“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people thank you ought to accomplish.”
Richard Feynman

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman

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.

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3 Sources of Bias in AI

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” … 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?
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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.

 

Posted in Ceptr, Enjoy, Expanding, inside, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

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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The Notion of Time in Computing

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Anyone who has done any programming that has elements of persistency (not just adding two numbers, but recording when that addition was performed) has experienced the challenge of time. It is a problem that exists on any scale, from human relevant scales (which online shopping order was placed first) to machine-relevant scales (which network packet was sent first). It is a problem that escalates as computer systems get larger (scale up) and faster.

This is an intruiging talk by Paul Borrill about the notion of time how it reflects on how we do computing (and how what we do is still shaped by the linear tape that was used when computers were born).It suggests that our linear approach to time is unfounded and causes much of the complexity we have to deal with in computing. Human beings are required to deal with this complexity. The result being that scalability is limited by what human beings can oversee / manager / administer. What if it was possible to create software (and hardware) in a different way. What if computing could be created without a “God View” – a sense of overseeing centrality, without monolithic source-of-record storage?

via Matthew Schutte and Arthur Brock – Ceptr / MetaCurrency

Posted in AltEco, Design, Intake, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Being a part of … nothing

n

I started this video in a tech-mindset. I had already known about most of what is displayed in it, but the conclusions drawn in the last seconds gave me chills. Yes feeling a part of something, community, sharing, etc … are precious experiences that we are drawn to. But does it not matter what underlies that shared experience? If it is a void, devoid of even physical reality let alone meaningful purpose … what kind of shared being will emerge?

During winter I watch some alpine ski-racing. It is the only sport I consume and that too, I feel fading away from me. I do consider it a sport. I watch Eurosport UK where, over the years, I have been amused by the side-by-side presence of things like snooker or darts or poker, which lack a physicality that defines sport for me. Also over the years I have noticed a clear shift in (UK related) advertising where two themes seem to have come to power: private money loaning and online gambling.

My opinion on this evolution of “sport” is inconsequential. However I do believe that we are lying to ourselves, and that matters. The labels we attach to things matter. They highlight some fatures and obscure others. They can connect us with others who share in the higlight, and alientate us from others who share in the obscure. Politics is not the only domain in which isolated social bubbles can be formed. What is described in the video is entertainment, creates a sense of relatedness (even if fleeting and superficial), commerce, business … but sport?

Once we agreed that an overweight man throwing 3 darts (many times!) a distance of a couple of meters is a sport, we opened a door. That door is now leading to a bunch of people sitting together with googles on watching robots (smart ones!) race being called a sport too. I don’t deny the fascination and entertainment of it. But when we call it a sport we are opening another door … a meta-door. This is a door that leads into mental ambiguity and laziness. Where will that door take us? Does it matter? Do you care?

Posted in Intake, Intellect Run Amok, Money, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Dancing with Allergy

n

About 2 weeks ago first subtle signs of allergy appeared. It was a subtle itching sensation in the back of my throat. As the days went by the signs accumulated and gradually intensified … though for the most part subtle (in comparison to past years).

The most stable aspect of my life is my daily practice. It is therefore the most reliable point of reference and reflection for me. I can tell how I am by how I am in practice. In past years I continued with my daily practice as long as I could until it collapsed in the face of allergy symptoms.

This time, when first signs of allergy manifested I met it differently. I began to change my practice. Instead of pushing forward with practice-as-usual (until I couldn’t anymore) I modified it to accommodate the allergy manifestations. Instead of just accepting that allergy has arrived I took it in and responded to it. We started moving together … dancing.

I was sweetly and softly surprised by what happened. For the first 10 days my asana practice responded to the symptoms. I gradually modified my practice. First by gradually removing practices that had a brahmana effect – that consumed my breath. Then by reducing my time spent in forward bends which increased my sense of congestion.

During these first 10 days I was also considering modifying my pranayama practice, but there was no need to. Changes in asana practice made it possible to stay with my pranayama practice. But there was a subtle qualitative shift there too. In the beginning, at the end of every part of every breath I felt that even though breath was complete, there was less space in the echo of the breath. Where there was previously a round softness there was now a sharper turn.

YET, during these 10 days I noticed something new. My nostrils are typically somewhat blocked. This is not from mucus but from some kind of tissue inflammation. Then, when they are inflamed, it takes only a little mucus to cause a sense of blockage. What I realized, and surprised me, was that when the allergy symptoms began my nostrils suddenly cleared. It was as if allergy had released a blockage that was locked in place and the blockage was transformed into a more vague and moving presence. For the first time over these years of reflection around allergy, it seemed, amongst its clearly dysfunctional symptoms, to perform a specific function.

As the days passed I continued to be attentive to the quality of my breathing. By the end of these first 10 days my asana practice had become short and concise … a preparation for sitting in pranayama, no more, no less. And then I finally felt a change was needed in pranayama itself. I reduced the length of breath and removed holds (I stayed with the same technique, pratiloma, which is why I was able to notice the clear and open nostrils). These changes allowed me to stay in a good cycle of breathing practice.

Today, about 15 days in, after waking up at 4:30am. This is the earliest I have gotten out of bed during this cycle of allergy. During the allergy period I typically I wake up with a sense that my breath is locking up, if I stay in bed it does so quickly, less so if I get up, get vertical and start taking liquids.

I got on the mat one more time. I did not complete a practice sequence. Between a physical tiredness and a weak and fragmented breath the practice became uninteresting, uninspiring and unappealing. I stopped practicing.

I practice because I want to. Because the experience of practice engages me, reveals me and reminds me of that I am. I do not feel that individual practices are in themselves acts of healing or self improvement. I do feel that it is a continuous relationship with practice which takes me through healing, health and beyond. I do feel that when a disturbance such as allergy manifests there is a qualitative drop in energy and well being. What matters most in such times is not how far I fall, but where do I fall from. If I am higher up on a scale of well-being, when I do fall, it is to a better place than had I been in a lesser place to start with.

Now I don’t want to practice. The practice experience is unappealing. Maybe I could discipline myself into practicing for a few more days. Doing so, I feel, would be a denial of where I am. It would also undermine my long term development by re-surfacing qualities (forceful, controlling, fear, etc.) which I have witness soften through practice and the life that has formed around it.

And so, I softly got off the mat, rolled it up and put it away. I remain softly curious to see what the coming days and weeks bring. Regardless, I trust that in a few weeks, when allergy symptoms have passed, my mat, my practice and I will resume our relationship.

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality on: Is Trump Evil?

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I don’t know that there is any

A recent interaction with David on Twitter brought up the question Is Trump Evil?

David is making a great effort to present what Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality is and I have dedicated a section of my site to Pirsig’s Book Lila: In Inquiry into Morals.

While I generally agree with David about the view on Trump I have a reservation about the “Evil” conclusion.

David and I connected via email and started a debate chat … and with his permission I’ve moved the conversation from email to here so that it can unfold and be available to others. Most of the content will therefor be found in the comment thread below.

 

 

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My shoulders, socks and lowerback … doing and not-doing

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Shoulders

My practice includes lying back bends with active arms. I start with my arms alongside my body and swing them “up above my head”. One of my focuses in this posture is softening and relaxing the shoulders every time my arms are placed back on the floor alongside my body. I have been working with this focus for a few months and there has been a gradual improvement:

  1. First I had to bring my attention to my shoulders at the right time (there are other focuses in the posture that require my attention).
  2. With my attention in place I was a bit mechanical in finishing each movement, noticing my shoulders were active and relaxing them.
  3. Gradually that become a more fluent movement … but still mechanical and somewhat separate … relaxing the shoulders came after finishing the movement.
  4. Then the two movements have merged. I am aware of my shoulders already when I start to lower my arms. When I am attentive enough I arrive with my shoulders down.
  5. Now the integration is expanding further. The question I am with now is how can I do the entire movement in such a way that no excess is created in the shoulders at all, so nothing need to be adjusted at the end of the movement. I am learning to engage my shoulders differently throughout the entire movement. It’s a curious learning because I can do it yet I can’t (yet?) describe what it is exactly that I am doing.

Socks

It’s warm enough for me to wear baggy pants that expose my legs somewhat during movement. It is also cold enough that I am still wearing socks. When I initially bend forward (on both sides) I have a tendency to pull up my socks. It is a distraction that I have noticed for some time. During winter, as my hands reached my legs I could get away with a more subtle distraction of slightly arranging the fabric of my pants. It was subtle because it kind of merged with placing my hands on my leg. Now the distraction is much more obvious.

This presents a subtle challenge. I do not know how to SOFTLY not-do something. Refraining from doing something echoes subtly with qualities such as self-judgement, an aha! of “catching myself”, expecting myself to make a mistake, etc. So while it may be possible to “not-do” something, I feel that it has more downsides to it than value. I also find it easier to move towards something I want than to escape from something I don’t want.I found 2 “wants” to support me.

The first is wanting to notice and better discern between the impulse to arrange my clothes and the action of actually doing so. I trust (from past experience) that doing so will, in time, resolve the distraction. Something seems to find satisfaction when it is given attention, making the action at first lest necessary and ultimately unnecessary.

The second is related to my eyes. For some time now, in the same seated forward bends, my eyes tend to open. So, I am trying to keep my eyes close. This is something very tangible for me to work with. More tangible then catching the impulse to arrange my clothes. I am curious to see which one (noticing the urge or closing my eyes) will take hold first.

Lower back

Because of recent life off-the-mat I have felt a bit of rigidness in my lower back and can best discern it in seated forward bends. Here too I’ve been on a subtle and gradual journey of learning:

  1. In the past I would have felt some disappointment knowing that I can bend better then I am doing in the present moment.
  2. Gradually I came to accept that my back is the way it is and to work with it as it is rather then wish it to be something else.
  3. That shift in attitude allowed me to experience a softness that improved my ability to bend. That softness improved my range of movement.
  4. That  softness also allowed my attention to move more freely (not that a-tension had been reduced) and to move to my core (abdominal area).
  5. Applying strength in my core further supported my back and improved my range of movement.
  6. Gradually I came to be curious (instead of critical) of any sense of limitation in my lower back (a curiosity which applies to all movement). I began to explore how to fully be with the limited range of movement. It became a practice of surrender … softening generated attention generated strength generated trust generated more softness.
  7. I realized that meeting limited range of movement was teasing out of me more softness and better attention.
  8. Eventually I came to appreciate limited range of movement (of varying levels, from slight discomfort to painful injury) and realized that what I was experiencing as limitation was actually my body protecting itself from further injury. When I came into that relationship I lost interest in overcoming the limitation.
  9. Since then, when experiencing more serious discomforts in my lower back, I know that I have an opportunity to refine my practice that I would otherwise not have. There are subtle things that I have learned about movement through pain or discomfort.

This kind of refined learning seems to be never-ending. I can, like in the present moment, feel more established in my lower back, less in my shoulders. Then another dimension opens up and I feel like a beginner again, where I previously felt established.

I continue to be surprised by the subtle relationship between attention, breath and movement (I haven’t mentioned breath much in this post because these days my breathing is stable and developing and less affected by life disturbances). From years of practice I feel I know better how to work within that relationship, but how it actually works seems beyond intellectual grasping … more like magic.

 

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to add your comment

My Conception, Birth and Early Life

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I recently asked my parents to tell me about how I came into this world and this is what they were able to recall. How this came to be and the reason for doing this will appear in followup posts.

Conception

My mother (freshly married to my father) visited with a friend (another woman) who had given birth recently. When my mother held her friend’s baby in her arms she knew she wanted to have a baby too. To my surprise, my mother was passionate about this (I do not recollect experiencing my mother passionate about anything). My father was supportive but raised some questions about practicalities (both of my parents were students and living in a shed in a boarding school in a village setting).

My mother got off birth control and got pregnant with me. She has some sickness in the first months but other then that enjoyed the pregnancy very much. She felt good and confident. N

As my birth neared my parents reviewed a book of names and chose a name for a boy and a name for a girl. They did not know my gender. They opted for a name that felt fresh and young (stepping out of the cultural norm of seelcting classic / biblical names). The name they chose for me was “Ronen”, they liked that it meant happiness (though I don’t remember that meaning being brought to my attention, it is only much later in life that I realized that my name had meaning and wondered about how it related to me).

Birth

I was born in a hospital. My mother arrived in the morning hours. She was alone. Fathers were not allowed into the birthing rooms, so my father was in a waiting room. There was no one else with her, not her mother, not a friend. She was alone.

Labor was difficult for her. Epidurals were still not available but she did receive some medication for the pains she was experiencing. My head was not centered, off to one side, and so labor was prolonged. Forceps were placed on my head and used to get me out. I was born in the early evening hours. By then my mother was exhausted and disassociated. She does not remember the details of what happened after I was born. I was not given to my mother after I was born. I was taken out to my father for a short meet and greet. I was then taken away to a nursery. My mother held me for the first time only the next day. I did not nurse at all.

Post Birth

I got sick with Jaundice and was hospitlalized for two weeks. I was in the same hospital as my mother. My mother was released from hospital after 6 days. She came to visit me everyday until she was allowed to take me home. She was alone, and I was alone.

After I got over the Jaundice I was circumcised by a rabbi (not a surgeon) at my grandparents home. If tradition was followed, I was probably given some wine to soften the blow. During the ceremony the rabbi asks for the name of the baby and the name of the father and grandfather (you get the jist) so as to insert them into the prayer templates. When my parents responded with “Ronen” my grand-grandfather (my mother’s father who was a well known rabbi in the city) interjected, as if he didn’t hear their reply and said “yes, but what’s his name”. He couldn’t fathom the name “Ronen” and so, for the sake of the ceremony, my name was “Haim” (an established and proven biblical name that means “life”). Beyond the ceremony my parents stuck with “Ronen”.

Early Life

At the time, my parents felt supported by family in almost every context of their new life as parents. I felt that my father stated this in contrast with today where family feels far and fragmented and the feeling that we are living in a world where everyone is on their own.

During the first year of my life the Yom Kippur war began. My parents awoke in the morning to the sound of radio coming from somewhere outside their shed. When they turned on the radio they learned that war had started and continuous sequences of recruitment codes were being broadcast. Within a few hours a jeep appeared to collect my father who then disappeared from my life for 6 months. When he returned I did not recognize and rejected him.

My mother had a very difficult time during the war. She was alone with a newbor, in a remote place. She did not know even where my father was serving in the war. She wanted to leave to go be with either her parents or my father’s parents. But she was a teacher and principle insisted that she stay. She was offered assistance in the form of a young woman soldier who took care of my when my mother was teaching, and then came at the end of the day to sleep with us so that my mother would not be alone. My grandparents visited her regularly to bring her groceries and to help her with me.

During my third year of life I experienced a first asthma attack. At first my parents were very concerned, but once they arrived at the hospital and I was diagnosed and medicated they felt confident they could handle the illness. I asked them if something happened in my life around that time, that they could associate with the onset of the illness. They could not think of anything. However, in a roundabout part of our conversation they mentioned that my older sister also got asthma, and the timing at which she got it got my attention. It seems that my asthma appeared when my mother was in her first months of pregnancy with my older sister. It seems that asthma appeared in my older sister when my mother was in her first months of pregnancy with my younger sister.

I am Ronen.

 

 

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Robert Pirsig: Rest in Abundant Peace

n

Robert Pirsig has departed. He was and continues to be a grand pillar in my consciousness. Though I have very little patience for academic philosophy, I do consider Pirsig a philosopher, a grand phiilosopher of our time . Grand as the myths that society seems to (mistakenly!?) assign to famous Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle (which he challenged and pointed at as culprits of much of our modern day suffering). His philosophy felt driven by a passionate need to make sense of an appearingly senseless world. His hunger felt like that of a starving person, not of a privileged theoreticist. He continually transforms my perception of a deteriorating world (which seems to evident at this time) to a world that is stubbornly moving towards better.

His first and well known book was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (I have an interactive summary of it, maybe its time to release that). I have dedicated a section of this site to his second, lesser known (yet in my opinion more vital) book Lila: yetAn Inquiry into Morals.

Almost every day, as I look out at the world, as I read about other people’s interpretations of it, I wish that Pirsig was a part of the conversation. I feel that so many efforts by so many people to navigate the troubled waters of our times could be richly informed by Pirsig’s reflections. I believe his presence will continue to shimmer in the peripheral vision of human consciousness from where his field will continue to subtly inform us. I am pleasure whenever I see echoes of his discoveries manifesting in others ideas and realizations.

Though he is no longer in body, I feel him vitally present. The best words I can find to describe the experience of his departure come from his own writing. But not from either of his books, rather from an afterword added to a later edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In it Pirsig talks about the death of his son Chris who was stabbed to death on the streets of San Francisco. I did not want to change the original and so I invite you to hold “Robert” in your heart when you read “Chris”:

“Chris is dead … Where did Chris go? … What was it I was so attached to? .. Do real things just disappear like that? … What is the ‘he’ that is gone? … What had to be seen was that the Chris that I missed so badly was not an object but a pattern, and that although the pattern included the flesh and blood of Chris, that was not all there was to it … Now, Chris’s body, which was a part of that larger pattern, was gone. But the larger pattern remained. A huge hole had been torn out of the center ot if, and that was what caused all the heart-ache … If you take that part of the pattern that is not the flesh of Chris and call if the “spirit” of Chris or the “ghost” of Chris, they you can say without further translation that the spirit or ghost of Chris is looking for a new body to enter … it was not many months later that my wife conceived, unexpectedly.”

Robert Pirsig … your larger pattern remains … may you rest in abundant peace.

I am also holding gratitude in my heart for James Landis (with whom I corresponded briefly some years ago) the publisher who chose to support Pirsig’s work.

 

 

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This is what HOME felt like

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home … a place where opening replaces recoiling

“The ideal birth occurs in a place that has been saturated with love for many years. In this way the walls, the furniture, the linens the garden, the trees outside the window, all breathe back that love. For a soul who comes from a place of pure openness, this lve is a palpable comfort of familiarity. In this love filled environment baby realizes, ‘Oh, this feels good. This is what HOME felt like!'”

World Mother via Sunni Karll – Sacred Birthing : Birthing a New Humanity

 

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Opening

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not just babies … not just birth

“Home birth is a gift to both parents. Birth can be the spiritual impetus that opens a parent to their next higher vibration. All birth has the potential to offer this initiation. Home birth supports your receptio of these spiritual energies because your peaceful home is where you are comfortable. Being comfortable and in your power traslates to being open and receptive. Being open encourages parents to stay in their heart and encourages the high vibration we wish to create and maintain for the incoming soul … After a home birth there is no place you need to go … At home there is no interruption, no strangers, no hurry, no frenetic activity, no need but the present moment. Love deepens and builds as it is expressed …

The sharing o home birth is a ‘glue’ of relationship. A deep connection within relationships is built after a family experiences home birth together. This glue has been taken away from the family by institutionalizing both birth and death and there is precious little that replaces the exquisite depth of sharing that these experiences offer. Only by acting on our inner truth when home birth is right for us, can these experiences be returned to the family and community. Reclaiming these intimate, natural, loving experiences and bringing them back home may be the adhesive that again strengthens our families.”

Sunni Karll – Sacred Birthing : Birthing a New Humanity

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The Fourth Phase of Water by Gerald Pollack

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This book was my winter companion two winters ago and I have been wanting to write something about it ever since … especially given that I frequently mention it to people in conversation. For years I’ve carried a wish for a good book about chemistry … something passionate and inspiring. I am interested in chemistry in a practical way because it is all around me … in soils, in earth construction, in burning of rocket stoves, in wood finishes. But all of my past attempts to relate to chemistry have failed. I first read about Gerald Pollack and The Fourth Phase of Water a review by Charles Eisenstein. This book has definitely answered my wish, it was a joy to read … though I remain even hungrier for understanding … I look forward to many more books like this (if you know of any please leave a comment and let me know about them).

Science

The book, as its title implies, discusses a fourth phase of water, beyond liquid, solid and vapor. It is a phase that comes about when water is in touch with hydrophilic (water loving) surfaces. Most of our body is made up of hydrophilic surfaces. It is a well known piece of trivia that our bodies are 70% water, but less well known that we are 99% water molecules … so this research has far reaching implications.

When water comes in contact with a hydrophilic surface it rearranges itself into a liquid crystal like structure – somewhere between liquid and solid. This layer is substantial, it can extend millions of molecules away from the hydrophilic surface. In the book this is called Extraction Zone water or EZ water. It is named this way because molecules organize in a very tight atomic lattice that, as it forms, pushes out contaminants and once it is formed, prevents contaminants from pentetrating it. Another feature of EZ water is charge separation … there is a measurable potential difference between the EZ water and the surrounding liquid water. A third feature is a drastic changes in the PH gradiant from the hydrophilic surface, through the EZ water and the surround liquid water.

The book offers many explanations to water behavior in nature: how electrical charge forms in our bodies, boiling, bouyancy, droplets and bubbles (they are related!), why warm water freezes faster than cold water, why concrete needs to be watered when it sets (it doesn’t dry, the water doesn’t ‘leave’ it, the water changes phase and locks the concrete together!), physical joints (what are the liquid properties that prevent bones from rubbing up against each other), why two panes of glass with water in between them resist being pulled apart but can slide apart, why ice can be sticky and slippery, electric current in nerves, blood flow (challenging the myth that the heart is a pump, it is too small relative to the size of the blood vessels in our body to be able to pressurize it, demonstrating that it doesn’t need to, because flow is generated in the blood vessels themselves which are hydrophilic tubes … so the heart only gives it direction!), viscosity in vodka … and so much more (the author admits that he wanted to share even more but was limited by editing considerations).

Approach

The book begins with a promise that to understand it one only needs to understasnd that positive and negative charges attract. It lives up to that promise. You can read the whole book and understand the science described in it with just that understanding, basic logic and arithmetic and without any mathematical formula. This, in its own right is an inspiring achievement. It demonstrates that science can be taught in a light an inspiring way, that science can be a commons, accessible to everyone, that you don’t need to have advanced academic degrees to enjoy and benefit from science.

As I was joyfully reading the book I thought back to science that I was taught in school (I was also taught some in university but I didn’t get it) and how the emphasis was on mathematic formulas and calculations and pointless memorization of bits of information. It was lifeless and uninspiring … complex formulas and calculations were an obstacle, a barrier … and I was good at math and algebra and geomtery … I can’t imagine what it was like for students who were not as comfortable with math.

Looking back at the science education I received, I wonder if that was because my teachers themselves didn’t really understand (I don’t blame them personally, I am suggesting that understanding was not yet available to them) the phenomena they were trying to teach. I feel that the formulaic science was a cover up … and this has implications beyond teaching. The explanations offered in the book are often simple, simpler then established explanations, sometimes even contradicting and undermining well established complex theories (one prominent example is Einstein’s theory of Brownian motion). The book also opens up the door to things that have been viciously rejected by mainstream scientific thought … water memory is a prominent example: the structure of the EZ water responds to the characeristics of the hydrophilic surface like a template.

Context

In the first part of the book the author gives some historical background to the current state of water-related research. He shows how socio-political considerations effected and undermined research in the field of water. These statements have potentially far reaching implications to the current state of science beyond the field of water.

He also discusses and challenges the view that science has come so far that it is almost “complete” in its ability to understand, predict and manipulate nature (I also got this impression when I was growing up. I recall a promise that some kind of Grand Unification Theory was supposedly just around the corner … and 25 years on it seems that there are more unknowns than knowns in science … which to me feels like a sensible balance). As a result, science has become peripheral … scientific research is focused on niche subjects which are considered mere extensions of established core understandings. But, the author suggests, there is still much to do in the fundamentals of science itself and that questioning basic assumptions should be inherent to scientific research (there are a bunch of wildly divergent theories, but we still don’t know how water molecules organize into liquid water!).

The research in this book has so many applications that could drastically effect our lives: passive (flow based) filters based on exclusion zone properties, imagine photovoltaic panels that are made of water instead of silicon, there are medical applications

The book was a delightful read. Science always appealed to me, but I was repelled by the way it was introduced to me. Reading this was educative, inspiring and a healing experience.

 

 

 

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Recoiling

n

… not just babies

“When a baby’s body feels good, it opens to receive more stimuli and the body-consciousness makes a simple decision to continue opening. When the body hurts, the body-consciousness recoils, makes a decision to separate from life, and takes what time it needs, in order to come back into balance after integrating this stimulus before continuing. When the baby body-consciousness is harmed, it is not as easily open to the nex experience that life presents. This rudimentary decision to open or to protect is the basis for emotional balance or imbalance.”

Sunni Karll – Sacred Birthing : Birthing a New Humanity

 

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