“Nobody can be anybody without somebody being around.”
John Wheeler

The Element

Christopher Alexander on Persuasion through Experience

n

“Strangely, I believe the beauty of the world is almost more touching, more profound, if the harsh, ugly world of ours, is married, mixed, with the more perfect world in which the beings are fully living … But it is necessary for us to cross that bridge …

It does not come easy. But when it happens a living thing is made. And this comes, above all, from the impulse we call ornament: to fill a living space. Above all, then, a building is an ornament … the word ‘ornament’ is a profound comment on the contribution which something makes to the world, through its order and relation to the world.

… The environment is good, or bad, according to the degree that its thousands and thousands of centers are pictures of the self, what we might call ‘beings‘.

cost, family structure,wall construction, structural efficiency, ecology, solar energy. wind, water … Function must be at the core of everything. But what governs the life of the buildings is not to be found in these matters, alone, but in a single question, always built on the foundations of these matter, but elevating them to a different level of understanding: To what extent is every building, and the whole building, and every garden, and the whole street, all made of beings?

… I well know that it may take time for you to appreciate the fact behind the thought. You need to test it experimentally, as I have done, for years. You need to examine each piece of the environment you come across from this point of view. And you need time to weight its unlikely character against the fact that, nevertheless, it seems to be true.

To do this, you need to become clear in your own mind about the distinction between centers which are more like beings – more genuinely related to yourself – and those which are less so. That in itself takes practice, and discussion, and honesty about your inner feeling. If you try to develop that ability, slowly, by observation and experiment, you will then be in a position to conduct the larger experiment of trying to judge the difference between places which have more life and places which have less life. You will then gradually become persuaded, I believe … that this one criterion, absurdly simple though it seems to be, does correlate accurately with the presence of live in the environment.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 4: The Luminous Ground

Posted in Expanding, inside | Tagged , | You are welcome to add your comment

Loomio: Redeemable Preference Shares

n

I am not yet a fan of the product but a long standing fan of the company, how they came into existence, operate and now how they have approached funding:

“Redeemable preference shares … a way of providing a fair return to investors while also protecting our social mission …

Redeemable preference shares are a fairly conventional financing instrument, but aren’t widely used in the startup world. “Redeemable” means that the shares are not traded externally. Instead, the shares are eventually purchased (“redeemed”) by the company with an agreed-on return, after an agreed-on period of time, provided the company is producing sufficient surplus. In our case, setting up the investment mechanism meant creating a new class of impact-investor shares. These shares sit alongside the worker-member shares in the cooperative, which are non-financial governance shares. The interests of the company and the interests of investors line up.

In terms of accountability, we work closely with our investors as trusted advisors. We take their input seriously, and if they ever feel we’re getting off track, with our business or our social impact focus, then we’ll engage in deliberation to come to a shared understanding. But the bottom-line decision-making sits with the cooperative. And our investors are comfortable entering into a collaborative relationship on those terms.

This trust comes from a strong sense of alignment with a shared social mission, and from the shared risk in the development of Loomio. There has been a huge amount of unpaid time on the part of the founders and workers, so they’re carrying risk just like our investors do. Clearly, the founders aren’t aiming to get rich quick and walk away, so it feels much healthier than the strained founder-investor relationships you sometimes see in the conventional startup world.”

source

 

Posted in AltEco, Business, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Yoga on the Mat Practice – Spring 2016: Continuity

n

I’ve had a fairly continuous period of practice … the main interruption ironically due to my visit to Israel to study Yoga. There have been a few of minor illness / slight injury related interruptions.

I’ve continued with the same practice plan. I have still not felt inclined towards exploring the alternative shoulder-stand path of practice. One reason for this is that I have enjoyed the continuous practice and evolution on the maha-mudra path – developing my breath, physical posture and quality of presence and engagement with the asana. Another reason is the illness interruptions during and after which I did not feel vital enough to approach the alternative path and I preferred to stay with a variation of the core practice as a practice of healing and rejuvenation.

Early in this practice period I decided to soften my attention and relationship with breath. I stopped counting the length of my breath in asana practice. Sometimes when counting I feel that I deny myself access to my full and present ability by adhering to an expected breath length … sometimes not breathing to my full capacity and sometimes slightly pushing beyond what is right for me in the present moment. I feel fairly well tuned to my breath and body, so this is not a gross but a subtle aspect of practice. It is sometimes a fractional difference that resonates deeply. It could be a difference between feeling vibrant or drained, feeling soft or agressive, feeling attentive or absent.

After some time (I estimate something like 2 months) I decided to consciously sample my breathing once again and to see how it developed, and I was surprised by the changes I discovered. Since then I have continued counting and continuously developing my breath throughout my practice. Every asana has had its own gradual path of development, some have been slow to develop, some have been continuously developing, some felt like they suddenly changed.

I have overlayed onto my existing practice plan my current breathing ratios including some slight modifications I’ve made to the practice. Most of the changes are of a langhana nature (which is particularly helpful to me in this period where numerous intellectually demanding projects are moving around in my mind), some have a slightly tonic, more brmhana quality (mainly: parvrti trikonasana, the krama variation of utkatasana and the upper raised leg sequence where I gradually move from 90 to 180 degrees).

Ronen_Practice_2016_05_02

I’ve also felt a kind of crystallization of experience during these last few monts of practice in regard to continuity. It is a process that I’ve been aware of for ~2 years but that feels more concrete to me now. I have found that after a disturbance in practice (be it an emotional disturbance, city day away from home or an illness or a strain in my back):

  •  I am quickly able and motivated to get back on the mat. In the past it could have taken days or weeks until I felt I was able to and I had a stable desire to get back.
  • When recovering from such disturbances I am able to softly, patiently adjust my practice to my state-of-being. I don’t assume and don’t push myself to where I was before the disturbance. I am attentive to my current well-being and able adapt the practice to it with ease.
  • There is also a curiosity, and this is a new and key feature. I not only “accept” my limitation (be it physical, enegetical, emotional, mindful) I “embrace” it and allow it to inform me. A prominent example has been dealing with two back strains (first on the left lower back, then the right lower back) in the lying twists. In sensitively dealing with these strains I have deepened my physical engagement with the spine, getting a sensation of a fuller and active twists from my lower back all the way to my neck, my directional breathing in the posture has improved … I feel I have gotten stronger, softer and wiser through it. And this is just one example … there have been others … mostly subtle shifts.

The result of this shift is a change in my overall attitude toward practice. In periods with disturbances (which I have been a regular aspect of my life for the last few years) I used to feel that I was making progress and then regressing. I felt that my disturbances were slowing the overall evolution of my practice. That is changing. I now feel that the disturbances are informing ang guiding me … sometimes even boosting the evolution of my practice beyond its “normal” rate of change. The feeling is of more continuity and less fragmentation.

I am expecting a review of my Pranayama practice with my teacher in the coming weeks. I have completed the previous sequence that I was given:

8.0.12.0 x6br anuloma ujjayi
8.4.12.0 x6br anuloma ujjayi
8.4.12.4 x6br anuloma ujjayi
4.0.8.0 x6br anuloma ujjayi
4.0.4.0 x4br ujjayi

… and I have taken one additional variation on my own … essentially increasing the number of breaths in the core sequences from 6 to 8 for the sake of being able to resume a pratiloma practice .. making my current practice:

8.0.12.0 x4br anuloma ujjayi
8.4.12.0 x8br pratiloma ujjayi
8.4.12.4 x8br pratiloma ujjayi
4.0.8.0 x8br pratiloma ujjayi
4.0.4.0 x4br ujjayi
Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Centers as Beings

n

“… every living structure is composed of thousands of pictures of the eternal self.

A being is a small thing. It is a name for a center which is connected to the I … But, unlike the phrase ‘living center’ or ‘living structure.,’ the word ‘being’ draws attention to the nearly animate quality that appears when something is connected to the I.

… Each living center is, to some extent, an I-like picture of the self. The more life a given living center has, the more I-like it is: the more it si a picture of the self. As centers are built, strengthened, and toughened, the larger structures which contain them then, too, become more I-like. In short, the recursion, which allows us to build living structure in the world, not only makes living centers more and more strong. It also causes the appearance, somehow, of pictures of the self, throughout every nook and cranny of a region of space.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 4: The Luminous Ground

 

 

Posted in Design, outside | Tagged , , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on “The I”

n

“Some experiences of I, within the things of the world, and especially within the things of nature, is shared, I think, by every human being, in some degree … I look at the waterfall and say I find it pleasing

In a second, also mild, version of this experience, I enjoy the waterfall, and I feel a stirring of some relationship to it…

A further stage of this experience occurs, if I find the relationship strong …. I experience this relationship as somehow interior to me … I experience a strong emotional linkage between myself and the … waterfall.

In a fourth version, I may even feel that the waterfall … touches the core of me

In a stronger version yet, I begin to feel some actual identification with the waterfall. I experience that it is profoundly related to my being … I identify with the waterfall in some fashion … that my own self and the waterfall are somehow related … I am aware that in some refreshing way, the waterfall – more than a hamburger bun, say, or today’s morning newspaper – nourishes me, releases me, refreshes me …

There is a stronger version yet … Reports from (so-called) primitive societies describe the way that people not only identified with trees or with the forest, but endowed the entities of the forest, the rocks of the ocean, with spirit. I believe this was an expression of a situation where people felt, or experienced a presence, as being in the tree or waterfall.

A still stronger form of such identification also existed in primitive culture … when people of the culture reified the identification by giving it explicit substance … for instance when a California Yurok Indian made an explicit identity between himself and a seal or an eagle at the time of adulthood, and from then on wore that animal’s skin, took the name of the animal …

There is an even stronger version .. when we recognize explicitly, and feel that our own self exists in the beach, or in a wave, or in a bush. And a stronger still … when we experience the relationship with the waterfall so that it is not merely that I identify with the waterfall, but that in some fashion I am the waterfall: not merely identification but actual identity … My I is really in the waterfall. My self and the waterfall are not merely similar, but it feels as if they are the same, as if both are parts of one thing.

Here we begin to enter metaphysics. This experience is no longer merely a statement about psychology. It is now asserting that the I which I experience as my own self, is in some fashion the same thing as the I which I feel and see in the waterfall … I experience nature as if everything in me and without me is made of the same stuff.

For every artist, every builder, this must be true: as I work I must try to create a structure which appears like I to me … It is this mobilizing of my self in the great work which chills me, devastates me, wakes me to the bone.

… In human terms it is down to earth. It is the core of the earth and child in me …

What it touches is beyond reason, and before reason. It may be a connection to some realm where I no longer am, and where I shall always be.

That is our task, as makers of things: to mobilize – to open – this eye to the storm.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 4: The Luminous Ground

 

Posted in AltEco, Expanding, inside, outside, Yoga, Yoga & I | Tagged , , , | You are welcome to read 7 comments and to add yours