Observing Complexity

To me, observing real life systems is something like this:

A real life System comprises of a meaningful set of objects, diverse in form, state and function but inter-related through multiple network of interdependencies through mutual feedbacks enclosed by variable space, operating far from its equilibrium conditions not only exchanging energy and matter with its environment but also generating internal entropy to undergo discrete transformation triggered by the Arrow of Time forcing it to behave in a dissipative but self organizing manner to either self destruct itself in a wide variety of ways or create new possibilities in performance and/or behaviour owing to presence of ‘attractors’ and ‘bifurcations’; thereby making it impossible to predict the future behaviour of the system in the long term or trace the previous states of the system with any high degree of accuracy other than express it in terms of probabilities since only the present state of the system might be observable to a certain extent and only a probabilistic understanding may be formulated as to how it has arrived at its present state and what would keep it going, thus triggering creative human responses to manage, maintain and enhance the system conditions, function and purpose and create superior systems of the future for the benefit of the society at large.

Such a representation of an observation looks quite involved. Perhaps it might be stated in a much simpler way. Most real life systems behave in a complex manner creating multitude of problems of performance and failures. But how do we get rid of complexity and uncertainty as exhibited by systems? We may do so by deeply observing the complex behaviour of the system to improve our perception to gain insights about the essence of the system; find out the underlying ‘imperfection’ that causes the apparent complexity and uncertainty and then find ways to improve the existing system or create new system and maintain them in the simplest possible manner. We do this by applying the principles of chaos, reliability and design. Surprisingly, the same process might be used to troubleshoot and solve problems we face on a daily basis. If done, we are no longer dominated or dictated by the ‘special whims’ of the system.

The crux of the matter is how we observe reality and understand it so as to make meaningful choices as responses to life and living.

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Expert Knowledge is Passé; Long Live Masters!

Engaging with flow, created by any phenomenon, is an essential step that we take to create something new, which invariably amounts to an interpretation of our environment or surrounding triggered by noticing something from the higher levels of the mind that is less dependent on sensory inputs.

Why is this necessary?

Since our mind is a system consisting of complex networks it has memory like all other networks. Memory would then compel the network (our mind) to behave in very predictable patterns i.e. it would continue to behave the way it does unless the energy of the system is changed by design. It would mean that our response to any situation would stay the same unless we add new energy to our existing network urging it be respond or behave differently.

That is the basic idea of engaging with the flow — to add new energy to our neural network to come up with a different response to a situation we are facing in the moment.

But that is tricky business. Much more tricky than we might care to imagine. It is because we must notice in quick succession (almost as quick as clearly noticing a ten digit telephone number) for our neurons to get energized enough to rise above their critical threshold limit to create harmonious oscillations, helping us to create new knowledge and response. Fortunately, our neurons, under this situation of noticing different aspects of a phenomenon in quick succession, produce different frequencies from moment to moment, which helps to create new responses. However, to produce useful and new harmonious frequencies our mind also needs to be supported by a healthy relaxation oscillations. Relaxation oscillations help us absorb new learning. Relaxation oscillation in the brain is something like this — neurons slowly absorb energy and then quickly release the energy. This new release of energy helps neurons to jump over their critical threshold limit to create harmonious oscillations.

Let us understand this process by some live examples.

For example, Sachin Tendulkar is considered the ‘god’ of cricket. For him, captains and bowlers of rival teams have a hard time setting a field to hold him down. He always tends to find the gaps too easily against any type of bowling. It is easy to imagine that he is quickly noticing so many aspects of the phenomenon — the bowler, his run up and stance, his delivery, speed of the ball, trajectory of the ball, movement of fielders, etc in quick succession (really quick since the ball is traveling at a speed of nearly 100 km/hour). Within that time he decides where and how to place the ball to get runs, which is invariably between the gaps in the fielding.

Or take Ravi Shankar, the great musician, who plays so intuitively. To me intuition is nothing but the same process as described above, where new harmonic oscillations are produced with the help of relaxation oscillations.

Or say Michel Angelo who saw entrapped figures trapped in uncut stones waiting to be freed by his hands.

There is one thing that is common to all of them which sets them apart from the rest. They all intuitively find the gaps or the existing imperfections in the present moment with their uninhabited awareness to reach their goal. This is because all human minds by default are goal oriented since human consciousness is more temporal than spatial. They improvise their games based on those gaps or existing imperfections in the most intuitive way — no copy book styles for them. They have learned the rules of their games so well that they now break them with impunity by mastering the way to trigger relaxation oscillations at will. This process of engagement is played over and over in whatever game masters choose to play. Games differ but the process of engagement does not.

This is what innovation, improvisation, improvement, creating new knowledge is all about.

The Japanese have a name for it. They call it Wabi -Sabi, which means understand the imperfection in a given situation and improve upon it to make it stronger and more reliable.

The Chinese have a name for it. They call it Shan Zhai, which originally means balancing numerous resistances, see what is possible to be done cheap and effectively, start small and then grow in strength.

The Indians have a name for it. They call it Juggad, which means understand what is to be done, start with whatever is available at hand, go with the flow and build up over time.

How would this be useful in present times?

Today, expert knowledge (essentially a knowledge bank) is sold in the market as a commodity that is continually being sold at lesser and lesser price wiping out premiums that they once commanded. It is so since expert knowledge is increasingly being converted to cheap ordinary stuff through algorithms. In some fields of human activity the value of expert knowledge is almost zero — given freely over the internet. Then how are we to survive in the present situation. It definitely calls for a new skill – the skill of mastery, where new knowledge can be created moment to moment. This amounts to present moment responses to a changing situation. People who can really do that are priceless and can still command a premium in today’s market place.

Such skill of mastery basically calls us to be in touch with one’s essential nature. Gregory Bateson reminds us of this fact when he said, “When man lost touch with nature, he lost touch with himself.” Simply stated, “losing touch with himself” is disengagement – a phenomenon that is so common in our professional world.

This is the only way to create a good sustainable future for all since, “The future is never empty, never a blank space to be filled with the output of human activity. It is already colonized by what the past and present have sent to it.” (Fry 1999)

How do we develop that is the question? Understanding that involves deep learning. And deep learning is done by power of engaging with the flow of the moment.

From Emotion to Wisdom to Maturity

The other day, my long term collaborator, in the development of the Nemetics discipline, Michael Josefowicz remarked on Twitter –

“It is interesting that so many serious people have a blind spot for emotions.”

But how important is emotion in shaping our consciousness?

Let us examine the process of evolution or expansion of our embodied consciousness.

The starting premise of my argument is — every human being is a product of an infinite series of interactions, which are extremely diverse in nature.

In Nemetics we term each interaction as a “neme

With every neme, a feeling is generated, which quickly takes the shape of an emotion. Emotion is very qualitative in nature since an emotion can have different shades, like for instance – love. But soon emotions give rise to objective thoughts which gradually develop. In turn, objective thoughts switch on our thinking mind.

A thinking mind will invariably generate desire. More the mind thinks, more it desires.

As soon as a desire is born it would seek actualization. Therefore all desires lead to actions.

Provided we are open and willing, we learn from every action the beneficial and detrimental results of good and bad actions to become wiser. Hence action through learning leads to wisdom.

When wisdom finally matures we become satisfied and perhaps happy with things as they are and as they happen. We deeply realize that any phenomenon would change owing to its dynamic nature that is time, space and constraint dependent. We further realize that there seems to be little point in forcing change things “our” way, finding solutions without a problem to address or invent new problems just for the sake of it or not to address the reality as it emerges.

Maturity then leads us to accept phenomenon as it happens and interact with systems and people just as needed to ensure or enhance flow, harmony and balance of life. In Nemetic terms the phrase for maturity is — “make it ezpz – The Nemetic Way.”

If we now summarize the process of enhancing our embodied consciousness; the train of our reasoning would appear something like this:

Neme -> Feelings/Emotions -> Thoughts -> Desires -> Actions -> Learning/Wisdom -> Ezpz Maturity.

The question I would leave the reader with — How do we make this process really ezpz?

The Search 4 – the path

In our search we feel we found a way. We stick to it. We follow its practices and rituals.

By doing so we believe we can make progress. In fact, at times, we do progress a lot.

But simply sticking to rights and rituals are not ends in themselves.

Our goal is to free our selves from all concepts that build up in our minds and free our selves from all experiences that try to shape our identities since all of those are utterly false.

At the end of the day, it is we who are responsible for seeing our own selves.

It does not matter what we read. It does not matter what we hear. It matters less what we are shown. It does not matter what we have had experienced. In the end it is down to us and down to the present moment, since that is the only livable moment we have with us.

It is not possible for anyone to push us along a way strapped to a shopping trolley.

Whatever we need to learn, whatever we need understand and whatever we need for our internal happiness, peace and stability are presented right in front of us, in every moment. The reality is right in the moment we live. The reality that would form in the future is right in the moment we live. We just have to open our eyes and ‘see.’

The present moment has many things to teach. But we can only interpret the present based on our own present understanding and experience. So, in fact, it is we teaching our selves all the time. It depends on how far and how wide and how deeply we can see the present. It depends so little on our past understanding and past experiences, if at all. It simply can never be anything else.

We do learn something from teachers and gurus. They inspire us to see a path, engage with it, mull over the experiences that greet us and exchange our understanding with the world. But that is not the end.

Respect your gurus but set them free.

Find your own path. See it. Question it. Challenge it. Test it out. Change it if you may.

And that path lies in your mind.

The problem is we hardly see it clearly.

The Search – 2

Each one of us is an artist.

To realize that – the words of Godard makes sense.

“Three polarities, three contradictions, three paradoxes of filmography :- visual vs narrative, fiction vs documentary & reality vs abstraction.”

Though he was talking about films, it is true for the apparently cold, unforgiving world of mathematics and science.

Take for instance, the famous equation E = mc^2 . It is a narrative as well as a visual. It began from the world of imagination flowing into the strict rationale of science and its documentation. And it portrays a fine balance between reality and abstraction.

So the apparent distinction between the different disciplines like art, science, economics, history and literature is meaningless. There is an artist as a practitioner  behind each of these.

The artist tells us a story through poems, stories, narratives, films, painting, a finely crafted argument, analysis, cold logic, drama, design etc..

We are continually telling our stories and that is what makes our world.

In that way the world and its people are enriched.

What story do you have?

Simply tell it.

 

By Dibyendu De

Author of #PowerofSee

 

 

 

 

The Search — 1

Most of us are in an intense search.

A search that begins with engaging with the world and with our selves.

The intention of the search is discovery, understanding, learning and knowing our selves better and better. We start that by engaging with something that attracts us.

Behind all that lies our desire to know our selves better. It is an innate but dogged search for an identity, if there is one – whatever way we choose to engage with the world.

Such a search can be fascinating, frustrating, painful and illuminating.

While engaging with the world, our emotions and cognition come into full play.

At times, they hurt. At times, they make us happy. At times, we shriek with fear.

As a result we start developing strong likes, dislikes, hatred, desires, greed that cloak our real desires and heart’s longing; making the path towards fulfillment obscure and misty. As an undesirable consequence we can quickly get disillusioned and angry with our world and angry at our selves.

It might goad us to prove to the world that we exist. Or it might force us to pretend to be something which we are not. Or we might be pushed along the path of vanity, pride, ambition and passion — mired in deep unhappiness.

We fight with the world. We fight with our selves. We fight with others. This fight would not be over till we find a resolution and come to peace within ourselves.

It might come to such a pass that we might even think of secluding ourselves from society or think of leading a cloistered life or think of total renunciation or even welcome death.

But that is not what the search is all about.

Or is it the only path that we have at our disposal?

 

To be continued…

 

By Dibyendu De

Author of #PowerofSee

No Mind and Consciousness

These days, there is lot of talk about mindfulness. Simply stated, mindfulness is the result of paying attention within a field of awareness.

Actually, awareness and attention are deeply inter-related. While awareness is about being present in a diffused field composed of different stimuli without attaching to any stimulus in particular; attention is about focusing on certain ‘stimuli’ taken from the diffused field of awareness, for varying lengths of time.

Consciousness, which encompasses attention, awareness and action; goes onto form a no-mind that goes beyond all the senses.

Though the essence of no-mind cannot be fully captured by words, an attempt can be made to describe it roughly. It is a mind that is not conditioned by the past or by the future and dwells in present, moment by moment. Therefore, it does not carry any baggage of previously stored responses, born out of our senses or lean upon the imaginative creation of the future for our senses to enjoy.

Technically speaking, no-mind is a mind that captures insights from present reality, essentially based on the principles of non permanence of anything; inter-relationship between all things and no identified self of anything (no-self). It is also about generating and choosing responses (action) based on insights gained from a given situation.

However, it seems that no-mind can be better understood through examples. And what better examples can there be other than those taken from the life of Buddha, who was one of the great practitioners of no-mind.

The story goes that one day a man came to the Buddha and asked, ”God is there, no?” Buddha replied, ”Yes.”

Then another day, another man came and asked, ”Is God really there?” To which, Buddha replied, ”No.”

Next day, a third man turned up and asked, ”Tell me whether God is there?” This time, Buddha remained silent.

On seeing three different responses of his master, his discipline and constant companion, Ananda, asked, ”How is that you gave three different replies to the same question? It is very confusing to me.”

Buddha explained, ”No, I did not give three different replies. I only responded differently to three different situations. The first person was sure that God is there. He was just asking for a confirmation. Therefore, I confirmed; since any amount of reasoning or exploration would not have helped him. He would not have accepted anything other than what he was convinced about. He had already formed his mind.”

Buddha continued, ”Similarly, the second person also had a fixed idea in his mind that God wasn’t there and was only seeking a confirmation. Hence I confirmed his strongly held belief.”

”But the third man came to me with an open mind with the sincere intention of finding out whether God existed or not. Hence I remained silent, indicating that he must explore the issue through deep and prolonged inquiry facilitated by a silent mind.” Buddha concluded.

The other story goes like this:

One day, Buddha happened to pass a man on the road who was taken in by his overwhelmingly peaceful presence.

The man stopped and asked, ”Who are you? Are you an angel or God?”

Buddha replied, ”No, I am neither an angel nor a God.”

Still curious, the man asked, ”Are you then a magician?”

This time again, Buddha answered, “No.”

”Then are you a man?” Asked the young man.

”No,” Buddha affirmed.

”Then what are you?” By this time the man was quite exasperated.

To which, Buddha replied, ”I am awake.”

Possibly, these two stories illustrate how a no-mind responds and what is the nature of no-mind.

In Buddha’s own words, no-mind is about: ”Be a lamp unto yourselves to light up thousand minds.”

Nice to Watch/Read:

a) How Meditation Can Re-shape our Brains by Sara Lazar

b) Mindfulness & Psychotherapy, 2nd Edition, Ed. Christopher Germer, Ronald D. Siegal and Paul R. Fulton

What exactly is meditation?

What is Meditation?

To begin with, meditation is the art and science of:

1) Deep relaxation; as achieved in ‘deep sleep’ phase to release gamma waves

2) Focusing the power of concentrated attention over a length of time.

3) Developing the art of reflecting the reality

4) Freeing one self from the vicious cycle of bodily feelings and thoughts that feed each other, creating mental and bodily chaos (quite often termed as diseases).

5) Enjoying creative intelligence every moment.

The different levels of meditation are as follows:

1. First level — deeply ‘relaxed mind.’ This brings down the cortisol level in the body, which in turn helps to bring down stress level to the smallest possible extent. This helps to bring down the chaos of the mind and body to a helpful level.

2. Second level — a ‘feeling mind.’ At this level we can ‘see’ the sensations that arise in the body. Pain and discomfort in the body are easy to notice at first. Later, with practice, we are also able to notice pleasure and comfort of love even in the subtlest form.

3. Third level — an ‘attentive mind.’ At this level we are able to connect different sensations and the corresponding thoughts to ‘see’ the essence of what is happening. This is the power of see or the power of concentration by which many things, we do, may be easily achieved or done with least effort and time. Helps us to be efficient in whatever we do.

4. Fourth level — a ‘silent mind.’ At this level we are able to disconnect the connections between bodily feelings and the corresponding thoughts that are generated or the thoughts that feed into the body. By this we free our selves from the vicious cycle of ever expanding thoughts and feelings that torment us. Thus we free our selves from mental sufferings. There are many benefits at this stage. However, the first is that of ‘improved health,’ – both mental and physical.

5. Fifth level — a ‘no mind.’ Having seen multiple perspectives and  having gained the ability to disconnect feelings from thoughts, we are now able to choose or select the right response or reaction for a given situation or context without falling back on old patterns of stored responses. It is also called the ‘enlightened state,’ of effectively engaging with the world.

6. Sixth level — a ‘zero mind.’ This is a state of complete merger with deep consciousness, which is generally available only in the ‘deep sleep’ state. (Those who take a high dose of medication and psychiatric medicines do not enter and enjoy this state at all in their sleep). This is the state of highest consciousness and intelligence. Everything seems to happen magically and effortlessly as demanded by a situation. We learn and unlearn effortlessly. We live and enjoy the joy of creative intelligence moment by moment or our existence. We are one with our true self.

Nice to read:

1. Gamma waves:

2. Brain behind Gut decisions:

Perception, Sense-making, Enlightened Action

Right Perception and RIght Sense making are the fundamental outcomes of our cognitive ability that enable effective leaders take enlightened action. 

Possibly, most problems that we create through our actions are a result of wrong perception and wrong sense-making.

To me, Perceiving, Sense-making and Enlightened Action in life is something like this:

“Any real life System about which we care to perceive, make sense and take enlightened action, comprises of a meaningful set of ever changing and self transforming objects, diverse in form, complexity, state and function, interacting in periodic and aperiodic manner with each other and inter-related through multiple network of interdependencies through mutual feedbacks and signals thereby generating variable amplitudes of energy exchanged/transferred within variable/flexible space(s), mostly operating far from its equilibrium conditions; not only exchanging energy and matter with its environment but also generating internal entropy to undergo discrete transformation triggered by the Arrow of Time forcing it to behave in a dissipative but self organizing manner to either self destruct itself in a wide variety of ways moving towards void or create new possibilities in performance and/or behaviour from the void of creative potential owing to presence of ‘attractors’ and ‘appearance of bi-furcations’; thereby making it impossible to predict the future behavior of the system in the long term or trace the previous states of the system with any high degree of accuracy other than express it in terms of probabilities or possibilities since only the present state of the system might be observable to a certain extent and only a probabilistic understanding may be formulated as to how a system has arrived at its present state and what would keep it going, change or destroyed thus triggering creative human responses through right insights (not grossly based on emotions or thinking or memory) to manage, maintain and enhance system conditions, functions and purposes with minimal intervention to create superior systems of the future through enhancement of self organized interactions within and without the system interfaced with other connected, unconnected and overlapping systems operating within larger envelopes of human activity.”

Such a representation of an Perception, Sense-making and Enlightened Action looks quite involved.

Perhaps it might be stated in a much simpler ways but I would not attempt to do so since it would make it more complex that it should be.

Perhaps more can be said about resilience, agility, etc but I would not do so since those are really superfluous.

Perhaps more can be said about Black Swans and not so ‘black swans’ and predictions but I would care less to say so since saying more would be ‘redundant’.

The whole gamut of Perception, Sense-making and Enlightened Action takes place within five envelopes of human cognition, which are as follows:

1. Physical envelope

2. Energy envelope

3. Mental envelope

4. Wisdom envelope

5. Enlightened Action envelope

 

However, the crux of the matter is

1) how we ‘see’ reality (Darshan/Notice)?

2) how do we understand what the system is telling us (Sadhana/Engage)?

3) how do we create and choose our responses (Bhavana/Mull)?

4) how do we develop the necessary intention to implement our choices to life and living (Shankalpa/Exchange)?

 

notes:

1. Darshan, Sadhana, Bhavana and Shankalpa are Sanskrit words

2. The above post is an excerpt from or notes of a forth coming book “Leadership – The Nemetics Way!”

Developing Life Skills…

Like any skill development developing life skills is a serious business.

It needs three basic qualities —

a) Simplicity

b) Patience

c) Kindness and respect for yourself

This is because development of life skills goes through four distinct phases, which are —

1. Unconsciously incompetent — we simply don’t  know why we are doing things that we keep doing. It keeps getting again and again with no improvement in sight. We behave like a robot.

2. Consciously incompetent — we suddenly realize that there must be a way out of ‘failures’ and ‘sufferings’ and ‘pain’ that we are inflicting upon ourselves.  And we decide to do something about it. We also realize that it is our unconscious habits, ideas, concepts, assumptions, thinking patterns, convictions, weaknesses that are the source of trouble. We then start to see our feelings and thoughts as they arise and try to look at them before they transform into commitments, decisions and actions. We are conscious about it but find it a difficult job.

3. Consciously competent — slowly over time and practice we start to have a grip on the issue of seeing our feelings and thoughts and check the flaws in those, which would have undesirable result both for ourselves and others if acted upon. We then consciously start changing our intentions and actions. However, at this stage we sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. But we are aware of both our successes and failures and are able to keep ourselves centered.

4. Unconsciously competent — this is the transformation stage. And such transformation happens quite suddenly. When it happens we no longer need to be conscious about what we are feeling or thinking and about the decisions and actions that are to be taken. It happens automatically. We have before us many choices to make and the right choice for the right context is automatically selected. It is so automatic that it seems that ‘nothing special’ is happening. Such transformation leads to better outcomes for self and others and perhaps for the world at large.

We automatically take care of our problems, failures, sufferings and pains.

Without undergoing individual transformation, I strongly feel that there is little or no hope of changing our lives and the world.