Thank you for the invitation to join your Corporate Risk Management Community. I do not know what a “Black Swan” is, although, it appears we are experiencing a surprising flock of them converging at that moment in our human condition and situation. I do know what an independent “Black Sheep” is through the experiences I enjoyed within my own life story; parachuting into a constellation of identities, discourses, institutions, cultural patterns and systemic processes operating in a blind swept along historic drift, and through “ho*ok and cro*ok” (curiosity & naivite) has developed an independent point of view. I call it being autopoietic as an observer in momentariness. Pain and suffering is like rain off the back of a black swan, after awhile you are neither moved by the sweet or sour fruit any longer. One gravitates to an inner wisdom of don’t sweat the small stuff in a realization, and it’s all small stuff, and there is no thing to get too excited about. You just keep you feet in the water paddling along, in a merry way with no fear, and enjoying the moments day~by~day. It sounds kinda foolish and crazy at first and praxis makes it perfect.
I offer this writing this morning as an introduction and invitation to potential risk management global business collaborators interested in learning about the V3W notion of inventing an “Office of the Future” where the privacy of the human autonomy is respected as an on~going learning experience for future generations and the game of living becomes an artistic sculpturing in designing enactive embodiment of our “virtual identities” to making history in the permanent domains of human concerns by caring for future generations and the household of our humanity ~ the planet earth.
“In a small country, those in power have, long ago, forced all those not belonging to their group to reservations far from the cities and power centers. The government is a dictatorship, an apartheid. The dictator, and the power base he is supported by, knows little of the culture, values, or spirituality of their perceived enemies. Fear and control are behind every decision. It is believed that if those without power ever came to prominence, the entire way of being of the country would be threatened. One day there is a serious power outage. The power lines have been cut. Power, which has been the major export and resource of this country, has stopped flowing entirely. The government is paralyzed. The marginalized groups do not deny they cut the lines, but assert that the power has always belonged to them….” Deena Metzger “Personal Disarmament
The big hoopla this morning worldwide is the USA Sterling Triple AAA credit rating has been downgraded by S&P to AA+ while India’s credit rating is rolling along at beautiful BBB- and growing. The pundits worldwide will have a hay day beating a new drum 24/7 regarding the final demise of Western Civilization’s Capitalistic 1492 notions of agrarian lawlessness as white people basically fight over the precious metal of gold. The war to end all wars is mounting between the “haves” and the “have nots.” The “Ship of Fools” in Washington D.C. will continue to exploit the mass media political hysteria and prejudicial exceptional bias (racism) of a broken failed policy of globalization now operated by quants in dark rooms who monetize data to information and play ruthless gaming of humanity’s worst fears. And another PTS trigger in the ultimate fall of WS manifest destiny embodied in the USA geopolitics is happening. King George demonstrated leadership is bare naked. Humpty Dumpty has fallen off his coercive deceptive throne and all the kings men can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. What we need is a funeral! The competitive arrogant aggressive arrested immature adolescent behaviors of Washington D.C. and Wall Street’s privilege elite are blind, deaf and dumb of Main Street ~ people’s concerns. The Reagan Global Consensus strategy has failed and reduced the American way of life to a “Robosphere” of enslaved consumerism where Goldman Sachs Facebook is offering everyone employment in Farmsville and future generations are strapped to a debt for as a far as the eye can see ~ eternity. We are facing a global leadership crisis that is converging in diverse domains of human conditions and situations without any agreed upon basis for meaningful social civil authentic dialog, while our worst fears of man’s inhumanity~to~Man are being released in a gluttony of predatory chaos based in greed, ownership and high risk.
I submit India plays an essential role in the awakening our global civilization to a new beginning and designing a future world together. An authentic master never get mad at a caterpillar gluttony and not being a butterfly. Part of the caterpillars journey is gluttony and after eating beyond its capability, being stuck unable to move, it forms a pupa, and through the inner imaginal seeds becomes a butterfly. The good news is America has stuffed itself and the only way out of the current predicament is to envision a new future. For wise elders surrounding America the key trick in risk management is to be firm in throwing out the bath water and not the immature baby acting out on the playground of global affairs. The notion of fierce compassionate decisive discipline like “take your seat, shut up, listen before you do any further damage” comes to mind.
Mahatma Gandhi was a history making global ethical citizen with a mature wise voice that envisioned a non-violent agrarian justice on earth and confronted the injustice of coercive
agrarian political lawlessness based in power, aggression and arrogance. As an “observer” he studied the swept along constellation of discourses, institutions and practices of agrarian political laws. And like an Aikido master turned the laws as a reflected mirroring on the lawlessness of leaders as a non
violent restrained mature observer.
Gandhi declared simply “There is enough in the world for everyone’s
needs; there is not enough for everyone’s greed.” Gandhi’s last words were “Real Swaraj (a sacred Vedic term for self-rule, freedom, self-restraint) will come not by the acquisition of power by a few, but by the capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused.” This truth is as relevant today as it was in the moment he spoke it and that is the power of a spiritual truth. Truth lives forever and resonates in shrine of unity contained in the human heart and is our emergent power today. His words also are an optimistic point of view to a day when the “victims” become “victorious” in the midst of predatory chaos. So, let us take heart as new emergent warriors against the tyrants of past patriarchal indoctrinated belief systems operating today blindness. Let us be compassionate yet as determined as Gandhi to give no quarter to any injustice in the future.
Gandhi’s political consideration’s was the core principle of the Vedic teachings of India that are over 5,000 years old. The United Kingdom British Empire was at the very height of it’s imperial coercive deceptive political strategy of agrarian lawlessness and confronted an ancient
Vedic Indian whose prayer book was the “Bhagavad-Gita” an inspirational love song of one’s
duty within a spiritual universe. Gandhi as an “observer” became the enactive embodiment of
the Bhagavad-Gita in effective action in modernity. Standing alone on his own faithful conscious awareness of
“Self Realization” he confronted the political authority of western
civilization oppressive domination over Indians and Moslems without ever
raising a sword or generating hatred or aggressive violence for his
oppressors. There is no higher praxis in living then non-violence and doing no harm to one another. This
small fragile independent man’s observation prevailed against the British Empire. What other secret do we need to learn
as observers in this moment of modernity?
There is a sacrifice required to cross this bridge that is always already living in the secret tabernacle of the human heart. The sacrifice is to be open to the human pain of existence that happens
in the circularity of birthing and dying, while releasing the distorted suffering
of the human commentary in the mind as an “observer.” This “observer of the observer” viewpoint releases
personal egoic gratification of meaningless temporal desires based in fame, fortune,
position, territory, titles and chooses freely to serve an endless notion of
being a glorious vision of human realization and freedom for future generations in service not positioning. It’s the sacrifice of the
limited finite games based in egoic self importance to experience the eternal love and life that constitutes existence itself. The Self is no longer moved by
either sweet or sour fruit on the tree of human knowledge. Awakening to the reality of momentariness is choosing freely to cross the bridge to primordial
elder wisdom and live in the eternal infinite glorious playfulness that is
always already victorious in the loving universe surrounding us.
My prayer is India awakens once again as a people and the traditional wisdom embodied in your flesh becomes an enactive commitment to Mahatma Gandhi’s demonstration of true power on earth in service. In my assessment it means we awaken and become living saints ourselves in designing a future world. There is a lot more going on here then credit ratings.
Gandhi showed us as a living “observer” that in the end of the world, it is possible to demonstrate a unified singularity within the diversity of our own humanity. The
fundamental solution is answered in the autopoietic paradox of a closed self
ruled dynamic temporal architecture called a Homo sapiens amans that lives naturally in an absolute
oneness within a thriving loving universe. Today our world is experiencing a convergence of all the units of our humanity into this unitary heartfelt sense of knowing. Let’s be optimistic rather than fearful. We are on the move, making the quantum jump in our infancy into an ecological agrarian age of justice, freedom and independence. A new day is arising where the trees, waters, air,
fish, animals and fire lives in a legitimacy~in~coexistence for future
generations. The ancient Vedic
vision of the contemplative forest is a “praxis of balance” where there is the
natural love of diversity within the web of life that is being awakened in every human soulful presence. Those that can’t agree to that can go find another planet in the universe to inhabit in arrogant aggressiveness.
In the deep dark living cavern of the human heart there is already always a caring, feeding and nurturing love for social relations not power. It’s the beauty and well being we experience in the domain of friendship everyday, a new infant’s smile, or watching a flower being nourished
by a bee, or inventing a solution to a human concern. It’s time to awaken ourselves to the wonder of doing it with one another as an ethical fundament in living as a standard practice in the 21st century. So, thank you Vivek for the invitation to join your caravan and let’s get to work before we destroy ourselves in this nonsensical BS arising in our lives. There is a lot more to life and living then what your credit rating is! Mine is 526 and I’m not depressed just indignant at injustice.
As an introduction for an appreciative dialog and conversation I offer a thumbnail background to my professional experiences as a reference point to ground the context of my intentional commitment in the V3W notion and participating in your competitive intelligence conversations in the future.
Thumbnail Sketch of Relevant Background:
I am 60 years old, raises in Columbus Ohio USA in the Roman Catholic spiritual tradition under the Franciscan habit. My father Bernard (90) served in WWII and flew 40 missions in Operation Torch out of North Africa. Married a beautiful virgin and Cadillac called Alice (Deceased) and together had five male pups with no daughters. I am the third of five. I served in the U.S. Army with a Secret Clearance, Intelligence Assistant in ARADCOM, ’68 to 70. I was ordained a priest on July 26, 1974 in the Holy Order of MANS, San Francisco CA. In preparation for my ordination I studied the Bhagavad-Gita with Swami Chimmayananda. HOOM is a spiritual contemplative order with a mission of uniting all faith through the golden thread of spiritual understanding contained in the pathway of esoteric wisdom within every unit of our humanity. It was a phenomenal spiritual experience based in ancient initiatory practices and revelatory authority from the unseen world. (The HOOM found safe harbor in the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1980′s and is still in existence although I have no relationship with it whatsoever.)
I left active spiritual praxis and became an entrepreneur ’78 to 2000 gaining various experiences and new skills in business ranging from General Contracting, Management & Research Consulting, and piloted two large 3rd party administrator projects; First, BNRR (1984) was in depth human stress research with BNRR Chief Medical & Safety Officer; Second, Farmers Insurance Group (1997), V3W ~ Redesigning Residential Insurance Claims Practices in the Age of Networking ’97 to 2000.
Stress Research Project & Cognitive Science:
In the early 1980′s stress research emerged in modern medicine medical research and using a state of the art clinical assessment tool, Stress Vector Analysis (SVA) a 476 computer scored battery of statistical leading edge tests, the SVA was capable of identifying specific stressors environmentally, physically, and psychologically. The pilot project was administered freely to any participant of the 30,000 employees, working on 26,000 miles of railroad, managing $9 billion of freight per year, in a confidential research project between my company Roberts & Associates Inc and Dr. Tom Mears, Chief Medical and Safety Officer, Burlington Northern Railroad. Two statistics that I assess are relevant today are; first, the number one environmental stressor was “overloaded at work.” A condition in human employment were the demands being made on a person’s autonomy were beyond the individual’s capacity to perform. Primarily because the individuals had no control over the work being requested of them and did not have the right to say “no” to the requests. Imagine the overload today as corporate productivity is hammering profits to shareholders, unemployment is epidemic, and the knowledge explosion in the Noosphere is radically transforming every professional activity. Second, 7% of the workforce encountered suicidal ideations in the previous seven days of taking the SVA test. Imagine the suicidal ideations going on today worldwide as moods of resignation shift to despair (there is no future in which to authentically participate in) and by the Wednesday hump people lack the coping skill to make it to Friday Happy Hour. Suicide is a systemic global indicator occurring not just by terrorists, also veterans, and peasant farmers in India who drink the pesticide sold to them by Monsanto after losing their farm to debt credit scheme in globalization.
(A professional side note to consider today. Rebecca Henderson Getting Unstuck: How to Promote More Sustainable Practices in Our Organizations & John Seddon Systems Thinking: Management by Doing the Right Thing. According to Rebecca only 3% of the leadership in organizations are currently managing people in an open communicative competent environment and overload is 200 to 550% on knowledge workers today (the worker bees are stressed) who are increasingly becoming less, less productive as fire fighters of organizational mandates that consistently go nowhere. The bottom line is to unleash the authentic emotional power & ethical juice of knowledge workers creativity to take effective action that addresses sustainability and human survival as thriving self directed agents of change. And that can only happen when we start to be honest and forthright in what we say to one another in authentic assessments (living speech acts) within conversations of working together, not intellectual jargon (dead speech acts) operating in command and control that is based in demanding obedience and negating one another. John’s report card on IT systems management & design is even worse: “What we have witnessed in the last 25 years is a series of programmes of change failing to achieve their intended outcomes. Customer Care, ISO 9000, TQM, ABC, BPR. All the research and experience show that the latest panacea does no better than its predecessors. Over and over again improvement programmes are thwarted by commonly-known but illusive forces. The problem is labeled as ‘organization culture’, which typically leads to rationalizations like ‘change takes time’, or ‘each programme is an element in the total change programme.” (In my honest assessment it sounds like consultants are used car salesman looking for consistent cash flow giving advice that leaders would have been better off never hearing much less following as a competitive strategy.)
The stress research project opened a further investigation into what is missing in medical tools being offered in the project after I became aware of a nurse who knew all the stress management strategies and had committed suicide. Something was missing? I was introduced to Fernando Flores who had just arrived via Amnesty International from General Pinochet’s mock trials in Chile. Fernando a financial engineer had served as the Minister of Finance and Commerce in the Allende government, and taken over the industry in Chile. Through the leading edge ontological learning research he provided, I became aware of new awarenesses being discovered in the field of cognitive science by Professors Humberto Maturana, Francisco Verela and Gregory Bateson. I fell in love with the notion that language is not a descriptive phenomena in my human experience, rather, a generative creative act of constituting the creation I experience in the human commitment I embody. My learning experience is articulated in a poster submitted by a nameless wanderer to the Symposium on Autopoiese: Biology, Linguistics, Cognition, Society in Belo Horizante Brazil in November 1997. (The poster follows this introduction for interested participants in V3W’s notion.)
V3W ~ Redesign of Praxis in the Age of Networking
The primary innovative notion of V3W ~ Velocity in the Third Wave LLC was created in 1997 during the initial Dot Com bubble. To facility this 3rd party administrative project I planned to use a visionary state~of~the~art interactive (P2P) business process management and communication enterprise system to coordinate all the stakeholders and innovative the value chain in the insurance industry; insurers, insured, agents, claims, contractors, vendors and professional services. The V3W notion is that collaboration occurs in stakeholders of value chains performance engines through a shared agreed upon language of distinctions called “human commitment” in person~to~person conversations of possibilities and actions. As perceivers and doers we “see” through “distinctions” in our languaging. I offer that the new standard praxis in living speech acts versus dead speech acts is the realization that our utterances of fighting over ontological arguments of truth and reality, or profit are nonsensical rubbish compared to gathering the trust in authentic living speech assessments that actually harnesses human commitment to invent, design and reconfigure our world together. I propose a new simple standard praxis “I invite/request/offer X by Y and I promise X by Y” as the mutually agreed upon ethical standard for innovating breakdowns to breakthroughs in a history making praxis, rather, than suffering in old worn out indoctrinated myths based in patriarchal power of exclusion and appropriation based in the fear of scarcity and being powerless in one’s human condition or situation. It’s called “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” and in the “pull” caring for the life surrounding you.
My professional endeavor with the Farmers pilot project was interrupted in May ’99 due to a breach of contract by my own company’s insurer that initiated six years of litigation, where in the end, I sued American Family Insurance Company and a mid-size insurance litigator Harris, Karstedt, Jamison & Powers P.C. for Bad Faith in Denver CO District Court. The civil conspiracy discovered between all parties including the State of Colorado was a breath taking experience of injustice, avarice and robotic cultural nonsense that cannot stand. I settled on the courthouse steps with no confidentiality to any party involved. I consider this breakdown experience a breakthrough event and one of the most meaningful learning experience in my entire life. The experience broke the taken for granted blind trust I had and faith in American business principles. It interrupted my entrepreneurial role as an “observer” in the swept along cultural American drift of business that I had parachuted into as a citizen. And the painful experience brought forth a deeper questioning of what is fundamentally missing in American standard practices? I still harbor righteous indignant like Gandhi for the lawless injustice revealed in the litigation process and refuse to accept these standards any longer as a citizen of USA.
Professional Hiatus 2000 to 2011:
Since 2000 I have been on a professional hiatus exploring and walking in new developing circles at the edges of learning within our human community. I have participated in the International ManKind Project extensively; a 25 year old repository for developing sacred masculine initiation in modernity for men to grow up, including boys~to~men facilitating young men to connect with the sacred masculine with elder mentors. I entered a new contemplative praxis of reflection through Roshi Junpo Denis Kelly’s Renzie Zen Hollow Bones Buddhist Order and was given the Dharma name of Mushin (No/Know Mind) and declared the 1st Sensei in MKP emergent respository. I was introduced to Bill Center, a Lakota spiritual uncle, in Denver CO in 2000 that has taken me on a wonderful adventure with the Lakota people at Pine Ridge Reservation were I currently reside. In 2006, I was introduced to the self directed initiatory learning experience of Stars Edge International, also a 25 year old repository, that provides breakthrough insights into connecting with embodied primary knowing and dis-creating past indoctrinated belief systems, thereby freeing one’s attention and will power to create the living experience we deserve in loving relationships others.
On May 4th 2002 following 911 I founded “The Order of Earth” in Denver Colorado. My Lakota elder friends translated the OOE into Lakota “Maka Si Tomni” (Surrounding the Universe). To gain an understanding of Maka Si Tomni’s intentions watch this 10 minute You Tube video offered by Jhon Goes In Center entitled “The Lakota Paradigm.” I have just returned to Pine Ridge Reservation to create a “Maka Si Tomni Wake Up Retreat” and am committed to bringing forth the V3W notion within elder wisdom throughout the world starting here at Pine Ridge Reservation. My assessment is we have a lot of living grace surrounding us in indigenous spiritual elders who have gently preserved the natural law of caring, feeding and nurturing the questioning of children in good ways. Most of these wise elders have been silenced by the recent communication technological explosion in modernity. My desire is to gather wise elders together in the silence, stillness and solitude, and harness the wisdom of our collective spiritual heritage that is embodied in our bones, blood and living experience as artistic sculpture’ers designing a future world culture together. Anyone in your network of influence interested in being a friend of the Lakota Maka Si Tomni endeavor please feel free to contact me directly.
In deep appreciation for the invitation to participate, learn and grow together,
Mushin Mato Wambli ~ Patric Roberts
EMERGE~N~SEE Poster submitted to International Symposium on Autopoiese in November 1997 originally entitled a “An Autoethnography on Autopoiese: Communication ~ Relationship ~ Community” by a nameless wanderer.
“The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity
(One is unable to notice something because it is always before one’s eyes.)
The real foundations of his inquiry do not strike a man at all.”
This monograph uses a relatively newer method of explanation called “Autoethnography” a new field of scientific inquiry in which the ethnographer is both the observer and the observed.
The autoethographer attempts to explain the world by turning inward and
interpreting his/her experience within accepted theoretical, epistemological,
and analytical traditions.
The “individual” providing this narrative and developing this Autoethnography in this narrative is unimportant. Using someone as an object of scrutiny is not the purpose. The “individual” called ‘Nameless Wanderer’ agrees to reveal his experiences with the condition
of anonymity, and his contribution is central to the monograph and the process
the writing seeks to reveal.
Chapter I – Personal Inquiry
This ensuing monograph starts with a paper entitled “An Autoethography of Autopoiese: Communication, Relationship, Community.” The paper was submitted to the International Symposium on Autopoiese: Biology, Language,
Cognition and Society in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, November 18-21, 1997. This is the poster displayed at the symposium.
This is a true story about a man’s journey to Autopoiese – The Realization of the Living, from suffering to a mood of joyful concern. The essay
addresses the significance of Autopoiese to living in the 21st
century through the subjective revelations of a Nameless Wanderer.
It’s an enticing way to be introduced to the work of: Humberto Maturana,
Fritof Capra, Gregory Bateson and
Teilhard de Chardin. The story describes the shifts from: objectivity
rationality to cognition as an autopoietic entity,
blindness in language to communicative competence,
lost in the drift of living to
designing an articulate authentic self,
self-negation to legitimacy in organizational life,
patriarchy to deepening ecological ethics.
This essay shares the possibilities of transforming human life by applying new distinctions of the autopoetic process in a practical way to everyday life, organization and culture.
All are invited to contribute to the essay’s goal, a new page in history.
“When I was growing up I had four brothers. Four of us were born within a five year period so we were close but like most boys, a bit on the aggressive side. As we were growing up, one of the most special moments for each of us was when our father would tell us a story. We would
all relax, quiet down, grab a pillow, lie on the floor and snuggle next to our
dad. He would speak in a soft voice
so we would have to listen closely.
We were excited at the possibilities of what we might become through the
Our father would begin to tell the story and away we would go, on to yet another imaginary journey. He told some of greatest stories in the world, most of them made up.
The characters of the story were four young, adventurous boys who would
explore, and attempt to conquer an unknown and sometimes unforgiving world. As one might imagine, each of us was a character in his many stories and our father would add his own unique attributes to each of us, most of the time in a humorous way that caused us to
laugh. The stories always had a
I suspect telling stories is how language must have begun back when our ancestors roamed the plains and occupied caves. Stories have brought forth our history. Today, telling stories plays an important part of the human
experience and we enjoy telling them.
We tell stories about science, religion, politics and commerce. Sometimes we become convinced our
stories are the truth or the only stories that explain humanity. We worship stories in our daily
Human beings are inveterate and skillful storytellers – and they have a habit of becoming the stories they tell. With repetition, stories harden into realities, sometimes trapping the storytellers within the
boundaries that the storytellers themselves helped to create.
This essay is a story about being trapped in a story and how the author got out alive.”
Manner of Living
“As a child I was curious like most children. I can remember my expectations and excitement at learning about history, the world, myself. I was wild eyed and fascinated at the opportunity to learn so I listened intently when teachers spoke. I attended parochial school and
Franciscan nuns taught me in a spiritual habit of authority. I was given a story that to this day haunts me like a ghost. The central image of the experience is described well by Francisco Varela “a
cognitive agent parachuted into a pregiven world.”
The Baltimore Catechism extracted the essential features and representations of the pregiven world I parachuted into, one in which St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica had been condensed into an objective, rational argument to be memorized and mastered. The greatest thinkers in all the ages
have been wrestling with the mysteries of life and here at seven years old I
was handed an epistemology that was expected to condense my entire existence
into a few simple explanations.
In 1950, I was born in the mid-west of America. The culture I was born into was a culture based in conformity, where there was distrust for differences in other people. It was a period of American chauvinism where we meddled in the affairs
of others and our popular commercialized culture arose. This is the basic
prejudicial background I inherited at birth. The 1960’s provided a decade of change: the decade of anti-establishment, civil rights, eastern thought, the feminist movement, the Viet Nam war, John Kennedy and the Beatles. It was a massive civil revolution that challenged everything that stood for tradition or
the status quo.
I questioned each domain with passion and sometimes insulted the views of those in authority. It was in the midst of this cultural upheaval – while bringing forth my own identity
of who I am and what I was to become, an event of immense proportion happened
in my life.”
An Accident – Breakdown
“I arrived at the doorstep of this theory of Autopoiese through a personal breakdown. At seventeen years old, I was full of energy and the spirit of entrepreneurship. I worked at a gas station and owned a two-door Chevy Corvair. My identity was intimately tied to my first car. On a Friday evening in March 1968, I had a breakdown. I had stopped at a traffic light on the far right lane next to parked cars, the street was well lit, the light
turned green and I proceeded at a normal speed. About halfway up the block, traveling at 30 miles an hour,
out of nowhere, BAM! A body hit the front of the car and then hit my
windshield. The windshield
immediately shattered into a million pieces and blood was everywhere. The man
had come out so suddenly that I did not even hit the brakes.
My initial shock and fear was numbing. I immediately jumped from
the car and took off at full speed thinking of helping the victim. As I was running I come upon one of his
legs in the gutter. I then started walking feeling really scared and
frightened. I walked up to the
body. It was clearly dead:
dismembered, bloody, clothes and flesh torn, a pile of bones, a pool of flesh
I snapped upon looking at it. I cried and went into a state of hysteria, shock and panic.
I was thrown into a bodily sensation of estrangement, numbness, and paralysis, a feeling of
unreality. I experienced a
neurosis from touching and experiencing death itself. The overwhelming experience overloaded my central nervous system. I was in a mental state of confusion, denial, passivity; I was unaware of others, and gave the appearance of being unaffected. I started searching for answers,
explanations, and understandings frantically, and became deeply
philosophical. Why did this
happen? What is life? Who am I?
I ask the basic question we all share as humans.
Like any seventeen-year-old, inventing a public identity challenged me; concerned about my social identity,
how I looked, appeared and related to others. My family, friends, church and
community didn’t know what to say, so nothing was said.
Conversations were hidden, disguised and uncomfortable.”
“The idea of being of service to my country and society made sense, so 22 days after graduation, I joined the U.S. Army. I served 2 years, 3 months and 10 days. My search in philosophy exploded, metaphysics and comparative religions became my Passion. In my search for answers I discovered that military power was not a viable
answer. So, as an enlisted
soldier, I resigned under the threat of a dishonorable discharge and 20 years
in Leavenworth. I spent 3
months in the stockade and received an undesirable discharge in lieu of a
general court marshal.
Immediately following the Army. I entered a highly disciplinary, non-denominational, semi-monastic, Pauline Catholic religious order. A refuge in the 70’s in the
midst of drugs, rock-n-roll, and free love. This contemplative environment was old, deep and
profound. Here life was figured
out for me but my questioning continued. The exploration of a transcendental self and soul was the focus. Spiritual exercises, direct experience and study the diet of the
community. The central practice of the community was daily communion and
meditation. On July 26, 1974, I
was ordained a priest.
The years that followed were traumatic and I continued to suffer from a blindness that produced serious bouts of depression. I felt like I needed to save the world. The mood that pervaded my existence was panic and a fear that at any moment I could be
annihilated. During this time my family talked openly between one another about the possibility of my pending suicide. No one saw me as having
any semblance of peace; I was perturbed, lost in a maniacal fervor to make
sense of what was happening to me.
In 1984, while working with leading edge stress researchers I was told a story about a nurse who was proficient in all the stress management strategies available, who had committed suicide. How could some one who knew all the stress management interventions commit suicide? What was missing? In 1984 I was introduced to the work of Fernando Flores. Like
Wittgenstein’s quote the idea of living in language had never dawned upon me.”
We humans belong to language. The human self is immersed in our interpretations of ourselves, others, and our world. In language, we love and hate, we admire and despise, we create enterprises and declare bankruptcies. In
language, we feel foreign in foreign lands and at home among friends. In language, we suffer and exalt and
despair. In language, we receive
the gift of being human. All the
feeling, the thinking, the action, the things of the world as we know it are
given to us in language. Fernando Flores
“Through Flores I was introduced to a new scientific and philosophical foundation of what it means to be human. The authentic thinking at the frontier of the human landscape is attempting to design a new paradigm for
understanding self and being. A paradigm shift from Cartesian/militaristic
thought of ‘things and objects’ to ‘beings and becoming,’ a shifting in
language as ‘describing qualities, characters and reality’ to ‘generating, inventing
and constituting human actions.’
An awareness of an ‘articulating self’ with new human responsibilities.
In this community of learning all were welcome and everyone was a beginner learning the dance of autopoiese. Learning was exciting and rigorous. Everyone was legitimate even in
breakdowns. Yet there was rigor
and commitment to the process not knowing where it leads. Uncertainty was
embraced rather than feared.
New distinctions about our identity arise from recurrent patterns of breakdown in a concernful activity. A ‘breakdown’ interrupts the ways of being, breaks the transparency, and frees the familiarity of our existence. Nothing exists except
through language. So the standard practices, habits of ‘being-in-the-world’ are
disclosed to us and new distinctions are brought forth.
Ontological reconstruction is becoming a new observer with a new set of distinction in language. The new language of distinctions is: domains of human concerns, breakdowns, discourses, innovations, and
reconstruction. Breakdowns serve an extremely important cognitive function, revealing to us the nature of our practices and new design can be created and implemented only in the space that emerges in the recurrent structure of
Every human act takes place in language. Every act in language brings forth a world created with others in the act of coexistence, which gives rise to what is human. Thus every human
act has ethical meaning because it is an act of constitution of the human
world. This linkage of human to
human is, in final analysis, the groundwork of all ethics as a reflection on
the legitimacy of the presence of others. Humberto Maturana, The Tree of Knowledge
“In this rationalistic tradition we deprecate the body and emotions and blind ourselves to the bodyhood in which we live as human beings and the worldhood co-structured with others. Our living emotions are braided with our language and in our interactions with other human
beings. This fundamental presence of emotioning in everything that we do
creates the human culture we experience.
The heart of Maturana’s work for us lies in his understanding of emotions. Emotions are domains of action in living systems. An emotion defines the action ‘at hand’ not the doing. Emotion precedes
all action. If this is so, human
relations take place in different emotions.
Not all-human relations are the same kind and human relations will be of a different kind according to the emotion. Social relations are those relations that take place in the domain of love. If you relate with another in the domain of action that constitutes the other as a legitimate other in coexistence with yourself,
certain thing will happen and other things will not happen.
And, if you treat the other or interact with the other in the domain of action in which you negate the other as a legitimate other in coexistence with yourself, other things are going to
Not all-human relations are social relations. Relations of power are founded on obedience and entail mutual negation
and self-negation. Whenever you obey, you do something that you would do; only
because you want to conserve something else, in that moment, you negate
yourself. We speak as if aggressions were a part of social life, its not, it’s a different emotion and it has different consequences.
Emotions are domains of behavior. We live
daily life in a flow of emotion -
(Humberto Maturana, The Biology of Emotions: Living Together, Language and Biology, Video 1991)
“Is it as St. Thomas Aquinas says that we are a soul embedded in the womb at birth? Or are we humans, like Ivan Petrovich Pavlov says, like dogs we salivate on the ringing of the bell, money, prestige, power, sex, etc. Or, am, I am that I am, determined by my own human
conversations internally. My world
has shifted – from the eternal, transcendental self, isolated individual to a
living biology in action with others.
Trauma was my wake up call.
After searching philosophy, theology, comparative religions and rendezvousing with God, I found biology. I love autopoiese and what it says to me everyday. This new awareness has brought healing and health in its
As fundamentalism continues to explode before us, and God is used as the source and authority of any and every belief system possible. Biology offers a grounded foundation and a way out of this madness. It points to a reflective self, aware
of its limits but unleashing new possibilities as a human. – A biology based in
love – legitimacy in coexistence with others.
Human ecology can only be maintained by understanding how dependent and common we are to one another.
I was born into the redemptive community but found redemption in my biological origins. The glory of man has become the
desolation of the earth. The
scientist-priest-prophet-mystic, Teilhard de Chardin, in a moment of subjective
reflection became aware that the opaqueness of matter had dissolved and man was
less an isolated, Olympian, knowing principle than a being in which the
universe in its evolution became conscious of itself.
Patriarchy is a set of distinctions that have been passed from generation to generation: appropriating, excluding and dominating. A new way of understanding value and ethics is required. The new Summa
that is presently being written with the help of the theory of autopoiese is
the Story of Living Systems. A New
Story, that points us towards an ecological age, where the trees are seen as
our sisters and counted in our census as one of the living.
Our work is to ‘bring forth’ within the context of all human affairs, all professions, occupations and creation of man – subjective intercommunion within the total range of reality. Within this context redemption rhetoric and scientific
rhetoric can both be seen and a new integral languaging of being and values can
I have a mood of joyful concern about the future. I have confidence in the continuing revelation occurring in our process of being autopoietic. If the molecular dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun,
and formed the earth – if the same dynamism brought forth the continents and
seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then
brought man into being and guided him safely through a turbulent history – there is no reason to believe that
this same guiding process (autopoiese) is precisely what has awakened in man
his present understanding of himself and his relation to this stupendous
With this story we can awaken in the morning and know where we are. We can answer the questions of our children. We can interpret suffering, integrate knowledge, and guide education. We can have a context
in which life can function in a meaningful way. We can hasten slowly to recover what was never lost. Across all cultures and all professions
we want to live, to have variety but cling to tradition, to feel recognized for
our individuality and liked for who we are. All our fears and anxieties regarding our condition in life
originate from these sources, the deepest and most universal suffering of
humans is that which each one carries in the secrecy of his heart and which
throughout his life compromises his or her actions.
Chapter II – The Theory of Autopoiese
The Roots of Biological Understanding ~ Realization of Living
From the beginning of time immemorial man has been intuitively drawn to understanding himself. The basic distinction was not between body and mind but between body and soul, or body and spirit. These ideas have been expressed through the metaphor of the breath of life. Indeed, the
etymological roots of “soul’ and “spirit” means “breath” in antique languages.
The words for “soul” in Sanskrit (atman), Greek (pneuma), and Latin (anima) all
mean “breath.” The same is true of the word for “spirit” in Latin (spiritus),
in Greek (psyche), and in Hebrew (ruah). The common sense intuition behind all
these words is that of soul and spirit as the breath of life. The theory of autopoiese goes far
beyond the rational mind as it includes the entire process of life. Describing it as the breath of life is
a perfect metaphor.” .
Autopoiese is an emerging theory of living systems where cognition, the process of knowing and the process of life are simultaneously brought forth.
Autopoiese is the antithesis of the patriarchal ontological argument of Catholicism. It is not
a set of objective representations independently existing in a world outside to
be memorized or understood. It’s devoid of truths, purposes and meaning. It is
not a set of rules, parts or features that can be rationally grasped,
understood and argued. It is a radical and controversial epistemology, concerned about the nature of our knowledge and knowing, that is based in the foundation of biological processes. To experience this process of
Autopoiese one begins a journey of becoming “autopoietic”: a new observer of
self, reflexive and self-referential versus rational, linear and mechanistic.
The emerging acceptance of the continuity between observer and observed gives increased urgency to the study of how human functioning shapes knowledge and, in particular, how language affects what we think and do. (P.21) Karl Tomm (1989) writes, “we have observed again and again how mental
phenomena are generated, maintained, and modified through social interaction,
but we cannot explain it. Humberto
Maturana can and that is the reason we attracted to him” (p.8). Tomm also adds, “understanding human
conversation appears to be at the core of these processes” (p.9). What we are coming to appreciate is
that words and symbols are as basic to humans as claws and teeth are to animals
in the jungle. They are as
consequential and just as “biological.”
Moreover, in this framework, terms that were often viewed as polar opposites, such as thinking and acting, are seen as different sides of the same coin. Language, for example, is
not separate from action-it is a particular form of action. (P.21) Maturana
(1970, 1984) describes human functioning, including language operations, from a
biological perspective. His approach has two advantages. First, he recognizes the inseparability of the observer and observed,
and thus he in tune with recent developments in epistemology, biology, and the
philosophy of science (see, e.g. Overton, 1984; Thompson, 1987). Second, his theory is made up of
well-defined and precisely integrated terms. (P.21)
Maturana’s theory of science, epistemology, and living systems is known as structural determinism. It developed out of research with organisms other than human beings. However, the principles of his approach can be extrapolated to the domain of human interaction. In this domain, they provide a sound
basis for understanding people (p.22).
The basic principles of structure determinism:
• Living systems are self-creating entities – what Maturana calls “autopoietic.”
• Science can only study structure-determined entities.
• Living systems are informationally closed.
• Keeping “objectivity” in quotation marks reminds us that we manufacture that which we think we know.
• Fundamentally, life is a purposeless drift.
• Survival requires maintaining an adequate structural coupling with the medium.
• All our ostensibly rational systems are based on arational starting premises.
• Language, biologically speaking, is a specialized form of communal action-it results in the creation of domains of distinction.
Autopoiese suggests that we human beings share a 3.5 billion-year biological history with all living systems. We share biological principles with all living systems: we are structured determined systems, self-generating, co-structured with the medium, and alive only in present.
We human beings operate as observers; that is, we make distinctions in language. With these distinctions
his examination produces a claim within the “biological discourse” that
cognition and language not only describes an objective reality “out there,” but
also instead is an active process, rooted in our biological structure, by which
we create, invent, generate and constitute our world of experience.
We don’t live in information, descriptions or reality but rather are perturbed or triggered by language or events in our environment. The behavior (changes in
position or attitude) another observes is a function allowed by the observer’s
structure/nervous system not by the outside events. This new interpretation of living systems being self-referential systems that generate internal representations of its interactions with the environment is called autopoietic we are in a continuous dance biologically between our environment and our autonomy.
In this rationalistic patriarchal tradition we deprecate the body and emotions and blind ourselves to the bodyhood in which we live as human beings. Our emotions are braided with our language and in our interactions with other human beings. This fundamental presence of emotions in everything that we
do connects us with our basic mammalian and primate biological history. This is
not a limitation to our humanity, but, on the contrary, is our condition of
possibility as human beings.
“All doing is knowing and all knowing is doing.”
“Everything said is said by someone.”
Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela
Living systems are closed systems and all of our thinking, feeling and doing reflects our internal structure responding to and activated by our environment, the medium surrounding us. Living is simply a reflection of our structure within a medium or environment. This is true for bacteria and all life and it is true for you because you are
biological. The way to deal with this simple biological truth, right now, is
not to try to refute it or totally understand it. Just dwell in it as a question that needs care, nurturing and feeding. Could this be so? External triggers in our
environment or medium activate our internal responses; it pushes our buttons
like a machine. When you think
about your life what do you see for yourself?
Whatever it is, arises from and lives within your structure and is triggered by events in your life. The environment or medium releases, or calls forth, a behavior, but does
not determine them.
Perception (seeing) does not involve taking in an event or thing; analyzing or trying to understand it (knowing); and then acting
accordingly. Rather, perception and knowing are not representations of reality; they are a reflection in action of what you
as a mechanism see, understand, or do.
In short, perception is structurally determined.
Imagine for a moment that you are a fifteenth century Italian. If you stood on a beach in Genoa and watched a sailboat adventurously sail off into the distance, getting smaller and smaller, what would happen? If you had a friend on the boat, you’d panic because you’d
perceive that the boat would fall off the edge of the earth and your friend
would perish. Your perception is
real enough for you, as your sweaty palms would indicate. What you wouldn’t see is that your
common sense of the time embodied in your structure. Your structure would act consistent with your beliefs.
A modern example reinforces the point. Do you love to watch sunsets? I do. Poems, songs, romance, and peaceful endings to summer days of joy – all of this comes up for me at sunset. The only problem with this is that for four hundred years we have known that the
sun does not set. It stays where
it is the earth turns and the sun never rises or sets. Yet the next time you see a sunset, I
guaranteed that you will see it set.
Your old romantic structure will tell you so.
If you want to change yourself, you have to change your structurally determined responses, not alter your environment. Our tendencies to blame others or play the victim are threatened. If your responses are determined by your structure, and if your structure is developed
in your past, then at any given moment you are doing only and exactly what your
past allows. This gives a
biological basis for compassion and respect for others and myself. We are not destined to repeat our
history, we chose to, by what we say and do.
As a human being our cognition acts as a listening deterministic structure within the musical instrument we call universe. Our mathematics and poetry are the reflection we listen to as the echoes of the entire universe. We are unable to disclose more than a fragment of “what is” in our most exalted moments. Today, the quantitative aspects of our knowledge or the epistemological concerns of our knowing, we have forgotten the deeper psychic dimensions of our living history that activated our current awareness,
Poetry and the depths of soul presence in our lives emerge in our living together because the inner form of mountains, oceans, forests,
animals and sky activate depth awareness in humans. Such profound feelings and emotions are personal and individuated and hint a destiny of mutual evocation of mountains, animal, world. Depth communication of
primordial existence is the reality at the foundation of all being. As humans we give voice to our most
exalted and terrible feelings because we find ourselves bonded and immersed in
a universe filled with such awesome realities.
Surrounding universe activates the inner depth of each individuated being in the universe. Take for instance the monarch butterfly. Climbing out of a pupal shell, stretching its wings in the drying sunlight, what other than the voices of the
universe can this butterfly rely upon for guidance? It must make a journey that
will cover territory filled with both dangers and possibilities, none of which
has been experienced before. To
rely on its own personal experience or knowledge would be a disaster for the
butterfly. Instead it finds itself
surrounded by voices of the past, of other insects, of the wind and rain and the leaves of the trees.
Through the bonding and listening in interaction a precise pathway is disclosed moment to moment. The monarch butterfly has little if they confront any individual awareness of the difference between beneficial winds and dangerous winds until
it in reality. The winds speak to the butterfly, the taste of the water speaks to the butterfly, and the shape of the leaf speaks to the butterfly and offers guidance that resonates with the
cognitive wisdom encoded in the determined structure of being a monarch
butterfly. Such communication takes place beneath the level of language in the spirit or breath of life itself. The source of guidance is
both within and without and the universe acts as a singular listening as the
nature of being itself.
The capacity within human awareness to hear and respond to the spontaneities of the universe was deeply developed by primal peoples of every continent. In order to approach this genius we need to recognize the vast diversity of their cultural
expressions an insistence on establishing a close relationship with the psychic
depths of the universe. Their aim
was a life in resonant participation with the rhythms of reality. For this reasons the drum became their
primary instrument. The drum was
part of their sacred techniques for orchestrating the unity of the
The adventure and experience within the universe depends upon our capacity to hear. Why do we enjoy art, poetry and songs? Why do we look forward to visiting nature and experience beauty? What do we get from these encounters where we shut down the robotic madness of modern
culture and listen, reflect and still the maniacal ghostly voices of our monkey
mind of dualistic emotional contradictions and double binds in a swept along blind historic drift?
 Web of Life, Capra, 1996 p265-266