a quote from Wayne Dyer: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”.
This kind of informational and energetic interaction seems to be taking place in a dimension of reality that is nonlinear, as the shifts happen instantaneously, and would reflect Currivan’s First Law of Information (Currivan 2017). Krippner described dreams as being in a similar dimension and related it to chaos theory. Twenty-eight years of research at Princeton University’s engineering department (Jahn & Dunne 2005) demonstrated that human intention impacts what would otherwise be random events in the material world – and that these interactions can happen outside of the linear parameters of time and space. Work is ongoing in this regard (e.g. Currivan 2017) but the fact that neuroplasticity and impacting the informational eco-fields in the world we experience around us are interconnected, is moving beyond doubt – from a Princetonian scientific perspective to my own personal experience. As Currivan (2017) points out, the research that demonstrates how critical the way in which information is observed is to how that information takes form as energy and matter.
The progressive understanding … of how information underlies and pervades its appearance is crucial to real-ising how the environment and observer are integrally interconnected with any and all experiments. In other words there’s no separate ‘objective’ reality and the entirety of our Universe is an integrated, coherent and in-formational entity.
Abram (1996) postulates that the development of the idea of an “inner world” interior to the human being and residing in our minds and psychology is actually part of the problem. That dimension of reality actually exists in all life, as part of everything in us and around us. The split between our inner world and the world around us is due to the “the loss of our ancestral reciprocity with the animate Earth”:
When the elemental powers that surround us are suddenly construed as having less significance than ourselves, when the generative Earth is abruptly defined as a determinate object devoid of its own sensations and feelings, then the sense of our wild and multiplicitous otherness must migrate, either into a supersensory heaven beyond the natural world, or else into the human skull itself– the only allowable refuge, in this world, for what is ineffable and unfathomable. (10)
CG Jung (1995) goes as far to say “Knowledge does not enrich us; it removes us more and more from the mythical world in which we were once at home by right of birth” (281).
The quality of inner experience actually permeates all life. We have just stopped seeing and experiencing the world in that way. Talbot (1991, 261) describes the Sufi experience of “an inner world that ‘turns out to envelop, surround, or contain that which at first was out and visible’” - which sounds a lot like the brane of a torus.
One of the initial triggers for my research was a quest to understand how many ancient civilizations seemed to have been able to create remarkable feats of architecture and technology, many of which we are only now realizing have resonance with some of the latest findings of science. Anne Baring’s description of the phases of cultural development (Baring 2013) - Lunar, Solar, Integration - provide some explanation for this, as does the octave perspective in the volution model that identifies the final two stages as re-integrating the yin energy that was present in the first two phases (Appendix 1 traces various examples of the Lunar-Solar-Integration phases). The fact that the yin/Lunar perspective reflects more a wave-like experience of reality (as compared to a yang/Solar particle-like experience) could provide an explanation for why we are (re-)discovering some of the ancient civilizations and their technologies, and noticing the resonance they have with our latest scientific discoveries and spiritual insights.
Currivan (2005) for example describes how the Egyptians and Chaldeans “perceived the relationships within and between numbers and geometry as resonant wave-guides, archetypal pathways for energetic forms and structures to manifest” (29). Schneider (1995) likewise devotes a book to illustrating how numbers and patterns show up across nature, art and science. Drunvalo Melchizedek (1990) describes archeological findings of inscriptions on walls of the “flower of life” symbol, which has embedded within it the fundamental designs of life. Not only that, but researchers confirmed that nowadays we would only be able to engrave the symbols in that way using advanced laser technologies. Much has also been written on the technologically advanced nature of the Mayan civilisations, the practices of their shamans and how it seems to be increasingly relevant to our times(e.g. Johnson 1997, Pinchbeck 2012). Jahn and Dunne (2015) describe their discoveries at six ancient sites in the UK where are they “measured the frequencies of the acoustic standing waves supported by each of them” (92). They found:
that the resonant frequencies in all of them were well-defined, lying within the narrow interval between 95 and 120 Hz, well within the range of the adult male voice. Even more surprising was the observation that the extensive rock art at some of the locations displayed striking similarities to the standing wave patterns that characterized these chambers. (92)
They concluded that “the structures themselves had been built with a deliberate intent to produce specific acoustical resonances, and that their builders had sophisticated understanding of the nature of sound” (94). Further research into the effects of frequencies on brain activity lead them also to suggest “that these structures may have played a role in generating altered-state ritual-driven experiences” (96). As science started to emerge from the pre-rational stages of development, a powerful combination of the experiential sensory and analytical occurred. Jahn and Dunne:
The early scientific heritage that evolved through the cultures of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Orientals, Byzantines, and Medieval alchemists involved intimate admixtures of metaphysical rituals with rigorous analytical techniques, yet they generated extensive pragmatic knowledge and products, some of which, like the ancient pyramids or stone circles, still defined modern replication or full comprehension. (110)
No-one has really adequately explained how the Egyptian pyramids or great stone circles got built with their astronomical alignment and sound qualities (Ruggles 2014, Watson & Keating 1999). There is also the story of the crystal skulls (Morton & Thomas 1997) which was broadcast as a documentary on BBC 1 and many other channels worldwide. It describes skulls seemingly sculpted from one piece of crystal yet scientists at computer company Hewlett Packard acknowledged they could find no trace of tool marks. These skulls play an important role in a number of the stories of native people on the American continent and modern-day psychics have found the skulls to have psi-related qualities. Then there is the great enigma of Atlantis over which much has been written, by both archaeologists and intuitives (Cayce 1968, Cori 2001, Flem-Ath & Wilson 2001, Yoke 1997), a civilization with apparently highly advanced technology and consciousness that it ultimately wasn’t able to channel constructively and disappeared under the ocean. Van Daniken (1969) is another who suggested there was more to ancient discoveries than solely archaeological interest.
Leviton (2007) has documented how mythological stories about places contain information on the energetic features of those places. There is of course much controversy aboutall of these, with a mix of new-age fantasy and scientific-rational close-mindedness confusing the work of authentic intuitives and open-minded scientific researchers. Either way, the volution model provides a theoretical explanation for why it should be that ancient civilizations seemed to have access to technologies we are only just discovering with our advanced science - namely that we are actually re-discovering them in the context of the integration of our original wave-based consciousness with our particle-based consciousness that has so dominated our perspectives over the last couple of thousand years. With space-time an entropic expression of information (Currivan 2017), we can imagine that the wavelengths and frequencies of the integration phase we are currently in resonate with the earlier lunar phase in way that the solar phase did not - which is why we are having related insights.
This collective reintegration, where we seem to be revisiting our cultural past, reflects the process described above for individuals, where we revisit earlier stages of development to release any blocked energy we have around them, making that energy available to complete our current octave journey. This demonstrates the holographic and fractal nature of the volution model. The holographic nature of the volutionary dynamics can be seen within the Spiral Dynamics model. The alternation of “express-self” (yang) and “sacrifice-self” (yin) driven value systems have been described above at the individual level. These dynamics also show up collectively, where they may be recognised in those terms, but also in terms of eras of more chaos and eras of more order. The “express-self” energy tends to generate more dynamism and chaos, whereas the sacrifice-self energy tends to generate more order and structure.
The Purple tribal era was about bonding and connection within the tribe, contrasted with the Red feudal era which was a period of warlords and the winner takes all. That was followed by the Blue One Truth based era that attempted to create order by having people buy into a religious (literally “to bind”) belief system and strictly follow the edicts of that system. Swinging back the other way, we then got the Orange achievement-driven scientific-rational era, that encouraged people to question everything, find their own way, and be the best individual they could - that has created the increasing stress and malaise we now have in Western societies at the individual level as well as the chaos we are experiencing ecologically and culturally as our life support systems start to deteriorate, conflict grows and peoples start to move in large numbers to find safer places to live. The Green harmony-driven era then tries to create more order again by connecting everyone up as one big happy family. As the integrative Yellow Integral and Turquoise Holistic value systems emerge, with Turquoise completing the octave shift to the transpersonal, maybe it is the internet that is an external representation of the expansion of our own collective informational membrane that will embrace the planet and beyond. Calleman (2004, 2009), in his treatment of the Mayan calendar, likewise illustrates the fractal nature of time and the swings between yin (“nights”) and yang (“days”).
The most fundamental fractal polarity dynamics of life therefore, the yin and the yang, play out at individual and collective levels - always within the context of an underlying unity, as the yin-yang symbol so well illustrates with the seed of the one pole always present in the other. The wave at the centre of the yin-yang symbol represents the integration and third creative dynamic. Holding these two forces in a dynamic balance is something we saw some of the ancient civilizations practice explicitly. The Egyptian priests, for example, saw how “the manifest world arose from the sundering of cosmic Unity” which is why they used bonding ritual to demonstrate the integration of Horus’ cosmic unifying power with the physical pharaoh who ruled in the relative world (Currivan 2005, 87).
Volutionary dynamics can also be seen playing out in the collectives of organizations. This section will explore the theme of the leader-community tension as a collective moves into and through transition.
It is important first to frame what I mean when I refer to transition. There are many different kinds of change, from a small upgrade to the current reality, through a quest into the past or possible futures, to a full-scale change of a system to something different (Beck & Cowan 1996, 93). I am currently talking about the latter, often referred to as a non-linear change, “macroshift" or process of emergence (Laszlo 2001).
There are a number of characteristics that define this kind of change. Firstly, all parts of any system are involved in the change. It is not just one element, but literally a whole system change. Secondly, one cannot see what the system is going to become from the old reality. The nature of the change is so significant, that when we are immersed in the current or old ways of thinking and doing, we do not have the space to conceive of how different the new system will be. Thirdly, it is an emergent process of change. That means that the change is birthed by the system itself, stimulated by the life conditions that it is embedded in, so that the whole system metamorphoses into something completely new. In this process, it is impossible to predict exactly when the change will happen, and one cannot control and design the change process. One can only put in place the most favourable conditions for the system to go through its own process of transformation. This combination of conditions makes this kind of change unlike any other.
The Energy of Transitions
During the Sacred Leadership intensive in 2012 (Merry 2012), reference was made by a number of speakers to subtle energy. So how can we understand these transitions in those terms? This kind of non-linear transition is measurable energetically. In the ECOtherapy practice (Andeweg 2009, 2011) that I studied for four years, there are two main types of project descriptors. One is for a project that - in the initial energetic scan - identifies itself as wanting to get to its maximum effectiveness and efficiency in its current form, and the other is for a project that identifies itself as wanting to transform into something different. Over the 20 years of the ECOtherapy practice, the number of projects wanting to optimise their current form has reduced and the number wanting to transform into something else has increased to the extent that now it is very rare to find the first sort. That would fit with the belief that as a planet we are currently in a macroshift (Laszlo 2001) and that all parts of life on the planet are involved in that. Leading this kind of change as the energetic steward requires certain qualities and competencies that I will explore later.
What all of these theories and practices point to is that entities at all levels have their own wholeness and agency, represented by their “eco-field” or energetic architecture as I sometimes call it. That field is intelligent in that it interacts with information from within its boundaries and from its environment, and works on resilience and coherence for the system as a whole. It is possible to contact this field and interact with it through our consciousness and intention, as Andeweg, Taegel and Small Wright all affirm.
During the intensive, as we were exploring the relationship between an individual leader and the collective of people they lead, the image of the torus came to me which is related to the energetic architecture.
The torus arises in a tension field between two poles. The axis runs right down the centre of the torus and can be seen as the black hole at the core. In a holographic understanding of reality, the event horizon of the black hole is where all the information is stored (Talbot 1991, Rayne 2012). At that centre is a fundamental polarity that creates a pull on the unified field to create relative form (Edmondson 2009). Once the one is divided, relativity and distinguished form emerge, a journey of ongoing refinement, the fundamentals of which are described in the I Ching as it goes from 1 to 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 and so on, continually refining the original yin-yang tension. Indeed the foundational level for information, which is at the core of the Universe, is information expressed as digitised bits in binary quantisation within energy-matter (Currivan 2017). The nature of the polarity at the centre of the torus, and therefore at the centre of the “eco-field” or energetic architecture of all life, is a yin-yang tension, clothed in the specific nature of each individual entity. It is that yin-yang tension that pulls on the unified field, creating a spin dynamic that takes the flow shape of a torus and holds within it all platonic solids that underpin all matter (Lefferts 2012). This is the fundamental architecture of anything that can be distinguished out of the unified field, as described in an earlier section.
There are a number of different ways to name the yin-yang tension. Small Wright (1997) sees creation happening in the dynamic between involution and evolution. Evolution is the yang-like expansive force that looks to the future and puts out vision and intention. Involution is the yin-like gravitational force that grounds things and pulls them into form and energy-matter in the manifested present. This tension is responsible for the process of creation, which I give one word to, “volution”, meaning “spin” (Merry 2012).
Andeweg (2009, 2011) describes the same creative tension process in the following way. He talks about a concept level, which is the more evolutionary pole where plans are made (this is I believe the same as what Small Wright refers to as “Mental Level Activity”), arealisation level which is the involutionary dimension manifest in matter (the same as what Small Wright calls the “Project Framework”) and a third level that arises at a ninety degree plane in the middle of those two poles which he calls simply the middle level, or communication or contact level, which is the dimension in which information is exchanged within the entity itself and with its environment (Small Wright does not refer to a third level in between). In Andeweg’s work the middle level emerges as a result of the integration of the other two. He himself says this is a toroidal dynamic (Andeweg 2011). Integration means that the system is able to turn the concept or intention into manifestation, and is operating with great coherence, efficiency and adaptability, in aflow state. That can be represented in this image of the interlocking triangles. In thissituation the system has achieved a steady dynamic balance, with ideas and action coherently aligned. It is a mature system.
The nature of life, however, is also to want to evolve, towards ever greater wholeness and distinction at the same time, which could also be framed as greater complexity and awareness. In this regard a stable system is likely to be ready to shift again in the future (see for example the change model in Beck & Cowan 1996). The impulse for that shift is likely to have its roots in two sources – a build up of excess creative energy within the system itself due to the routine nature of its current stability, and the awareness of changes in the operating reality / environment of the system. At that point, if the leader is playing their role of energetic steward well, they are likely to pick up those signals and start to look for what is next for the system. Many people operating within the system may not yet be aware of the emerging impulse due totheir focus on running the current version well. This is where tension arises between leadership and community.
What the system is wanting to do next can be represented by the triangles pushing through each other, as in this image. This symbol is common in many traditions as a representation of transformation (e.g. the star of David, or star tetrahedron in three dimensions). This is often a turbulent process as the system has to push through a point of great resistance where it has locked into its stable form. That movement creates the start of a new spiral of integration of concept and realization. A new idea has emerged, and the system has to work out how to turn that idea or vision into reality. That also means that the middle contact level contracts for a while, and communication internally and externally becomes less clear as people work out what this vision and new step really means, what the system needs to count on people for to deliver the new vision, what roles need to be played and who the best people are to play those roles.
Leadership and Community
In this kind of context, where a leader or leadership team can see the change that is coming before most of the others in the system, due to their role and the particular qualities they have, a tension arises between what leadership feels needs to happen, what other people in the organisation can see and the daily activity that stills need to take place to keep the current system running.
If we refer back to the toroidal model, we could see the leadership role at that point as focusing primarily on the vertical axis – the axis that connects present and future. The leadership has just stretched that vertical axis to a bigger vision, as in the expanded image of the interlocking triangles. The tension field within which the organisation is to manifest its work has been increased. The manifestation happens at the ninety degree vertical plane emanating out from the center of the torus, like Andeweg’s middle level. You can see this process happening in galaxies, for example. This is where most people in the system are focused – turning the vision into form. As the vertical tension field intensifies, it puts pressure on the horizontal manifestation plane to expand and adapt too. Yet that can only happen as the vision starts to ground and the system works out the implications in new principles, practices and structures.
The challenge that the leader has at that point is to both hold the expanded vision, invite the other people in the system to join in working out what that means for the work that needs to be done, and honour the work that has been done so far, much of which will still need to continue to be done, as the past represents the foundation which the future vision is building on.
What makes this kind of transition particularly challenging for the people involved, is that not only will the system have to change, but the people will have to transform as well – or eventually leave. This personal transformation will go hand in hand with needing to heal a certain amount of pain from the past that is currently withholding energy that is needed to take the next step. Once more this pattern shows up holographically. If we assume that people come into their lives to develop certain qualities and learn certain fundamental lessons (Conrad 2010), then they will have been drawn to a system as part of that process. Up until the new transformation, they would have been working on their path, and are likely to have resolved one issue as the system stabilises. When the change happens, it puts the next challenge in front of you. The question is whether that challenge is something you recognise as being part of your path or not. If you don’t, you are likely to leave. That may be positive, in that your next challenge lies elsewhere, or it may be that you are avoiding the challenge because it is lighting up something in you that evokes fear. In the latter case, if you leave the system you will simply be confronted with the same challenge in a different context until you engage it and learn what you need to learn.
This is why these transitions are so turbulent. Not only are you trying to develop a new organisation, but the individuals involved are going through their own personal transformation at the same time. One way to think about it is that the new vision brings in a higher energetic frequency that you are being invited to match, and that disturbs the blockages in your own system that need to be shaken up, made visible and transformed for you to be able to stabilise at the new frequency.
The leader, of course, is the one going through the greatest transformation, as they are the one most closely linked to the energy of the system as a whole, as the energetic steward. This can create great confusion in the system, when people’s expectations are formed by the perception of leadership that is promoted most commonly in industrialised society, namely that the leader should always know what to do, be a flawless living example of everything the organisation stands for, and be able to tell everyone else what they should be doing to bring success.
This perception is confusing for the leader themselves as they can feel the tension and transformation in themselves, they know deep down they do not have all the answers, and yet they are trying to play a role determined by the expectations of the world around them. It is also of course confusing for the community the leader is leading, as they expect the leader to be stable, well grounded and centered in a time that the leader is going through significant personal transformation parallel to the change in the system, is probably feeling very vulnerable, and is likely to be far from relaxed and in control, in the way that their people would expect and have grown used to in the stable phase of the system. This is exacerbated by the uncertainty and fear that people are feeling in themselves about the change and their own future, leading often to a projection on to the leader of a need for stability, inner coherence and relaxed open-heartedness.
An organisational case study
All of the above thoughts draw on the concepts presented in the reading and intensive around Sacred Leadership, and at the same time are reflected in my experience of the actual events unfolding in the development of a real organization. It had been going through the kind of non-linear transformation described above. As part of my vocational training in ECOtherapy (systemic energy tuning), I had been working energetically with the organization since February 2012. In the initial scan the system identified the project as transformation into something new. At that stage, no-one was aware of the kind of change coming that is now underway. The scan also picked up interference from an external entity that could potentially cause division. That proved likely to be the exploration of a possible merger with an external party.
The male leader as founder of the organization plays a key role in the energetic stewardship of the system as a whole, and his personal transformation will in that sense be deeply intertwined with its development. In the initial scan, the system identified him as one of the stewards, and a woman on the team as the other. Her transformation, and indeed the transformation of the relationship between the two of them, continued to be interwoven with the evolution of the organization. If we refer to the pole at the center of the organisation’s torus, one could see the male yang pole, and the female yin pole. In the developments, he has been seen as the one reaching for new vision and driving the system towards it, whereas she has emphasised the grounding of the vision and the connection to what already is. The transformation process of the organization called both of them into deeper personal exploration of how to hold those yang and yin roles in the healthiest possible ways, and how to hold a creative rather than destructive tension between them. Their individual and collective work influences the future of the organization more than most people realise or would like to realise. As energetic stewards, it is a parallel journey.
A number of important things happened when I was with the organization’s team at an event. Firstly, there was a moment of surrender by the male leader, during which he felt and deeply expressed how he needed to stop fighting against the players in the external party, was ready to forgive them for anything they had done to upset him and to apologise to them for anything he had done to upset them. In this space of vulnerability, a plan was born to approach key players with a gift and try to start afresh. Given the amount of tension there had been between him and the external party, this was quite a step. I could feel the release in my body as he spoke of his decision. It felt like a clearing and relaxation into the natural order of life.
However, as is often the case, just when I thought that this meant the merger was now going to work out, the external party started to behave in a way that was totally unacceptable to the organisation’s team, and in doing so quite consciously broke a relationship of trust. At this point, it became clear to the male leader and many of us that this was the end of the merger. A decision was made at that point to end the relationship, but no formal communication was made.
The interesting thing was, that directly following that event, people started to stepup from the organisation’s community to offer their help and support. It suddenly became clear that this next step was one that the organization would have to take from its own energy, held in the seed impulse of the organization itself, and independent of any co-founding partner. In the twenty-four hours that followed this shift, a plan was born to raise the initial investment from the community itself, ensuring money that was aligned with the values of the system, and at the same time engaging the community in the change process. Healing started to take place within the organization’s field, in particular between the male and female stewards, as well as with the founder of the original entity which later had morphed into the current organization.
The extent to which past collective and individual traumas are re-integrated determines that energy that is made available for the system to evolve. It was as if the field of the organization started to cohere now that the flirtation with the other party was clearly at an end. Like the caterpillar in the cocoon, the organisation needed to bat its fragile wings against the other entity to build its own strength to fly and gain greater clarity on its own identity and destiny. In terms of leadership, the key shift was a release into relationship with all that is. This involved a distinction between a healthy yang naming of and striving for a vision and a more destructive energy of battle and struggle. In the healthy dynamic balance the leader stays in touch with the vision that is wanting to emerge through them, whilst at the same time paying attention to how life is wanting to manifest that in the material world – which is often not the way we may have envisaged it. The movement is towards the integration of leadership that has traditionally been yang-driven with the more yin-based community stewardship, as one would expect in the seventh and eighth stages of the octave. Leadership is able to emerge through the people who have the resources that are needed at a certain point in time.
Having explored how volution plays out holographically in the individual and collective dimensions, the next section will explore some examples of specific practices that are in alignment with the volution theory proposed above.