Activating the new paradigm while transcending yesterday’s logic
‘In times of turmoil, the danger lies not in the turmoil, but in facing it with yesterday’s logic’ – Peter Drucker
Yesterday’s logic is founded upon the illusion of separation created by the objectify lens of Western rationalistic science. It is a logic that sets humans apart from each other and from the rest of nature within a world viewed through the lens of competition. The unit of evolution is understood as the selfish gene competing with its environment for the preservation of favored races in the struggle for survival.
The story of mind exiled from Nature is the story of Western Man’ -Ted Hughes
This way of thinking underpins today’s business mind-set where competitive advantage is viewed as the Holy Grail. It is this very logic that is at the heart of all our crises – world poverty, climate change, biodiversity loss, social inequality, etc. And yet many of today’s sustainable business solutions apply this flawed logic without stepping back to question it. If we have any hope of rectifying the error of our ways, this logic needs to be put right at its root otherwise all we can hope for is merely delaying the inevitable endgame through efficiency tweaks to an inherently carcinogenic modus operandi.
‘Our sense of separation from Nature corrupts us, it fuels an arrogance, a hubris, whereupon common sense becomes insanity.’ -Gregory Bateson
Many have said before that sustainable business is like slowing a bus down that is heading in the wrong direction. Applying the brakes and fitting catalytic converters is a useful first step in getting our act together. Now the time is ripe for embarking on the right road – a radically new logic that transcends this sense of separation.
Transcending the Illusion of Separation
All the time new findings bring fresh perspectives on the driving forces inherent within life. Far from the genome being a rigid set of building blocks and innately selfish we realize it is a fluid system of dynamic localities that evolve by inter-playing with its environment. We recognize that evolution is essentially co-creative, fluid and connective. Rather than organisms struggling for survival they thrive through dynamic relationship. ‘To be’ does not mean ‘to be in competition’ (what C.S. Lewis referred to as ‘the philosophy of Hell’) it means ‘to be participating within the co-creativity of life’.
Biologist Lynn Margulis has extensively studied cell behavior and contends that cooperation, interplay and mutual dependence among life forms are what allow for the global expression of life we see around us. She notes, ‘Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.’ Far from life being driven by competitive struggle it cooperates to form richer environments for life to further evolve.
The scientific convenience of isolating complexities into neatly packaged definitions for us to get our heads around has led to a flawed logic which we then project on to our societies and economies. Darwin’s definition of the organism as separate from its environment is what the anthropologist and systems theorist Gregory Bateson saw as the basic flaw which corrupts the thinking that flows from it, as for him the interplay of the organism with its environment is paramount to its health, viability and evolution. Bateson viewed comparing one species against another in a struggle for survival as insane. He likened our Western worldview of survival through competition as ‘an ecology of bad ideas’ which breeds parasitic humans, purely self-centred and destructive of their host.
The more we understand Nature (as ancient and indigenous minds have long since recognized) the more we realize that nothing is totally separate from anything else, rather everything is in dynamic interplay with everything else, what plays out through one relationship impacts the wider matrix. Nature, operating within restraints, creates limitless varieties – from thresholds comes creativity, from restrictions comes diversity. There is an inherent wisdom within Nature which yesterday’s logic incorrectly abstracts. The more we open ourselves up to our inner nature, our local neighborhood and the wider natural world around us the more we become truly sustainable.
The ‘New Paradigm’ is actually ancient, yet flowing with fresh spontaneity. The answers to our pressing challenges are all around and within us – inspiration and harmonization within Nature. Biomimicry, regenerative and circular economies, industrial ecology and so forth all take inspiration from Nature. And yet the deeper wisdom of Nature lies beyond the severing scalpel and mathematising mind. It is permeating deep within every one of us and throughout all life.
The quality of our intention and attention to life is what determines our ability to attune with this inherent wisdom, this Sophia in our midst.
This attunement of our bodymind within the wisdom of Nature can be developed and enhanced through contemporary eco-psychological practices, along with the ancient practices of yoga, T’ai Chi, Qi Qong, dance, expressive arts therapy, mandalas and mantras – all forms of embodiment work that focus on enhancing our somatic-social-soulful awareness.
To attune with Nature is our sacred gift. This is the Nature which Shakespeare speaks of –
‘Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law my services are bound.’
And the Nature of Confucius some five centuries before Christ –
‘He who is harmony with Nature hits the mark without effort and apprehends the truth without thinking.’
It is time to transform our way of attending to life beyond yesterday’s logic whereupon we see more clearly the way of Nature, re-membering who we truly are within this diverse community of inter-relating subjects.
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