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"Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars
The inner — what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming."
                                                  Rainer Maria Rilke
  At a Glance.... what if.....
.. everything is part of a re-generative system that.........             
  • is inter-connected
  • is inter-dependent
  • is inter-active
  • is inter-intelligent
  • is inter-communicative
   ... has evolved the capacity to be         aware, learn and choose accordingly. 
  .... invites us to experience the                     communication - and participate....

Ecozoic Times

During the latter years of the 20th century humanity established itself as a potent force within the planetary ecosystem. Geological scientists coined the term “anthropocene” to define an age where human activity is reshaping global systems. Human scientists suggest “ecozoic”, referring to life as the living elements, their needs, and the collection of the whole. “Anthropocene” places emphasis on the central place of humankind, anthropos, whereas “ecozoic” draws awareness to interconnected systems, oikos.


No matter what name you choose, human activity clearly affects the planetary ecosystem - and,

sadly, this has been often damaging.  This has been such that the system's ability to maintain

levels of complexity has been compromised in many places. Ironically, this unprecedented global

phenomenon has taken place concurrently with the great explosion of awareness,

self-knowledge, wealth and connectedness enabled by the application of modern science and

technology. The disconnection can be unsettling and promote responses of despair, overwhelm, 

"over-urgency" or denial - and yet, the widening gap between rich and poor, the collapse of

biodiversity, dislocation of people from land and culture, climate chaos, topsoil depletion and

many more of the apparent problems limiting human endeavour can be seen more

usefully as feedback and even guidance from the whole system to the part.

Part and parcel: systems thinking and patterns

We are perhaps more familiar with ourselves being “part” of a wider system than being “parcel” of it! And yet we can easily recognise a cell, for example, as a single part in our body, that contains DNA. DNA not only tells the cell what to do as a discrete entity, but also has the information needed for the whole of our bodies. Each part has information about the whole - even though the cell can't fulfill all the functions of the whole on its own - and each part exchanges information with the whole, a process called autopoesis.


Systems thinking considers the recurring patterns and processes by which information is organised and exchanged at different levels of the system. These dynamics create what happens and shape what is possible within the context of what has happened before. Driving the process along is the impulse or tendency to exist, variously called qi, life force, or - in Psychosynthesis - Will.  Consciousness enables the ability to notice, monitor, and respond to patterns and processes of information.  Will and Consciousness represent a singular intelligence arising from and informing the whole system


 "It is not by being abstract intellects that we are going to fall in love again with the rest of nature. It's by beginning to honor and value our direct sensory experience: the tastes and smells in the air, the feel of the wind as it caresses the skin, the feel of the ground under our feet as we walk upon it. And how much easier it is to feel that ground if you allow yourself to sense that the ground itself is feeling your steps as you walk upon it."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 David Abram, interviewed, 2016
Roberto Assagioli, 1888-1974


Roberto Assagioli, a student of Sigmund Freud and friend of of Carl Jung, was initiator of Psychosynthesis.  

Ideas from this deceptively gentle process underpin Self and World.  Assagioli named this singular

intelligence, described above, as "Self", suggesting that Self informs all elements of the system, and is

reflected in each part.  The reflection of this Self in ourselves, he called the Personal Centre of Identity. By

directing our attention, and knowing where we fit in the whole, each of us can become aware of how we are

receiving feedback from the whole system, and direct our actions accordingly. However, as individuals, we

can't fulfill all the functions of the whole on our own, and attempting to do so is likely to soon exaggerate our

personal sense of disconnection, and may increase damaging behaviours.  Assagioli saw personal

synthesis as part of a greater process of being and becoming whole.


Self and World embraces the notion, from radical ecospychology, that nature and human nature are the

inside and outside of the same system. The programme also addresses suggestions from quantum physics that attention shapes how events happen, explores how this may work and how we can participate - exploring how evolution may be "trying out" self-reflective consciousness as an effective next step.  The course invites wondering -


How am I part of the Whole?

How is the Whole part of me?

How do I experience this relationship moment by moment?

How does this relationship experience me moment by moment?

What are the feedback patterns?

How do I respond to them?

What is my experience when I do?

What am I learning or being asked?

How can I best participate?

And, most importantly,

What am I Willing to do today?

In the early days of modern psychology, Assagioli, learned that although people can “hide” difficult experience from themselves, these hidden aspects continue to shape and influence our understanding and responses. Equally, although we benefit from moments of heightened insight and understanding, he noticed that we can also hold these out of our awareness.


Whilst acknowledging the short-term psychological wisdom of limiting ourselves in certain ways, he championed the value of building our capacity to tolerate not only the initial discomfort of some of our more fundamental drives and hurts, but also to embrace the sometimes challenging implications of our higher callings and insights.


Assagioli considered that both the powerful basic drives and the compelling higher callings are equally experiences of what he called Will, an inevitable and essential life force - “Will is always present”. He saw how our immediate experience of the world comes through our senses and feelings, shaped and filtered through personal situation and history.


This filtering and shaping process can happen with or without our direct attention – just as when driving a car, for example, we make many micro-decisions without really noticing. Directing awareness to these drives and callings strengthens our capacity to be able to bring our repertoire of responses into the moment, and to choose how we engage the world in order to be more true to the outcomes we desire.


Such participation allows us to experience ourselves as a central point of awareness - Personal Centre of Identity - within a field of Consciousness, and of Will: increasingly, we notice our experiences and direct our responses, becoming less attached to our psychological habits or defenses, and more aware and responsive to the wider system of which we are both “part and parcel”.   The world itself becomes both our guide and affirmation, inviting us into an ever more enriching and enriched communion with all that expresses and enables Life.



Wicked Problems

The term "Wicked Problem" describes "a social or cultural problem that is difficult or impossible to solve for as

many as four reasons: incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the number of people and opinions involved, the

large economic burden, and the interconnected nature of these problems with other problems."



Albert Einstein commented that "a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher

levels".  For Self and World the new type of thinking asks us to embrace and initiate change at every level.  

Such change will require reframing our understanding of ouselves and our circumstances,  redrafting our

familiar narratives, and re-engaging not only with our human friends, families, communities but also with the

"more-than-human world".  This "more-than-human world" both limits the extent to which any species can 

outgrow a particular niche, and, simultaneously, offers the clues and  resources for the whole system to evolve.  

This evolution will be profoundly personal and deeply practical as well as urgently political, it requires social

critique, cultural sensitivity and spiritual activism.


And it requires humour, humility, courage, collaboration, wonder and a sense of possibility.  

All of which the world around us reflects back, constantly and powerfully, as we learn how to look.  


Like Twister, no-one can do this on their own!


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