Monday, March 15, 2010

Triversing Uni-Verses

At a recent meeting of the Evolutionary Leadership Initiative hosted within the Syntony Quest we reflected on the learning that occurs when we pause to look at the possibilities occurring within a process. Even sophisticated models for dialogue, that operate more as a dance than as a march, lend themselves to this process of meta-reflection. So I offer our precious Learning II moment as it appeared.

Because I walk and swim the beach (and the ocean of thought) each morning, I have the habit of mind to often spot these gifts, to pause, stop and bend to look at them when they appear in an inquiry of delight. The ocean always offers up new treasures, even after decades of walking the same section of shore, disclosing the unfamiliar newly seen, on every morn. So I paused this day to ask: ‘What was this strange creature?’

Bateson (1972) describes Learning II, deutero-learning, set learning, learning to learn, transfer learning as: “Learning II is a change in the process of Learning I, e.g. a corrective change in the set of alternatives from which choice is made, or it is a change in how the sequence of experience is punctuated.” (p.264) This is … ‘a change in the manner in which the stream of action and experience is segmented or punctuated into contexts together with changes in the use of context markers’.

Far too abstract to have meaning?… perhaps, but this is because Bateson is talking about the flow of time that is above the time-pressures of the doing in the now. Simply, it is our agenda for our agenda. It is watching the flow while in the flow. Its surface technique is the meditation bell, its skill is in what occurs for mind within its ringing. It is what occurs after the bell has rung. It asks: How in doing do we want to be in being, in this which we are about to do? It is the practice of the cognitive pause.

The learning for us is simple. In seeing segments of an agenda, are we able to see them as separate contexts, or are they just one flow of content? If we can see no difference between timetabling and appreciation, between content updating and deep purpose presencing, between clearing the plates and clearing out of the place, then there is none – and none will be made. Yet if we see in each carefully chosen segment the need for different contexts, then there will be a difference. Different results, will then result.

In discussing this openly, we surfaced the skill of traversing the tensions that exist from within this terrain, the expressed feeling of time pressures, task outcomes and dealing with the present, while mistakenly releasing of the time for being present. These are not tensions that are resolved at their level of creation. They are the precious basis for the more profound question that arises from their generation.

Our answer to these tensions … as Learning II, is rather than traverse this difficult ground, with difficulty, we as evolutionary leaders, when engaging in that unique and special role (which is not always) must learn to Triverse. How are we to define this new word?

~ to Triverse : v. to speak in three temporal realms at the same time, three universes of meaning as one flow, in three times, as one meaning set.

These three temporal universes of meaning are:

Forward-verse: the need to take a question from the past and our totality of experience held and move this forward into the future to generate the new.

Neutral-verse: the centering to hold a question in the present moment, without content of the past, or projections into expectations, vulnerable in the indefiniteness, to generate the now.

Within-Reverse: to discern how we are going to become and to decide to experiment with how it will be ‘to be’ that in the now, for that is the only way of truly knowing.

For in a verse is found words, communication, meaning and most importantly … song. In a Tri-verse is contained for us three temporal worlds, three uni-verses that as evolutionary leaders we must learn to sing, in one time, at the same time. They are:

Our world of our past ~ which has served us well.
Our world of the now ~ which is all we have to be well.
Our worlds of the futures ~ which is where we fare well.

This is a song in verse used to sing a world of worlds into being. It is an old skill. Older than all of us. Shown to us again with the high tide of our thoughts. How then will we learn this new-old skill of the Triverse? How do we learn what no-one knows? Where is our teacher? Who of us knows its words?

If this idea of Triversing is a principle that resonates, one that finds a place in certain moments, those moments when our former ways of knowing will not fully serve our necessary ways of being in the completion of our doing in moments of unknowing … we will go find it’s tune. If not, we won’t.

For there is no need for trial and error, to try and err in error, in the invitation to try and learn … in playfulness. There is only the expectation … of play. Perhaps we simply need to play with this, and each other - with the presence to uncover all, within a wider (Learning III) principle of discovering together?

Come play,
within this,
within us,
with this
in celebration
of our discovering together
once more this joyous day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I haven't posted recently about art and music. This is not for lack of joyous experiences as the local international arts festival has just completed. Perhaps in the post-concert chats I had exhausted my commentary ~ in opinion, observation, criticism and critique (the four dimensions of integral commentary).

Astounding was the performance of Simeon ten Holt's Canto Ostinato for five pianos, the Hilliard Ensemble (with an honoring Consort) performed Arvo Part's Passio passionately, the Australian Brass Quintet exhibited virtuosity, fused arranged with ambition dramatically and the Branford Marsalis Quartet challenged impeccably. Yet it was a familiar piece I want to reflect on.

My beloved WASO (who have given me thirty years of listening pleasure, and my mother thirty before this and my grandmother thirty before her) chose the sea to behold for their 2010 opening concert, including the world premiere of Andrew Ford's evocative commissioning, A Dream of Dreaming evoking the breath of life into Tim Winton's dream. On the program was also Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony, which I last saw performed by WASO in 1994, recalled as if it was yesterday. Yet, last night I heard the libretto inspired by Walt Whitman with new ears.

The second movement On the Beach at Night, Alone extracted from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass opened up vistas of the 'similitude' this night. Here are the words again, as used by Vaughan Williams and performed by the colossus (in voice) Teddy Tahu Rhodes:

"On the beach at night alone, As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song, As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future. A vast similitude interlocks all, All distances of [space] however wide, All distances of time, All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, All nations, all identities that have existed or may exist, All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future, This vast similitude spans them, and always has spanned, And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them."

May art in nature, prose and music's muse, make us reflect in smallness, on many a wondrous day.

What holds the universe, the universal all held?

The 'similitude' ... in the guise of the all, as it appears to us mere passengers, within a farther sailing Soul.

Behold, each day, the sea.