New Literacy: In search of the adult

“Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.” – Erich Fromm

What is it to be fully born?

Raj was 15 and Herman, 35. They were walking home from the exhibition grounds, a very long walk to the Ashram where they stayed.  Herman was a priest. The boy frequented the Ashram whenever he could.  The boy was tired, falling into sleep and forcing himself to remain awake.  They entered the gates and lied down on the grounds, both of them gazing at the star lit sky.

Raj heard him asking “what is the meaning of all this”?

The boy had no answers. Silence prevailed, something sparked in the boy’s mind. “Someday, I will know”.  He never knew what was in store for the wish to come true. It was much later and getting himself burnt many times over that he knew that there is a price to knowing, the price that Oedipus had to pay for his insistence on knowing the truth at all costs.

Herman did not last long in the Ashram. He broke his vows and walked out. Raj came to know of it much later. His efforts to locate him were not successful.  Meanwhile many gods died very young for him. He had to pass through his personal omega point before he could come to a reasonable resolution of what he had hoped for on that starlit night, a journey of twenty six years.

I had fallen into a reverie of our conversation the previous evening while Raj was preparing the ground for one of his workshops, talking to the group about the ‘The Thomas theorem’- “It is not important whether or not the interpretation is correct. If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”, a theory of sociology formulated in 1928 by two Thomases. He was going a step further proposing what he termed the Thomas Principle.

The ADULT is the sacrificial goat, when

Master and disciple,

Teacher and student

Coach and the coachee,

Consultant and client,

Counselor and counselee,

Shepherd and the sheep,

Pope and the faithful,

are stuck in their respective positions; cannibalism and slavery are the outcome.

Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. – Mathew 7.19

The disciple has to fail the guru but Thomas never failed, the  other adult in the ring of 13. The other Judas fell to greed and the rest failed to realize their adults much like the unhappy younger brother. When the prodigal son finds the adult, he returns to his father. In recovering the adult he had to let go of a father and the father recovers his very self. The church that Thomas went on to establish was built on the rock of reason unlike the other churches built on the rock of faith. Both work  but whereas one thrives on dialogue, creates adults and community the other relies more on fear, manipulation and aggression, creating a setting that  makes crusades feasible.

Dialogue is possible only among adults, where reason prevails.

Raj was stirring up a hornet’s nest. There was visible uneasiness among the group. I was thrilled to see that the group was approaching its omega point, which I define as the point of maximum sustainable confusion any group can withstand. The group will either break up or come to a reasonable resolution of the issues to form a community of practice for the rest of the programme. A few of them would form new alliances and bonds that would last a lifetime. I was here after two decades of our first meeting in one of my workshops.

Raj appeared to be relishing the confusion. We want to create an environment of community here for the duration of the programme, he continued.  Organizations are not for adults, community is. It is natural/imperative that the disciple fails the Guru – do a Judas- the mentee the mentor, student the coach, counselee the counselor. Peter fails repeatedly.  Thomas, the rationalist, is perhaps the only adult in the dozen and his bible, the only adult version of the story of transformation.  The church that followed him stood its ground   in the cradle of all religions against successive waves of Buddhist, Jain and the Hindu revival.  Disciples go on reinventing the master, do a Procrustus, and cut the cloth to suit their own different sizes.

A stage will come in every learning relationship – including marriages – when the travelers reach the fork on the road. when master and disciple turn adults or one has to let go of the other on grounds of greater love, if that is the only way the other faces the reality of the dynamics. Resolutions might/not happen. When the prodigal daughter returns she finds that there is no father or daughter.  In my father’s abode there are no husbands and wives, fathers or daughters/sons. The cheating wife is a product of this dynamics. She doesn’t want to cheat but has to cheat, destroy herself to rebuild herself. The other has to let her go even at the risk of her own death/suicide. Death is a normal risk to the human, but to die even before one is born is a greater calamity. Life will go on.

Hands were being raised. Raj paused giving in to the questions. He waited for all the questions before getting to continue with the conversation

The fifty year study of myocardial infraction is a recent example of the progressive decline in community among the Roseto. Probably we had better community prior to the beginning of settled agriculture among the hunter gatherer. So in one sense what we call progress was no progress but a decline and decay of community.

Perhaps the universe is perfect, says the digital philosopher, Rudy Rucker.  For the mystic the world is perfect beyond any uncertainty, he lives the connection with the whole and has repeated experiences of this connection which spills into his art, making it immortal.  For him nothing happens by chance, everything is a participative outcome of the grand design. Tolkien believed mythology to be the divine echo of truth. We don’t allow them to die. For them to die, we need to draw the principles they embed and realise them in our daily lives. In those days art deserts the museum walls, the opera and the cinema halls and occupy the Wall Street, virtual walls waiting to be painted.  Art is routine.

If myth is the measure of wealth, India is the wealthiest of nations. Weighed down by the burden of myths they labour more, asking more questions on Quora than others in the world. The wealth of their myths lies hidden like the Temple Treasure of Trivandrum. Unearthing hidden treasures could be opening the Pandora’s Box as the state in Kerala has come to realise the proof of the Matthew effect, (Matthew effect – Robert K. Merton) – the poor in spirit becomes poorer in health and wealth.

So what ?

Ask more questions !

More of fantasy is not the solution to the burden of our myths

To continue

The journey so far

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Re-emergence of Asian Management

First Discipline

Discipline of disciplines

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The Re-emergence of Asian Management 

Ancient Roots, Global Reach 

Analytics, integration, the three imperatives and six perfections 

Category: Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Business, Development, Governance and Management 

Contents:  Foreword, Dialogue Development and CommunityNew LiteracyFirst Discipline FrameworkProcessMetaphoriaReflectionsFutureFAQs

Foreword

First Discipline (FD) is the discipline of disciplines, the base from which other disciplines are derived. Disciplines, art, science or religion, are but collections of maps of physical or virtual spaces. Literate or illiterate, we cannot survive without maps. We start with models and when results meet our expectations consistently, we elevate them to the level of maps. An example is the periodic table. At the highest level maps  connect meta-disciplines unifying them into knowledge and wisdom. The silos get connected. The self is the agent of learning and transformation of data to information creating sense, meaning and structure. It follows that FD is also the study of the self in relation to the whole, from the level of the personal to family, groups, organizations, and society.

Technological bandwidth increases at a frenetic pace. We also find instances of human bandwidth shrinking even faster. The paradox necessitates that we develop a framework, lens, that facilitates analytics and integration,  seeing and showing the deep structures to achieve much higher levels of integration

Growth is a process of resolving issues of identity, moving from dependence to independence and to interdependence. Individuals, teams, organisations and communities need to go through the process. Copying from less complex contexts will not suffice to stay ahead. It is essential to go far beyond imitation to create competitive advantages. FD offers an analytic and integration tool and methodology to address these challenges and disconnects. Through visual semiotics, it incorporates eco-literacy, the new spirituality of work, system thinking, cultural archetypes, continual renewal, mental maps, personal mastery and other unifiers to work together like an operating system of the self at different levels.  Transfer of learning and mastery of  competences are acquired at a faster pace in comparison to any other approach. If the world has turned out to be imperfect, it has more to do with these models of the world than the world outside. The visual semiotic tool, the new eyes,  show us a coherent whole giving us the new vision an essential prerequisite to creating a more desirable future. As in the case of a terrestrial journey, the approach incorporates positioning, measurement, feedback and reflection, functions that are carried out by the compass, clock and the feedback system that enables the traveler to be on course.

How and what we learn as individuals, communities and community will decide our common future. Targeted learning is context and problem specific and seeks to connect, reflect and catalyze- better, faster and deeper. The pace of learning is the differentiator in the race for market share. Technology and the internet have changed the paradigms of learning. The full impact is not felt since habits linger on. It is feasible now to leave rote learning to the memory devices freeing time and effort to more productive. Learning on a need to learn basis at the time it is required is feasible. Self mediates in the process of transformation of data to information and knowledge creating sense, meaning and structure in turn leading to learning and improvement. Mastery of this process, at the level of individuals, organisations, community and society at large is critical the developmental process.

Icons and symbols, like road signs and traffic signals, can function like a compass. The Graphic User interface accelerated the emergence of a connected world. Within the networks is silicon which has the innate quality of connecting and forming very long chains. Digital and other deeper disconnects of multiple dimensions slow down the journey toward the higher evolutionary potential in us, individual or collective, creating serious threats to the very survival of the species. Marshall Goldsmith tells us ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There‘. If we go by history and precedence we wouldn’t have made the moon shots. History is created when we make it history.

The nature of the common journey is that we move towards our completeness and to greater completeness. A parallel can be drawn for this journey too, similar to out other journeys. Let us say that the journey begins now. I am in Bangalore and the time is 10 AM, 31 May 2008. We need a compass/map and the clock to do this. I would like to go to Mumbai. The direction too is fixed. As I take every step on my journey to Mumbai, I need to make sure that I am moving in the right direction and not away from it. This is reflecting looking back and forth to make sure that the process is in control. The three keywords are Position, Direction and Reflection the basic essentials to take on the physical world. Given the other requisites one is certain to reach Mumbai. Without the first three all the rest will not take us to Mumbai.

Mapping the physical world has become very precise in our times. Between Galileo’s telescope   the Hubble and the Femtoscope, are the very large and the very small – farther and deeper. The observer connects the two attempting to comprehend the whole. Yet we will never comprehend the whole in its totality. At best it will always remain an approximation and there will always be unknowables. What we can comprehend of the physical world is so vast that a system is required to navigate. The journey of life is much more than a journey through external space since we are much more than our physical selves. How does one position oneself for this journey? It is the self which fixes the position, direction and reflect on itself as to the progress of the process. The observer and the observed are parts of the same system. Mapping the whole system, physical, nonphysical, external and internal and evolving a navigational tool is one of the basic requisites for the journey on that less travelled road. From 1981 to 1990, we worked towards evolving the FDF, the road map. Eco-literacy, the new spirituality, system thinking, cultural archetypes, continual renewal, mental maps, personal mastery, and many more unifiers are embedded in the tool.  Since then we have been using tool for dialogue in diverse contexts though dialogue is not in our habit. Politicians and priests preach, professionals prescribe, teachers lecture, parents advise. Dialogue needs adults, not leaders and followers or shepherds and sheep. The approach is process and dialogue based, in real time, stretching without burnout and improves alignment at deeper levels of the self for sustained high performance.  Dream work, re-framing of mental maps through storytelling/writing, envisioning, action learning in a simulated work environment are some aspects of the methodology. The context and details vary but the principles remain the same. Since going online from May 2008, the dialogue continues globally and in real- time.

This living document is the outcome of this continual dialogue. It gets written on its own. In the past, several thousands, bulk of them from the edges, have participated in the process.  I/we in the document represent any one or the community which includes me. Among others, I remain one of the facilitators to the process and I alone am responsible for the biases, errors, omissions and jargon that would have crept in, un-noticed.

Many dots remain to be connected.  Welcome to the dialogue and to connect more of them.

Joseph Manuel