“The range of what we think and is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”
R.D. Laing

Overbalanced Wheel – Perpetual Motion

n

I’d never heard of an overbalanced wheel … but there it is 🙂

 

 

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A Seed of Meditation in Distraction?

n

I was nearing the end of a practice, sitting. I experience subtle flavors of sitting, but for me they are like dreams, hard to hold on to later.

One of the prominent indicators is a feeling of being welcome in sitting. This time was like that.

Another prominent indicator is an apparent interest to stay in my body. It can be placed on the physicality of the posture, my butt cheecks on the blocks or my spine or lengthened neck. It an be on my breath. It can be on the nuclear-reactor-like-rumbling sound I hear inside.

But almost always there is fluctuation. My mind will wander off somewhere to something bothersome (that I can later try to close off and get off my mind) or something engaging (something I’ve been thinking about recently). Sometimes I am mostly aware of the fluctuation itself … the movement back and forth between body-presence and mind-wandering. Sometimes, I get to taste a flavor a stable presence in body. Sometimes I get “lost” in the distraction.

This “lost in distraction” happened a few weeks ago … but it took on an interesting flavor. I was so immersed in wherever it is my mind had gone, that when I landed back in my body I was surprised. It is only when I got back that I realized I was away. THAT interested me.

I feel in me a(n unfounded) assumption that a stability of mind should appear in the practice itself – that stability should manifest in the bhavana (focal point) of my sitting. But what I expereinced in this particular practice is stability in (what I was framing as) the “distraction”. Can it be that the seed of meditation (a,stable and continuous directed mind) appears first in distraction?

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Jim Carey DeepRest

n

yes … that

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… and it hurts

n

Just discovered that Katie Teague, who created Money & Life, has been producing short films to heal our “Sacred Deficit Disorder”:

I Love Therefore I Am from Katie Teague on Vimeo.

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A Living Sharpness

n

I’ve been experiencing an interesting convergence in my practice in recent weeks:

  1. As distractions dwindle, I feel more collected and focused.
  2. The short visit, at the end of practice, in maha-mudra is becoming more of a stay.
  3. I am settled again in a quality pranayama practice.
  4. I am experiencing more stability in my mind and so am able to sit peacefully.
  5. I’ve started to learn chanting and have added voice and chanting exercises at the end of my practice.

Arriving at maha-mudra used to indicate that the practice is nearing its end. Now it marks the beginning of an increasingly subtle part of practice. What used to feel like the core of practice is feeling more and more like a preparation and gradual movement into the “core at the end” of practice.

After almost 20 years of practice I am amazed that I can still experience such an expansion. Though it does also raise a question of why does it take so long? The answer … Life!

When I moved to Bhudeva I started using wood cutting tools like chisels and power saws in the workshop and especially a chainsaw for firewood. I had a REALLY naive assumption that the saws would keep cutting forever. I was wrong. All cutting tools need to be sharpened (or replaced) more or less regularly (depending on how much you use them). With every cut, blades get duller, with every sharpening, sharper. It is a continuous cycle. I missed this for most of my life when all I had to content with were kitchen knives. It struck my awareness bluntly with the chainsaw.

Practice is like that too. I feel that every practice session is an act of sharpening / tuning. In daily life I apply my edge and it gets dulled (sometimes less, sometimes more … life!). My overall well being is a sum-result of these motions. If I over-use myself or if I don’t tend to myself enough I get dull (and sometimes ill). If I tend to myself as much as I apply myself I end up with a steady state.

Things take on a different flavor when I can get past that steady state … when the edge isn’t just maintained but gets sharper and sharper. I had that experience coming out of last winter. Then life peaked … and now, again, I am beginning to sense that different flavor. The addition of chanting introduces another dimension of practice which extends and deepens the overall subtlety and depth of practice. As winter sets on, days get shorter and there is less work to do outside, I move inwards (into the house and into myself).

I can only imagine that if one lives in a monastery where distractions are kept to a minimum and life itself comes into service of practice, that this exploration can be somehow accelerated. Yet I also feel that this exploration gains a quality or depth, that it is somehow tempered differently when it is immersed in life itself. I imagine it to be like the difference between a fine sword that is displayed in ritual and kept in pristine conditions at all other times, compared to a sword that has seen battle and has been worn down but sharpened over and over again … a living sharpness.

 

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Be Just and Good

n

Al Franken on arete and goodness

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Play and Joy

n

She was so funny in the mornings. Watching her trying to hold both the discipline of sitting for food and her joy at meeting again in the morning. She would jump in the air, do almost a full 360 twist and nail her ass to the ground … sitting at attention.

She was the first dog I’d been with from a small two month old puppy. I was amazed by the rate of her growth. It seemed every time she walked past the front door she was bigger. She had no issues, no fucked up history …

Her tail was like a separate being … the engine that drove her happiness … it didn’t swing from side to side … it twisted like a propellor. It seemed to also be where her eating originated … the rotating tail seemed to activate her mouth … and she didn’t eat … she vacuumed food.

She was the first dog I had that actually fetched. Chasing or barking at sheep … NO. Fetching … anything … YES. It seemed she could run back and forth forever … first her funny little duck toy … which lasted sooo long … I was really impressed by it given the treatment it received from her. At first it was the duck for short distances … she couldn’t see far … the grass was stll taller than her. Then the frisbee … longer and longer distances. We could have gone so much further … but not this time around 🙁

She had beautiful golden eyelashes and soft brown eyes.

She was soooo trusting … I could dig with a shovel inches from her sleeping head. No fear … loads of innocent curiosity.

The day before yesterday she seemed a bit weak, and slow … definitely not the enthused-with-life being she usually projected. Her gums where pale. We let her rest. Yesterday morning she was walking very slowly … sadness was creeping in. Iulia and I took her to the vet (local village vets offer only very basic services). She was given basic treatment of antiobiotics and fluids. The symptoms were of  Parvo Virus (even though she was vaccinated), but it could also have been poisning (intentional or incidental). She continued to dehydrate during the day. She was deteriorating.

We have  a hole in the ground behind our outdoor kitchen where sink water flows to. Yesterday afternoon, before going into practice, I found her lying in it. When she saw me she could barely move but her tail still wagged at me … for me … in pain … dying … the source of happiness to see me lived on … that was the last time she wagged her tail. I carried her out and placed her in a shaded spot.

When I came out of practice she was in it again. I felt her surrendering to dying. I didn’t want to leave her in that hole. I carried her out again … put her down on some grass and covered her with a sheet … I sat in the hammock next to her. I remembered she so enjoyed being in it with Iulia … so I carried her, packed in the sheet in with me … and we swung gently for a short while.

I then felt that I was interrupting her surrender. So I lay her back down on the ground … and stayed near but not in contact. Iulia (who was gently holding another delicate loss) joined us and we sat together. A bit later Iulia decided to put in a last effort. She contacted some vets and was given a supportive treatment plan. She went to the village to collect what she needed. While she was away Sia’s breathing got heavier … it sounded like there was liquid in her lungs.

Iulia got a first injection of liquids into her. It was too late. Within a few minutes Sia’s eyes faded … and a few minutes after that she took her last breaths.

pffhhh

….

Sia departed last night. She lived a full, free, joyful life for 5 months and a week.

For me she was a reminder of pure play and joy … the world was a game to her … everything in good spirit.

When she died I felt I didn’t want to bury her. We chose to cremate her body. After a few of hours of soft departure … lying in her sheet with a candle burning … we lit a long purifying fire that burned into the night and released her form into the heavens … and we were left with her essence of play and joy.

The Hebrew word for Dog is “Kelev” … I have heard that it is a combination of two words “Kol” (which means all) and “Lev” (which means heart).

Today her play and joy are aching in my heart …

Today I feel tired of living …

שלום יפה

update: last night was quiet cool, wind-free, clear-skies … serenity incarnate … 14 hours later crazy powerful winds passed through here for 10 minutes … swept the remaining ashes away … then a light cleansing rain to cleanse

update: more on Sia from Iulia

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Ceptr: Well-Being Do-op Proposal

n

This is a proposal for forming a new do-op focused on well-being.
It is also an experiment and demonstration of an unfolding process of emergence rather than assembly.

Initial Members: Laureli, Jarod, Jean, Ronen
Coherence holder: Ronen

Initiating members of this do-op are already present and active in Ceptr and, in different ways, caring for well-being. The purpose of this do-op is recognize and focus on well-being as a fundamental aspect of the Ceptr project. The current intense state of work (focused on the upcoming crowdfunding/ICO) together with the physical instability (lack of a physical base, much moving around, unclear personal prospects for the core group, etc.) highlight how challenging it can be to reside in well-being.

The challenge of well-being is fundamental in these early days of forming a Ceptr community. How can we come together in a way that expands us as individuals? How can community be built to support and nourish its individuals? How can we avoid well established patterns that lead to communities that achieve growth at the expense of the vitality of individual members?

It may be worth reflecting on the fact that Ceptr has been and continues to be a long-term effort. It fundamentally questions the very ground we all stand on. It brings us face to face with an unknown and for now unknowable future. Given that scope, we may be embarking on a journey that will outlast our lifetimes. Given that scope, most of our work and its tangible (software and hardware) creations are likely more temporary then we care to admit (think of how the Internet has a continuous existence even though all of its original parts, software and hardware, no longer exist). Time shreds importance. Though in the intensity of the present moment we may feel we are creating important and lasting solutions, the reality of it is more likely that we are conducing experiments. What matters most is a long term process of learning and adapting from these experiments. Well-being is key for us to be able to be around long enough for this learning to take place.

A well-being do-op will act as an intentional seeding of well-being within the project. The group itself will seek first to establish well-being for itself and its members. This may manifest in things like its pace (not being bound to ever-dominant schedules), scope (small, soft actions gently embracing sharper, more massive ongoing projects within Ceptr), tools and methods (evoking spacious, peaceful and reflective qualities).

Its presence will, hopefully, demonstrate well-being within the project. From that place, the group, whose members participate in other do-ops, will try to highlight opportunities and offer subtle points of intervention for introducing well-being in the specific and varying context of other do-ops.

It is our wish that well-being become a fundamental quality and skill within Ceptr. That well-being will become a starting point. That well-being, through tangible experience, will be appreciated and valued as a productive approach (and not as a decoration that we tend to after the “important” work is done and when we are exhausted).

When the do-op is formed, it will start to create a soft, background presence within Ceptr. The team will discover itself and what coming together in the spirit of well-being can be. Initially, it will not be involved formally with any ongoing activities. Informally, its members are already present as keepers of well-being and will continue to do so with renewed focus and grounding.

 

 

 

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Paul Krafel: Spiral

n

“I can observe how a crack grows by studying cracks within a rock outcrop from thinnest to widest. Like a foot in the door, wind-blown dust drops into these cracks and prevents them from closing. A dusty crack retains more moisture than a bare crack, so when the moisture freezes in winter, the dusty crack will be pried a bit more by ice crystals … dust particles drop deeper into the crack, making space for more wind-blown dust. More dust holds more moisture, which wedges the rock still farther apart, which allows more dust to settle in. Bold plants colonize this dust and send their root hairs prying into the microscopic forerunners of cracks.

This process involves a back and forth spiraling between cause and effect … Does the accumulated dust cause the crack or does the crack cause the accumulated dust? Both, in a spiral of tiny changes.

… Just as an edge dissolves into a gradient when I focus on it so cause and effect dissolve into a spiral when I study them … When I think of change in terms of a simple cause with an effect, I tend to think that large effects require large causes. But when I see cause and effect as a spiral, I understand that large effects can be produced by a very small spiral looping over and over again. Spirals lead me to look smaller. As I open my mind to the significance of smaller changes. I find more and more spirals … The World is full of spirals containing unknown power.”

Paul Krafel – Seeing Nature

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Fear and Loathing in the New Jerusalem

n

This morning I finished listening to Darryl Cooper’s penetrating podcast series Fear and Loathing in the New Jerusalem.

It is a recounting of a history I am familiar with, having grown up and been educated in Israel. But, as has been obvious to me for many years, the picture I was given was incomplete. I recall learning it as burdensome. Emphasis (as I experienced it) was placed on two things. The first was a boring and pointless attempt to capture stats and facts (how many Jews arrived in Israel during each immigration, where they came from, what drove them away, etc.) that I was expected to precisely regurgitate in exams. The second was an attempt to portray a narrative that led to the creation of the state of Israel that the Jews deserved. The thing is that the attempt to twist the story into one that historically favors the Jews undermined the story itself … it was incomplete and therefore not cohesive and uninteresting.

I knew of most of the pieces on the story-board (people, places, events, etc.) but I had never heard them woven together as cohesively as in Daryl’s presentation. Though the story is one of much misery and pain (truly “on many sides”) listening to it brought me a sense of peace.

Listening to it reinforced my belief that there is something special about Israel. But that to see it one almost has to look beyond Israel itself. If there was a magnifying glass that collected, across space & time, rays of human faults, weaknesses and misperceptions & skills, potentials and gifts and brought them into intense focus, the burning point of concentrated heat would land on Israel. Fire can burn and consume, but if tempered can be used to cleanse and reshape. The potential for both is continuously present in Israel and just as violence currently spreads out from it to the world, so can, potentially, healing and peace.

I have so much to say … but I do not currently have the emotional capacity nor motivation to bring out what is inside me.So, I leave you with the first of 6 parts of Daryl’s podcast:

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Alexander Grothendieck

n

“One cannot invent the structure of an object. The most one can do is to patiently bring it to the light of day, with humility.”

Alexander Grothendieck

This article both attracted and repelled me. I felt like it was describing a special being, yet it was doing it within a mechanistic life-consuming mindset. I wouldn’t be surprised if Grothendieck retreated from the exact mentailty manifested in this article. From the article:

“… A hallmark of Grothendieck’s hypermentalistic thinking was his idea that the environment was a sentient being in need of protecting. He nursed tiny shoots collected in his garden, bringing them indoors to tend individually. Toward humans, though, he was more mercurial … He believed himself to be in communication with Plato and Descartes, and even with God himself. The belief in signal transmission is a signature psychotic delusion.”

I believe that, in time, we may discover that the belief “that signal transmission is a signature psychotic delusion” was itself a delusion of a destructive, narrow, misdirected mindset that misunderstood more than it understood.

Reading this made me feel sorrow towards Grothendieck and anger at the writer and the academic field she represents. I can understand why Grothendieck nursed tiny shoots and was volatile towards other humans.

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Paul Krafel: Tracks of Change

n

“A rock broke from the cliff and bounded down the snowfield. Snow sprayed out from each crunching impact. creating white scars of freshly exposed snow. As the rock slowed, its bounces became shorter, until the rock rolled to a stop.

Other dark rocks lay on the snow. Upslope of each lay a similar trail of white scars. Each trail could be traced back up the snowbank to a fresh scar on the cliff where its rock had broken …

Many changes pass quickly but the ending state of that chnge … remains for some time. Therefore ending states are easier to see than the changes themselves …

Tracks of change cover the world with stories …”

Paul Krafel – Seeing Nature

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Roughness: Christopher’s Corners

n

Christopher Alexander, in The Nature of Order, frequently references ancient Turkish prayer carpets. I wasn’t, and still am not a fan of these artifacts, but as I was searching for an example to use in this post, I was surprised to find, that though there are many images online, finding one that is good was difficult. I was finally able to find one that demonstrated the idea of corners, but not one that felt beautiful … so this will have to do:

Following is a cutout section (marked in the picture above):

Borders are one of the key features in these carpets and this particular carpet illustrates how patterns are used to created borders. These specific patterns (there are four borders depicted in the image) are weak and uninteresting (because I could not find good ones with enough resolution for this demonstration) but they are enough to demonstrate corner. What happens when you continue these patterns? when you repeat them and eventually reach the corners? Here is what happens:

Roughness appears. They do not match up perfectly and each corner needs to be specifically and locally resolved. This king of roughness is typical in living structures. When an underlying pattern comes into being in a specific context it meets and responds to that context. A leaf on a tree is has a specific underlying pattern, but every leaf grows on a specific place on a branch that is exposed to light and wind and in relation to other leaves and other branches. It grows uniquely in response to its settings and conditions.

When we approach this with a mental / logical mindset (and a correlated sense of aesthetics) we do not arrive at such results. Imagine a graphic designer using software to mimic such a carpet. What is likely to happen is that when the pattern does not converge perfectly in a corner, the designer will go back and change the pattern or overall scale … find some way to make the corner work out (continuing the pattern but generating exacting / symmetric / repeated results). The result is that the carpet (or design) becomes defined by the corners instead of the pattern (its source of life). The corners are no longer a natural meeting place of patterns. The corners become the center. Leaves become mathematically identical … and life diminshes.

I find this kind of mental-overriding of naturally emerging patterns is … well … something we need to be attentive to when shaping the tapestry of our individual and communal lives.

Update Dec 30, 2017

I’ve started reading volume one again and I came across this example of Persian architecture which Alexander mentions. It is a spectacular expression of corners and so much more – a feeling of endless patterns that emerged from a singular point in space and time. Clik on the picture once to go the file and then another time to zoom in and get a closer look at the astonishing detail. Source Wikipedia

 

 

 

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Paul Krafel: Gradients and Edges

n

“We live within gradients. A gradient of thinning atmosphere intervenes between my lungs and the vacuum of outer space. Just as a gradient of vibrations along the web can guide the spider to the struggling fly, so a gradient of increasingly wider, busier roads can guide me from my driveway to the nearest highway. … I sense that I am approaching a stream through gradients of smells, bird songs, and larger leaves. I sense that I am approaching a city through gradients of increasing traffic, billboards, radio stations, and night glow in the sky.

… something inside me tends to concentrate these gradients into edges that break the world into many independent objects. This is an acorn; over there is a rock …

But when I practice focusing precisely on the edges, a world of separating edges becomes a world of interconnecting gradients. Gradients merge realms I once thought of as distinct. Where is the edge between land and sea? Perhaps the edge is where the waves meet the land. But where is that meeting place? …

A university professor installed a seismograph at the park in Texas where I worked. One day, the seismograph printed out a series of rhythmic pulses, hour after hour. Something was causing the bedrock to vibrate – though only a sensitive machine could detect it. The professor called to tell us that the vibrations were being caused by massive storm waves smashing against the Alaskan coast. Where is the edge between land and sea?”

Paul Krafel – Seeing Nature

 

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Paul Krafel: Fit

n

“I once interpreted ‘the survival of the fit’ using ‘fit’as a adjective that described the kind of life that survives: strong animals, well-camouflaged animals, or intelligent animals. Now I thik of ‘fit’ as a noun. The survival of the Fit. Both life and its environment might change but the Fit between them will survive.

… When a bird lands on a perch, they generally glide in lower than the pirch and then swoop upward. This final upward swoop slows the bird so that it can land lightly upon the perch .. We can watch and rate these landings the same way a judge watche a gymnast’s final dismount. How well does the landing fit with the physical laws of gravity and mometum? How skilled is this individual?

Young birds score 3s and 4s … most adults score 8s or 9s (or they would not have survived to adulthood) … Watching for the constantly adjusting Fit between an animal and its world has changed the way I see animals. When I first atarted watching animals my standard questio was ‘What is the name of that animal?’ … Many years later my standard question has shifted to ‘What is this animal doing?’ … Searching for the answer leads into other questions, such as ‘How does this behavior fit?” …. Focusing on names deflects from the moment, whereas watching for the Fit probes the moment’.”

Paul Krafel – Seeing Nature

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Ceptr: Emergence instead of Assembly

n

This post is a response and reflection on this video posted by Nicolas in the Ceptr General slack channel:

For me, Nicolas did a good job of framing the problem and creating a relatable visual presentation. My commentary starts around the 2:30 mark … at boostrapping. I resonated with the idea that there is one initial group which acts as a crystallizing seed. I did not resonate with the idea that it is a bootstrapping process. I would like to instead suggest that the initial group already exists. It doesn’t suddenly come into being, neither by casting a spell nor by applying organizational theory.

I will try to draw another picture, less generic and more specific to Ceptr. Still I want to emphasize this is just an example, I do not have all the information I would need to create a precise picture. Also, I feel that the two-dimensional visual language is too limiting to communicate a whole image, but it may be enough to at least shine light on another view.

Ceptr Emergence

Our story starts with two people – Arthur and Eric. It is both close to a real beginning and a simple example to demonstrate people coming together:

How did they come together? I would suggest that even that simple diagram is already flawed. Arthur and Eric didn’t come together in a void, they came together around something. For example, they may have come together aroud a field of alternative-currencies:

What is important here is that Arthur and Eric did not create the alternative currency center. It WAS already there, it was the beginning, it brought them together (The dimensions in this diagram can also be misleading. I do not think that Arthur and Eric are “larger” centers then alternative currency. If anything, alternative currency is more like a distant sun, while Arthur and Eric are like small planets or moons.)

As Arthur and Eric placed more attention and energy into the alternative currency center it became more alive … more concrete … and more specific … the MetaCurrency project:

Which had some latent centers in it.

In fact, I am convinced that those latent were already there in some way in the still “separate” Arthur and Eric fields. The MetaCurrency field created nourishing conditions for things which were already there to emerge. Just as MetaCurrency emerged from the more general alternative-currency field … so did these latent centers come into focus … they became more living centers:

And in each of these centers were already present other latent centers, that in a similar way went from being dormant to gaining more focus and life.

For example, Wealth Stewardship center … is that where Ceptr emerged?

And within Ceptr, similarly latent centers came into focus and being:

And one center is now getting more attention than others:

What is Latent?

What do I mean by latent?

A tree is latently present in a seed.

A handful pf sunflower-seed oil is latent in a single sun-flower seed. That seed is planted, it grows into a plant that grows more seeds that are pressed into oil.

You cannot press oil out of grains of sand … because the potential for it isn’t there.

Everything in the natural world comes into being in this way. Nature does not assemble pieces into wholes. Nature does not move trees around to become a forest, leaves are not attached to branches. Everything grows in place. Wholeness cannot be built, it can only emerge, unfold.

Expanding

It is possible to describe this process as zooming in, but that may turn out to be a misleading assumption kind of like sunsets. What is actually happening here is that as the smaller centers become better defined, more differentiated, more alive … the larger centers expand. Just as an embryo does not grow from “cells being added on” but from internal enhancement … so does Ceptr.

This kind of emerging / unfolding growth can be echoed all the way down to units and lines of code by making sure that every unit is always whole … it can always compile, everything can always produce results, never wrong … getting righter with every iteration.

Consider a simple expression:

if ( x == y) myVar = myFunc(arg1, arg2);

I start to type:

if (

but I don’t remember the names of the variables … so one option is to leave it there broken! and go seek … or I can first make it whole:

if ( true ) myVar = myFunc(

and again I don’t remember the function arguments … so either leave it broken .. or first make it whole:

if ( true ) myVar = 1;

then build up the condition … wholer:

if ( x == y ) myVar = 1;

then look up the function … initially with test values … wholer yet:

if ( x == y ) myVar = myFunc(1,4, ‘abc’);

then place in the correct variables … maybe even one by one … wholer and wholer:

if ( x == y ) myVar = myFunc(arg1,arg2, arg3);

An expression unfolds (as a seed becomes tree) … so can a function, a class, a module … you are creating a whole (you know what role a line plays in a function, a function plays in a module, a module plays in an application, an application plays in our gift to the world) … and when you work this way you can almost feel how every line of code is purposeful and (when created well) resonates throughout the project … expanding from the inside out.

Returning to Wholeness

“You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.”

Robert Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This is where I want to go back to Nicolas’ point of origin … what he called “bootstrapping”. Start with a group that is obviously there … though there may be a few, I would try to choose “the one” which is core-est. Identify what it does and who is a part of it.

For example … a beginning of Arthur and Eric working on Ceptr – the root do-op:

At one point a latent center appears … storytelling is needed because Arthur and Eric want to communicate with others and people are asking what is Ceptr?

That latent center acts as a kind of attractor … and Matthew and Ferananda appear on the horizon .. hovering around … still not quite a part of Ceptr.

Until the latent story-telling center comes to life … in which case Matthew and Ferananda join the do-op  (still a Ceptr do-op) … they are assimilated:

And as the work continues, the do-op starts to feel “too integrated” even a little crowded. A natural division forms … developers want to focus on development, story-tellers on narrative … staying too close together feels disruptive. The group decides to separate by forming a new do-op dedicated to story-telling. When they do this they are very much aware of their mutual existence and their relationship and cross-fertilization … but now, to create more clarity and focus they become two do-ops:

The separation causes an overall expansion of Ceptr. Already there is clarity regarding two spaces: one technical where the code is written and the about interfacing with the world. Additional latent centers may appear either in the Ceptr do-op or the StoryTelling do-op … those centers again becoming attractors for more people … who may gradually be integrated … lead to further growth and further separations and further expansions … on and on.

As more people join the project and more is happening in it, its gravitational pull may increase and people may start appearing around it … hovering … looking for a way to connect:

… and this may lead to a new vague center / field …

This field can be tricky. I believe it is imperative that the assimilation process continue as described above … allowing for people to join an existing center and being attentive to the emergence of new latent centers around which people can come together. Assimilation should be informed by the emergent internal needs of the project NOT by the externalities that hover around it (people,  projects or ideas).

This layer may become a fertile ground for other surprising kinds of dynamics. People may discover shared interests and form new groups around but not directly a part of Ceptr:

Maybe links may form with other projects …

It may tempting to think of this as an attempt to draw a line between internal/external … but though thay may be a consequence is it NOT the point. The point is, again, that growth does not happen by attaching parts from the outside, but by the formation of centers / needs / ideas on the inside … those ideas becoming attractors for other people who find their place INSIDE what already is.

Flat not Hierarchical

Finally I want to go back to the end of Nicolas’ presentation:

When a do-op / group does form:

  1. Recognize your co-creators … if a group has formed the finding should not be necessary.
  2. Identify your name – it is already present in your field.
  3. Yes, short summary of the group intention.
  4. Do not define, you may have an initial vague idea of such things  … birth the group and see what wants to be … discover what decision processes work for you, how you wish to communicate with internally and with other groups … do not spend energy on functions/roles … don’t make declarations … get to work … real functions and roles will emerge.
  5. YES … (please, please, please) get a website. But more importantly this implies that the work-spaces are not organized in a hierarchy but thay they are a flat list with interconnections (there are no sites within sites).

I’ve written a sample of an unfolding process that can guide us in forming do-ops (workgroups) in this way. The point of that sample process is to make growth and expansion an act of group-awareness (and not an act of copy-pasting a text template that anyone can do).

Posted in AltEco, Ceptr, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Paul Krafel: Sunset

n

“One evening I saw the Earth turning. Before that night, I had always seen the sun setting toward a stationary horizon. But when I saw the sun ,instead, as stationary, then I saw my horizon rising toward the sun … My mind must make an assumption. Shifting that assumption changes the world I see.

… the word ‘sunset’ channeled my perception … We become what we practice and I began to practice living  on an unmoving, passive world with change happening ‘out there’ beyond my world …

How would our culture change if we practiced watching our Earth turn so that each ‘sunrise’ or ‘sunset’ reminded us daily that we live on a spinning, round, and therefore finite world?

… what other surprises fill this ‘known’ world, hiding behind unconscious assumptions at this very moment?”

Paul Krafel – Seeing Nature

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

What is Ceptr Part 2: Receptors

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The biology I lean on in this post is inspired by the work of Bruce Lipton. His famous talk Bruce Lipton’s The New Biology is still the most inspired presentation I’ve encountered about biology. Then there is this meeting of Bruce Lipton and Rupert Sheldrake where I got the fundamental idea for this post.

I also want to mention that I am deeply inspired by Rupert Sheldrake’s work (even more than Bruce Lipton’s) however I am less inclined to point to it directly. On the one hand his work underpins much of my world view. On the other hand, his work is theoretical (mostly because his core ideas tend to ask tough questions of science itself, causing the scientific community to keep at a safe distance from his propositions) and so it is not yet grounded like Bruce Lipton’s work. If you want to get a taste of Rupert Sheldrake I recommend his fairly recent conversation with Charles Eisenstein.

Cells: Nucleus and Membrane

If you were indoctrinated by a basic biology education similar to mine then you were taught something about the structure of a cell that looks like this:

And, like it was to me, it may have been insinuated to you that the nucleus, where the DNA is, is like “the brain” of the cell. When I ingest it, the brain metaphor creates two echos:

  1. The first is like an echo across scales: that there is subtle and profound underlying pattern which manifests both in a single-cell organism and in a complex organism like a human being that is made up of trillions of cells.
  2. The second is an assumption of center-ism: just as the brain is the center and controller of the body, so is the nucleus the center and controller of a cell.

Well, it seems that that there indeed may be an underlying pattern here, and that there are parallels between the nucleus-membrane & brain-skin BUT that the center-ism is not as straightforward as we may think it is, neither in the cell nor in a human body.

According to Bruce Lipton it is possible to remove the nucleus from a cell and the cell will continue to function as it normally does. It won’t be able to regenerate and it won’t be able to multiply. How is this possible? The answer seems to lie in the little poop-chutes (titled “vesicles”) you see in the diagram above. Let’s look at another diagram:

This diagram focuses on the membrane of the cell (I chose it because it doesn’t even mention the nucleus). For me this diagram has two prominent features:

  1. The membrane is no longer a thin line but a thicker area … it is a place not just an edge. It seems to be made of at least 3 distinct layers: an inner surface, an outer surface, and an insulating layer in between.
  2. The membrane has openings in it. These acts as ports that can let molecules into and out of the cell.

This diagram starts to pull attention outwards and away from the center. In a nucleus-centered view the cell can be seen as that which is encoded in the DNA. In a membrane-centered view the cell is the sum of its interactions with the world around it, it is defined by what it takes in and what it puts out. This diagram (probably a bit out of context because I borrowed it) suggests that these ports exist but does not explain how they open and close. It needs another piece … and I could not find a good diagram to demonstrate this in a whole way… so I settled on this one:

The missing element is the receptor. The receptor acts as a sensor that protrudes from the inside of the cell and reaches out like a biological antenna. It will respond only to a specific molecule. The receptor activates a lock, and the molecule that activates it acts as a key. When a matching key is inserted into the receptor-lock, the receptor responds by unlocking the port associated with it and allowing something into the cell.

What really defines a cell is therefore not its nucleus nor its ports but its receptors. Without receptors nothing can get in. Without receptors the cell cannot sense and respond to its environment. It may as well not exist. It can live without a nucleus, it cannot live without receptors.

Receptors and the chemical signals to which they are sensitized are the communication infrastructure the trillions of cells in your body use to coordinate and become you. What can our cells teach us about organization?

Co-operation

How then do cells “communicate”? I’d like to propose that they don’t. Consider this diagram:

There are two narratives in this supposedly scientific diagram, one is empirical, the other imaginary. It may be (I can’t authenticate this information, only refer to it metaphorically) empirically true that a secretory cell emits a hormone that is absorbed into the blood stream and reaches another cell who’s receptor responds to it.

What isn’t true is the path of arrows that lead from the secretory cell, through the blood vessel and into the cell labeled as “target”. There is no path and there is no target cell. The cells do not have a direct awareness of each other. They cannot, unlike us, look into each others eyes and address each other. Each cell is functioning autonomously:

  1. The secretory cell is sensing its own environment and responding to what it senses by producing and excreting a hormone. If the cell’s environment changes (certain signals cease reach it or new signals arrive) it may cease to produce the hormone or may produce more of it.
  2. The hormone enters the blood stream without a destination address. It is carried with the flow of blood. It does not press a button or pull a cord to get the stream to stop so it can get off at its destination station. It flows.
  3. When the blood flows past a cell that has receptors keyed to that particular hormone, those cells are activated and the hormone is “received”.

There is no higher power coordinating all this (it may be a whole other fascinating conversation how this came to be!). If each individual cell does what its supposed to do … co-operation emerges. There is no central processor or controller that directs hormones along a specific path. This is an imaginary construct that we create.

True to form, this is also how we modern humans shape most of out existence, our own collaborations. We pretend that there are paths and processes and structures that if we follow will lead to predictable outcomes. We do that KNOWING that it rarely works (in a world of living human beings, it works to some degree, with a lot of effort, in mechanical constructs such as physical machines or software).

What if we could tap into the wisdom that is built into the organic world WE ARE, where there is superior coordination without any direct communication lines?
What would relationships looks like, how would communication work, how would we coordinate?
What would we become if we embraced the wisdom of individual cells wrapped in the wisdom of their receptors, sending out signals and responding to others signals?

Ceptr is modeled after receptors. So, though we still don’t understand what Ceptr is, we do have some sense of its origins.

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My Father, in body for 70 Years

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and, turs out his original Hungrian name Gyurika means farmer … I thought I was born to an engineer, turns out I was born to a “tsaran” – a peasant – a man of the earth

Posted in About, Myself | You are welcome to add your comment

What is Ceptr Part1: Being Together

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This is an attempt on my part to try to assimilate and internalize the Ceptr narrative. It is my wish to be able to grap Ceptr well enough to share with others who are asking me about it. It does not necessarily represent Ceptr.

In order to keep my own writing energy flowing I am going to adopt open and organic expression:

  • I am not going to wait for contents to mature to “perfection”.
  • I am going to publish posts as soon as I can so that I don’t get bogged down … I am trying to stay connected to an inspiring flow of expression.
  • Early publication will make it possible for others inside and outside Ceptr to relate … suggest, correct, ask …
  • I am going to freely update and change them … I will add an indication at the beginning of each post of when it was last updated.

This is a work game in progress.

Being Together

Ceptr addresses what is, in my mind, one of the most systemic challenges of our time: how can we, human beings, better coordinate and collaborate? How can we act more as an integrated being?It is tempting to believe that we have figured out something so fundamental, otherwise how do you explain this rich world we’ve built?

I have been in very few situations where I witnessed / experienced or participated in a group where people were able to have a coherent, pleasant, focused conversation that lead to better understanding and decision making. Yet there is a world out there and somehow … I can own a car that I can fill with fuel and  drive safely … into the city and park in a shopping mall where I can use a small plastic card with embedded electronics in it to buy things that were made all over the world … it is quite an achievement.

I can also, with a tiny device I can hold in my hand access a vast communication network where I can access to an infinite amount of information in which I can find in seconds what it is that I am looking for. What I’ve discovered doing that is that behind the world of unparalleled convenience, lies another world full of inconvenient truths. We are paying a dear price for living the privileged life we have. I don’t want to give up the privileged life I live and so I am left asking myself: can we do better?

Can we have everything that we have (and more) without the downsides? I realize it may sound like a naive question, but I don’t think it is. In the past the downsides were isolated to places in the world that were far enough away for me to ignore (places I may have never heard about if it wasn’t for that vast communication network), but that is no longer possible. Climate change and wealth concentration (to name a couple) seem to know no borders. Challenges are becoming more shared and connected and so it is reasonable to expect that if there are solutions, they too will be of a more shared and connected nature.

So how do we do this? How can we connect and collaborate better then we’ve been able to do so far? I don’t know and I don’t think anyone knows. I have witnessed it a very few times within small and tightly knit groups – and I have it disintegrate when those groups tried to grow. Ceptr doesn’t know either. Ceptr is a strong intuition (with a lot of vested research and work in it) about what may be possible if we were to change some core assumptions.

To give you a idea of what Ceptr is asking, take a look at the leading edge of one of your finger-nails … seriously … look … closely … and consider this: if biological cells were beholden to Dunbar’s number (a widely cited and accepted limit for the effective size of a group of people) that edge of your fingernail could not exist! But there it is, and there you are … looking at it.

What can we learn from that?

Technology & Currency

Ceptr assumes that technology is a key ingredient because of the potential it has to connect us. For many of us this is already obvious – we have and rely on technology in so many ways already. But the kind of connectivity that Ceptr envisions goes (potentially) way beyond what we currently have. Imagine going back 100 years when “fast communication” was a written paper carried on train or horseback and explaining communication via sms or email. That is what its like to describe Ceptr today.

Ceptr is coming into being at a time when a certain kind of technology has surfaced and is getting a lot of attention. I am referring to blockchain and the systems built on top of it, the two notable ones being Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is inevitable that if you hang out around Ceptr you will come across references to blockchain and alt-coins. I am going to hold off on touching on these subjects because:

  1. The Ceptr view on these subjects is very different and comparisons can be misleading and detrimental to understanding.
  2. Alt-coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum portray distributed/decentralized computing AND currency as joined at the hip. This is not a god-given truth nor even a necessity, but rather a choice, possibly a poor choice. Regardless, that choice is not helpful for understanding distributed computing nor for understanding currency.
  3. A faulty understanding of currency is at the heart of many of the problems we are facing and a good understanding of currency is at the heart of possible solutions. So it is critical to be able to focus on money without the added burden of its relationship with blockchain (and it is critical to understand that decentralized computing does not have a direct relationship with currency).

Inspiration: Nature

Ceptr is  inspired by nature. How is the growth of a pasture or a forest coordinated? Or even better, how are you possible? A human body has way more cells (trillions) then there are humans on the planet (billions)? How do those cells (a primitive and simple form of life compared to a human being) coordinate to become you? If the cells that make up your body coordinated like human beings cordinate, you would at best be a very sick creature.

It is worth noting that the underlying metaphor there hints at what Ceptr is trying to do: to create a means for groups of people to become social organisms that are able to coordinate and collaborate as effectively as the cells in our bodies have been doing for millions of years.

As I reflect on this metaphor, which profoundly informs the making of Ceptr, I realize it may also become a trap. It assumes that our understanding of nature is shared and mature. I have a feeling that as I try to unfold this metaphor we may arrive at some unconventional ideas about nature itself. I believe this is not a coincidence. So while I do look forward to leaning on nature as a crutch in explaining certain ideas, I also expect that crutch may need some reinforcement before we can put our full weight on it.

Do cells communicate? collaborate? organize? make decisions? Do trees? Do bacteria? Do fungi? What is communication? What is organization?

Where do we begin? Maybe brains and skins?

 

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