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Wednesday, 20 August 2008 22:38


Section VII - Living the Ecozoic Era
Chapter 4 - Destiny


You cannot fulfill your destiny
by hanging on to the qualities of youth.
If you do not display an alternative to blind ambition,
our world will be depleted beyond recovery.
If you do not live with acceptance and grace,
our world will be consumed by the fires and hate.
If you do not become a sage,
from where will guidance come?
If not you,

The Sage's Tao Te Ching
William Martin, p. 35


What inner purpose can we discover and realize?

‘Destiny' is the fourth and final phase of the Appreciative Inquiry cycle. When I looked in the dictionary, I found three definitions for destiny. Two I've rejected because they are deterministic, and at the heart of this work is the freedom of indetermination. The third definition, "the inner purpose of a life that can be discovered and realized," is the operative definition because this workbook, like Appreciative Inquiry, has as its underlying theory, Social Constructionism: our future rests largely in our own hands.

We toyed with the idea of having the opening line of the Introduction be, ‘Once upon a time ...,' and chose not to in large part because we couldn't end with, ‘and they lived happily everOO_VII-4_2009-02-19 after.' We simply don't know the severity and urgency of our problems, or the capacity and the will power we have to address them. Also, this workbook is intended to be a work-in-progress that is part of a larger work-in-progress -- striving for balanced sustainability.

I think it is important to take to heart Albert Einstein's famous quote, "The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we cannot solve at the same level (of consciousness) at which we have created them. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humankind is to survive." It would be folly to think that we have arrived at that new consciousness, but equally absurd to not apply emergent conscious evolution.

One facet of this emergent consciousness is beautifully expressed by Dr. Richard Tarnas in his article, ‘Romancing the Cosmos', in the 12/2005 - 2/2006 IONS Shift Magazine. He sees that our universe is ‘a deeply-souled, subtly mysterious cosmos of great spiritual beauty and creative intelligence' (p.35). He then creates an understanding that when we view the cosmos ‘as being at least as intelligent and noble, as worthy a being, as permeated with mind and soul, as imbued with moral aspiration and purpose, as endowed with spiritual depths and mystery' as we are (p. 35), then we might find the mutuality to unite ‘and thereby bring forth something new, a creative synthesis' (p.35). What Dr. Tarnas suggests is that what emerges may be ‘a new capacity for self-transcendence, both intellectual and moral, so that we may experience a new dimension of beauty and intelligence in the world - not a projection of our own desire for beauty and intellectual mastery, but an encounter with the actual unpredictability, unfolding beauty, and intelligence of the whole.' (p. 37) It is probably best to meditate on such thoughts (and this thinking was instrumental in my opening to ' The Binding of Isaac '), but let's apply it now to some real work to achieve sustainability.

At my most recent Systems Thinking in Action Conference, I attended a breakout session titled, ‘ Sustainable Cascadia : Inside Large Scale Change.' It seemed to me to be a fractal of ‘Ecozoia.' Cascadia is a bio-region that encompasses our temperate rainforest along the Pacific Ocean from British Columbia to Northern California, extending east through the dryer climates that extend to the Rocky Mountains. The facilitators for the session, Stephanie Ryan and Sandra Poulson, are to be applauded for taking on this most daunting task, and my understanding is that their efforts are being well received and supported. In addition to the ‘can do' feeling it gave me, it became the source of a lot of reflection on my part regarding how we might focus on our destiny.

When the question was asked in the ‘Cascadia' session, "How do we define a bio-region?", perspectives were articulated that attempted to define it using current political borders, climate, ecology, economic dependence, and so forth. My belief is that the glue that holds a bio-region together is a critical mass of people who share the same guiding principles. These principles are more oriented to connection to place, nature, and human dignity than to political ideology, climate, or economics. As these principles are adopted by critical masses outside the bio-region, it is essential for each region to have permeable boundaries so that sustainability can spread naturally to contiguous regions, as well as allowing alliances to be formed with other non-contiguous countries and regions that share the same guiding principles.

How much easier is it to understand and bring Cascadia to reality when our context is a loving, thoughtful universe as articulated by Dr. Tarnas?

The ‘Destiny' we create that is largely described by the Ecozoic Era needs to be carefully examined. In my mind it is probably the most unusual blending of the infinite and finite games known to mankind. I say this because inherent in the managed sustainability of this era is the understanding that we will be pushing the restorative powers of the Earth to near its capacity on an ongoing basis. We will need to establish a ‘precautionary principle' because we don't know quantitatively how much we are polluting, harvesting, and injuring, nor the Earth's exact capability to cleanse, recreate, and heal. We know that on an ongoing basis we must stay within these limits. So we will be playing our finite games within the infinite game of ‘Global Community,' and this infinite game will be played within the finite constraints of Mother Earth.

It is the synergism of new ideas and processes that I believe offers one of the greatest hopes for developing a different consciousness. Shortly after completing my Appreciative Inquiry Certification, I began hosting monthly conversations that were designed to combine Appreciative Inquiry with other disciplines or teachings, e.g., Non-Violent Communication and Resiliency. The results were profound. With Non-Violent Communication, one woman, with the support of the others, was able to re-frame and overcome a previously untenable relationship with her mother; and with Resiliency, we learned that everyone in the room had experienced resiliency personally in such a way that they now had a starting point for developing a path to becoming more resilient.

My suggestion is that we each make efforts to combine processes that are grounded in the principles of the infinite game. Three such processes that I see as highly complementary and synergistic are blending for me as I write. They are the application of:

  • shamanic wisdom to the re-framing of our ‘Dream of the North';
  • Appreciative Inquiry to our listening and designing; and
  • Theory U ' as we make a concerted effort to develop our intuitive senses.

With each iteration of this Appreciative Inquiry cycle, each new ‘Discovery', ‘Dream' and ‘Design', we expand our consciousness, and a revised 'Destiny' emerges. With each new level of consciousness, we develop an increased capacity to presence and co-presence as described in Otto Scharmer's, ‘Theory U'. The sequence I've described - Shamanic wisdom, appreciation and Theory U', may seem linear, but I suggest that it is more circular or even completely integrated, for it is the appreciation of the indigenous peoples and their capacity to presence and co-presence that is at the heart of their wisdom.

As we learn from the ancient wisdom and integrate the newer sciences and understandings of life, we are essentially rewriting our story of how we are related to the universe - our cosmology. The new sciences inform us that every body is related to every other body, and that there is an energy field that connects us. Sir Isaac Newton, an alchemist, knew this, and it's such a paradox that his knowledge of this field with all its mystery is masked by his three equations that explain so well the phenomena we see in every Newtonian moment. What is becoming clearer is that we are contributors to that energy field with our thoughts, intentions, and actions. We are now able to see atomic structures affected by the quality of the energy that surrounds them, and experiments are showing us over and over again that intentions influence outcomes. It is a premise of this work that a prerequisite for success, happiness and fulfillment of the highest order is that this mysterious field is an ‘Appreciation Field' to which we are all contributing all the time.




For our final reflection please suspend whatever disbelief you might have regarding returning in a subsequent generation, and ask yourself what goodness do I wish for my future self and my community, and what gratitude will I be expressing for my ancestors?

What are the unexpected pleasures and benefits of Global Community?
What are the stories you'd like to hear from your grandparents?
What part did your past generations play in the development of a new cosmology?
What new sustainability ethic emerged?


Rev. 2009-03-02 MOM

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