The Chariot of Fire

The indigo flight was on schedule. He was the last to board and was heading straight in my direction, with a beaming face. 

What a way to meet, twenty years and the very same date when we last met. I am Raj, he said, offering his hand.

It is indeed a small world.  I couldn’t believe my eyes. He almost looked boyish or at the most a 25 year old. Raj of my memory was in his fifties, one of those who had challenged everything one believed to be true.  1990. The workshop was coming to an end. Participants were visualizing their future. Raj, a onetime scientist with NASA stood up to share his personal vision of the future.

“I have worked for over two decades on space travel and somewhere on the way I came to have this vision of translating the logic to my physical self, convert my Self to a space vehicle and explore the universe. Do you think it feasible or is it my personal madness?”

Raj walked down the aisle to his seat.

This was the immediate trigger. Earlier the mother when they met had set off the first one. “Death is not the only way out. There is another one far more exciting. Death is a normality of our present time. In another time death will be abnormal or accidental.  But accidents are not all that accidental when we get to understand how the design works.  Only the normal can aspire to be supernormal.”

“The first step to walking with the gods is to be a true normal.   What we consider normal is a false normal.

To the true normal

Renewal

@ is much more than the symbol of our digital identity. It is the symbol of return to the tribal to create the new tribal and re-establishing our identity in the second age of real-time”

“When was the first age? “ – Ann

“Over 10, 000 years, in the original age of affluence, we lived in real time, gathering and hunting.  With settled agriculture, ownership, waiting for the harvest, hoarding and barter, linear time came to be. We lost our innocence, grew up in shame and then came the philosophers and the modern!  “

“Be like children? “

“Detox, empty, all the accumulated crap of over 10,000 years”

“You, a communist? “

“ It is a long journey. We can see the future only to the extent that we can see the past.  To create the new tribe and community we need to craft a rough cut of the prototype. Nothing is available in the recent past that gives us even a rudimentary idea of what we seek to achieve.”

One dimensional man?” – Marcuse

“May be four dimensional, we are talking about the four fold path, the view that prevailed some 2500 years back in linear time. We need to see progress, decay and emergence across time, four aspects of the process that we call progress. Most often, progress has been mistaken for decay.  Schopenhauer was 25 when he wrote “ On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. One or four is not the issue. Seeing is the issue. Both saw”.

“The return of the noble savage? “

“Not really, may be a re-cognition of our roots. If you were lucky enough to have grown up on the banks of an unpolluted river, you would know how much time it takes to catch enough fish for the day, with bare hands. The original affluent society enjoyed full employment, had very little need for sophisticated tools and lived in non- time. Everything was in the commons, the equivalent of wiki in our times.  In spite of all the progress we are once again reduced to gatherers and hunters of a different kind, for safe food, water and information that reinforces our fitness to survive. We are hooked not connected.  @ signifies our birth in real time where wiki is the benchmark for not writing something that is already there or can be accessed through a simple search. It also signifies the death of the philosopher’s world that we created with a few lighthouse people as the paradigm and the birth of the new age of affluence. “

“Do we have any remnants of the original affluent society”?

“May be in some far corners of the world where the modern is yet to encroach. Not all societies moved to settled agriculture at the same pace. The Malabar Coast, present day Kerala, was one such region where the gathering/ hunting culture prevailed till the arrival of the Portuguese.  Pushing the tribal and the fisher to the edges is as old as the spicy seduction of the Queen of Sheba by Solomon with spices from Malai.  Malabar was the first El Dorado for the trader and the seeker, companions on the road and the sea. They came from all parts of the world. It did not take much time from the arrival of the Portuguese for reverse- migration to begin which continues unabated. The Constantine church met with the Thomas Church here. The faith that survived on its own merit for a millennium and half against waves set off by Mahaveera, Buddha, Asoka and Sankara gave in to the Constantine wave. The hunter turns hunted in no time”

“You are compressing a lot of history into a few lines.”  – Shan

“History is story, even science is. When facts are stranger than fiction, fiction sells no more. Story telling becomes story killing. His story is complete when read with her story.  Hyper – text is layered and each reader has the option to branch off any time with his explorations on the pointers in different directions.  We can now gainfully compress data as against loss-less compression of data.

Philosophy is a product of affluence, rather an affliction of modernity. Mahaveera and the Buddha were princes who renounced material affluence to the spiritual. Spinoza worked hard to earn a living to philosophize. Our modern versions feed on the commons but talk in tongues alien to the commons in their journey to be crowned. They will in time be reduced to a wiki-page and when the number of hits   falls below some prefixed number will vanish into digital oblivion.

When space and time come together history gives in to the new, R, the net value between the two opposing flows. It might appear to be insignificant now but the tectonic plates have begun to shift and the process will gather force as we become free from being hooked to being connected.

“We are no longer talking about philosophy. We are talking about organised religion.” – M

” We are exploring the larger context. The priest used to be the philosopher for    the masses. The role has been usurped by the scientist for many and the philosopher for some.”

Think outside the Planet

anchor

Think outside the box is a cliché that we hear too often. There must be a deeper reason for the persistence of the phrase

At some level it stands for thinking beyond the planet

As virtual space expands we are less stuck with the material. I don’t have to move my physical mass to go to the bank or to buy and sell my shares or to be in real-time touch with my friend in the valley.  Gravity is less of a constraint and achieving take off velocity demands less of an effort – in virtual space.

We are stuck with the material – physical, positioned in the physical world. The perfect sheet of rubber transformed into a foot-ball has no rubber at its centre.

What appears to be normal from this position, is the false normal

“Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth.”  Archimedes saw the problem with our position. In nearly 2500 years we are still stuck with the problem. .  

To move the earth, we need to re-position ourselves outside the earth, to a position external to the physical. We are much more than our physical selves.

We see the true normal from this position, similar to the astronauts looking at the planet from space.  True progress involves a return to the center. @ is the symbol of this return and the new journey.

Taking Position

PP'

We understand reality through the tools we use. The compass is replaced by the GPS. We may not care how it works but we take it for granted that it shows us our position and whether we are on course or not. If we were to develop a GPS for the journey to our true normal- potential- the first step would be to fix our position as the GPS does in our journeys in space.

What we see depends on where we stand, the position. P’ is the position arrived at by the GPS and P is the position external to the physical realm.  P shows us the true normal and P’ the perceived normal. P is in real-time, P’ in linear time.  P is invariant and P’ is variant in time and space.  The directions cover virtual and physical space.  P’ has a time horizon of around 75 years, current life expectancy in Kerala and most developed countries, whereas P has eternity as the time scale.

What is it to be human?

“I think the light house people have always liked to use language not understood by the commons. It’s just that now there are many more claimants to the crown spouting Guru sounding stuff which ties in with the term I have co-opted “veneration of the personality”. – Shan

“Your stuff doesn’t make any sense to me’ – Dreamcatcher

“We still worship the dead. The veneration of the living and the dead are two sides of the same coin. The adult of the species is yet to be born. Our lighthouse people speak to the commons not the academics. As for making sense, this is a long term project which might make sense eventually. They say that tolerance to ambiguity is essential to making sense. ” – JM

Since 1990 we have been confronting people with the question, what is to be human, in our work towards arriving at a common position in the contexts of  teams and organizations.  A Google search throws up not one but 29 answers in the first link that comes up on top of about 1,530,000,000 results (0.40 seconds).   Simple questions are the most difficult to answer. None of the answers reduce our uncertainty. They only add to it.

Does more information really help?

Among those 29 answers, this one is central to this dialogue.

“The symbol-using (symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animal, inventor of the negative (or moralized by the negative), separated from his natural condition by instruments of his own making, goaded by the spirit of hierarchy (or moved by the sense of order), and rotten with perfection” – Kenneth Burke.

He lived to be 96, for us a measure of his personal intelligence grid.

Burke’s terministic screen’ is “a set of symbols that becomes a kind of screen or grid of intelligibility through which the world makes sense to us.”   We named it ‘the matrix’ in our v.1 discussions.  For Burke, reality is a clutter of symbols (1966). Things remain the same or even worse in the post-internet age.  The clutter has only amplified. We hope you have looked up the wiki link. If we are separated from the natural by instruments of our own making, we could as well make instruments that bring us back to the natural too.

“Have we have been evolving in our human-ness in the last 10,000 years, since our gathering – hunting days? “

“In some aspects, most times we regressed. We need to put this in perspective as we go along. Taking a common invariant position is the first step”

“Cut the crap, what is THE answer?” – Ann

“We are the only species which can continually improve. We are learning engines with the potential to continually improve on our previous best performance”

The Nature of Nature:Community/Social/Intelligence/Learning, A Metasystem Perspective

Accelerated Community Learning

Most of us live in  a black or white, flat world. What do we choose to see, black, white, black and white, grey, green, grey and green ?

What we see is what we get. Intelligence is about seeing all of them and beyond. Seeing in pairs (the ark had its pairs) is inevitable since black is black in relation to white. We make sense by comparing. The quadrants pair, reflect each other, Q1 with Q3, Q 2 with Q4, Potential with Performance and Old with New

Potential = Performance + Waste + an Unknown Quantity, our raison d’être

All systems are purposive and reduction in waste is the super ordinate goal of the system

Growth is a process of positioning, fixing the direction (finding true north) and metrics of the  reduction in waste.

Red stands for decay and entropy. Green stands for continual learning and renewal

Community is about the commons, what we collectively share, value, enhance and preserve

More: FDF,  Knowledge Visualization,  

suggested reading :  An Outline of General System Theory (1950) Ludwig von  Bertalanffy

Angels of Death and Devils of Life, Old and New

What would you prefer to be, an angel of death or a devil of life?  Be a devil of life, a ruthless one at that, 8×5 if not 24×7.

If the belief in god begets the devil, isn’t it better not to believe in that god ?  God and devil, life and death need not be at the poles and in opposition to create each other. If charity begets charity, it takes a lot of courage to stop being charitable.

Can life die?  Everything that lives eventually dies, says, a popular author to his six year old son who asks, will our sun eventually die and the earth turn into a lifeless planet? It takes some understanding and even more courage to say, I don’t know.

The true scientist working to decipher the code for biological immortality has no options  but to take a different position, live that reality at least in part, now. For her life never dies, everything that lives need not necessarily die.  She chooses to pay attention to ‘facts’ to support her position and work towards translating the dream to a lived reality all through her living life. She sees everything alive and not dying. She too could die but she truly lived when she lived, out of the shadow of death. Biological immortality is a virtual reality for her, now.

Nature continually renews itself. We create death working overtime, resisting nature. Our best selling author also does almost the same, paying attention to ‘facts’ to support his position, spreading the message of death all through his dying life. Death is the virtual reality for him now.  The coward dies many deaths.

The author is an angel of death and the scientist, a devil of life. A devil of life is rarer than a black swan.

Black swans are exceptions when we take very thin slices of  time and space. Compare this with the universal, all slices of time and space. Imagine all the unknown earths where white swans are as rare as black swans on our planet.  In some future time we would be ‘successful’ in making white swans extinct so that the black swans will be the ‘normality. Or it could also be true that in ‘her-story’ in some unknown past, nobody wrote a ‘his-story’ of the swans, black swans were the normality. America was doing all right, perhaps better from some other perspective, even before Columbus ! Thanks to Taleb for the trigger, a black swan in our present slice of time and space. In the cacophony of the market place one with the best noise box is listened to and being audacious is integral to a  B-School education. One is advised to have big hoary audacious goals.  We go to great lengths to prove that we belong to ‘mediocristan’ to use one of Taleb’s coins. Mediocristan and extremistan are two sides of the same coin which has a third side for ordinary mortals like us and many more sides to the likes of Taleb, which most students and their professors fail to connect to in their case studies in B-School.  In the medium run all of us are dead or ‘fooled’ in mediocristan, the flatland.

Angels of death come in all colors and shades, most pleasing, gentle, dying to do good, promise to make you all powerful, beautiful, immortal, a full life here, another one after your death – ‘mutually inclusive’, so on and so forth. The cosmetics peddler, medicine man, philanthropist, priest, pedagogues, top of the pyramid, blue chip performance, pied pipers, astrologer, snake oil in all rainbow colors…………noblest of intentions ………….. The effect is invariably malignant and they are so sure of themselves. You will never hear them say, I do not know.  We are not that sure.

The devils of life come in gray. They are very rare. Keep searching. Appearances are very very deceptive. There could be a beginners’ dilemma.

Keep paying attention to the new. Everything is renewed. Life never dies. Somewhere on the way, the tipping point will come, death will be the abnormal and life the normal. Biology will be in fashion than Physics.

Why wait for the prophet who will never come?  Let us begin building our ark.

We become what we pay attention to. Resistance creates resistance. Do not resist. Meera looks at the jaded jeans from her B-School days completing a quarter century of companionship. She chooses to see the new feel of it, today, now.

 

Building Our Ark, Living in Real Time

In the beginning was the word and before the beginning, we lived in real-time.

Most of us live in linear time and some in real-time. Those living in real or relative real time live longer, the blue ocean people. Those living in linear time die early.

Noah, Aaron and Abner are kids around us. We are fascinated as to why we go back to the Old Testament to dig up these names? History and myths chase us when we don’t understand them?

Books can be written only in linear time. So is history. In real time all of past and all of future are NOW. From now we connect to a history of the future.

In linear time, we and the world were born at some distant past. We and the world will die at some far away future.

Wright brothers were right. They gave expression to our collective longing to fly. Buddha, Christ, Mohammad and Gandhi voiced our longing to break free in a different way. We played with technology to break free from the confines of the planet driven by some distant memories of longer flights. In the beginning, was oneness and the longing for oneness took us to transcending the barriors of time and space. With the emergence of the web and the cloud, when we are stuck in the clouds for hours we have a semblance of what it is to live in real-time.

In real time the flood is now, not in some distant past. It calls for all our skills to craft an ark to survive the flood. One such skill is to transcend the linear to dynamic and real time.  The ark is the symbol of the self. Everything of the past is embedded into it, a new synthesis of all that has happened in the past, the sum of all improvements in the evolutionary journey, plants, animals, and a select few from the millions who are ready for the transformational voyage, crafting an accumulator to collect everything with a survival value and stepping into a new future of rainbow promises.

The old fisherman took me to the shore, pointed to the horizon, some distant waves and the shoal. I could not see any fish. I pretended that I could,the coward that I was. Then on I started watching the waves, and to learn to see beyond the waves. Gradually it fell in place how all the waves, together, tangible and intangible, come together to create what we create.

It is against our programming to think in waves. Unlike fishermen, men on land have come to think in straight lines which leads us to booms and busts rather than waves and cycles which are but  natural But we are always taken by surprise. The captains could not see beyond the linear,   waves and cycles.

Dev complains, the dialogue brushes past too many issues and leaves everyone of them unexplained

Dialogue is for ADULTs. They need no advice. You can at best draw their attention or perhaps provoke them to ask questions. Once this is achieved they need be left to make the rest of the connections. (If there are gaps one can always Google it). There has to be enough space for the adult to find itself and mature.

Now that the context is set and the flood is more than a myth, choice is between building your own ark or a community one. The latter happens only in myths and is beyond our scope.

There is no substitute to building a personal one. We need as many arks as possible rather than waiting for another Noah. Each one needs to build an ark for oneself. Without learning to ride the waves, one can not lend a helping hand. That would be catalyzing suicide

The pyramids were built when the valley was fertile and the soil supported the community. The floods used to keep the soil fertile. When we were young we celebrated the floods which were a rare event. It was a time for celebrations, taking out the canoes, go frolicking. Now they have built embankments to the river. When the river swells, the currents are stronger digging the bottom of the river further down. The embankments get washed away but are strengthened continuously, further accelerating the death of the river. The forests were replaced by a wide portfolio of crops which more or less acted like natural forests which gave way to the plantations, fertilizers, pesticides and weedicides. Now the soil is dying. Floods when they come spread the pesticides and weedicides all over, further accelerating the rot.

The other flood is more difficult to see. The most endangered species is the Homo sapiens and not the others in the list. History tells us that the collapse takes more than 100 years for the full cycle to be completed. When our span of attention is less than 15 years, we fail to see the flooding that takes a century or more.

The crisis could be the birth pangs of a new species. Nature is ruthless when it comes to the survival of the fittest.

One of the participants had this dream of the pied piper and the giant wheel. We get into the giant wheel and the driver decides when we need to get out. The music is so enchanting that we merrily join the flow, the flood. We become the frog soup – drowned in the flood

Either we dream of a glorious past or a glorious future. Neither helps, the flood/ crisis is a perennial one , taking place here and now. We pray to our father who art in heaven. Just as we push him up  (push HER underground) out of our lives we dream of a golden past or a future. This is the problem with stimulus selectivity. We would like to listen to our favourite music and shut out the inconvenient and the unpleasant, out of focus.

Are you suggesting that we don’t wait to save the planet but be selfish enough to save our own skin.

That may be the best that one can do., appropriate selfishness – Charles Handy

Nature will see that in spite of floods and plagues there will be enough left for the show to continue. One can choose which fork to take. The crowd will always be behind by at least 20 + years behind the lone walker. Nobody is going to build a Lexus, reading the Toyota Way

We can learn from the people on the edge. The African proverb, a favourite of Al Gore and quoted in The Hot, Flat and Crowded by Fried man, “If you want to go quickly go alone but if you want to go far, go together” may at times turn out to be suicidal.

For Galileo it was much longer. Had he gone with the crowd, we wouldn’t have him in the history books. The crowd and the pyramid dwellers took a long long ime to reconcile with his personal vision. One can not always go with the crowd. One has to learn to hunt with the hound as well as run with the hares.

What about the Gurus, Best sellers, the secret, the law of attraction, the self improvement industry – NAN

There are enough saviours/ pied pipers who promise salvation. The crutches help till you learn to walk. Once you have learnt to walk, it is time to dump the crutches and listen to the guru inside. One cannot see through the other’s eyes. We need new eyes to see a new vision NOW to create a desirable future

What is the visual about ?

The new eye, window to the self/reality’.  We have attempted to map, create a visual of what we have been discussing. Perhaps one could meditate on it for some time. We were talking about a learning engine.

The Ark is the learning engine which continually outperforms, beyond booms and busts, floods, feasts/festivals.

It is about our self and selves.

Year 2065

Creating the future now/Remote seeing  !

At times, on certain roads,  we can see to the front as much as we can see behind us if we look back. I am over 60 years and can ‘see’ into my past rather well for 55 + years. Assuming 55 years to be the radius of my mindscape I can see 55 years into the future too.

Due to prevalent mental models I do not see farther than 2024, life expectancy being 74 years in my context.  If I subscribe to this my planning horizon need be just another 14 years which in turn would certainly be influencing my decisions, the prime reason why managers tend to believe in the sprint rather than the marathon.

We believe we can ‘see’ even much farther. If we can see through our DNA  and our collective mind we can see much much farther. Everything about the past is mapped into us in so many different ways and we are as old as the universe. There is something immortal in all of us.

We have been using the following exercise in ‘remote seeing’ mostly with young MBAs in the age group, 22 – 26 years, since 1990 and this gets revised every year.

The mental horizons keep on expanding but what we see hasn’t changed much.

The trends became more pronounced. The majority was taking the exit and the new generation, homo novus, was taking over. The flooding started much earlier but was not recognized by many. The minority could not influence the general flow. They found it more sensible to conserve their energy; certain that time would solve the problem.
The markets were collapsing. Longer life-spans and decline in births changed the very character of demand. The seniors influenced the markets much more. Most products and services could not hold on to market share. People found them not giving any more satisfaction, that many of these were just substitutes, products of survival drive distortions and had no basis in reality. The gold and bullion markets had become part of history. The chemicals and fertilizer industry was putting up a stiff fight to stay afloat. The stock markets too were on the brink of collapse due to the upsurge of loosely held voluntary business associations of real stakeholders. The cities were facing a crisis giving way to communes and virtual communities living a life in communion with nature, part of a loose network of similar ones elsewhere. People often shifted residence from one to the other. People in the communes lived a different life in contrast to the majority who failed to grasp the philosophical backdrop behind such lifestyles.

The shift could, now, no more be ignored.
Marriage and family seemed to be the most affected. With adults freed of the long years of responsibility and investment of their time and effort on child rearing, marriage itself lost most of its relevance. People of similar interests seemed to band together into communities of practice for reasons of professional and personal growth. These networks were more like extended families. Life expectancy had crossed the 100-year mark but people were, surprisingly in much better health for their age than at any time before. The communities were self-sufficient in meeting most of their needs. Products and services were by-products of life rather than ends in themselves. Work, fun, learning and leisure merged to become an indivisible whole and expertise in various aspects of knowledge accumulated in specific communities. Established religions were giving way to a new spirituality focused on conscious evolutionary growth by design.

It appeared that Homo sapiens was being overtaken by Homo novus.

Whether you agree or disagree, future is influenced now.

We can choose the world that we want to be in.

Homo Novus

Is the species of the future?
Gathering the scattered remnants of humanness,  building the Noah’s ark of vestigial human qualities
To salvage Homo sapiens from extinction, the most threatened of all species
Sapiens worshipped the dead, never really buried them fully
Oblivious that they were stuck in the mud
They chanted Buddha and Christ for millenniums
Not wanting to go beyond them
Found immense pleasure in wallowing in the mud
Homo erectus never evolved fully
Never really walked erect, mentally or spiritually
Just another of nature’s game of dice
Now vanishing in the millennium flood
Killing each other in the name of God and Satan
By-products of ignorance, another gate to learning

Homo novus is the human of the future
To be one or not to be is one’s conscious decision
THE CHOICE
Homo novus is androgynous, trisexual
Building islands of sanity in the midst of chaos
Islands of love and connected-ness
Networked beyond borders
Of those who by choice, select the road not travelled,
The Road by Design

Potter at the Wheel

The river of life flows forever – renewing itself.

A drop from the ocean has the ocean in it

The body is a drop from the ocean of nature.

We are much more than our physical self.

The spirit clothes the physical, animating it.

Soul , the unifier , is yet to take birth, the second birth, more real than our first birth.

It is both a personal and COLLECTIVE CHOICE for true community to emerge.

The soul is the unifier that bridges the divides within and without, in us, amongst us.

Beyond time, without before or after and as ‘old or young’ as the universe.

The body, the physical, is just the potter’s clay, soul the potter and ‘time’ the potter’s wheel.

Potter fashions the pot in tune with his internal map

If the map is of death we die and if that of illness we become ill

We have programmed our – SELVES to die, to fall ill (what a fall?)

Life is anti-death and its only purpose is to defeat death

It is not the food or the medicines but the maps that make the difference

–         The biology of our belief

–         What we believe together is the reality we create

If the map is of health, renewal, the river of life, the body regenerates

In the flow of life, wrinkles vanish, skin glows, old cells flow out, new cells flow in.

Re- collecting the body that we had at 25 and improving it further

Perfect health is so natural and our ‘efforts’ make it unnatural

RE – ‘COGNISE’ the possibility allowing nature to express itself

Not standing against the flow of life, continual renewal
Eat just for the fun of it, fact is you don’t need to (see the blue ocean people) Eat what brings joy to you, drink what you feel like

For it is the soul that fashions the body

The unifying principle, the glue of life, that connects and binds everything together,

That which re – NEWS continually

(Context in which grown 50 + Couples)

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen. I want to live on in my apartment.”    Woody Allen