Henry Nelson Wieman states in his book ‘Man’s Ultimate Commitment’ [i] that a two-fold decision is required of us. He indicates that one has to decide to:

  • Liberate oneself from the Vicious Circle [ii] and;
  • Practice a personal commitment to Creative Interchange [iii].

 

Liberate oneself from the Vicious Circle

In order to reconnect oneself with one’s Original Worth one has to break free from one’s personal Vicious Circle. To realize this following prerequisites are necessary:

First of all, one has to recognize that she or he is prisoner of one’s personal Vicious Circle; this means that one has to recognize one’s own ‘cage’.

One of the supreme endowments of the human being is that it can be aware of itself and be conscious of one’s coloring of one’s awareness. It’s about appreciatively understanding one’s own unique individuality and mindset. This boils down to being aware that, unfortunately, one is driven to protect one’s own self-esteem against evaluations made by others of one’s created self. This protection is one of the main causes of the distortion of one’s appreciative understanding of reality. This distortion leads inevitably to a false vision of reality regarding oneself, others, circumstances and experiences. One has to appreciatively understand that, due to this distortion, one’s own value system is of sync, which has its effects on the rightness of one’s intuitions.

When one recognizes that she or he is the prisoner of the Vicious Circle cage, one becomes aware of the fact that one’s evaluations are distorted and this can be the start of the liberation process. In other words, an error which one recognizes being an error is already on its way to correction. This means that one is able to examine critically one’s judgments, reactions and behavior (i.e. one’s own actions), so that more reliable observations can break through the ‘ego system’. Thus one can be liberated more or less from one’s own closed mindset and rise toward an opening of it, so that one becomes more trustworthy insights.

The second feature of this liberation process is that one becomes aware of one’s dependence upon one’s particular social group and culture. The perspective of the community in which one has been reared influences human judgments. In other words, one’s personal mindset is strongly influenced by the collective mindset of the community and thus by the culture to which one belongs.

One can be liberated to some degree by recognizing that one is in this condition of cultural influence. This can be the start of critically questioning the validity of judgments made by one-self and one’s own community regarding the ‘other’. If one is profoundly convinced of this fact about human beings, including one-self, one can start to search for evidence about reality with a mind more open than in the case that one does not know and recognize this own particular condition. In other words, the moment one is fully aware that one’s insights and (therefor) conclusions can be blurred by one’s mindset – mindset being strongly influenced by the collective mindset (i.e. the culture to which one belongs) – one can open up his thus colored consciousness and question it. In this way, one restores one’s awareness and might gradually undergo creative transformation towards insights and judgments more correct concerning one’s own culture and the culture to which others belong.

The third feature of this liberation arises out of the unfinished, transitional quality of each human being’s actual state, i.e. one’s actual created self. Human beings are an unfinished lot. They are on their way to become another kind of being, provided that they not cling themselves to their actual state of being. In other words, if they let the Creative Self do its work, the created self will undergo a continual transformation. In this way the created self becomes a continuous evolving self.

Since each human being is in transition, not yet the being one could become, and – if  she or he wants to continue to exist at all – one has (to strive) to obtain the kind of mind that embraces undergoing a continuous creative transformation. This continuous creative transformation should not stop. If it does, the created self stays at a certain ‘unfinished’ level and creativity dies, leaving the individual with a fixed, non-evolving, mindset; in other words the individual becomes a prisoner of that mindset; the prisoner of the individual’s Vicious Circle so to speak.

So, first is needed that the individual appreciatively understands that continuous creative transformation is the key to enhance one’s incomplete created self. Secondly, the individual has to seek out those social relations, kind of work so that practicing the kind of commitment – that will be described next – which will bring creativity to a higher level of reality in one’s own person and in one’s social relations.

 

Practice a personal commitment to Creative Interchange

The second decision concerns practicing a personal commitment to Creative Interchange during which one’s resources are most fully brought into action.

Commitment to this end assumes first of all choosing work in line with one’s own talents and work that provides (at least some of) the conditions required for the creative transformation of man. If this is not the case, one should look for other work.

Secondly, it assumes a complete self-giving. This means in particular that one gives, to the service of Creative Interchange, one’s failures, guilt, shame and anger, as well as one’s virtues and strength. This enables the individual to stay humble and far from arrogance. Humility knows itself and tolerates ambiguity and uncertainty
.One does not feel oneself ‘better’ than, or ‘superior’ to others; one is thankful that one has discovered Creative Interchange and is committed to live it from the inside out. This means that one lives Reinhold Niebuhr’s ‘Serenity Prayer’:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and wisdom to know the difference.

All this boils down to accept one’s own Vicious Circle and gives oneself in the wholeness of one’s being to Creative Interchange.

Thirdly, this commitment to Creative Interchange needs intensity and persistence in its practice. One controls from the inside out the practice of the commitment to Creative Interchange. There is no guidebook to that, since if such a book existed this would be control from the inside out. To be effective, this practice should not be taken secondhand from any other person but developed by each to fit one’s own need.

The goal of this commitment is to unify the Creative Self for action in order to create a newer mindset and to join oneself with the most important reality there is, which is the creative transformation of the human being.

Albert Camus once said: “… man has not been endowed with a definite nature … is not a finished creation but an experiment of which he can be partly the creator.” [iv] Friedrich Nietzsche, JP Sartre, G. B. Shaw, G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx and many others have expressed the same idea. These men do not agree on the kind of transformation that will bring the human being to the level needed to thrive; nor do they agree on the procedures to be followed to this end. They all did agree that the human being is a) not complete; b) in the process of becoming, thus being created and must be further transformed before attaining its definitive nature.

The transformation through Creative Interchange transforms the mind – which cannot transform itself – so that the thus transformed mind can be more accurately aware of more experience, i.e. more of reality and can therefor learn more, i.e. transform ever more, through the conscious levels of the mind.

The transformation of the conscious (dual consciousness) and unconscious (non dual awareness) levels of the human beings is necessary in order to a) cope with dark realities or mishaps, b) form reliable intuitions that make one act effectively, c) bring all the resources into action and finally d) satisfy oneself in the wholeness of one’s being.

The goal of this personal two-fold commitment to Creative Interchange is to bring about this creative transformation of one’s own self and the selves of others.

Dealing with the dark realities of life as death or an unforeseeable disaster, for instance, are realities that cannot be controlled. This brings us back to the Serenity Prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr and to the fact that, for example in the case of death, one can not change the reality that death is an intrinsic part of life; one can only modify his perception (i.e. coloring) of that reality. Indeed, on one hand, death cannot be eliminated or avoided in human life and, on the other; death can be integrated in the wholeness of one’s being. For sure, these dark realities are not ‘good’ in themselves and the full appreciative understanding of them leads one to a more abundant life in which Creative Interchange dominates over the Vicious Circle; when this happens – and only in this case – these dark realities have a positive value of their own.  Be aware though, dark realities do not necessarily bring about the needed transformation. They will not, unless they are a trigger for practicing one’s two-fold commitment towards Creative Interchange. This commitment is not a guarantee for success and it is the only way, as far as I know, to release all the resources of the Original Self  for constructive action.

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[i]Wieman, Henry Nelson. Man’s Ultimate Commitment. Lanham. MA: University Press of America®, Inc., 1991. pp. 284-306.

[ii]Hagan, Stacie and Palmgren, Charlie. The Chicken Conspiracy. Breaking the Cycle of Personal Stress and Organizational Mediocrity.Baltimore. MA: Recovery Communications, Inc. 1998.

[iii]Palmgren, Charlie. Ascent of the Eagle. Being and Becoming Your Best.Dayton. Ohio: Innovative Interchange Press. 2008.

[iv]Camus, Albert. The Rebel. An Essay on Man in Revolt.New York. NY: Vintage Books (Alfred A. Knopf), 1954. p. 106.

 

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment. — Eckhart Tolle[i]

Of all the things I have learned over the years, I can think of nothing that could be of more help to anyone than living in the now. It is truly time-tested wisdom. To live in the present is what we mean by presence itself!

Creative Interchange makes us know that we can fully trust the “now” since a) we’re born with that fundamental learning and transformation process that resides within us and b) living Creative Interchange from within in the “now” is how we’ve transformed ourselves from baby to infant, to toddler until we were ready for the Kindergarten and beyond. Living Creative Interchange from within and in the now is like making love. We can’t be fully intimate with someone who is physically absent or through vague, amorphous energy; we need close, concrete, particular connections in the “now”. That’s how our human brains were and are wired. Not surprisingly, Creative Interchange is what changes the human mind since it cannot change itself.

Yet, as practitioners of meditation have discovered, the mind mostly does two things: replay the past and plan or worry about the future. The mind has been thought to be bored in the present. So it must be re-trained to stop running backward and forward and to be fully ‘present in the present’. This is being fully aware; awareness being the condition underlying the CI characteristic Authentic Interaction. Indeed, awareness makes the interacting authentic.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
 Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.
 — Rumi[ii]

Non-dual awareness opens our hearts, minds, and will to actually experience Creative Interchange in the now. Ultimate Reality cannot be seen with the dualistic consciousness of the mind, where we divide the field of the moment and eliminate anything ambiguous, confusing, unfamiliar, or outside our comfort zone. Dualistic thinking is highly controlled and permits only limited seeing. It protects the status quo and allows the ego to feel like it’s in control. This way of filtering reality is the opposite of pure presence.

We learn the dualistic pattern of thinking at an early age, and it helps us survive and succeed in practical ways. But it can get us only so far. Becoming self-conscious at the expense of being self-aware undermines our capacity to be authentic and compromises the quality of our interacting using the Creative Interchange Process. Not surprisingly all religions at the more mature levels have discovered another “software” for processing the really big questions like death, love, infinity, suffering, the mysterious nature of sexuality, and whoever God, the Divine or the Force is. Some people call this access contemplation, some meditation and others mindfulness. It is a non- dualistic way of living in the moment. Don’t interpret, just observe (contemplata).

Non-dual knowing is learning how to live satisfied in the naked now, “the sacrament of the present moment” as Jean Pierre de Caussade called it[iii]. This awareness will teach us how to actually experience our experiences, whether good, bad, or ugly, and how to let them transform us. Words by themselves divide and judge the moment; pure presence lets it be what it is, as it is. Words and thoughts are invariably dualistic; pure experience is always non-dualistic.

As long as you can deal with life as a set of universal abstractions, you can pretend that the binary system is true. But once you deal with concrete reality – with yourself, with someone you love, with actual facts – you find that reality is a mixture of good and bad, dark and light, life and death. Reality requires more a ‘both/and & different from’ approach than ‘either/or’ differentiation. The non-dual mind is open to everything. It is capable of listening to the other, to the body, to the heart, to the mind and to the will with all the senses. It begins with a radical yes to each moment.

When you can be present in this way, you will know the ‘factual reality’. Of course, you will still need and use your dualistic mind, your consciousness, but now it is in service to the greater whole (i.e. the ‘Creative Self’) rather than just the small ego (i.e. the ‘created self’). The Original or Creative Self is aware and conscious, the created self is mostly only conscious.

There is, in the context of living in the now, an additional distinction to be made between intention and attention. The core of human freedom is choosing (intention) and determining where one’s attention is (will be) focused. Most daily routines involve our attention being on ‘auto-pilot’. Autopilot is our unconscious daily habits, rituals and routines. Self-consciousness has been developed at the expense of self-awareness. Living in the now is living mindful. Mindfulness is sometimes characterized as “open or receptive attention to and awareness of ongoing events and experiences” [iv] with attention understood as “a process that continually pulls ‘figures’ out of the ‘ground’ of awareness”[v] an being mindful meaning “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”[vi]

Organizational Management of Change involves teaching people this and that, an accumulation of facts and imperatives that is somehow supposed to add up to transformation. The great wisdom teachers know that one major change is needed: how we do the moment. Then all the this-and-that’s will fall into line. And how we do the moment is, to me, continuous living Creative Interchange from within.

Wisdom is not the gathering of more facts and information, as if that would eventually coalesce into truth. Wisdom is a way of seeing and knowing the same old ten thousand things but in a new way. I suggest that wise people are those who are free to be truly present to what is right in front of them. It has little to do with formal education. In fact little children, who have not encountered formal education yet, are always wise!

Presence is the one thing necessary to attain wisdom, and in many ways, it is the hardest thing of all. Just (try to) keep your mind receptive without division or resistance, your heart open and soft and your will aware of where it is at its deepest level of feeling. Presence is when all three centers are awake and open at the same time!

Most organizations decided it was easier to use doctrines – and obey laws created by management guru’s – than undertake the truly converting work of being present. Otto C. Scharmer identifies in his book Theory U three levels of deeper awareness and the related dynamics of change. “Seeing our Seeing requires the intelligences of the open mind, the open heart and open will.”[vii] Paraphrased in Creative Interchange language: ‘Seeing our seeing’, which I call Process Awareness, requires the intelligences of the Open Mind (Left hand side of ‘our’ Butterfly), Open Heart (body of ‘our’ Butterfly) and Open Will (Right hand side of ‘our’ Butterfly):

 

 

  1. Seeing with an open mind is ‘Awareness’ (i.e. non-colored or naked consciousness) that is able to change our Mindsets, (i.e. colored consciousness);
  2. Seeing with an open heart is seeing beyond the mind (feeling – butterfly body): this is also seeing one’s own part in maintaining the old and in denying the new;
  3. Seeing with an open will unlocks our deeper levels of commitment to which we ‘surrender’ in order to imagine what is needed, although the ‘what’ may be far from clear – Otto C. Scharmer calls this presencing;
  4. The ‘how’ of the transformation is effectively doing what we’ve just imagined through presencing; transforming means living Creative Interchange fully from within. Creative Interchange being the Meta process of all transformation and learning we’re all born with.

Mindfulness is about how to be present to the moment. When you’re present, you will experience the Presence. But the problem is, we’re almost always somewhere else: reliving the past or worrying about the future.

Living daily Creative Interchange is crucial in helping us live in the now. It takes constant intention and attentive practice to remain open, receptive, and awake to the moment. Intention has been defined as “a process that (a) carries motivational impetus, (b) specifies a future goal and (c) increases the likelihood of subsequent information processing that serves that goal.”[viii]

We live in a time with more easily available obstacles to presence than any other period in history. We carry some of our obstacles in our pockets now notifying us about everything and nothing, often guided by algorithms we don’t understand and that are far from being transparent. And let’s be honest: most of our digital and even personal conversation is about nothing. Indeed about nothing that matters, nothing that lasts, nothing that’s real. We think and talk about the same things again and again, like a broken record. Pretty soon we realize we’ve frittered away years of our life, and it is the only life we have.

We have to find a way to more deeply experience our experiences. Otherwise we’re just on cruise control, and we go through our whole life not knowing what’s happening. Whether we realize it or not, the energy of Creative Interchange (Yoda calls it The Force) is flowing through each one of us. When we draw upon this Source consciously, our life starts filling with what some call coincidences or synchronicities, which we can never explain. This has nothing to do with being perfect, highly moral, or formally religious. It has everything to do with living mindfully in the now.

I wish someone had told me all when I was young[ix]. I would still have been transforming my mindset, but this time in a whole different way – and what’s more all the time; in other words, a Continuous Improvement of my mindset through Creative Interchange (which I sometimes label CI2).

Life is what happens to you, while you are busy making other plans.            

John Lennon

There’s no way for the mind to control living in the now trough living Creative Interchange from within. Indeed, the Creative Interchange Process cannot be controlled and happens when the required conditions are met:

“Creative Interchange creates appreciative understanding of the diverse perspectives of individuals and peoples. It also integrates these perspectives in each individual participant. Thus commitment to Creative Interchange is not commitment to any given system of values. It is commitment to what creates deeper insight into values that motivate human lives. It creates an even more comprehensive integration of these values so far as this is possible by transforming them is such a way that the can be mutually enhancing instead of mutually impoverishing and obstructive.”[x]

According to Wieman, Creative Interchange should not be sought directly. When it occurs, it will always be somehow spontaneous. Commitment to Creative Interchange means that one will always seek to provide those conditions that are most favorable for this kind of interchange. So living Creative Interchange from within boils down to providing the conditions so that Creative Interchange can thrive. My mentor, Charlie Palmgren undertook in the period 1966-1972 the task of discovering what some of these conditions might be. He has found four mental conditions that facilitate and enhance each of the four Creative Interchange characteristics. Those conditions make the interacting authentic, the understanding appreciative, the integrating creative and the transforming continual. These conditions are, awareness (mindfulness and trust), appreciation (heartfulness and curiosity), creativity (playfulness and connectivity) and commitment (steadfastness and tenacity).

As we’ve seen in part I, most of the time the mind can only do two things: replay the past and plan or worry about the future. I’m not arguing that those two things are per se bad; I do argue that those two are mostly obstructions to living in the now.

Replay the past often leads to shame or guilt; those are two major forms of negative reaction to one’s self. Shame is the feeling that “I am not OK”, guilt is the feeling of having done something bad. Shame and Guilt are two elements of the Vicious Circle[xi], which ultimately leads to hiding in one’s mental model; one’s mindset is blocked and becomes what the Buddhists call the “monkey mind”.

Mental models are the images, assumptions and stories we carry in our minds of us, other people, organizations, institutions and every aspect of the world. They are the colored spectacles through which we see the world. Mental models determine what we see because they immediately interpret the reality we see and present that interpretation as reality. Mental models are ‘mental maps’ and all these mental maps are, by definition, flawed in some way. Differences between mental models explain why two people can observe the same event and describe it differently. Mental models (part of the left side of the ‘Butterfly’ model) ultimately shape how we act (the right side of the ‘Butterfly’ model) and thus the outcome.

The concept of Mental Model has many synonyms like Frame of Reference and Paradigm to name two of them. I prefere to use the synonym Mindset. Because mental models are part of our consciousness, our Mindset – below the level of awareness – they are often untested and unexamined.

One of the core tasks in Living in the Now is bringing mental models to the surface, to explore and to talk about them with minimal defensiveness – this helps to see the qualities of our ‘colored spectacles’, appreciatively understand their impact on our lives and find a way to re-form the glass by creating new mental models that serve us better in the world.

Two types of skills are central to this endeavor: they are reflection (slowing down our thinking processes to become more aware of how we use and form our mental models) and inquiry (holding conversations where we openly share views and develop knowledge about each other’s assumptions).

Anthony de Mello SJ urged us to ‘wake up!’[xii] Living Creative Interchange from within gradually transforms our minds so that we can live in the naked now, the sacrament of the present moment. Without some form of reflection, we read life through a preferred and habitual style of attention. Unless we come to recognize the lens through which we filter all of our experiences, we will not see things as they are but as we are.

Zen Buddhist masters tell us we need to “wipe the mirror” of our minds and hearts in order to see what’s there without distortions or even explanations – not what we’re afraid of is there, nor what we wish is there, but what is actually there. Creative Interchange’s Process Awareness is a lifelong task of mirror wiping. “I” am always my first problem, and if I deal with “me,” then I can deal with other problems much more effectively. I have to stop my ‘monkey mind’.

“Our monkey mind (an ancient Buddhist term) naturally prefers to scatter our attention hither and yon, but the whole purpose of Buddhist practice is to tame the mind, to calm the monkey in our head, and to be fully present to what we are doing in each and every moment.”[xiii]

Process awareness is the inner discipline of calmly observing our own patterns—what we see and what we don’t—in order to get our demanding and over-defended egos away from the full control they always want. It requires us to stand at a distance from ourselves and listen and look with calm, nonjudgmental objectivity, in other words: being fully aware and waken up! Otherwise, we do not have thoughts and feelings: they have us! A clear mirror allows us to simply see the reality of what is.

The real gift is to be happy and content, even when we are doing simple tasks. When we can see and accept that every single act of creation is just this and thus allow it to work its wonder on us, we have found true freedom and peace.

Plan about the future often leads to either knee-jerk reaction (or jump to conclusion-action) or worrying about the future. One should plan about the future while living in the now, making sure that what we see is what there is and not what our mindset tells us what there is. In this phase we have to – like toddlers – embrace ambiguity and stay long enough in testing our consciousness through awareness, until we have appreciatively understood reality. Appreciative Understanding being the second characteristic of Creative Interchange. Living in the now is appreciating the choice to interrupt one’s unconscious “autopilot’ thinking, saying and doing.

Once we have appreciatively understood reality we can start to open our heart in order to really feel it and to ponder if we want to transform that reality, if undesired, in a new, more desired one. If this is the case we’ll use Creative Integrating – the third characteristic of Creative Interchange – to imagine and create a plan in order to realize this desired reality in the near future. All ideas that pop up have to be reason- tested using skills to break down polarized thinking and other barriers to creativity. Through greater spontaneity (nobody’s idea is shot down) and connectivity (we connect and built on each others ideas) we enjoy greater freedom to integrate what we creatively experience through our relationships into our expanding individuality – to constantly evolve into the infinite potentiality of our being. This progressive, creative integration works at the individual level as well as the relationships level, constantly changing our individual and collective mindsets for our marriages, our work teams, our organizations, our communities and our societies. Once our plan is ready we reason-test the plan itself to make sure that we have the resources and approach to execute it and, finally, we have tot decide to go ahead.

During the transformation of our reality we have to live in the now permanently. We have to be aware of the process of transformation, which is the fourth characteristic: Continual Transformation. During this phase our commitment supports tenacity of intention to and attention on the repetitions required for neuro-networking the brain in order to establish new habits and ultimately a new mindset. Process awareness ensures that one is not only aware of what one is doing, but also how one does this. In addition it makes sure that one is aware of the extent to which, what and how one does, is congruent with the terms of the Creative Interchange process. In its simplest form Process Awareness is a dual awareness. A portion of the awareness focuses on the task (what is done) and the other part focuses on the process itself (how it is done). In our mind this process is Creative Interchange. So the Process Awareness skill can monitor what you say and do, identify and evaluate what others say and do, monitor how the team members are living the Creative Interchange process and most of all identify if you yourself live or hinder that living Process. The latter means too that through Process Awareness you are aware of the functioning of your personal Vicious Circle and is often called self-awareness, beautifully painted by Albert Einstein’s quote:

“The superiority of man lies not in his ability to perceive,

but in his ability to perceive that he perceives,

and to transfer his perception to others through words.”

Process Awareness is also linked to the concept transcendence. You certainly have heard once following expression: “Being in the world and not of the world.” In this context, being in the world means that you identify yourself with your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and being of the world suggests that you are nothing more than a conglomerate of your experiences and actions in this world, in other words nothing more than your created self. Being of the world means that we conform to that world. Being in the world urges us to go beyond conformity to transformation, in other words to transform ourselves towards our Creative Self. Being in the world means that we choose for transformation of the mind, in other words that we choose for Creative Interchange. Something that is transformed is something that is changed. The prefix ‘trans’ means “above and beyond”. We are to become above and beyond the standards of this world, not in the sense that we elevate ourselves in lofty status above everybody else, but that we are called to a more excellent way of life. In other words, we are to transform towards our Original or Creative Self. Not being of the world means that you can observe the world from a distance. One is, so to speak, above the world and can therefor observe the world without being effectively concerned. Being capable of both is an ideal I’m striving for.

This way, the created or adaptive self – a by-product of the Vicious Circle – is of this world. This self is a unity created from the mix of experiences, perceptions, roles, images, games, demands and expectations and so on. The Original Self is not of the world. The Original Self is beyond the world being with both feet in the world.

Process Awareness has to do with being receptive to information associated with the task or activity being performed, and to information connected with the Creative Interchange Process while being at work with others (i.e. being in the world) AND at the same time being open to analyze oneself, the internal data that are generated by those actions, without being prisoner of these data (i.e. not being of the world).

If we have successfully transformed ourselves through the transforming power of Creative Interchange (remember Yoda’s Force!), we will have begun to experience (1) an interchange which has as its core authentic understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness of ourselves and others, and (2) how this transforming power enables us to continually re-create ourselves by integrating what we experience from others. Through an ultimate commitment to Creative Interchange we start to transform ourselves and invite others to do so, in the direction of ‘The Greatest Human Good’.[xiv]

As the life of awareness settles on your darkness, whatever is evil will disappear and whatever is good will be fostered. But this calls for a disciplined mind. [However] When there’s something within you that moves in the right direction, it creates its’ own discipline. The moment you get bitten by the bug of awareness… it’s the most delightful thing of the world. There’s nothing so important as awakening. — Anthony de Mello S.J. [xv]

To me awakening is living Creative Interchange from within. I once called Creative Interchange the Sixth Discipline desperately needed by Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline in order to thrive. [xvi] Making Living in the Now through Living Creative Interchange from Within a discipline and thus a habit is to me – believe me, I know firsthand – hard work needing commitment, tenacity and process awareness.

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[i] Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Penguin Books: 2005, 2016), 41.

[ii] The Essential Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks (HarperOne: 2004), 36.

[iii] Jean Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence, trans. John Beevers (Image Books: 1975), 36.

[iv] Kirk, Warren Brown and Richard M. Ryan. Perils and promise in defining and measuring mindfulness; observations from experience. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11 (3), 242-248, https://doi.org/10.1093/clipsy.bhp078 , 2004. 245.

[v] Kirk, Warren Brown and Richard M. Ryan. The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84 (4), 822-848, https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822 , 2003. 822.

[vi] Jon Kabat-Zinn. Wherever you go, there you are: mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York NY, Hyperion. 1994

[vii] Otto C. Scharmer. Theory U Leading From the Future as it Emerges The Social Technology of Presencing. San Francisco, Ca: Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 2009, xiv

[viii] Peter G. Grossenbacher and Jordan T. Quaglia. Contemplative Cognition: A more Integrative Framework for Advancing Mindfulness and Meditation Research. J.T. Mindfulness 8: 1580 https://dio.org/10.1007.S12617-017-730-1 . 2007, 1580-1593.

[ix] I’m publishing this column on my website www.creativeinterchange.be for the sake of my grandchildren, the three E’s: Eloïse, Edward and Elvire, without really knowing what they will do with it. Not pushing them, since ‘grass doesn’t grow faster by pulling at it”. I simply find it my duty to do it, period.

[x] Henry Nelson Wieman, Commitment for Theological Inquiry, Journal of Religion, Volume XLII (July, 1962) N° 3, pp. 171-184, 176.

[xi] Stacie Hagan and Charlie Palmgren The Chicken Conspiracy Breaking the Cycle of Personal Stress and Organizational Mediocrity. Baltimore: Recovery Communications, Inc., 1998

[xii] Anthony de Mello S.J. Awareness, The Perils and Opportunities of Reality, a de Mello spiritual conference in his own words (edited by J. Francis Strout), New York: Image book published by Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. 1992

[xiii] Frantz Metcalf and BJ Gallagher. Being Buddha at Work. 108 Ancient Truths on Change, Stress Money and Success. San Francisco, CA. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 2012. 37.

[xiv] Johan Roels. Creative Interchange and the Greatest Human Good. https://www.slideshare.net/johanroels33/essay-creative-interchange-and-the-greatest-human-good

[xv] Anthony de Mello S.J. Awareness, The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.op.cit. 20

[xvi] Johan Roels. Creatieve wisselwerking. Nieuw business paradigma als hoeksteen van veiligheidszorg en de lerende organisatie. Leuven-Apeldoorn, Garant. 2001. 234.

 

In his book Man’s Ultimate Commitment Henry Nelson Wieman suggests that we have a need in our lives to achieve the infinite potentialities present in us at birth. In fact he stresses the importance of our commitment to a life-long process that enables us to live our lives to the fullest. In order to have the Greatest Human Good one has to commit to live Creative Interchange from within.

This special human interchange that Henry Nelson Wieman coined Creative Interchange is our ability to learn what others have learned, to appreciate what others appreciate, to feel what others feel, imagine what others imagine and to creatively integrate all this with what we have already acquired and form this way our true individuality. This creative interchange uniquely distinguishes the human mind from everything else.

You can see this beautiful process in action by watching the inquisitive behavior of any healthy young child (before the counter process, which Charlie Palmgren coined the Vicious Circle, sets in). We are all born with this ability (Creative Interchange); sadly we have lost so much (due to the Vicious Circle).

The Greatest Human Good is, according to Henry Nelson Wieman, not any state of existence or any realm beyond this world, it is the most complete transformation of the individual toward the qualities that life can yield and the fullest development of her/his humanity.

Because the Greatest Human Good must come from within ourselves and how we relate to each other we are pilgrims to the continuous improvement of this world. The Greatest Human Good is to undergo this creative transformation that enables us to appreciate most profoundly everything appreciable.

At the heart of this creative human interchange is the free mutual authentic expression of self, one to the other, while understanding and appreciating each other. So, the individual’s capacity for appreciative understanding is integral to this process.

Ironically human interchange is necessary to develop this capacity and the relationships we develop with other people are always imperfect to some degree. From infancy on we observe a decline in honest and integer interaction. At the same time we observe a rise in human interchanges that are deceptive, manipulative, … thus far from being honest and integer. Henry Nelson Wieman called this forms of interchange ‘evasive’ ones and those deaden our abilities to represent ourselves authentically and appreciatively understand the other. Charles Leroy Palmgren, who’s mentor was Henry Nelson, pointed rightly out that this evasiveness is a spin-off of a counter productive process he coined as the Vicious Circle. In fact, even our social institutions and our economical organizations are undermining our ability to creatively interchange with each other, since the Vicious Circle is omnipresent in these communities.

In these series, based on Man’s Ultimate Commitment[i], The Chicken Conspiracy[ii], Creatieve Wisselwerking[iii], The Greatest Good[iv], Ascent of the Eagle[v] and Cruciale dialogen[vi] we will discuss how creative interchange is a personal commitment; a commitment to direction rather than drift; a commitment to openness and to agility rather than closeness and rigidity; a commitment to a more comprehensive purpose, to a more inclusive understanding; a commitment to an abundance of creativity and more control from the inside-out (rather than from the outside-in) over the conditions of our existence.

By Creative Interchange Henry Nelson Wieman meant two things: (1) an authentic human dialogue that creates appreciative understanding of our unique individualities, and (2) the progressive integration within each of us what we discover from each other in this way.[vii]

Henry Nelson Wieman described Creative Interchange sometimes as having those two features and at other times as a four-fold process. Actually both are true. Each Feature has two aspects. Authentic Interacting leads to Appreciative Understanding, since the interaction involves both: sharing and appreciative understanding. Progressive integration involves both: creative integrating of what was appreciatively understood and transformation of the interacting parties. Creative interchange can be viewed as following four-fold process: Authentic Interacting, Appreciative Understanding, Creative Integrating and Continual Transformation. I’m always using the Lemniscate of Bernoulli tot picture the Creative Interchange process (and its application ‘Crucial dialogues), since the Lemniscate is the sign of infinity.

 

 

Authentic Interacting means sharing with integrity the best one knows and listening with humility to learn the best others know. Appreciative understanding is more than simply understanding ideas, facts and viewpoints of others (which is done during the interaction). Central to the concept of Appreciative Understanding is appreciation of the meaning those ideas have for the person sharing them. The meaning of ideas and facts depend very much on the mental model (mindset, frame of reference) from which they are viewed. Appreciative understanding respects the viewpoint of others. It assumes there is more than one way to look at reality and that each perspective provides some originality to see the ‘truth’. In dialogue, appreciatively understanding of each other’s views can lead to a common meaning, a common way to see the ‘truth’. The Creative Integrating aspect of the creative interchange process means that the interacting parties are changed in ways that strengthens who they were meant to be as individuals. The Continual Transformation aspect of Creative Interchange is continual transforming of oneself through the learning process Creative Interchange. For Henry Nelson Wieman this meant that we could learn form one another’s successes as well as each other’s failures. Both forms of learning have a continual transforming impact on us.

The following parts of this series discuss sources of obstruction of Creative Interchange (Part 2); the role of trust, reason, curiosity, imagination and freedom in our relationships (Part 3); the required conditions that enable the Creative Interchange process to flourish (Part 4); and our journey of transformation and commitment living Creative Interchange from within (Part 5).

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[i] Wieman, Henry Nelson. Man’s Ultimate Commitment. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991.

[ii] Hagan, Stacie and Palmgren Charlie. The Chicken Conspiracy. Breaking the Cycle of Personal Stress and Organizational Mediocrity. Baltimore MD: Recovery Communications, Inc., 1999

[iii] Roels, Johan. Creatieve wisselwerking. Nieuw business paradigma als hoeksteen van veiligheidszorg en de lerende organisatie. Leuven-Apeldoorn: Garant, 2001

[iv] Palmgren, Charlie and Petrarca, William. The Greatest Good. Rethinking the role of relationships in the moral fiber of our companies and our communities. Victoria, Canada. Trafford Publishing, 2002.

[v] Palmgren, Charlie. Ascent of the Eagle. Being and Becoming your Best. Dayton, OH: Innovative InterChange Press, 2008

[vi] Roels, Johan. Cruciale dialogen. Het dagelijks beleven van creatieve wisselwerking. Antwerpen-Apeldoorn: Garant 2012.

[vii] Wieman, Henry Nelson, op cit. p. 305