Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Teachings of Money Trees

About five years ago I bought three Money Trees for my apartment. I really love indoor plants – the green, living vibrant and natural flare has always been very pleasing to my aesthetic and pranic preferences. Also, I was told that purchasing, repotting, and placing money trees in your home would increase wealth and abundance.

[I should note, my scope of work, wealth, and abundance in all areas of my life has increased. I should also note that a lot of hard work coupled with every internal and external abundance practice in the human canon including, but limited to, chanting, visualization, goal setting, and prayer have also been engaged. I cannot confirm or deny the effectiveness of Money Tree abundance. I can, though, confirm that they’re pretty, and bring me joy.]

Observation through time is for me a favorite, well, pastime. I have sat for hours watching the Money Trees grow. I have watched them over months and years take on personalities, different shapes, sizes, and attitudes – grow.

A consistent habit of the Money Trees is to constantly orient the topside of their leaves towards the light in the windows. Every few months I have to rotate them 180 degrees to liberate their dark, oily leaves from the windows towards the interior of my apartment to enjoy the tops of their leaves. And surely, over time, they turn themselves to the light.

Being who I am, a Chauncey Gardiner (Chance the Gardener) type human, I have rested with this for sometime. There is a clear and simple observation: living nature seeks the light.

Tree Teaching 1: Living Nature Seeks the Light.

It is a part our make-up, our biology, our being to seek that which makes us grow, makes us whole, makes us thrive. When we orient ourselves to the light, we grow towards the light.

It would be easy to stop here with this nice-simple-Siddharta-like-observation and move on with my day. I though am also a Raul Duke type (it balances and the Chauncey in me), and I tend to indulge (a lot), obsess, and over think.

In contemplating the light that the shiny, oily, dark outer surface leaves direct themselves towards, I began contemplating the darker, quieter interior of my living room that the lighter, softer, underside of the leaves rested in. A second teaching began to emerge: living nature, in its pursuit for the light, does not reject the darkness; living nature rests in the darkness. Money Tree

Teaching 2: Living Nature Rests in the Darkness.

A lot of spiritual traditions focus on the light while rejecting the dark. Even in traditions where the darkness is an explicit part of the path, like the mystical traditions of the west and the tantric traditions of the east,
I find that more talk is given to the darkness than true experience and embrace. In certain terms, this is because human nature tends to want to feel good, and typically the darkness does not feel good, at least as good as the light.

The darkness is the past, pain, indulgence, unsacred, sacrileges, excessive, and unconscious. In our attempt to turn towards the light, the darkness is often rejected, hidden, obscured, and denied. This leads to all sorts of issues, challenges, and future pain. Like the Money Trees teach, the darkness can never be abandoned – it’s a part of life, and one half of the paradox of light, of seeking. Resolving the darkness and resting in the darkness is one side of the ladder of spiritual growth.

Resting with the darkness begins with simply being with the feelings that the darkness, the past, the pain and challenge that unconsciousness has caused. Letting go of the thoughts, theories, and mental universes we construct around the darkness and simply resting in it is to begin the practice, the true practice, of light. Otherwise, the practice of the light is simply avoidance of pain (and, in that sense, you might as well be a junky), not freedom from it.

In the Buddha’s myth of liberation, as he sat contemplating human nature and freedom under the Boddhi tree, he sat unwavering for days while demons taunted and challenged him. The demons are the darkness within; the indulgent, unconscious aspects of self. Like the Buddha and my Money Trees, rest with the darkness, and turn towards the light – this is freedom.

Kristoffer Nelson | Krama Consulting & Development, Inc. |

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Toasters & Consciousness

The universe, the intersubjective matrix of consciousness, is indeed one. There is the great light of awareness unfolding and enfolding within all things equally. The path of yoga, of spirit, of enlightenment is to become aware of this underlying and overarching oneness. It is within this oneness that both unity and separation unfold, arising and falling from state to state, experience to experience. Every experience is a state, both individually and collective. (Do remember that every state, that is every experience, is interpreted from the immediate level of one’s egoic development).

Within oneness, separation and unity flow. In the state of separation there are four primary perspectives: individual interiority, individual exteriority, collective interiority, and collective exteriority. (More on this in a future post).

In the state of both unity and separation, self-awareness is present. In Kashmir Saivite theology, oneness is referred to as Prakasha, the great light of unified consciousness, and self-awareness is referred to as Vimarsha, the great reflective awareness.

In the state of separation, certain objects and beings have greater self-awareness, that is to say, greater consciousness than others. Humans have more self-awareness than rocks. Some humans have more self-awareness than others. Self-awareness is what unfolds and evolves – self-awareness is our becoming self.

Oneness is the ground, the great web, the infinite sameness and selfness of the universe. Self-awareness is present in all in differentiating degrees. My teacher Sally, when writing a paper on Prakasha and Vimarsha in the early 80s, asked her Guru to explain Prakasha and Vimarsha. He said that Prakasha allowed the toaster (he pointed at a toaster sitting next to him) to appear in consciousness and Vimarsha is what allowed the toaster to know it was a toaster. “The toaster knows it’s a toaster?” Sally asked.

“Of course the toaster knows it’s a toaster,” he said.

In reflecting on this and then experiencing this, objects that are thought to be without subjectivity, without self-consciousness, do indeed have self-consciousness. Rocks, for example, have enough self-consciousness to remain rocks knowing that they are rocks. There is a physical, subtle, and deep awareness that allows rocks to remain rocks.

Cut to humans. The practice and path of enlightenment is to not be more conscious, for that’s a give. If something exists, it is consciousness. The practice and path of enlightenment is to become ever more self-conscious. It is to rest as consciousness allowing the self-reflective nature of consciousness to shine brightly, for it is here that unity unfolds and separation unfolds as expressions and experiences of consciousness. It is here where God brightly shines forth as all things and in all things, forever great and divine, and forever present as self.

(There is more to come).

Kristoffer Nelson | Krama Consulting & Development, Inc. |

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Practice: Holonic Unfolding

Meditate on "the individual" by resting in the heart. Meditate on "the everything" within and to the edge of your awareness.

To meditate on the heart is to practice love. To meditate on the everything is to practice wisdom.

To hold the experience of the individual and the whole simultaneously is to be present to the unfolding holonic experience of awareness oriented to and rooted in a body/mind.

Between the whole of the universe and the part of self, the thing called "I" unfolds freely.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Integral Racism and the Green Meme

Every human system has it's biases, preferences, assumptions, and perspectives. Sometimes these are conscious, considered, strategic, and loving, and sometimes they reflect the most horrible unconscious and shadowed aspects of human experience. And there's always something in between. And there's always other stuff too.

This blog is a commentary on integral culture's (generally of course) perspective on systems of human development. If you're not familiar with the development systems of Spiral Dynamics, check it out here. You may also want to look at Susan Cook-Greuter's Action Logics, which is my developmental system of preference.

I don't necessarily prefer conscious and benign over unaware and shadowed - they really can't exist without each other in both linguistic and energetic realities. All opposites live in each other. The conscious exists in the unconscious and the good always exists in the bad - halls of mirrors forever.

I am going to make some meaning and interpretation here to give context to what I am sharing. I am probably wrong about most of this. However, the context gives easier cognitive and emotional access to something that seems fairly true and relevant: the integral community has a serious and horrible bias against the green meme that in some circumstances borders on stageism (a sort of racism about stages of development and development itself).

I have certainly done this. I have certainly placed people in the green meme based on little experience and without questioning the assumption too much. I have also pulled the "they're so green" card and have held it in negative light. This is wrong and also perfect for what it is - it is however not very useful.

Integral is not the truth. Reality is not an integral reality. Reality is not and does not unfold through stages. Integral and stages of development are ways we have created to make meaning of reality. It's a damn good tool, don't get me wrong. But it's just a tool.

The meaning making that the integral perspective brings is sometimes very useful. The integration through a hierarchy of perspectives and recognizing that reality cannot be defined in just one perspective is helpful and in can bring people together creating great connection in the moment. And sometimes it just can't.

One thing a second tier ego can do is recognize what perspective will bring the most value in the present moment. The meaning making that arises at the green meme can sometimes do a better job at bringing people together in a circle of love and trust. Access the whole spiral, please.

The green meme is truly one of my favorite places for a human to arrive. It's the first time they have truly and deeply stepped into a sense of true self. Because of this, a great deal of altruism and care beyond self and embedded culture arises. It is still a first tier perspective, so there will be concrete thinking, preferences of truth, and polarization, all of which has its challenges and assets. The green meme is truly gorgeous and has created some of the most beautiful philosophies and actions in our contemporary world.

Sadly, most of those running around typing others as green haven't yet reached green. Those that have moved past green and still have the impulse to negatively type have some shadow to seriously consider.

Ken Wilber stepped into the integral perspective and created integral theory in a culture of academic pluralism. He got a lot of flack and he had to fight hard. It seems that in the fighting he lost some perspective. It seems that in the fighting and pushing he at times stepped out of the second tier and fought for second tier perspectives from a first tier place. As with all leaders and founders, this energy and perspective has now trickled liked a flood into the integral community. There is certainly nothing truly wrong with this (and there is something very wrong with this), but it has created division and struggle where perhaps healing and development could have been realized.

I recall a place and time when I considered myself second tier because I really understood integral and could really make cognitive meaning using integral. I was no where close to integral though. I got the theory, but my relational, emotional, linguistic, energetic and true meaning making were not close to the second tier.

In a recent conversation someone said: "The hallmark of the second tier is a hierarchy of perspectives." This is both true and not true. Certainly, the early second tier individual has deeply discovered a hierarchy of perspectives (not just cognitively and theoretically, but in an embodied, energetic, and relational way). It seems that a later first tier perspective projects onto the second tier an emphasis on hierarchy, whereas someone deeply embodied in the early second tier has a preference for integration.

Integration through a hierarchy of perspectives is the hallmark of the second tier.

It seems that an early second tier perspective does have a reemerged preference for hierarchy. However, the hierarchy only and always serves towards deeper embodiment and integration. The emphasis is not on hierarchy, but on integration of perspectives to create the most value.

An early second tier person uses hierarchy of perspectives to integrate various thought to create value for everyone.

In the late second tier, we again see a release of hierarchy as it is recognized as a tool for meaning making and a way to create deeper connection. Tools are tools. Tools are great, but they're still tools. In the late second tier there is such an awareness of one's own ego and reality construction, hierarchy and complexity again dissipates towards simplicity, spontaneity, and the creation of moments of unity. Unity and love in a very rich, deep, and subtle way are very much the hallmarks of late second tier, as an individual moves more deeply to the 3rd tier.

A second tier person does not use a hierarchy of perspectives to find greater value in that which is considered "higher." We must value each level of ego embodiment. I see each level that I have embodied adding great perspective to my life and meaning making. I see constantly multiple levels arising at the same time, in a sense competing for space, interpretation and voice. I sometimes interpret things from one level and then act for another. This is all naturally arising and it is deeply chosen to create experiences of love, revelation, unity, and care (at least on my best days).

Green is gorgeous. Learn it, live it, and love it. Value yourself, the whole spiral, and each human being, as they reflect you and add great value to your life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Is Development Really Development?

I just received my latest Leadership Maturity Profile (SCTi-MAP) back from Susan Cook-Greuter's people and I tested pretty high. For those of you not familiar with Susan's work or system, you can visit my website page on perspectives and download the article titled Cook-Greuter: 9 Action Logics.

I tested as a magician, which means I am in the top 0.01 percent of human ego development. This means that when I am in most groups I am probably the most developed person there (with the exception of all of the groups of very developed people I kick it with). This means that if I am at Dodgers Stadium watching a game, I am probably the most developed person in the stadium.

This is a problem.

When I first received the email with the data and my score, I felt a moment of elation and satisfaction: "wow, I'm hell'a developed." In the next moment I deconstructed and reconstructed about 40 different perspectives on what this meant and held them all simultaneously for a bit, as this is what I do with pretty much everything generally making me fairly dysfunctional (more on this in a second). I then fell over laughing with the thought: if I am somehow as highly developed as this suggests then we are in a world of trouble, as most of the time I feel like a dysfunctional douche bag. Most of the time is an exageration. I would say that I feel like a dysfunctional douche bag about 25% of the time. The rest of the time I feel pretty ordinary, normal. Sometimes, very rarely, I feel neat, but this is typically based on grooming.

I certainly don't feel I am at the top 0.01 percent of human development - really anywhere close.

Interestingly, this score wasn't a huge surprise. I know the system fairly well, and I felt that I had slid into this way of being and space of perception over the last year (it's been a challenging and beautiful year). This all leads me to the title question: is development really development?

I can look at myself, and with all of my developed capacity to see deeply, clearly into myself and reality, I can say I have a lot to learn and growing to do. There is so much about reality, spirit and self that do I now understand or comprehend. And, yet, at the same time, I am deeply, truly satisfied with myself and who I am in the world. I have never been this free to be a dysfuctional douche bag, and I have never at the same time wanted more for myself and those I touch: ah, the gorgeous world of paradox and polarity.

There is huge emphasis placed in the integral and spiritual world on development. This is probably our largest and often unchecked preference. I am going to begin looking at it more closely, asking the questions: why the preference on development? is what we consider to be development really development? if not, then what might be?

Always unfolding.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Active & Passive Surrender

Active surrender is the practice of enlightenment.

Passive surrender, effortless surrender, natural surrender is the embodiment of enlightenment.

Practice freedom, become freedom, be freedom. It's not as hard as you think and is only really as hard as you make it.