“It takes all the time and all the energy we have to conquer the idiocy in us.”
Carlos Castaneda

The Second Ring of Power

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

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What is Ceptr Part 2: Receptors

n

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

n

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

n

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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Ceptr: Do-Ops as Centers

n

This is a proposal for a do-op formation process. It is aimed at creating the do-op as a living center within Ceptr.

Emergent Scenarios

  1. A do-op is most likely to form as a seed within an existing do-op. That seed may emerge as a signal: a question, an idea or a side discussion. Most such signals will merge with the stream of collective consciousness of the host do-op itself. Some signals will fade into the background. Some may gain energy until they’ve reached some kind of critical mass. Such a critical mass will affect the flow of the host do-op. The host do-op may meet this with different strategies. One of these strategies is to spawn a new do-op. This will alllow the host do-op to stay focused and aligned with its purpose, while a new do-op is free to explore its place in the world. Is is natural that the two will stay connected and that signals will travel between them (and with other do-ops). MetaCurrency spawned Ceptr. Ceptr spawned Holochain (and we are now discovering the nature of the relationship between the two).
  2. Though less likely, bu tnot impossible, a do-op may form as a more spontaneous response to an outside agent. As Ceptr membranes become more permeable, new agents (people, ideas … ) may appear in Ceptr’s collective consciousness. It is better for new agents to be first embedded in one of Ceptrs existing Do-op’s, even if for only a short period. However we should stay open to “miracles” … unexpected forces and opportunities for change. We can achieve this by providing a containing nursery / incubation do-op. This can be a place for wildcards to gestate until they are ready to join Ceptr.

In both of these scenarios a new do-op emerges from within an existing do-op. A do-op should never be added as an external piece that is attached to the Ceptr body (that will most likely lead to a parastic relationship that will consume Ceptr instead of nourishing it).

Process: Do-Op Inception

The purpose of this process is to present a new do-op to the Ceptr team and to give the team an opportunity to intentionally relate to the possibility of a new do-op. A new do-op should be formed with a sense that it enhances and increases the coherence of Ceptr as a whole.

  1. A group of at least 3 people have come together with a clear sense of a shared interest. At least one of them is at least a Ceptr Member (see Spheres of Engagement).
  2. The group publishes a written proposal describing the new do-op. (see process: New Do-Op Proposal)
  3. Everyone of the existing do-op coherence holders publishes a response to the proposal. (see process: New Do-Op Proposal Commentary)
  4. If at least half of the coherence holders express a position of “passionately support” and none of them express a position of “object” then the new do-op can be created.
  5. Otherwise schedule a meeting with the coherence holders. At least 75% of the coherence holders need to present in the meeting. All of the coherence holders who objected need to be present.
  6. If during the meeting consent is given (all of the objections are removed), the new do-op can be created.
  7. If consent is not given the proposing team will publish a summary of the process and what was learned from it.  (see process: Rejected Do-Op Report)
  8. Decide who is the coherence holder for the new do-op.
  9. Write a brief description of the new do-op.
  10. Write a more extensive (though still brief) introduction to the do-op. Describe its purpose and how you expect it to contribute to Ceptr.
  11. Create a home-space for the new do-op.
  12. Announce the new do-op in the existing do-ops.

Process: New Do-Op Proposal

The purpose of this process is to help you formulate a proposal that is relevant and grounded in Ceptr’s current state of being and its needs. Following it will increase the odds that your proposal will resonate with the existing do-ops and that the new do-op will be able to contribute to Ceptr.

  1. Take time to reflect on what a do-op is and what it isn’t. A do-op IS a means to focus existing attention and resources towards a clear purpose. A new do-op is a quiet space within the busy-ness of Ceptr where new ideas can be explored. A do-op is not a means to allocate resources. Ceptr has no free-floating resources that a do-op can apply-for or capture. A do-op is a means for injecting new resources, primarily your passion, attention, skills and time to contributing and evolving Ceptr. A vital do-op may be able to capture Ceptr resources by being relevant and attractive.
  2. List the people who are proposing the new do-op.
  3. Describe what in Ceptr (as it currently is) caught your attention.
  4. Describe where you identified a desire to intervene and introduce change.
  5. Describe the change that you would like to see and how you feel it may benefit Ceptr.
  6. Describe what actions you would like to take as first steps if your do-op is formed.

Process: New Do-Op Proposal Commentary

The purpose of this process is to help you (an existing coherence holder) respond concisely and effectively to a proposal for a new do-op. It is intended to help you assess if and how the proposed do-op would contribute and enhance your do-op and Ceptr as a whole.

  1. Read the new do-op proposal.
  2. Ask yourself if the proposal is clear and coherent.
  3. Ask yourself if the proposal resonates with your active do-op and with Ceptr as whole in its current state-of-being. What you are looking or at this stage is a feeling rather than an intellectual undertanding.
  4. If the proposal does not resonate with you ask yourself if you want to invest energy in getting to understand it better.
  5. If you are interested, contact the authoring team and inquire about the proposal to get a better understanding of it.
  6. If you are not interested, ask yourself if that means that you object to this proposal?
  7. If you do obect to this do-op see process: Rejected Do-Op Report
  8. Otherwise, ask yourself how does the new do-op relate to your do-op (the one for which you are the coherency holder).
  9. Ask yourself to in what ways you think that this new do-op can relate to your do-op.
  10. Ask yourself if you would like to see this do-op come to life right now.
  11. Determine your position: support passionately, on-the-fence, need more information or object.
  12. Respond in writing to the proposal. Include in your response your feelings about it, feedback you would like to offer, reservations you may have and your position on it.

Process: Rejected Do-Op Report

The purpose of this process is to get better at working together by giving attention to differences in our perceptions and valuations.

  1. Re-read the written proposal.
  2. Reconnect with your original motivation in proposing the do-op.
  3. Re-read the commentaries published in response to your proposal and if available a summary of the meeting with the coherence holder.
  4. Ask yourself if you are able to see something now that you were not able to see before.
  5. Ask yourself if you feel that you encountered a blockage that arises from some kind of group-think residue.
  6. Take time to observe how you feel at the end of this process.
  7. Assemble your thoughts and reflections into a summary that you feel may contribute to a future version of yourself or Ceptr.
  8. Publish your summary as a reponse to the original proposal thread.
  9. Close the proposal thread to further comments.
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Ceptr: Centers instead of Containers

n

This post is another reflection followup to the recent Ceptr organizational structure meeting.

Centers

Imagine a hill or a pond (or, spoiler alert, anything LIVING) … there is a clear sense of “there is a pond” but we can’t really draw a clear border around it?
Does the pond include the earth underneath it – if so how deep?
Does the pond include the earth around it – if so how far?
Does the pond include the air above it – if so how high?
Does the pond include the in-feed flow or the overflow drain – if so how far?

Talking about containers implies that we CAN draw clear lines.
Talking about centers acknowledges that we CANNOT.

The primary quality of a center is the degree (not necessarily quantifiable) of life we experience when we relate to it.

  • Centers are made of other centers and support each other: a plant – in a pot –  on a stand – in a place – in a room – in a house … each a center supporting other centers.
  • When we change a center well its aliveness increases and by relationship so does the aliveness of other related centers.
  • A good change is a small change in one center that resonates profoundly throughout a sytem being (symathesy?) of interrelated centers.
  • Unfolding wholeness is that living pocess which leads to a sequence of good changes.

(If you are metaphysically inclined you may pick up a scent of something suble and profound: all there really IS is not even centers, but a network of relationships.)

If we wish to talk about something living (as I assume we are) then a vocabulary of containers is bound to make us feel choked, constrained and fragmented.

During the (infamous?) “organizational structure” talk we went with a containers-based vocabularyand that highlighted the more mechanistic and tangible-to-our-minds things (that we don’t yet have) and, I believe, downplayed more subtle yet living things that we do have. I suspect there are quite a few vital living centers in the Ceptr project which we did not acknowledge in the meeting because of the “contained” glasses we collectively put on.

I hope to be able demonstrate the implications of this in numerous domains. But I want to start with one concrete and relevant example: do-ops.

Current Do-Ops

Our do-ops are work-groups that have formed to focus on different aspects of Ceptr. If we think of do-ops as centers, then each do-op that forms should enhance the overall vitality of the project. As each do-op matures and finds its team, voice … comes to life … the overall life of Ceptr increases.

But as it currently stands we are treating do-ops more like containers and as a result there are undesirable outcomes that can make the do-ops draining (reducing live) rather than nourishing (increaseing life):

  1. Too many – creating a sense complexity and possible overlap. Where do I belong? Where does a subject belong?
  2. Dead – do-ops that promise life but do not have any.
  3. Hidden – some of those that are brimming are inaccessible (for differing reasons of tools, process, culture …) to an outsider.
  4. Theoretical – an expression of needs that have been recognized  but for which resources have not been allocated.
  5. Personal Ambition – some are expressions of personal preference, not necessarily bound to what Ceptr needs at the present.

For anyone who is not already deeply immersed in Ceptr this can come across is a fragmented experience. For anyone just stepping in, it can seem like a confusing and alienating space.

What would our do-ops look like if they were treated as living centers? coming up next.

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

3 Sources of Bias in AI

n

” … Math really is pure, has certain truth, it’s eternal, it would be the same without any particular sentient species looking at it. That’s because math is an abstraction that doesn’t exist in the real world. Computation is a physical process.

… the first source of AI bias:  unintentionally uploading the implicit human biases that pervade our culture … There’s no real way to fix this without fixing our culture first, so we need to compensate for it when we design our systems.

… the second source of AI bias is poorly-selected training data for machine learning, or poorly reasoned rules … when we detect these errors we can fix them, so we can expect that these types of AI biases should iteratively improve and hopefully eventually disappear

… the third source of AI bias is evil programmers.  Or corporations, or governments … The way to deal with this is to insist on the right to explanation, on due process.  All algorithms that affect people’s lives should be subject to audit.”

source

Posted in Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside, Tech Stuff | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

On Ceptr and Wagn and WordPress

n

This post, in addition to its subject matter, is offered as an experiment / demonstration for:

  1. This format of communication / expression (even though it isn’t published where it should be) as having intrinsic value as a collaborative tool.
  2. Coordinated, distributed and asyncronous work while potentially reducing the need for yet another meeting (face-to-face or online).
  3. If this was discussed in (yet another) meeting, the contents may have not made it into this written form and been available only to the participants of the meeting,
  4. That the written and published form creates a referencable / sharable / discussion point resource for others who would not have attended the (yet another) meeting.

This is a followup to a conversation with Arthur and Jarod about creating a collaborative work (codenamed: make.ceptr.org)

Personally

I’d like to clarify that in an ideal situation I would prefer to not get involved “under the hood”. I enjoy applying these tools more than creating them. I’ve been using WordPress for 10 years and have formed a satisfactory relationship with it, in that empowers me to express myself and create things I’d like to see in the world (that no one else has created or will create for me). Given that there aren’t technical resources available in the Ceptr team, I am offering to create what I can.

Wagn

I am curious about Wagn and what it can do. I apperciate the approach it takes and maybe in another context (not after a year of challenging coding work) I would be interested in exploring what can be done with it. However it feels to me like a technology and not yet a usable tool. I can imagine that for someone who is closer to a developer mindset it is more of a tool. But I am not of that mindset.

Lets assume that an in depth suitability analysis of Wagn as a technology to create a clearly outlined solution were conducted and gave a clear resounding yes. If I am the one who has to now create with it I would have to enter a learning curve which 1) I am not interested in and 2) would divert energy from creating a solution for Ceptr, to investing in Wagn.

I do, however, want to dedicate a few more sentences to Wagn as a technological manifestation.

Solutions and Technologies

Wagn highlights a fault-line I have been observing for many years in IT and more endemically in open-source. A technology is not a product. An engine is not a car. Technology is only one dimension of creating good applications that provide valuable solutions. RSS was an oh-so-simple protocol/technology for connecting people that wasn’t properly productized. Facebook did fill that void with an exploitative product.

I would like to avoid this shortcoming in Ceptr.

I realize that Ceptr & Holochain ARE technologies. Ceptr & Holochain are on par with developing an operating system like Linux. For Linux to “succeed” it took many others who built upon it distributions that were targeted for more specific contexts / applications.

My understanding is that a similar view is currently shaping Ceptr & Holochain. That others will adopt Holochain and build solutions upon it. But I am not convinced that can happen, or that if even if it did, that it would necessarily be be a good thing.

Yes Ceptr can be framed, for example, as a Blockchain alternative. But, in my mind, that isn’t true. Ceptr is designed for a different mindset … heck … lets say it out loud … to a different heart-set. Those who see and embrace it as a Blockchain alternative will not be manifesting that different heart-set. They will be applying pressure to get Holochain to do their bidding. The question is what will give? Will Holochain bend their mind-set and bring them closer to its mindset? Or will Holochain itself be bent to be framed into their expectations?s

This is why I believe that it is up to us, the makers of Ceptr & Holochain to also create applied solutions to really give them life. When we do, please, please, please … lets avoid making Wagns.

For anyone interested in reading more on this I recommend The Inmates are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper.

WordPress

I would like to keep this short:

  1. WordPress, in addition to being an application / product has been, for me, a vivid example of distributed collaboration. I have enjoyed watching (though not as an active participant) how it grew as a collaborating community. WordPress, to a large extent, was used to create itself. I would like to bring that morphic field into Ceptr.
  2. Part of what I bring with WordPress is … what I bring with WordPress … the way I personally create with and use it. I would like to try to demonstrate the difference between engineering a theoretical process vs. a gradual unfolding and emergence of process. This can happen when we enter a cycle in which 1) a tool is being used; 2) the usage provides feedback; 3) the feedback can be converted in short iterations into changing the tool itself.
  3. If the unfolding experience pleases us we can apply it with other online contexts (websites and what not) because WordPress can be used for those too.
  4. WordPress, in my experience, brings with it many subtle assets. If we opt to use it I will try to make a conscious effort to highlight them as we encounter them. This touches on what it truly takes to elevate a technology into a solution.
  5. WordPress is fully open and documented, lock-in to it comes not from it but from the gains and satisfaction of using it. It is not the Hotel California or Google … you can always leave.
  6. WordPress can potentially be an agile, living mockup-tool for us to experiment in what we want collaboration to look like … so that when the time comes we can be better informed about how to build alternatives in Holochain.

Actionables

  1. Review the beginning of this post and reflect on its format as a collaborative tool.
  2. Communicate contents to others who you feel are vested in the next question.
  3. Do you feel you have sufficient information to make a decision about using WordPress to create a collaborative work space? If not, what is missing?
  4. Do you want to move forward with this experiment?
Posted in Ceptr, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Ceptr CEO

n

A few days ago I was invited to listen in on a conversation where some Ceptr friends tried to deal with questions on organizational structure and whether whatever organizational structure there was needed a CEO and/or COO. I am going to try to zoom in on the CEO question as a reflection on the wider context.

I will start with what wasn’t brought up in the meeting at all: what is a CEO? Because this wasn’t brought up the conversation seemed to gravitate towards an unspoken but conventional assumption of what a traditional CEO (at least in my mind). I would vaguely describe it as someone who is brought in to introduce and sustain structure and order through authority (in this case authority that would be willfully given). Given some of the core narratives that have shaped Ceptr this felt like an inconsistency at least, possibly even a betrayal of values. Ceptr is about creating a technology which evokes dyamic and adaptive self-organization – an idea inspired by nature. I would want to see the organism that is Ceptr live in such a way. A forest doesn’t have a CEO, why does Ceptr need one? Can centralized authority be a foundation for creating a system of distributed authority?

Can there be another kind of CEO? These thoughts are inspired by the work of Frederic Leloux and his work Reinventing Organizations and by some of the inspiration I experienced in the existing examples introduced in Better Companies: Equal Footing.

The primary responsibility of a CEO is to listen to what wants to be. It is not to figure out or decide where an organization needs to go. It is to listen to listen carefully to what an organizations is asking to become. The primary action of a CEO is to direct attention and energy throughout the organization so that it can gracefull move as a whole towards that which wants to be. It isn’t to make sure that everyone is executing a predetermined plan. It is to notice and share with others that by bringing together our wills, resources and gifts we have created emergent conditions and that something is emerging.

Such a CEO cannot exist in a hierarchical and centralized organization. Such a CEO resonates with a different form of organization. If there needs to be a process of recruitment (whether its direct hiring or onboarding) then that process needs to be informed by the emerging story not by some centralized decision about recruitment which falls on the shoulders of one person. If there needs to be a process of funding then that too should not fall upon the shoulders of one person to direct and control, but is shaped to be in service of what wants to emerge. Maybe this CEO is a modern-day shaman-like figure … an intimate keeper of story.

If I look at Ceptr in this context, it already has a defacto CEO. If I try to imagine this defacto CEO being placed in a traditional CEO role, I can see him rejecting that notion … which is what seems to be happening. It goes against his nature. A traditional notion of CEO would undermine him and undermine Ceptr. His rejection of it is an act of leadership. I believe, the challenge we are left with is not to find a CEO, but to find a way to create conditions for an organization to emerge around the CEO we already have.

I would like to also touch lightly on the subject of man/woman. I believe we need to better discern between man/woman and masculine/feminine. I believe we need to give rise to feminine qualities and that confusing that with woman can be distracting. I would very much like to create and partake in an organization that is shaped by a better feminine-masculine mix (to avoid male dominance). I  believe our defacto CEO is a good example of this.

 

 

 

 

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

Frederic Leloux – Reinventing Organizations

n

I should have posted this a long time ago. I didn’t because I felt that I was too distanced from any organizational work to truly relate and engage with this work. But I have mentioned it numerous times and decided it would be easier for me to have it here as a reference.

This is Frederic Leloux talking about an evolution in thinking about organizations:

 

This is his website where his book is available. The books is also offered in a pay-what-feels-right-after-reading model.

I also noticed that the home page now includes an invitation to make the book freely accessible  “For networks engaged in societal and environmental transformation”.

 

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

Justin Searls: How to Program

n

I enjoyed this talk by Justin Searls who highlights what should be an obvious subject (for anyone who programs). There is a gap between knowing the semantics of a programming environment and being able to program with it to create something useful. Justin sheds some interesting light on this fundamental subject.

Though I still live in my intimate bubble with software at my fingertips, I am no longer actively involved in any “communal” making of software. When I do program it is because I want to do something and I have no one else who can program for me. Programming is an edgy experience for me. On one hand I appreciate the potential power of programming. On the other hand I don’t like doing it … and this talk touches on a lot of what I don’t like about it. (It is also another indicator to me that Ruby on Rails is … interesting).

How to Program from Test Double on Vimeo.

I am fresh off a year-long, focused programming effort. During this time I explored,  within my own private bubble, applying some of Christopher Alexander’s ideas about unfolding wholeness in the context of creating software. At the heart of Alexander’s view is that to achieve wholeness we need to create wholeness at every step of the way. Nature does not create separate parts which are then assembled into wholes. Am embryo in a womb is always whole, it is never in a temporary state where parts need to come together (fingers are not created and then attached to form a hand).

I found places to apply and express wholeness on many levels …  from code constructs (a single line of code, a function, a class) through to underlying processes and overall design. At every point I aspired to have something whole, sensible and working (even if not necessarily “producing tangible results”). It made me wish I’d known of these ideas when I was involved in software professionaly. I would want to explore these ideas in more depth and in the context of collaborative work.

For me, there is a subtle fault line in Justin’s talk. I sensed it when he qualified some of his choices as “personal preference”, evoking a sense of openness and pluralism instead of asserting “rightness” or “wholeness”. Alexander offers a parallel from his world of architecture using an example of a door. If we say a door is  3 feet wide, 8 feet tall, made of wood, painted green with brass hinges … these “facts” will not be disputed. But if I say that moving the door 3 inches to the left will give the room more life, that will be written off as opinion and just a matter of taste. Alexander’s work is an attempt to show that this is an error. That there is an empirical (thought not necessarily quantifiable) truth there, as true as the “more factual” attributes. If we are to get better at making rooms (or writing code) we need to learn to see and recognize this “wholeness” so that we can get better at creating it.

I feel that unfolding wholeness can be a meta-process that can embrace Justin’s observations and give them a deeper and more profound home.

 

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Paul Krafel – The Upward Spiral

n

I first came across Paul Krafel in the video of a conversation between Matthew and Arthur, where they mentioned his book Seeing Nature. I paused the video and immediately ordered the book. It felt like it could be a kind of nourishing experience (that is rare and precious) like I had last year reading Christopher Alexander’s The Nature of Order.

Then in one of the online Ceptr meetings, Art mentioned a video edit. When I went searching for it I came across this TED talk:

During my recent conversation with Jarod he mentioned the book again and also pointed me to this video edit that Eric made of a movie Paul Krafel produced. The video and audio quality is poort and it takes effort to overcome it,  but it is well worth the effort of watching. It is to me a precious gift from Ceptr, following closely in the footsteps of Daniel’s Emergence talk.

The rest of this post is written with the Ceptr project in mind and heart. Two clear things emerged for me, in the context of Ceptr, from this initial exposure to the video. The first is about storytelling, the second about breathing.

Cyclic Storytelling

One of my interests in the Ceptr project is to contribute to storytelling … the membrane with which the project meets the world. For me personally, the challenge is how to share Ceptr with others. The spirit of Ceptr is rich and profound, while its current manifestation is technical and complicated. As my interest and potential for involvement with the project increase I find myself wanting to tell others about it and hitting a wall. It is difficult to communicate Ceptr. That aspect of storytelling is well-recognized in the Ceptr team.

As I was watching the video, I realized that this is a one-directional view of story-telling, from the inside out. I believe that for the story-telling to be complete and potent the other direction of flow also needs to be considered. What role does story-telling play when facing inwards? What role does storytelling play in resonating from the outside world into Ceptr? I feel at ease saying this because Ceptr is saturated in storytelling (which is one of the reasons I find it appealing).

My impression is that Ceptr itself was born this way. Ceptr is a child of MetaCurrency. Storytelling seems to have been a key element of MetaCurrency. It is through that story-telling that I discovered MetaCurrency and then Ceptr. I believe that storyelling generated feedback for the team … a storytelling from the outside in. That, in turn, led to the creation of Ceptr.

I believe that the story-telling effort can be just more than “explaining Ceptr to the world” but also about “shaping Ceptr into a story that the world can hear”. Any effort to build something within Ceptr resonates outwards through storytelling. Any effort to tell the story of Ceptr can resonate with feedback into what is being built. This feels to me like a potential spiral worth exploring

Breathing & Wholeness

As I listened to Paul Krafel’s description of the upward spiral that created the natural world, I thought about the sentience of nature and the sentience of human beings. Every water flow, evey fallen leaf, every stone, every beaver is responding to a web of forces acting on and around it and “making a choice” that reflects an integration of all those forces.

Then came to me a question I’ve lived with for some years: how can we (as human beings) learn to live, be and act in the world in this way? Our evolved consciousness can have both an upward and downward spiral effect on how we experience the world. Our evolved consciousness is more susceptible to both confusion and insight.

During my conversation with Jarod we talked about intuition. Robert Pirsig’s words created good context:

“Any person of any philosophic persuasion who sits on a hot stove will verify without any intellectual argument whatsoever that he is in an undeniably low-quality situation; that the value of his predicament is negative. This low quality is not just a vague, woolly headed crypto-religious, metaphysical abstraction. It is an experience. It is not a judgment about an experience. It is not a description of experience … The value itself is an experience … It is verifiable by anyone who cares to do so. It is reproducible. Of all experience it is the least ambiguous, least mistakable there is … Later the person may generate some oaths to describe this low value, but the value will always come first, the oaths second.”

Robert Pirsig – Lila: An Inquiry into Morals

For the last few years I’ve had the privilege of being in what I like to call my “Yogurt Practice.” My first few years living in the village were demanding and required that much be done, sometimes with urgency, to make basic living possible. After that first stretch I found myself at a doorway to a new kind of experience. I was able to ask myself “what do you want to do now?” and only do things I wanted to do. Yes, wood needs to be chopped by winter, but there can be plenty of time to do it so I can only do it when I want to.

And so I settled into a practice.Constantly asking myself what I want and listening for answers (sitting on a hot stove). Learning to discern between those answers and my opinions about them, opinions that can appear in a blink of an eye, so close to the answers that it can be difficult to discern between the answer and my thoughts about them. Finally, acting on those answers (sometimes going against my better judgement of them).

The Yogurt example is one event that demonstrates the nature of this practice. I was filling a wheel-barrow with some wood-bark to move it from a pile into place to be used as mulch. The barrow was half-full when a question appeared “What do you want?”, followed by an answer “Yogurt.” Sure enough, thoughts quickly came: Yogurt? really? now? that simple? I can go to the fridge and get some yogurt … but maybe finish just this wheel-barrow and then … When the thoughts had passed I still had access to the original answer, left the wheel-barrow, took off my gloves and went to have Yogurt.

Living this way is  fascinating experience. To constantly witness a gap between cutting-edge experiences and answers, and the echoes of thought processes that follow. I am exploring trusting and following that edge of experience – my intuitive voice. I believe it is a voice of integration of the kind of rocks and grass and fallen leaves. Though it sometimes seems to be in contradiction with my “reasonable thought processes”, I believe it integrates them too.

I have found that waiting to want requires patience and trust (that wanting will come, what laziness will not emerge, etc.); that when I act from wanting I act with more clarity, motivation and vitality; that I do get around to doing everything that needs to be done; that I do not get around to everything that I think I want to do; that the overall rhythm is finely tuned to me; that I get a lot more done then I think I can; that the things that in retrospect the things that don’t get done didn’t need to.

Christopher Alexander describes a “Fundamental Differentiating Process” that describes how he believes living things come into being. This is the closest description I’ve found to what rocks, grass, leaves and beavers “do”. To me it resonates strongly with the Paul Krafel’s observations:

  1. At any given moment in a process, we have a certain partially evolved state of a structure. This state is described by the wholeness: the system of centers, and their relative nesting and degrees of life.
  2. We pay attention as profoundly as possible to this WHOLENESS – its global, large-scale order, both actual and latent.
  3. We try to identify the sense in which this structure is weakest as a whole, weakest in its coherence as a whole, most deeply lacking in feeling.
  4. We look for the latent centers in the whole. These are not those centers which are robust and exist strongly already; rather they are centers which are dimly present in a weak form, but which seem to us to contribute to or cause the current absence of life in the whole.
  5. We then choose one of these latent centers to work on. It may be a large center, or middle-sized, or small.
  6. We use one or more of the fifteen structure-preserving transformations, singly or in combination, to differentiate and strengthen the structure in its wholeness.
  7. As a result of the differentiation which occurs, new centers are born. The extent of the fifteen properties which accompany creation of new centers will also take place.
  8. In particular we shall have increased the strength of parallel centers; and we shall also have increased the strength of smaller centers. As a whole, the structure will now, as a result of this differentiation, be stronger and have more coherence and definition as a living structure.
  9. We test to make sure that this is actually so, and that the presumed increase of life has actually taken place.
  10. We also test that what we have done is the simplest differentiation possible, to accomplish this goal in respect of the center that is under development.
  11. When complete, we go back to the beginning of this cycle, and apply the same process again.

The greatest challenge, I have expereinced, to applying such a process is my ability to perceive wholeness. I believe that wholeness is that which is brought to me in my “Yogurt practice”. It is something that I place more in the realm of “somewhere I arrive” instead of “somewhere I can go” … or “something that happens to me” instead of “something I do”. However I do believe that the odds of “me arriving” or “it happening” can be improved 🙂

I believe that much of what I was taught and practice in Yoga supported me in this direction. It is in that spirit that I offer the Ceptr residency program a practice of breathing. It it something I believe I can offer effectively remotely and is closest to my gifts and my heart. My wish is to:

  1. Create a shared opening where fundamental breathing technique can be introduced.
  2. To offer personal guidance to individuals who wish to experience a systemic yet magical evolution and change in their practice over the residency period.
  3. To periodically connect as a group and talk about the experience of breathing.

 

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Glacier Calving

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Amazing to simultaneously hold the sense of awe and beauty of an event like this and the implications of it happening. If nothing else, it give a taste of nature’s force and a realization that, given a choice, I would want to be aligned with those forces not opposed to them. It took the glacier a hundred years to retreate 8 miles, then another 10 years to retreat 9 miles more.

From the view count I am late to discovering this video … still …

“We are just observers … it is a magical, miraculous, horrible, scary thing”

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