Books Reviews

Book Review: The Dawn of Everything

David Graeber and David Wengrow spent ten years writing The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Everything. The book is based on a dialogue between them about human history. The breakthrough came when they moved away from European thinkers and focused on the perspectives of indigenous thinkers. The prevalent view of history has almost nothing to do with facts. The process was far messier, and far less unidirectional, than anyone has guessed.

The ultimate question of human history is our equal opportunity to contribute to decisions about how to live together. Our future depends on our capacity to create something new together. A society in which wealth cannot be freely transformed to power, where people’s lives have intrinsic value. We need to rediscover the freedoms that make us human.

Graeber and Wengrow treat our ancestors as people who are imaginative, intelligent, and innovative. They find that the realities of early human life were far more complex than many theorists have assumed. The results is an enriched human history.

Graeber and Wengrow argue that indigenous Americans developed a very strong critical view of their invaders’ lack of freedom. Everything in the Great Lakes region operated to ensure that no one’s will would be sugjugated to that of anyone else.

Native Americans who observed the French society from up close noticed how wealth was converted into power over others, how power over things was directly translated to power over other human beings. In today’s world, a very small percentage of the population control the fates of almost everyone else, and they do it in an increasingly disastrous fashion. To understand how this situation came about we need to approach the evidence of the human past with an open mind.

Human beings have self-consciously experimented with different social possibilities from the very beginning, or at least as far back as we can trace such things. Human societies, who lived mainly from wild resources, were not confined to small bands before the advent of farming. Agriculture, in turn, didn’t mean the inception of private property. Many were relatively free of ranks and hierarchies. A surprising number of the earliest cities had no need of authoritarian rulers, ambitious politicians, or bossy administrators.

Archaeological evidence that is piling up suggest that our remote ancestors moved back and forth between alternative social arrangements. They allowed the rise of authoritarian structures during certain seasons and then dismantled them. They built monuments and closed them down.

The social order was highly flexible. It made it possible to step outside any given structure and reflect. Our early ancestors might have been considerably more politically self-conscious than we are today. They self-consciously organized themselves in such a way that arbitrary power and domination could not emerge.

The transition from living mainly on wild resources to a life based on farming took 3 000 years. People switched between modes of food production, much like they switched between their social structures. The first farmers were reluctant farmers. They understood the implications of agriculture and avoided any major commitment to it.

Settlements with tens of thousands of inhabitants make their first appearance 6 000 years ago. First they appeared in isolation and then they multiplied on almost every continent. The particular mode of production depended largely on where the cities happened to be. Almost everywhere we find built spaces in harmonious and beautiful patterns.

There were institutions which ensured that people had a significant hand in government. Early Buddhist communities where meticulous in their demands for all to gather together in order to reach unanimous decisions. Entire cities were governed in the same way. Democracy, as we have come to know it, is a game of winners and losers. The workings of a council, or an assembly, in an ancient city, which collectively deliberated on common problems, was very different.

Archaeological evidence shows that this was a surprisingly common pattern. A dramatic increase in the scale of organized human settlement didn’t result in a concentration of wealth or power in the hands of a ruling elite. Inhabitants enjoyed a standard of living that is rarely achieved in any period of urban history, including our own. The claim that there is a connection between the origin of cities and the rise of stratified states looks increasingly hollow.

Graeber and Wengrow propose that control of violence, control of information, and individual charisma are three possible bases of social power. Access to violence, information, and charisma enables social domination. Usually, they all coexist to some degree. The threat of violence is the most dependable.

What is both striking and revealing is how in Roman legal theory the potential for arbitrary violence was inserted in domestic life and the most intimate social relations. Household and empire shared a common model of subordination. Children were to be submissive to their parents, wives to husbands, and subjects to rulers. The superior party could exercise violence with impunity when considered appropriate. Rome took the entanglement of violence and care to extremes. Violence was assumed to be bound up with love and affection. Its legacy is still with us and shapes our most basic values and concepts of social structure.

The book is an eyeopener. I like very much how David Graeber and David Wengrow challenges our habitual ways of looking at the past. They have done an extraordinary job in questioning what once appeared as unassailable axioms. The book is full of thought-provoking questions. What does it say about our time that we don’t have a terminology to adequately describe the cities which lacked the expected administrative hierarchy and authoritarian rule? We have been asked to believe that we suddenly cannot organize ourselves once our numbers expand above a certain threshold. The truth is that we could have been living under radically different conceptions of what human society is about. Mass enslavement, genocide, prison camps, patriarchy, family violence, wage labor never had to happen. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Autognomics Books Holacracy Life Organizing Quakers Sociocracy Values Workplaces

My 10 Year Summary: What I Have Learned


1. Introduction
2. Background
3. My Journey
 3.1. The initial years (2012–2015)
 3.2. The middle years (2016–2018)
 3.3. The final years (2019–2022)
4. Conclusions
5. Afterword
6. Acknowledgments
7. Recommended Books

1. Introduction

I started blogging ten years ago today (Sept 26, 2012). At the same time, I started searching for life-giving ways of working. This is a summary of my journey and what I have learned. It is a personal story of what felt right to me at the time and what I am seeing now. I raised three questions. The answer to the third question about deeper order is a topic for a book in itself.

I may perhaps pass a few ideas along to you that you can relate to in your own life. I mostly really want to communicate how deadly our world has become for so many. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Bookshelves with ten years of reading.

During this time, I wrote 1000 blog posts and gathered 40000 quotes and notes. The links in this post provide entry points to further reading. There is a list of recommended books at the end. I have included links to my book reviews when available.

2. Background

I have 39 years of experience, mostly in industrial R&D. I was trained as a physicist. I learned everything that was to learn and I even taught it. I was good at it. I received ABB Corporate Research’s Mission of The Year award in 2010 for my contribution to ABB’s Software Development Improvement Program.

I have explored a lot of ideas over my lifetime. I am still learning. I am even unlearning. My inquiry into life-giving work became more personal than I had anticipated.

3. My Journey

I saw a little girl this morning,
on her way to school.
It could have been me!
And here I am
on my way to work.
Fifty years later!
Does it have to be this way?

3.1. The initial years (2012–2015)

Little did I know at the start of my journey that I would suffer from depression half a year later. It took a couple of months until I could feel the sun in my face and the wind in my hair again. I think I have helped a lot of people in my workplace, but in that workplace I discovered that I was being killed. I was dying and I didn’t know why. I had to find out what I could do differently.

I found sociocracy two months after the start of my journey. I spent two years studying sociocracy in depth and wrote an ebook on sociocracy (in Swedish) together with John Schinnerer. I learned that the early development of Holacracy was influenced by sociocracy. My review of Brian Robertson’s new book on Holacracy got attention on twitter.

The group-centered decision-making in sociocracy is derived from Quaker practices. Michael Sheeran’s Beyond Majority Rule is to some the definitive guide on the Quakers’ decision-making method. I wanted to learn more and visited the Quakers in Stockholm, Sweden.

Kväkargården, Stockholm, Sweden.

I learned that the Quakers (Friends) don’t just seek consent (as in sociocracy), but seek unity (or concord). It’s a subtle but important difference. I noticed how the Friends deliberately slowed down when there were objections. The Swedish Friends call it “framkallningstid” (development time).

I met a British Friend at the Nordic Friends Yearly Meeting 2017 who had experiences of making decisions in meetings with a thousand participants. He said it worked because they were seeking the sense of the Meeting. The method can also be used successfully in a secular context. It would revolutionize our political system.

Michelle Holliday sent me her new book on thrivability. I love her tree metaphor. We need to recognize life itself in our organizations. We need to move from control to letting life thrive. It is all too easy for us to lose sight of the very quality of livingness. There is a place for control, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best way to deal with work and people.

Sociocracy and Holacracy are based on cybernetic principles. The way of seeing is the engineer’s. Both use control to run the organization. Sociocracy acknowledges that people are not system components, while Holacracy uses the metaphor of people as sensors acting on behalf of the organization. It is a misconception to view people as autonomous rule-following entities. Metaphors both reflect and influence our thinking.

There is a distinction between being autonomic…, and allonomic

—Norm Hirst, Life-itself as organism characteristics – The Autognomics Institute

Norm Hirst makes a very important distinction between machines, which are allonomic, and living organisms, which are autonomic. Organisms come into being and grow into maturity as a whole entity unlike machines that are assembled piece by piece by some other.

Organisms are self-creating, not just self-organizing. Their purpose is not only to fulfill external tasks, but to develop their own life. To be alive is to be able to act. No organism is a machine, let alone an input-output machine (cybernetics).

Comparing an organism to a machine is profoundly misleading…

—Andreas Weber, Biology of Wonder

Andreas Weber emphasizes that it is profoundly misleading to compare an organism to a machine. Machines do not create themselves. They have no own interests. They do not resist being switched off. All organisms experience being alive. They decide, choose, and act according to values. Feeling is the inner experience of meaning. Organisms have to be free out of necessity.

Organism ways will always push to maintain the freedom to be autonomous…

—Skye Hirst, Value Intelligence In All Creative Organisms – The Autognomics Institute

Skye Hirst points out that it is a fundamental principle and an inalienable right for us to be free to act according to our own beinghood. Some people in power try to take it away by imposing overly tight controls. People are living beings, not things to be managed.

It is essential that we have the opportunity to take right and effective actions that are guided by our intrinsic intentions and meanings. This is a prerequisite for a healthy environment where we can learn, adapt, and thrive.

These insights gave me an understanding of my depression. I realized that I couldn’t find effective actions to fully be myself in the workplace. And yet, I was very good at adapting, obeying, and fulfilling expectations.

3.2. The middle years (2016–2018)

My journey took a new turn in 2016 when I started searching between and beyond our traditional ways of organizing work. Many different approaches have been developed over the years. They are often accompanied by a whole industry offering tools, training, consulting, and certification.

David Bohm & F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity, pp. 274–5.

My inquiry was inspired by David Bohm and F. David Peat’s notion of the order between and beyond. I raised three questions in the inquiry:

  1. What existing orders of organizing do we have today?
  2. How are they entwined within each other in ways that are basically incompatible?
  3. What clues to a deeper order can we find in the answers to these questions?

I was never able to answer these questions completely, but they gave a direction to my inquiry:

  1. I made an attempt to answer the first question. The challenge was that the different approaches couldn’t be thought of as being well-defined. Misinformation also became problematic. I discovered quotes that were not accurate, and claims that were not true.
  2. I never answered the second question. As I write this, my working hypothesis is that there is an overcommitment to mechanical order. Many approaches require that people behave as cogs and wheels (or, in the language of cybernetics, as sensors).
  3. Likewise, I never answered the third question. This is a topic for a book in itself. My hypothesis is that in order to sense deeper order we need to pay acute attention to the ways in which we see, think, feel, and act — individually and together. We need to enter into a new way of seeing. We need to examine the edges of our awareness.

Paavo Pylkkänen was a collaborator with David Bohm and is in a great position to comment on David Bohm’s work.

Bohm often used the metaphors of machine and living organisms to illustrate the difference between a mechanical order and a non-mechanical…order…

—Paavo Pylkkänen, Mind, Matter and The Implicate Order, p. 51.

Mechanical order emphasizes external relationships while deeper order draws attention to internal relationships and participation. Bohm thought that it was important to understand the factors which supports communication and coherent action. Changing reality means changing oneself. We always act based on a certain understanding.

You can learn how to let a deeper bodily felt sense come in relation to any specific situation.

—Eugene Gendlin, Focusing, p. vii.

Felt sense is a felt meaning, a bodily understanding. When we become quietly attentive and sensitive we can let our actions be guided by the needs of the situation. Experiencing is always there in the present moment. It is a deeper order in that it is pre-conceptual. Only actual living can grasp living experiencing adequately.

…feeling our needs and having them satisfied is a direct sign of how well we realise (or fail to realise) our aliveness.

—Andreas Weber, Enlivenment, p. 17.

Feeling is directly related to our sense of aliveness. Rational thinking has no way of understanding lived experience. Our ability to think in logical and abstract terms of mechanical order separates us from the world. It is, in fact, our reliance on rational calculation which makes today’s loss of life possible. We need a more qualitative and organic way of understanding. We need to become carefully observant of life itself.

3.3 The final years (2019–2022)

My journey took yet another turn in 2019 when I started painting. I loved it! I discovered that painting moved me into a state of flow, which felt very relaxing, enjoyable, and freeing.

It felt so good, in fact, that I spent hours painting when I came home from work. While painting, I was totally absorbed in the moment. I was totally involved with all my being in something which felt intrinsically satisfying. I felt creatively alive.

—Jan Höglund, Grevens stig, Ängsö, Sweden.

I continued reading and writing, but not as much as previously.

4. Conclusions

At the beginning of my journey, I discovered that I was being killed. I was dying and I didn’t know why. I knew I had to find out what I could do differently. Ten years later, I have learned how to move towards my own aliveness, towards who I am, towards who I was born to be.

We are not only killing ourselves with our organizations, we are killing our planet and all of nature with our western civilization. Our organizations reflect our values and priorities, our ways of thinking. All aspects of life need to be marked by new priorities, new ways of seeing, new perceptions of what is good.

What we find in other organisms is aliveness: ours, and theirs, and that which is the source of all.

—Andreas Weber, Biopoetics, p. 117.

We can discern what enhances aliveness for the simple reason that we are alive. By experiencing aliveness we are able to evaluate the life-giving potential of any situation. Life is contagious with aliveness. Aliveness is intrinsic to life itself.

Life-giving work is about being in the world with a deep sense of caring. It is about listening, seeing, and acting in harmony with Life. It is through gentle action, living from a deeper place, using our whole intelligence, that we can act in harmony with Life’s deeper order.

Kelvy Bird provides a practical example of how to make the unseen, yet felt, inner life of a social field visible in her work as a scribe and visual facilitator. It’s about staying open, listening deeply, and acting in the right time.

Staying open is a key skill…

—Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing, p. 53.

We need to step deeply into our lives, staying open to the flow of meaning. It is a key skill and a real challenge. It is far too easy to inadvertently close our minds to what is actually going on. I closed my mind during my depression because I was afraid of feeling deeply. I didn’t think it was safe to feel and to express those feelings honestly.

Listen deeply… Trust that a deeper meaning will arrive…

—Kelvy Bird, Generative Scribing, p. 127.

Instead of imposing order we can inquire into what is seeking new order. We can listen deeply for what wants to unfold in the present moment. We can act in the right time as it unfolds. It is all fluid motion!

We can let our next step of thought come from…experiential feedback, rather than only from the concept.

—Eugene Gendlin, Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning, p. xvii.

We can let our thoughts and actions come from our experiencing, rather than from ideas alone. It can lead us to modify our thinking, rather than being confined in it. We can act from a felt sense. This is one of my most important discoveries.

Felt meaning is present whenever actions, observations, and situations occur that have meaning to a person. An individual who is maximally open to his or her experience weighs and balances all the meanings in his or her experience. Change occurs through experiencing.

In summary, I know now that I can choose to stay open and allow myself to feel fully alive. Without natural beauty and a deep connection to the living world, we end up lifeless and depressed. Beauty is felt aliveness. It is also healing.

…help each person reach the deepest place in their own hearts and…help them bring this material out into the open.

—Christoper Alexander, The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth, p. 117.

Going forward, I want to create conditions that will activate and intensify life itself, with my he-art. Ultimately, it is a question of love — for the planet, for other beings, and for myself. To allow myself to be fully alive is to love myself and the world. Love is the inside of aliveness. Honoring our aliveness is also the best way to ensure our long-term survival as a species.

5. Afterword

My journey became more personal than I had anticipated at the start. My focus was initially on finding systemic answers to my question about life-giving work (for example, sociocracy), but I ended up with intrinsic answers (seeing, being, feeling). I had searched for explicate order, but ended up with a focus on implicate order. I had searched for systemic value (rules), but ended up with giving priority to intrinsic value (love). This is also one of my most important discoveries.

Embrace change…
…be present.
Work is…creating.
Create a nurturing…environment.
Love the workers…before the work.
Make time for community…

—Tess Jette, Six pillars of a life giving workplace – The Autognomics Institute

Life-giving work can only happen when all people are free to use their brains and hearts. It can be done in many ways, but it always has to be done wholeheartedly. Stay open, listen deeply, act at the right time, and trust your felt sense! It can be this way!

6. Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the Friends in Sweden for generously sharing their knowledge in group-centered decision-making. It’s one thing to read about it, it’s quite another to experience it! Thank you!

I would also like to give my heartfelt thanks to Skye Hirst, who coached me in the writing of this post. We have had an ongoing dialogue since 2017. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey — both as a coach and as a friend!

Finally, thank you, dear reader, if you have read this far! You can reach me or follow me here.

7. Recommended Books

This is a long list. Authors who have influenced me most are Christopher Alexander, David Bohm, Henri Bortoft, Eugene Gendlin, and Robert Hartman. I have found myself going back to their books again and again. All have something to say about deeper order.

Christopher Alexander’s books hold a special place in my library.

Abram, D., The Spell of the Sensuous
Abram, D., Becoming Animal.
Addleson, M., Beyond Management
Agerbeck, B., The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide
Alexander, C., The Timeless Way of Building
Alexander, C., The Nature of Order: Book 1 – The Phenomenon of Life
Alexander, C., The Nature of Order: Book 2 – The Process of Creating Life
Alexander, C., The Nature of Order: Book 3 – A Vision of a Living World
Alexander, C., The Nature of Order: Book 4 – The Luminous Ground

Alexander, C., et al., A Pattern Language
Alexander, C., et al., The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth
Amabile, T., & Kramer, S., The Progress Principle
Arrien, A., The Four-Fold Way
Arrien, A., The Second Half of Life
Artur, B.W., The Nature of Technology
Atran, S., Talking to the Enemy
Bache, C.M., The Living Classroom
Bache, C.M., Dark Night, Early Dawn
Bache, C.M., LSD and the Mind of the Universe
Baghai, M., & Quigley, J., As One
Baldwin, C., & Linnea, A., The Circle Way
Ballé, M., & Ballé, F., Lead With Respect
Banishoeib, F., The Poetry of Leadership
Bateson, N., Small Arcs of Larger Circles
Beck, K., Extreme Programming Explained
Bennis, W., Organizing Genius
Benson, H., The Relaxation Response
Bergstrand, J., Reinventing Your Enterprise
Bird, K., Generative Scribing
Brikinshaw, J., Reinventing Management
Blake, A., The Supreme Art of Dialogue
Blake, A., A Gymnasium of Beliefs in Higher Intelligence.
Blake, A., The Intelligent Enneagram.
Block, P., Community
Block, P., Flawless Consulting
Block, P., The Answer to How is Yes
Block, P., The Empowered Manager
Block, P., Stewardship
Bogsnes, B., Implementing Beyond Budgeting
Bohm, D., On Creativity
Bohm, D., On Dialogue
Bohm, D., Unfolding Meaning
Bohm, D., Wholeness and the Implicate Order
Bohm, D., Quantum Theory
Bohm, D., The Special Theory of Relativity
Bohm, D., & Biederman C., Bohm-Biederman Correspondence
Bohm, D., & Hiley B., The Undivided Universe
Bohm, D., & Peat F.D., Science, Order, and Creativity
Bornstein, D., How to Change the World
Bortoft, H., The Wholeness of Nature (My tweets from the book compiled by Simon Robinson)
Bortoft, H., Taking Appearance Seriously (Excellent book review by Simon Robinson)
Brafman, O., & Beckstrom A., The Starfish and the Spider
Brogan, K., A Mind of Your Own
Brooks, F.P., The Mythical Man-Month
Brown, J., The Art and Spirit of Leadership
Brown, J., & Isaacs, D., The World Café
Briggs, J., & Peat, F.D., Turbulent Mirror
Briskin, A., The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace
Briskin, A., Erickson, S., Ott, J. & Callanan, T., The Power of Collective Wisdom
Buk, J., & Villines, S., We the People
Buckley, P., & Peat, F.D., A Question of Physics
Buhner, S.H., Ensouling Language .
Buhner, S.H., The Lost Language of Plants
Buhner, S.H., The Secret Teachings of Plants
Bungay, S., The Art of Action
Burbank, L., & Hall, W., The Harvests of the Years
Bush. R.A.B., & Folger, J.P., The Promise of Mediation
Bushe, G.R., & Marshak, R.J., et al., Dialogic Organization Development
Cameron, J., The Artist’s Way
Campbell, J., The Power of Myth
Capra, F. & Luisi, P.L., The Systems View of Life
Carson, R., Silent Spring
Chaitin, G., The Limits of Mathematics
Chaitin, G., The Unknowable
Chang Ha-Joon, Bad Samaritans
Chase, S., Roads to Agreement
Cleveland, H., Nobody in Charge
Cloke, K., & Goldsmith, J., The End of Management
Conley, C., Peak
Cori, J.L., The Emotionally Absent Mother
Cox, G., et al., A Quaker Approach to Research
Csikszentmihalyi, M., Creativity
Csikszentmihalyi, M., Flow
Chomsky, N., On Anarchism.
Chödrön, P., When Things Fall Apart
de Geus, A., The Living Company
de Maré, P., et al., Koinonia
Deci, E.L., Why We Do What We Do
Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M., Intrinsic Motivation and Self-determination in Human Behavior
Dehnugara, K., Flawed but Willing
Dekker, S., The Safety Anarchist.
DeMarco, T., Slack
DeMarco, T., & Lister, T., Peopleware
Deming, W.E., et al., The Essential Deming
Denning, S., The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management
Dimitrov, V., A New Kind of Social Science
Earls, M., Herd
Edmondson, A.C. Teaming
Edwards, B., Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Elgin, D., The Living Universe
Ellison, S.S., Taking the War Out of Our Words
Emery, F., & Thorsrud, E., Democracy at work
Fairtlough, G., The Three Ways of Getting Things Done
Ferguson, M., The Aquarian Conspiracy
Frankl, E.F., Man’s Search For Meaning
Frankl, E.F., Yest to Life.
Freire, P., Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Fukuoka, M., Sowing Seeds in the Desert
Fukuoka, M., The One-Straw Revolution
Gallwey, W.T., The Inner Game of Tennis
Gebser, J., The Ever-Present Origin
Gendlin, E.T., Focusing
Gendlin, E.T., Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning
Gendlin, E.T., A Process Model
Goodwin, B., How the Leopard Changed Its Spots
Goodwin, B., Nature’s Due
Graeber, D., Bullshit Jobs
Grant, A., Originals
Griffin, D., The Emergence of Leadership
Grof, S., Healing Our Deepest Wounds
Grof, S., When the Impossible Happens
Grof, S., The Cosmic Game
Gruen, A., The Betrayal of the Self
Gruen, A., The Insanity of Normality
Guendelsberger, E., On the Clock.
Hamilton, D.M., Everything is Workable
Harding, S., Animate Earth
Hari, J., Lost Connections
Harland, P., The Power of Six
Hartman, R.S., Freedom to Live
Hartman, R.S., The Structure of Value
Hartman, R.S., Five Lectures on Formal Axiology.
Hartman, R.S., The Revolution Against War.
Heider, J., The Tao of Leadership
Hensel, M., Menges, A., Weinstock, M., et al., Emergence
Hernes, T., A Process Theory of Organization
Hiley, B., Peat, F.D., et al., Quantum Implications: Essays in Honor of David Bohm
Ho, M-W., The Rainbow And The Worm
Ho, M-W., Living Rainbow H2O
Ho, M-W., Meaning of Life and the Universe .
Holliday, M., The Age of Thrivability
Hollis, J., Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life
Holman, P., Engaging Emergence
Hock, D., Birth of The Chaordic Age
Hock, D., One From Many
Hock, D., Autobiography of a Restless Mind, Volume 1 & 2
Hoffman, D., The Voice Dialogue Anthology
Holdrege, C., Thinking Like a Plant
Holt, J., How Children Learn.
Holt, J., Learning All the Time.
Husband, J., et al., Wirearchy
Hutchins, G., Future Fit
Hutchins, G., The Illusion of Separation
Hutchins, G., The Nature of Business
Inamori, K., A Compass to Fulfillment
Isaacs, W., Dialogue
Jaworski, J., Source
Jaworski, J., Synchronicity
Jung, C.G., Answer to Job
Jung, C.G., & Pauli, W., Atom and Archetype
Johnson, R.A., Living Your Unlived Life
Johnson, R.A., Owning Your Own Shadow
Johnson, S., Emergence
Johnstone, K., Impro
Jonas, H., The Phenomenon of Life
Jones, M., Artful Leadership .
Jones. M., The Soulf of Place.
Joy, L., How Does Societal Transformation Happen?
Joy, W.B., Joy’s Way
Järvensivu, T., Managing (in) Networks
Kahane, A., Collaborating with the Enemy
Kahane, A., Power and Love
Kahane, A., Solving Tough Problems
Kauffman, S., At Home in the Universe
Kauffman, S., Reinventing the Sacred
Kay, J., Obliquity
Keeney, B., The Bushman Way of Tracking God
Kegan, R., & Lahey, L., How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work
Keleman, S., Emotional Anatomy
Keller, E.F., A Feeling for the Organism
Kendzior, S., Hiding in Plain Sight.
Kidd, E., First Steps to Seeing
Kingsley, P., A Story Waiting to Pierce You
Kinglsey, P., In the Places of Wisdom
Kingsley, P., Catafalque, Volume 1 & 2
Kirkpatrick, D., Beyond Empowerment
Koestenbaum, P., & Block, P., Freedom and Accountability at Work
Koestenbaum, P., Leadership.
Kohn, A., Punished by Rewards
Kohn, A., The Myth of the Spoiled Child
Koestler, A., The Ghost in the Machine
Koestler, A., The Sleepwalkers
Kotler, S., & Wheal, J., Stealing Fire
Kramer, N., The Unfoldment
Kuenkel, P., Mind and Heart
Kuenkel, P., The Art of Leading Collectively
Lamott, A., Bird by Bird
Laszlo, C., & Brown, J.S., et al., Flourishing Enterprise
Laszlo, E., How Can We Build a Better World?.
Lawlor, R., Voices of the First Day
Lee, B., Artist of Life
Lee, B., Striking Thoughts
Lehrs, E., Man or Matter
Leonard, G., Mastery
Leonard, G., & Murphy, M., The Life We are Given
Leonard, G., The Silent Pulse.
Leonard, G., The Way of Aikido.
Levine, S.K., Poiesis
Lieberman, M.D., Social
Lievegoed, Phases
Lipton, B.H., The Biology of Belief
Lowen, A., Joy.
MacKenzie, G., Orbiting the Giant Hairball
Macy, J., & Brown, M.Y., Coming Back to Life
Madsen, B., & Willert, S., Survival in the Organization
Malone, T.W., The Future of Work
Mandelbrot, B.B., The Fractal Geometry of Nature
Mannix, K., With the End in Mind
Margulis, L., & Sagan, D., What is Life?
Marshall, P., A History of Anarchism.
Marquet, L.D., Turn the Ship Around!
Maslow, A.H., The Farther Reaches of Human Nature
Maslow, A.H., Maslow on Management
Maturana, H.R., & Varela, F.J., The Tree of Knowledge
May, R., The Discovery of Being
Mayer, E.L., Extraodrinary Knowing.
McCallum, I., Ecological Intelligence
McChrystal, S., et al., Team of Teams
McGilchrist, I., The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning.
McGilchrist, I., The Master and His Emissary .
McGilchrist, I., The Matter with Things.
McGregor, D., The HumanSide of Enterprise
McInnes, W., Culture Schock
Mead, G., Coming Home to Story
Merrell, F., Becoming Culture
Merrell, F., Change through Signs of Body, Mind, and Language
Meyer, E., The Culture Map
Meyer, R., & Meijers, R., Leadership Agility
Midgley, M., The Myths We Live By
Miller, T., & Hall, G., Letting Go
Milton, J.P., Sky Above, Earth Below
Mintzberg, H., The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning
Mithen, S., The Prehistory of the Mind
Morris, T., If Aristotle ran General Motors
Murphy, M., The Future of the Body
Nachmanovitch, S., The Art of Is.
Nachmanovitch, S., Free Play.
Neal, C., & Neal, P., The Art of Convening
Nelson, S., Living in Flow.
Neumeier, M., The Designful Company
Nicholson, D.J., & Dupré, J., et al., Everything Flows.
Nielsen, J.S., The Myth of Leadership
Norman, D.A., The Design of Everyday Things
Norman, D.A., Emotional Design
O’Donohue, J., Anam Ċara
O’Donohue, J., To Bless the Space Between Us
O’Donohue, J., Eternal Echoes
O’Donohue, J., Divine Beauty
Ostrom, E., Governing the Commons
Ostrom, E., Understanding Institutional Diversity
Owen, H., The Spirit of Leadership
Owen, H., Wave Rider
Owen, H., The Power of Spirit
Owen, H., Open Space Technology
Paul, M., Inner Bonding
Palmer, P.J., A Hidden Wholeness
Palmer, P.J., Let Your Life Speak
Palmer, P.J., The Active Life
Palmer, P.J., The Courage to Teach Guide
Papert, S., Mindstorms
Parker, P., The Art of Gathering
Parlett, M., Future Sense
Pascale, R.T., Millemann, M., & Gioja., L., Surfing the Edge of Chaos
Peat, F.D., Blackfoot Physics .
Peat, F.D., From Certainty to Uncertainty
Peat, F.D., Gentle Action
Peat, F.D., Infinite Potential
Peat, F.D., Pathways of Chance.
Peat, F.D., Synchronicity
Peat, F. D., The Philosopher’s Stone
Peirce, P., The Intuitive Way
Peltier, B., The Psychology of Executive Coaching
Penrose, R., Fasion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe.
Penrose, R., Shadows of the Mind
Penrose, R., The Road to Reality
Peppers, C., & Briskin, A., Bringing Your Soul to Work
Perls, F., Gestalt Therapy
Perls, F., Gestalt Therapy Verbatim
Pink, D.H., A Whole New Mind
Pink, D.H., Drive
Pink, D.H., To Sell is Human
Plotkin, B., Nature and the Human Soul
Plotkin, B., Wild Mind
Plotkin, B., Soulcraft
Polanyi, M., The Tacit Dimension
Pollan, M., How to Change Your Mind
Polyani, M., Personal Knowledge
Poynter, J., The Human Experiment
Prigogine, I., The End of Certainty
Prigogine, I., & Stengers, I., Order Out of Chaos .
Pylkkänen, P., et al., The Search for Meaning
Pylkkänen, P., Mind, Matter and the Implicate Order
Quillien, J., Clever Digs.
Radin, D., Supernormal
Radin, D., The Conscious Universe
Ramquist, L., & Eriksson, M., Integral Management
Ramquist, L., & Eriksson, M., Manöverbarhet
Rawson, W., The Werkplaats [Workshop] Adventure
Reiss, S., Who am I?
Remen, R.N., Kithcen Table Wisdom.
Remen, R.N., My Grandfather’s Blessings.
Reynolds, M., The Garden Awakening
Richards, M.C., Centering.
Richards, M.C., The Crossing Point.
Rico, G., Writing the Natural Way
Rilke, R.M., Letters to a Young Poet
Robinson, K., Out of Our Minds
Robinson, K., The Element
Robinson, K., Finding Your Element
Robinson, S., & Moraes Robinson, M., Holonomics
Robinson, S., & Moraes Robinson, M., Customer Experiences with Soul.
Rodgers, C., Informal Coalitions
Roeper, A., The “I” of the Beholder
Rogers, C., A Way of Being
Rogers, C., Client-Centered Therapy
Rogers, C., On Becoming a Person
Rogers, C., On Personal Power
Rogers, C., & Stevens, B., Person to Person
Rogers, C., Kirschenbaum, H., & Henderson, V.L., The Carl Rogers Reader
Rosen, R., Life Itself
Rosenberg, M.B., Nonviolent Communication
Rosenberg, M.B:, Speak Peace in a World of Conflict
Rosenzweig, P., The Halo Effect
Ross, C., The Leaderless Revolution
Roth, W., The Roots and Future of Management Theory
Rother, M., Toyota Kata
Rough, J., Society’s Breakthrough!
Rozenthuler, S., Life-Changing Conversations
Rovelli, C., Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Russell, J.M., Thrivability
Sadler-Smith, E., The Intuitive Mind
Safina, C., Beyond Words
Sahtouris, E., EarthDance .
Sahtouris, E., Gaia’s Dance.
Sanford, C., The Regenerative Business.
Sanford, M., Waking
Saul, J.R., Voltaire’s Bastards
Scharmer, C.O., Theory U
Scharmer, C.O., & Kaufter, K., Leading from the Emerging Future
Schein, E.H., Humble Inquiry
Schmaltz, D., The Blind Men and the Elephant
Schmidt, M., et al., Understanding Montessori
Schumacher, E.F., A Guide for the Perplexed
Schumacher, E.F., Small is Beautiful
Schumacher, E.F., Good Work
Schwaber, K., & Beedle, M., Agile Software Development with Scrum
Schön, D., The Reflective Practitioner
Seagal, S., & Horne, D., Human Dynamics
Seddon, J., Freedom from Command and Control
Seddon, J., In Pursuit of Quality
Seddon, J., I Want You To Cheat!
Seddon, J., Systems Thinking in the Public Sector
Seddon, J., The Whitehall Effect
Seifter, H. & Economy, P., Leadership Ensemble
Semler, R., Maverick
Semler, R., The Seven-Day Weekend.
Senge, P., The fifth Discipline
Senger, P., The Dance of Change
Senge, P., et al., The Necessary Revolution
Senge, P., Scharmer, C.O., Jaworski, J., & Flowers, B.S., Presence
Sennett, R., The Craftsman
Shaetti, B.F., Ramsey, S.J., & Watanabe, G.C., Personal Leadership
Shaw, P., Changing Conversations in Organizations
Shaw, P., Stacey, R., et al., Experiencing Risk, Spontaneity and Improvisation in Organizational Change
Sheeran, M.J., Beyond Majority Rule
Sheldrake, R., The Science Delusion
Sheldrake, R., A New Science of Life
Sheldrake, R., The Presence of the Past
Sherburne, D.W., A Key to Whithead’s Process and Reality
Siegel, D., Mindsight
Siegel, D., The Developing Mind
Sirolli, E., Hot to Start a Business and Ignite Your Life
Sirota, D., Mischkind, L.A., & Meltzer, M.I., The Enthusiastic Employee
Snowden, D., et al., Cynefin.
Sousanis, N., Unflattening
Stacey, R., Managing Chaos
Stacey, R., Managing the Unknowable
Stacey, R., Complexity and Organizational Reality
Stacey, R., Strategic Management and Organisational Dynamics
Stacey, R., Complexity and Group Processes
Stamoliev, R., The Energetics of Voice Dialogue
Stefanovic, I.L., Safeguarding Our Common Future
Stolaroff, M.J., The Secret Chief Revealed
Stone H., & Stone, S., Embracing Our Selves
Stone H., & Stone, S., Embracing Your Inner Critic
Streatfield, P.J., The Paradox of Control in Organizations
Surowiecki, J., The Wisdom of Crowds
Sutton, R., The No Asshole Rule
Sutton, R., Good Boss, Bad Boss
Tarnas, R., The Passion of the Western Mind
Thompson, W.I., Coming Into Being
Tippett, K., Becoming Wise
Tonn, J.C., Mary P. Follet: Creating Democracy, Transforming Management
Turner, T., Belonging.
Ury, W., The Power of a Positive No
Vaill, P.B., Managing as a Performing Art
Vaill, P.B., Learning as a Way of Being
van der Heijden, K., Scenarios
van der Heijden, K., Bradfield, R., Burt, G., Cairns, G., & Wright, G., The Sixth Sense
van der Kolk, B., The Body Keeps the Score
van Vugt, M., & Ahuja, A., Selected
Varela, F.J., Thompson, E., & Rosch, E., The Embodied Mind
Wachterhauser, B.R., Beyond Being
Wahl, D.C., Designing Regenerative Cultures
Wallack, F.B., The Epochal Nature of Process in Whitehead’s Metaphysics
Watts, A., The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.
Watts, A., The Watercourse Way.
Watts, A., Does it Matter.
Watts, A., The Way of Zen.
Weber, A., Matter and Desire.
Weber, A., The Biology of Wonder.
Weber, A., Enlivenment.
Weber, A., Biopoetics.
Weggeman, M., Managing Professionals? Don’t!
Weick, K.E., Sensemaking in Organizations
Weinstock, M., The Architecture of Emergence
Weisbord, M.R., Discovering Common Ground
Weisbord, M.R., Productive Workplaces
Weisbord, M., & Janoff, S., Future Search
Weisbord, M., & Janoff, S., Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!
Weltzel, C., Freedom Rising
Welwood, J., Toward a Psychology of Awakening
Wendt, T., Design for Dasein
Western, S., Coaching and Mentoring
Western, S., Leadership
Whitehead, A.N., Process and Reality (see also Sherburn and Wallack)
Wheatley, M.J., Leadership and the New Science
Wheatley, M.J., Finding Our Way
Wheatley, M.J. Who Do We Choose to Be?.
Wheatley, M.J., So Far From Home
Wheatley, M.J., Turning to One Another
Wheatley, M.J., & Frieze, D., Walk Out Walk On
Wheatley, M.J., & Kellner-Rogers, M., A Simpler Way
Whyte, D., The Heart Aroused .
Whyte, D., The Three Marriages
Williams, B., The Genuine Contact Way
Williams, M., & Penman, D., Mindfulness
Wolff, R., Democracy at Work
Wolff, R., Original Wisdom .
Woolley-Barker, T., Teeming.
Youngs, R., The Puzzle of Non-Western Democracy
Yunkaporta, T., Sand Talk.
Zander, R.S., Pathways to Possibility
Zander, R.S., & Zander, B., The Art of Possibility
Zubizarreta, R., From Conflict to Creative Collaboration
Zimmerman, J., & Coyle, V., The Way of Council
Zweig, C., & Abrams, J., et al., Meeting the Shadow

Update 2022-10-21:
1. Quotes changed to quotes and notes.

Update 2022-10-09:
1. Link added to further reading. 3.2. Correction of grammar.

Books Reviews

Book Review: Gentle Action


F. David Peat, Gentle Action

Gentle Action: Bringing Creative Change to a Turbulent World by F. David Peat is a book about moving from policies, plans and imposed solutions to more intelligent and harmonious action that evolves out of the context itself.1 This involves creative suspension of action, with the aim of developing a clearer perception of the situation, and then creating a basis for action that is more sensitive, flexible and creative. Out of these will flow a more appropriate, harmonious, and gentle action.2

The Desire for Control

When we objectify nature, society, and organizations, and view them as a machine, albeit a very complicated machine, it leaves no room for intrinsic values. It is a quantitative approach that gives no account of qualities.3 Although this mechanistic approach is profoundly wrong, our organizations retain a simple faith in prediction and control.4

…if, at its deepest level, the world is not mechanical, while our strategies and plans continue to be predicated upon a mechanical perspective, then we are bound to get into serious trouble.5

Perceiving and valuing in inappropriate ways has brought us to the crises that we now face.6 The mechanical approach acts to oversimplify and fragment situations to the point where it leaves out what is most important. Models, calculations, and predictions lures us into the false impression that we know what we are doing.7 The objectification has had the effect of neglecting intrinsic values, weakening our relationship to nature and to each other. It has enhanced the tendency to dominate, control, and exploit the world.8 We need to replace our traditional approaches with gentle action.9

…there is a pervading tendency within organizations to view the world in mechanistic ways and to desire certainty, predictability and control.10

Natural and social systems are far more complex than we may have first considered. Some of them are so complex that there will always be a degree of missing information in their description. There will always be elements of these system that escape us no matter how much data we collect.11 In some situations we just have to accept uncertainty and that is a very uncomfortable situation for many organizations.12

When organizations feel control slipping from their grasp, their natural reaction is to exert even more control. This results in a spiral of control literally out of control.13 There is no end to our will to dominate nature and force it to serve our own ends.14 We need to live in harmony with nature rather than seeking to control her. We need to live as partners rather than as master and slave. And we need to combine our own intelligence and sensitivity with the innate intelligence and sensitivity of the natural world.15

…it is generally true that when matter, or energy, or money, or information flow through a system, that system will begin to organize itself spontaneously. It will develop a physical structure, a pattern of behavior and a distinct identity, but without anyone having imposed this from outside.16

It is easy for people to accept simple solutions that accord with their own prejudices, and does not force them to confront a major change in attitude. It is also easy to adopt a solution, based on a simple but conventient argument.17 Situations are complex and our perceptions are influenced by our backgrounds and the context in which we experience events.18

From Rigidity to Flexibility

A helthy organization is able to adjust to sudden changes. A rigid organization, however, continues to function as before until it meets change in inappropirate ways. There are many ways in which rigidity is reinforced—a series of policies and mission statements, a hierarchy in which those below have been conditioned not to question orders from above, an organization where information cannot flow vertically and horizontally.19

Organizations have both formal and informal structures. Its formal structure involves its CEO, board, managers, and so on. But an organization also has an informal structure in which valuable exhanges are made. An organization remains flexible to the extent to which exchanges take place, and the extent to which senior management is part of this process.20

The spectrum from rigidity to flexibility not only operates within an organization but also at the level of the individual.21 Simply repeating a formula will not do, there must be internal flexibility and engagement. When we engage a work we must also take the responsibility of bringing it alive, of making it new.22

…our ability to judge a situation, or make an intervention, is going to depend on the way we “see” that situation. The more we are aware of our own prejudices, the more we can give attention to the context in which we are doing that seeing, the more unbiased the information we will be able to take in.23

Alfred North Whitehead spoke of prehension, as if the mind reaches out like a hand to touch, or even grab at, the world. Part of this function is the ability to make a detailed analysis of a situation. Another function of the seeks meaning and places the details of a situation within their wider context.24 Likewise, Carl Jung wrote of what he called our rational functions, thinking and feeling. Thinking allows us to analyze a certain decision, while feeling tells us what it means to us, and what value it has.25

Creative Suspension & Gentle Action

Creative suspension is the voluntary act to suspend, if only for a moment, our immediate reaction.26 It is related to other approaches whereby unexamined assumptions and rigidities are brought into awareness.27 By means of a very active awareness it may be possible to detect unexamined presuppositions, fixed values and conditioned responses. The idea is to permit the full human potential and creativity to thrive. It would enable people to relate to each other in more harmonious ways, and human needs and intrinsic values to be acknowledged.28

A traditional organization has a hierarchy of control and rules of procedure. By contrast, a self-organized operation doesn’t begin with presetablished set of rules, but emerge in a creative way out of the flow of information, material, money, and staff.29 A rigid organization has rules, procedures and hierarchical structures imposed from above or from outside.30 Change arises from openness to different possibilities and opportunities, and from the inherent creativity within the organization.31 Creative suspension is the ground out of which something new can grow.32

Gentle action is a sort of action that harmonizes with nature and society, that does not desire to dominate and control, but seeks balance and harmony, and is based on respect for nature and society. In place of relatively mechanical, hierarchical and rule-bound organizations there is something more organic in nature.33

Successful organizations of the future will have more open and organic structures. … They will draw naturally upon the creativity of their employees and, in turn, employees will be self-directed and more satisfied by the exercise of their natural creativity and initiative within a caring environment. … New forms of leadership will respect the initiative and autonomy of others so that each person brings their best abilities to a particular task. … And as the particular challenge of a given situation changes, so too the internal structure of the organization will transform and particular individuals will be free to adopt new roles. As a result enhanced and more effective communications will take place in these new organizations.34

When an organization engages in creative suspension this will allow its own natural creativity, and the skills of its employees to come to fore.35 It may not be the CEO but an ordinary employee who possesses a key piece of knowledge. It may be his or her knowledge, combined with the knowledge of others, that keeps an organization in operation.36

One approach to creative suspension is Bohmian dialogue, in which a group of thirty to forty persons meet with no leader or program. The group does not have a specific goal or aim, but simply deals with whatever comes up during the dialogue itself. All of us hold onto some fixed nonnegotiable positions. However, in a dialogue circle there will always be people who occupy intermediary positions. Such people can moderate the dialogue.37 The idea is not to persuade a person to change his or her belief, but rather to allow everything to slow down. In other words, to allow people to suspend their normal reactions for a moment. As this happens, people become less rigid, and more creative and flexible in their responses.38

One sensitivity that goes along with creative suspension is a deeper knowing of when the time is right to act.39 Most of us are slaves to mechanical time, yet time is very much determined by the sun, the seasons and other rhythms.40

Creative suspension doesn’t mean doing nothing, but rather involves a special quality of listening. The point is to suspend judgment so that people can become open to a new and deeper way of listening, both within and without. This allows people to examine all their assumptions, principles, and values.41

Gentle action that doesn’t embody trust, honesty, and ethics is empty. We must therefore discover just where intrinsic values stand in our lives.42 Trust, honesty, and ethics breed loyalty. It is important to believe in the inherent value of our work.43


I appreciate that the book doesn’t contain Seven Steps to Gentle Action. If F. David Peat had taken this route he would simply have done the very thing that he has critized from the very beginning—standing outside of a system and making up rules for action.44 We need to replace fixed process approaches and also take into account the overall context of a situation.45

…we must always be respectful of the situations in which we find ourselves, we must tread softly… We must learn to listen…so that our actions may be more gentle and more creative.46

Taoist philosophy has its wu-wei, acting without taking action. Water runs downhill and the earth circles the sun. Likewise, we can go with the flow in gentle action. If each one of us can make a tiny ripple—and if these ripples begin to interact in a coherent way, the wave we create can become very powerful.47 I like the book very much!

1. F. David Peat, Gentle Action: Bringing Creative Change to a Turbulent World, p. 16.
2. Ibid., pp. 16–17.
3. Ibid., p. 23.
4. Ibid..
5. Ibid..
6. Ibid., p. 24.
7. Ibid..
8. Ibid..
9. Ibid., p. 25.
10. Ibid., p. 27.
11. Ibid., p. 29.
12. Ibid..
13. Ibid., p. 30.
14. Ibid..
15. Ibid., p. 31.
16. Ibid., p. 32.
17. Ibid., p. 58.
18. Ibid., p. 69.
19. Ibid., pp. 73–74.
20. Ibid., p. 74.
21. Ibid., p. 79.
22. Ibid., p. 80.
23. Ibid., p. 82.
24. Ibid., p. 84.
25. Ibid..
26. Ibid., p. 87.
27. Ibid., p. 88.
28. Ibid., p. 89.
29. Ibid..
30. Ibid., p. 90.
31. Ibid..
32. Ibid., p. 91.
33. Ibid., p. 92.
34. Ibid., p. 95.
35. Ibid., p. 96.
36. Ibid., p. 97.
37. Ibid..
38. Ibid., p. 98.
39. Ibid., p. 99.
40. Ibid..
41. Ibid., p. 102.
42. Ibid., p. 105.
43. Ibid., p. 124.
44. Ibid., p. 167.
45. Ibid., p. 168.
46. Ibid., pp. 171–72.
47. Ibid., p. 172.

Books Play Thoughts

Free Play

I have read “Spela fritt” by Stephen Nachmanovitch, which is a Swedish translation of Nachmanovitch’s book “Free Play“, and was reminded what is lost in translation.

Stephen Nachmanovitch, Spela fritt

Even the book’s title, “Spela fritt”, is lost in translation. Play can be translated with spel or lek. So, the title could have been “Leka fritt”, or “Fri Lek”.

However, lek is more like children’s play. It can be perceived as too childish? Hence, the translator’s choice of spela? But I don’t spelar, but leker, when I create my art.

Translation is an art in itself.

Books Thoughts

Selfless service

I have read Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity by August Turak.

August Turak, Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks

There are some gold nuggets in this book, but I don’t have the same enthusiasm for monastic life as the author. Selfless service driven by love is one thing. It’s another if it is based on blind obedience (of God, the Abbot, or the CEO).

Books Reviews

Book Review: LSD and the Mind of the Universe

LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven by Christopher Bache is a book which has two titles. The outer title, LSD and the Mind of the Universe, describes what the book is about. The inner title, Diamonds from Heaven, refers to the “Diamond Light” at “the center of the mind of the universe”.


At the end of the 1970s Christopher Bache made a decision that change the course of his life. Between 1979 and 1999, he took LSD 73 times in carefully planned sessions. Bache did this to “explore mind and the mind of the universe as deeply and systematically” as he could. This book is what happened on those 73 days.

As a professor of religious studies, it was primarily the capacity of psychedelics to open us to the deeper landscape of consciousness that interested Bache. He worked as a philosopher to see what LSD might teach him about the universe. Christopher Bache used Stanislav Grof’s methods for working therapeutically with LSD to explore his own consciousness. This journey lasted 20 years.

Given legal issues, it was only in 2019, twenty years after his experiments ended and after retiring from his position as a university professor, that Christopher Bache finally is free to discuss his psychedelic work.

Christopher Bache came to this work as “an atheistically inclined agnostic”. He had studied his “way out of religion altogether. Bache concluded in his dissertation on “the logic of religious metaphor” that “our finite language simply does not allow us to speak with precision about the infinite”.

“Start slow, build strong, and go far.”

The Protocol

The book starts with a description of how Christopher Bache worked with LSD. He decided to lay a strong foundation for how the work was done. When Bache took LSD, he entered a space where he was protected from all interruptions, wearing eyeshades and headphones. The music was carefully selected—”gentle music as the drug comes on, powerful evocative music as it builds momentum, expansive music for the peak hours, and gentle music for the long, slow return”. A sitter, Christopher Bache’s wife, took care of the safety.

The core of the protocol was to allow unconscious patterns to emerge and to completely surrender to the experience. Christopher Bache writes that the “same patterns will keep showing up in a variety of forms until a climax of expression is reached—some inner gestalt is consciously realized or some reservoir of expression is reached—and then they will spontaneously resolve themselves”. The psyche is then free to flow into more expansive states of awareness. If this is repeated many, deeper patterns emerge and new experiences open. It takes time to recognize the logic and structure of the larger whole.

“Part of critical discernment also means being brutally honest with yourself.”

Christopher Bache moved systematically back and forth between amplified states of consciousness and ordinary consciousness, where the experiences could be documented and evaluated. There are two keys to doing this: 1) We must have “the courage to confront whatever negative experiences” we may have. 2) For enduring change, we must also “create a container for holding our experiences” between the sessions. The experiences must be integrated, not only in our minds, but also “into our physical, emotional, and social being”. Mind-opening states are also body-opening states.

Christopher Bache worked at 500–600 mcg. Bache learned to work at these high levels, but “strongly caution” anyone to work with doses this high. It is advisable to stay within doses of 50–200 mcg. This leaves more of “one’s psychological equipment intact”, making it easier to assimilate sessions. In hindsight, Christopher Bache thinks he pushed himself harder than was necessary and perhaps than was wise. The choice to work with high doses had “enormous consequences for what unfolded”.

“Working at these levels changed not only how deep my experiences went but also who or what was actually having these experiences.”

All his life, Christopher Bache, has had a desire all his life to understand how our universe works. In his sessions, Bache experienced things that completely reframed his understanding of existence. He entered into a “love affair” with “the fabric of existence itself”. Bache thinks of it as “the generative intelligence of our universe, the Mind of the Cosmos—…beyond all categories of He or She yet infinitely more than any It”. There is an “energetic momentum” that builds over time and drives you through breakthroughs. It took Christopher Bache years to build sufficient energy to enter the levels of reality that he entered later in his work.

Systematic Recall

While “set and setting” has been much discussed in the literature, less attention has been paid to “systematic recall” after a session. Making “an accurate record of each session” can be challenging. Memory tends to fade if steps are not taken to record the experiences. Preserving the memory of the experiences lays a stronger foundation for the next session.

Part of Christopher Bache’s protocol was to write a detailed account of every session within 24 hours. Bache learned not to wait. Recording each session required writing at the very limits of his understanding. Language had repeatedly to be stretched. By listening to the music used in the session, Christopher Bache found that he was able to “reenter the edges” of his experience. Recall and comprehension improved with repetition.

“With persistence and practice, cognition can be trained to operate in these unusual and novel conditions.”

The heart of the book comes from Christopher Bache’s 400 pages of session accounts. It is the primary text which “comes before all subsequent interpretation and reflection”. Bache didn’t want to oversimplify the complexity of each session, but needed to consolidate what took place. There was “a marked difference between the content of the peak hours of a session and the content of its beginning and ending hours”.

The book is primarily a cosmological narrative. It is when one “enters the ocean of the deep psyche that the larger and more philosophically interesting story begins to emerge”. “Being taken into great depth one step at a time” allowed the cognitive faculties to stabilize at each level before moving into the next. “Different levels of reality operate by different rules.” If an experience is lifted out of its context, its meaning is reduced.

Exploring Consciousness with Consciousness

Consciousness is used to explore consciousness, which means that “a fascinating dance takes place between the mind doing the exploring and the larger mind being explored”. Everything seen and learned is “shaped in subtle ways by what we are at the moment of contact”. Every encounter is participatory. Our being evokes what is experienced. The more “conditioning we have let go of”, the more “open-ended and far-reaching are the experiences that present themselves”.

“[C]onsciousness is an infinite ocean of experiential possibilities.”

When the mind is dropped into the infinite ocean of experiential possibilities it “acts as a seed crystal that catalyzes a certain set of experiences from its infinite potential”. As we are healed and transformed by these experiences, “the seed crystal of our mind is changed”, and still deeper experiences are then catalyzed in subsequent sessions. Each session tends to pick up where the previous session stopped. “Sometimes there is a very tight continuity between sessions, sometimes it is broader”. “An LSD session grinds slow but it grinds fine.”

The story Christopher Bache tells in the book is “a story of entering progressively deeper states of consciousness and through these states experiencing progressively deeper levels of reality”. Each level has “its distinctive characteristics and dynamics”. Bache thinks of them as “platforms of experience”. Over the years, he was systematically moved from one platform to the next.

In the end, Christopher Bache thinks he “drilled deep”, penetrating many levels of the universe, but “certainly not experiencing the complete territory associated with any of them”. Furthermore, in a participatory universe, each of us will experience it somewhat differently. Bache is not interested in “championing one cosmological map over another”.


The story Christopher Bache is telling in his book is “not a story of escape into transcendence but one of deepening sacred presence on Earth”. It is about “awakening even more completely inside physical existence and participating in its continuing self-emergence”. We are not exploring a universe “out there”, but are rather “pulling states of higher awareness into our physical being”.

Christopher Bache writes that he might make mistakes in telling his story, but “pledge to give an honest account of what took place” in his sessions. Some of the “suffering” in his journey comes from his “personal decision” to push himself as hard as he did.

“Our natural instinct is to avoid pain.”

Death & Rebirth

In the context of a psychedelic session, pain is something that has to be embraced. Pain is an ally in the work. “Confronting our personal shadow is always challenging work”. In order to understand the deeper suffering that emerges in psychedelic work, it is necessary to understand death and rebirth. Death as “the agonizing loss of everything we know to be real and true”.

“Death comes in many shapes and sizes.” If we want to experience the deeper currents of the universe, we must sooner or later surrender everything we know. “As we are now, we are too small to engage these vast dimensions of existence.” “In deep psychedelic work, one learns by becoming.” To do this, “our smaller sense of self must cease to be the container of our experience”. “Giving up everything is simply the price of inheriting everything else.”

“[T]he universe is infinitely deep with many layers…”


Each step into the universe is a step into more intense energy. “Deeper states of consciousness are higher states of energy.” This means that to have “stable experience of a given level of reality, one must acclimate to its energy.” There is “a certain suffering inherent in repeatedly shedding our psychological skin in order to enter more deeply into the universe”. Working with LSD triggers an accelerated process that gives “quicker access to these realities, but there is a price to be paid for this”. The price is the intensification of tearing the skin away. Christopher Bache doesn’t wish anyone to undergo some of what he went through.

“LSD unleashes such dramatically different states of awareness” that it is necessary to learn how to work with it. “Not only do our minds have to adjust to the expanded capacities LSD awakens, so do our bodies.” When working with LSD doses this high, Bache quickly crossed the boundary of birth and death. “We get here by being born; we leave by dying.” “In order to enter what lies beyond space-time awareness, we must first break through the membrane of our physical consciousness.” This stage lasted ten sessions.

No Control

Christopher Bache was not able to control what happened. He could not even control his self-memory. The absolute surrender that this required jarred him deeply. “The pattern of crisis followed by resolution would repeat itself in many subsequent sessions.” Music helped Bache to surrender more completely into the psychedelic state and the alternating positive and negative experiences. Although prepared, he was surprised by how violent they were. Bache became familiar with vomiting. He describes it as “the body’s way of throwing off large quantities of physiological stress”.

“As the negative experiences continued to build over the next several sessions, so did the positive experiences that emerged during the ecstatic portion of the sessions.” In one session, Christopher Bache “experienced life as a living fabric of interwoven intelligences—atomic, molecular, cellular, human, societal, and planetary”. This was an early taste of “the deeper experiences of Oneness that would follow later”.

Experience & Reflection

Christopher Bache shares one particular experience from this period because it speaks to the rational for his book as a whole:

I looked at all the disciplines of knowledge I had taken in and saw that many of their conflicts derived from their selectivity. As I surveyed the evolution of Western thought, I was repeatedly struck by its fragmentary nature and the vehemence with which the fragments had been defended as the whole. I knew that my own work shared these limitations.

Going further, I then saw that a purely intellectual approach to philosophy would produce only limited results. I saw that the path I was on represented a fundamentally different approach to philosophy. On this path, experience is first expanded, then critical reflection clarifies and evaluates. … My life was about forging a new path forward in philosophy.

The experiences tend to become older and more basic the deeper you move. At the center is a core experience, or set of experiences, that represents “the seed experience around which later experiences cluster”. Our unresolved and unintegrated experiences are always there, “below the surface and out of view shaping in subtle ways how we experience the world”. Systematically engaging “traumatic material” can remove its “influence from the individual’s behavior”.

Collective Suffering

Christopher Bache takes the reader deep into his suffering. The experiences went into “a vast ocean of fury and pain”. The encounter with the “ocean of suffering” lasted 14 sessions. “How you meet these experiences makes all the difference in how they live in you afterward.” Completion is key. When the suffering has reached its peak and found its resolution, it is followed by an experience of peace. These experiences were so consistent that Christopher Bache felt a deep logic operating in the sessions.

Our personal unconscious organizes its “memories into clusters of experience” that “share a common emotional theme”. The collective unconscious organizes its “vast store of memories” in a similar way. Whatever took place in Christopher Bache’s sessions was part of a larger pattern. The “collective suffering” returned until it completely saturated Bache experience. Bache felt that if he rejected the suffering, he would be turning his back on humanity, on life itself.

“To not care seemed to be the ultimate existential withdrawal from life.”

Deep Time

Each time Christopher Bache emerged from the suffering, he entered “a domain where the rules of time had changed”. “Inside space-time, we divide our experience into past, present, and future.” Inside this other domain, the “rules of linear time have been suspended”. It “is a shift into a different order of time”, which Christopher Bache calls “Deep Time”. This field of experience encompassed Bache’s entire life. Bache has come to believe that there are “many layers to the tissue of time in the cosmos”. As one moves to the limits of space-time, the rules of time change.

Christopher Bache experienced his life as a completed whole, from beginning to end. Through all experiences, “there flowed a deep sense that the circumstance of our lives were being shaped by forces beyond our immediate awareness”.  Our well-being lays in “trusting these circumstances”, responding “as deeply” as we can. The energy “set in motion” through our choices come to “constitute history”. History has “a momentum so large that it must complete itself into tomorrow.” We can’t grasp “the deeper significance of events and the full consequences of the choices” without the larger context.

“Energy started must complete itself.”

We can’t explain how our thoughts and feelings emerge in the moment. Christopher Bache thinks that we need to move beyond our fixation on matter and to “a more complex phenomenology of consciousness and a more subtle, multidimensional metaphysics”. Learning in the psychedelic states takes place “layer by layer, piece by piece”. You can stop anywhere, but more will be given if you continue. The point is to learn.

“The collective sinews that emerge in higher states of awareness represent a deeper pattern in the web of life.”

Deep Reality

Christopher Bache developed “an inner knowing” that the experiences were “authentic” and “trustworthy”. Bache writes:

I have often wished that I had advance training in physics and astronomy, for then I might have been able to retain more of what I was shown… The content…was extraordinarily sophisticated and technical.

In his sessions, Christopher Bache opened up to a “deeper reality” that he felt responsible for structuring his present life. He experienced “the distilled essence” of his entire life and felt that these experiences were important “to ground” him. “It felt like an infinite intelligence was educating me, reminding me of things forgotten long ago but now in need of being remembered.”

As Christopher Bache “spiraled deeper session by session” into what he perceived as “the mind of the universe, certain themes began to repeat themselves in progressively more complex forms”. The full picture didn’t become clear until the sequence of sessions were finished. The story of “our collective evolution became a recurring theme” in Bache’s work. He encountered an intentionality expressing itself in the unfolding universe. Over time this story became the “meta-framework” for his entire journey.

“Theory pales before experience and can feel like a weak postscript, and it is, but in order for me to integrate my experiences, I had to understand them.”

Collective Trauma

The conclusion Christopher Bache came to after great struggle was that the “collective episodes” in his sessions were aimed at the “transformation of the collective psyche as a whole”. Just as trauma can block the healthy functioning of the individual, “similar blockages occur at the collective level”.

If the “conscious engagement of unresolved pain can bring therapeutic relief at the personal level”, the same may occur at the collective level. It seems as an individual can tap into and “facilitate a healing of some portion of the collective psyche”. The individual “dissolves into preexisting fields of collective unconsciousness”.

Christopher Bache sees “death and rebirth as a cycle that repeats many times” as we move into “deeper levels of consciousness”. Death and rebirth repeats itself in “different forms at different levels of consciousness”. It represents a progressive process, a movement whose dynamics are collective.

“Every act of healing, large or small, contributes to healing of the larger whole.”

Deeper Order of Reality

The collective suffering did end for Christopher Bache and a new phase of the journey began. An enormous field of energy had been freed in “healing the ocean of suffering” that moved Bache to new experiential boundaries. He entered a “deeper order of reality”, which required “new concept and new ways of thinking”. “What happened in the ocean of suffering became the energetic foundation for everything that followed.”

Christopher Bache experienced the “deeper order of reality” as the “bridge between the physical universe and the source of existence”. It is the “seed reality of space-time”. There are many intermediate levels on the way to “manifesting physical reality”. In following the “flow of existence” back into the “deeper order of reality”, Christopher Bache had to cease to exist as a human being. This larger “I” was “above” human experience. This “state of consciousness” was “beyond the human species-mind”.

“Being closer to the source of existence…, this level of reality is much more energetically powerful than space-time.” Christopher Bache had to learn to “sustain these high levels of energy”. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to remember his experiences. This was particularly challenging and required practice. Bache experienced “vast living dynamic forces embodying higher orders of intentionality and power and operating on a different order of time”. All moving, all alive.

“The majesty and scale of the intelligence” Christopher Bache was witnessing had “no malicious or manipulative intent”. The encounter with the “Living Forces” of this “deeper order of reality” was extremely challenging for Bache. As his “awareness stabilized at this level”, Bache experienced humanity as a “single organism with intelligent networks running through it”. These “collective networks” didn’t negate each individual’s agency.

Christopher Bache kept witnessing “patterns of connectivity” that weave our minds and bodies into “larger wholes”. Bache experienced “our individual minds as nodes” in the network of the collective mind, each of us mirroring “ selective themes of this larger consciousness”. He saw that “we all carry within us pieces of the physical diseases of our time and that by healing our individual bodies we contribute energetically to healing the collective body of humanity in a larger time frame”. The human body is learning how to be healthy in a changing environment.

“A collective thoughtform is a living construct in the collective psyche…”

Collective Thoughtforms

Christopher Bache thinks that “thoughtforms are genuinely potent forces in the collective psyche”. “Thoughts repeated frequently by large numbers of people and invested with deep emotions generate a kind of living imprint on the collective psyche”. Bache found himself moving beyond the images and beliefs that human history has imprinted on the collective psyche. Cultural forms fell away as “Nature” invited Bache to see it afresh. “All forms…are intermediaries to that which lies beyond form.”

“States of consciousness are also states of body.”

Being moved into a deeper level of reality is also a shift into a higher energetic state. Our reality can be destroyed, but our deeper essence always reemerges. When this process reaches so deep that the structure of our life as we have known it dissolves, a crisis is reached where the old “collapses and we are carried forward into a new level of reality”. When this happens, we “become a different kind of being with new capacities and success to new categories of experience”. There is a continuity of awareness (what is remembered), but a discontinuity of capacity (what can be experienced).

The Web of Life

There are simultaneous truths reflecting “the complex fabric of existence”. Christopher Bache experienced physical existence as “an unbroken tissue”. The “Mind” that coordinates our individual has a logic that “subsumes our individual perspectives”. When physical reality dissolves, the reality of “individual psyches” disappear. There is no distinction between individuals. The web of life operates in a unified manner. This shift form “individual” to “collective” intention expanded Bache’s understanding.

“To actually touch the intelligence of the universe operating at such great depth and breadth changes forever how you experience life.”

New Learning

One of the challenges of entering intense states of consciousness is “learning how to learn” from experiences that “redefine the possible”. The experiential contexts are so extreme that Christopher Bache had to “learn a new way of learning”. He learned to bracket his assumptions. “Anything you believe is true, you may discover is false.” The “unthinkable” may turn out to be natural. “Anything you believe you are, you may discover you are not”.

After Christopher Bache’s exploration of “our collective being” followed “a high point” of the journey that “brought a new understanding and a deeper intimacy with life”. With repetition, Bache “became more familiar with the territory and absorbed its patterns and rules”. There were no separate “things”. Life was the “harmonious expression of a unified whole rippling through life”. “Oneness expressed itself in diversity without itself falling into diversity.” The underlying energy “brings everything into existence, keeps everything alive, and reabsorbs everything at the end”.

From deep within the experiences, Christopher Bache felt that his entire person derived from the collective human field, “like pinching a tightly woven tablecloth and twisting it to a standing shape”. When the separate self dissolves, the “Oneness of life” rises spontaneously in awareness. The falling away of the concerns of Bache’s private life made it easier for him to “regather other layers of energy”. And, while he gathered “wave upon wave of energy”, he entered into “quieter and quieter levels of existence”.

“Matter is the canvas on which we practice and refine the art of creating.”


Christopher Bache’s discoveries were not only an “intellectual exercise” but a series of “experiential realizations”. Our creative capacity is enormous. Our capacity for creating destruction and pain is also enormous. No limit is placed on our learning. Bache felt himself returning to a “condition of undivided wholeness within himself”. The experience was “both personal and collective”. It felt like a “ball of intertwined threads” spreading itself into the “fiber of the collective unconscious”.

The world is whole within itself. And “the logic of wholeness is different from the logic of a world in pieces”. “Oneness is a core truth of life,…but…there are many levels to it…” Christopher Bache had to “twist language” to convey his experience that there are “degrees of Oneness, orders of magnitude within Oneness”.

“Experience always trumps intellectual analysis”. And yet, Christopher Bache felt a responsibility to make sense of his experiences. Some parts may need no analysis at all, while other parts may be helped by being examined. This is especially true of how Bache’s sessions were touching the lives of his students.

Fields of Consciousness

The experiences described in Christopher Bache’s book took place in his home, but a series of experiences also surfaced in his classroom. They became so significant that Bache wrote another book about them, The Living Classroom. It was as if by entering into “communion with the deeper fabric of life”, the “threads of that fabric were being activated in the physical world”.

The synchronicities became more frequent as Christopher Bache entered deeper levels of consciousness. What triggered these effects was not what Bache was “doing”, but what he had “become”. There was a “spontaneous energetic resonance” between him and his students, which was “underneath the exchange of ideas”. These activations became so prominent that Christopher Bache had to pay close attention to them. They showed how “the connective tissue of consciousness works in group settings”.

States of consciousness are “contagious”. “When one person begins to throw off layers of the psychological conditioning…, surrounding people will necessarily be affected.”

“The ecology of consciousness is an inherently collective ecology.”

Fields of consciousness emerge that “reflect the intention and activity” of the group. “The better focused the group’s intention and the longer such activity goes on, the stronger these fields will become.” Christopher Bache began teaching within a new pedagogical “paradigm” that honored the “innate connectivity of consciousness and the existence of localized fields of learning”.

The Future

Christopher Bache thinks the most important chapter of his book is the one which speaks of “our children and our children’s children”. “It speaks of a crossroads humanity is coming to” that will “change us at the deepest levels of our being”. Everyone knows the challenges humanity is facing. “The growing consensus appears to be that we have postponed taking action too many times on too many fronts”. We have “repeatedly failed to heed the ecological warnings and rein our rapacious greed”.

The vision that emerged in Christopher Bache’s sessions is that humanity is approaching a “profound shift” in the “human psyche”, but the old must be emptied before the new can emerge. It will begin with a time “of intense anguish, of loss of control and breakdown” that will “last generations”.

Christopher Bache’s excursions into “personal Deep Time” seemed to pave the way for his excursions into “collective Deep Time”. “The order and design of evolving life is not something that is imposed from without”. “It is a restless churning to become more that burns within life.” Everything that has gone before needs to make room for “new organizational patterns”. The “unified field” of the “entire human family” liberates “new orders of self-expression”.

“We simply see too little to guess what is coming and therefore do not properly understand what has gone before.”

Creative Evolution

Christopher Bache saw that our “scientific knowledge about the origin of life” is deeply incomplete. “The depth of our ignorance is shown in our conviction that the universe is assembling itself by accident.” Evolution is no accident but a creative act. Bache was drawn into a “superordinate level of reality that exposed a deeper organizational pattern”.

The cooperation of the parts with the whole is extraordinary. Christopher Bache experienced evolution as the “systematic growth of a single organism”. “Nothing in our theological or philosophical systems does justice to the facts.” “When an organism is called on from within” it must purge the “residue of its past” in order to “lay the foundation for a more refined level of operation”. The poisons of humanity’s past are brought forward in us. This century is a watershed. The future will not look like the present.

“We are cells in a superorganism intent on rapid change.”

Global Crisis

The “collective convulsions” Christopher Bache entered were driven by a “global ecological crisis”. It took Bache inside the “collective psyche’s experience” of this crisis. “It was like being able to experience a thunderstorm in its totality, with every drop registering individually and the patterns of the storm as a whole simultaneously.” “Like people living on an island who gradually become aware that a hurricane is overtaking them, humanity was gradually waking up in the alarm to events that had overtaken them.” Life as known was shattered at its core.

Though many died, many still survived, and new social units formed. “Everywhere new social institutions sprang into being”, “new ways of thinking,” and “new values”. “Every aspect of our lives was marked by new priorities, new perceptions of the good, new truths.” These new social forms spread among the survivors like a contagion, and “creativity between the “cycle of creativity between the individual and the group spiraled”.

“The whole system was becoming alive at new levels, and this aliveness was expressing itself in previously impossible ways.”

A Unified Psychic Field

“For psychedelics to have their deepest impact”, we must “place them in dialogue with other fields of learning where possible”. For this reason, Christopher Bache unpacked the following assertions in Dark Night, Early Dawn:

  1. The species-mind is a unified psychic field.
  2. This field will be driven into a far-from-equilibrium state by the global ecological crisis.
  3. In this state, the species-mind will exhibit accelerated change, heightened creativity, and higher self-organization.

The “human psyche will come alive at a new levels” under the “pressure of the extreme conditions of our future”. Christopher Bache believes that it is “vital to understand the structural role that the collective psyche will play”.

Christopher Bache believes that “the global systems crisis taking place in the world outside us is deeply connected to the evolutionary metamorphosis taking place inside us”. While the “long and sustained crisis puts enormous pressure on our social institutions to change”, it also puts “pressure on our individual psyches to change and adapt”. Bache doesn’t believe that “we can grow the planet into a greater whole as long as we remain psychologically fragmented ourselves”. We need to “rise above our narrow self-interests and make the political and moral choices that will create a world that works for all”.

“Gestation is long and slow, but birth is sudden and quick.”

Diamond Light

The “Light” is waiting for us as we move “deep into the Universe”. Christopher Bache discovered that the “universe floats in an Ocean of Radiance”. He writes:

As one moves into still deeper levels of transpersonal experience, once encounters fields nested within fields of light. Each step beyond matter, beyond the soul, beyond the collective psyche, and beyond archetypal reality takes us deeper into a living ecology of light.

In Christopher Bache’s experience, “there are many gradations of light”. As one moves deeper into the universe, the quality of light changes. “It becomes clearer, more intense, and more luminous”. When Bache uses the phrase “Diamond Light” to describe the “singularly intense dimension of light” that captivated him completely. “Its clarity was so overwhelming, its energy so pure that returning to it” became his sole focus.


The strongest pattern in Christopher Bache’s final sessions was a series of personal healings. Eventually, Bache learned that it was his “personal wounding in life” that had allowed him to “connect with the wounds of humanity in the ocean of suffering”. His “personal pain” was an “energetic bridge” between his individual and the collective psyche. Had his “personal wounds” been healed first, “the bridge to the collective psyche might not have been formed”.

Slowly Christopher Bache came to realize that “something was intentionally guiding the integration” of the extreme states into his “embodied awareness”. He was “being fed these states as quickly as” he could manage them. Bache also realized that his system was “accumulating and storing energy across multiple sessions”. There was an “energetic momentum” building across the sessions. “Each new initiation into a deeper level of reality was being underwritten” by years of work.

A shift also took place in the “structural flow” of his experience. In earlier sessions Christopher Bache experience had been “one of expanding outward”. In the later sessions he experienced himself being at the “center of an enormous field of energy and light”. Finally, Bache understood that “no matter how deeply” one enters into Cosmos, there are “always deeper dimensions still”.

There is no final endpoint to this journey. There are many degrees of “Oneness” and even “Formlessness”. And there are “more dimensions of Light” than one can explore in a lifetime. “We are truly children waking in the arms of an infinite cosmos.” This is also why Christopher Bache would be gentler with himself if he were “starting this journey over again”.

“I think the goal of deep work is to make ourselves transparent to this infinity, to let as much of it into our earthly lives as we can skillfully manage, and to be patient with the rest.”


I have taken in and processed some of the book’s content by writing this review, but there is so much more to unpack that I need to read the book again several times. The “Mind of the Universe” is such a broad and deep topic that there are many more questions than answers. It is a very personal and brutally honest story of an explorer deeply wounded by the beauty he found. I warmly recommend this book. Christopher Bache is a very good writer and a pleasure to read.

Related book review:
Book Review: Dark Night, Early Dawn

Books Reviews

Bokrecension: Du stolta, du fria

Gina Gustavsson, Du stolta, du fria

Du stolta, du fria: Om svenskarna, Sverigebilden och folkhälsopatriotismen av Gina Gustavsson är en bok om det Sverige som blottades när coronapandemin svepte över landet. Gina Gustavsson är docent i statskunskap vid Uppsala universitet och fristående kolumnist i Dagens Nyheter.

Detta är en recension av Gina Gustavssons bok. Låt mig klargöra redan från början att jag inte hade skrivit denna recension om jag inte tyckte att boken är väldigt bra.

Innan pandemin visste jag ingenting om Folkhälsomyndigheten (FoHM). Om jag i något sammanhang hade hört talas om expertmyndigheten så kom jag i vart fall inte ihåg det. Min första minnesbild av myndigheten är från den 2 mars 2020 när generaldirektör Johan Carlson säger att en promille av befolkningen kan bli smittad av det nya coronaviruset, samtidigt som resten av världen talade om tiotals procent. Ett av Carlsons argument var att Sverige ju är så glesbefolkat. Ja, men nästan ingen bor ju i glesbygden, tänkte jag. Min andra minnesbild är från den 7 mars 2020 när Johan Carlson nedlåtande avfärdar myndighetens kritiker med att de har lika stor träffsäkerhet som “Enok Sarri när han tittade i fiskmagar och spådde sommarvädret, ungefär” (Gustavsson, Du stolta, du fria, s. 145).

Det jag framförallt uppskattar i boken är att Gina Gustavsson ger perspektiv på det som hände under pandemin. Jag uppskattar också Gina Gustavssons intellektuella skärpa och precision i användningen av språket. Det ger en känsla av befrielse att läsa en författare som är klar i tanken, har förmåga att uttrycka sig väl och har respekt för ords betydelse.

Om det är något jag särskilt vill lyfta fram innehållsmässigt ur boken är att vi “måste…sluta blanda ihop yta med innehåll” (s. 341). Gina Gustavsson skriver att:

“I pandemin syntes detta i hur [Anders] Tegnell ansågs ödmjuk, trots att han i princip aldrig erkände att han haft fel. Men han bar skrynkliga skjortor och cyklade på en oväxlad cykel. …att [Lena] Einhorn citerade forskningsstudier tolkades som att hon var verklighetsfrånvänd och fast i det akademiska elfenbenstornet, snarare än ödmjuk nog att läsa på och inte skjuta från höften.” (s. 341)

En annan sak som jag vill lyfta fram är att det är viktigt att avveckla den blinda tilliten och oron för oro. Det är, så vitt Gina Gustavsson vet, “bara i Sverige som orosdämpning gjordes till en explicit del av strategin för att hantera coronaviruset” (s. 306). Gina Gustavsson noterar att:

“…i Norge hade man snarare gjort tvärtom. Man hade aktivt försökt appellera till befolkningens känslor, inklusive oro, för att motivera dem att vara försiktig i pandemin. … Men i Sverige kopplades oro hastigt till brist på tillit, konspirationsteorier och ren galenskap. Kritik mot svenska myndigheter eller coronastrategin som sådan bortförklarades också gärna med att kritiker mådde dåligt…” (s 306)

Jag delar Gina Gustavssons förvåning över att “kritiker av den svenska strategin borde tåla att anklagas för konspirationsteorier, för att vara ute efter forskningsmedel, för att vara hot mot Sverige eller att sprida hat” (s. 332). För det är som Gina Gustavsson mycket riktigt påpekar att:

“Den blinda…tilliten gör inte demokratin bättre, myndigheterna mer ansvarsfulla eller de värnlösa säkrare” (s. 337)

Det är tvärtom så att de viktigaste demokratiska uppgifterna “består i att tänka själva, ta ställning till och kritiskt granska och debattera den politik som förs” (s. 328-29). Gina Gustavsson betonar att:

“Det är också viktigt att statsanställda tjänstemän skiljer hård men saklig kritik från personpåhopp och personhpåhopp från hot. Det misslyckades dessvärre FoHM:s företrädare med att göra gång på gång under pandemin.” (s. 331)

Om ingen får ifrågasätta så får inkompetensen härja fritt, tänker jag. Det är varken bra för demokratin, Sverigebilden eller folkhälsan. Det finns mycket mer som är väl värt att lyfta fram ur boken, men det är bättre att du läser den själv. Boken rekommenderas varmt!

Gina Gustavssons ledare i Dagens Nyheter är också mycket läsvärda.

Books Retrospectives

Retrospective 2021-52

This is a summary of my reading during 2021. Particularly interesting books/authors are marked in bold/bold.

I read the following books (latest read, listed first):

  • Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change by Adam Kahane
  • Facilitating Breakthrough: How to Remove Obstacles, Bridge Differences, and Move Forward Together by Adam Kahane
  • Initiating and Inviting Generative Change: Entry and Contracting for Emergent Outcomes In Results Driven Organizations by Tova Averbuch
  • The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World by Iain McGilchrist (This is a 2-volume book which I will continue reading during 2022)
  • Love and the Soul: Creating a Future For Earth by Robert Sardello
  • Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness by Robert Sardello
  • The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber
  • Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber
  • What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe
  • Values: An Anthology for Seekers by J.G. Bennett
  • Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth by Robert A. Johnson
  • Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert A. Johnson
  • Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf
  • The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children by Alison Gopnik
  • Du stolta, du fria: Om svenskarna, Sverigebilden och folkhälsopatriotismen av Gina Gustavsson (in Swedish)
  • The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain by Annie Murphy Paul
  • Anarchy—In a Manner of Speaking: Conversations with Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Nika Dubrovksy, and Assia Turquier-Zauberman by David Graeber
  • How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human by Eduardo Kohn
  • Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber
  • Toward An Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our own Dreams by David Graeber
  • Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar by David Graeber
  • The Old Way: A Story of the First People by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
  • Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
  • Thus Spoke the Plant: A Remarkable Journey of Groundbreaking Scientific Discoveries & Personal Encounters with Plants by Monica Gagliano
  • Leading from the Roots: Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World by Kathleen E. Allen
  • Destructive Emotions: And how we can overcome them by Daniel Goleman
  • Taking the War out of Our Words: The Art of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication by Sharon Strand Ellison
  • Talking with Angles by Gitta Mallasz
  • Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco (Illustrator)
  • Entering Bohm’s Holoflux: Explorations in Participatory Consciousness by Lee Nichol
  • When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone
  • The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth by Monica Sjöö, Barbara Mor
  • The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place in the Universe by Jeremy Lent
  • The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist
  • The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning by Iain McGilchrist
  • Awakening the Soul: A Deep Response to a Troubled World by Michael Meade
  • The Genius Myth by Michael Meade
  • Unified – Cosmos, Life, Purpose: Communicating with the Unified Source Field & How This Can Guide Our Lives by Kingsley L. Dennis
  • Choosing Earth: Humanity’s Great Transition to a Mature Planetary Civilization by Duane Elgin
  • Yes to Life In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl
  • The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature by Stephen Harrod Buhner
  • The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships by Michael P. Nichols
  • A World of Many Worlds by Marisol de la Cadena & Mario Blaser (Editors)
  • Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime by Bruno Latour
  • Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization by Scott Barry Kaufman
  • The Art of Listening by Erich Fromm
  • Sandtalk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta
  • On Disobedience by Erich Fromm
  • The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor As Myth and As Religion by Joseph Campbell
  • The Ecstasy of Being: Mythology and Dance by Joseph Campbell
  • Myths to Live By by Joseph Campbell
  • Gaia’s Dance: The Story of Earth & Us by Elisabet Sahtouris
  • Wholeness and the Implicate Order by David Bohm
  • The Crossing Point: Selected Talks and Writings by Mary C. Richards
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Geometrical methods of mathematical physics by Bernard Schutz
  • The large scale structure of space-time by S.W. Hawking & G.F.R Ellis
  • A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design by Frank Wilczek
  • Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray by Sabine Hossenfelder
  • The Soul of Place: Re-imagining Leadership Through Nature, Art and Community by Michael Jones
  • The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan W. Watts
  • Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development by Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman (Editors)
  • Aikido and the Harmony of Nature by Mitsugi Saotome
  • The Silent Pulse: A Search for the Perfect Rhythm that Exists in Each of Us by George Leonard
  • Accounting for Slavery by Caitlin Rosenthal
  • Living in Flow: The Science of Synchronicity and How Your Choices Shape Your World by Sky Nelson-Isaacs
  • The Crossing Point: Selected Talks and Writings by Mary Caroline Richards
  • Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person by Mary Caroline Richards
  • What Are We Living For? by J.G. Bennett
  • Tao: The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts
  • A Gymnasium of Beliefs in Higher Intelligence by Anthony Blake
  • The Crisis in Human Affairs by J.G. Bennett
  • Witness: The Story of a Search by J.G. Bennett
  • Unfolding Meaning: A Weekend of Dialogue by David Bohm
  • In Search of the Miraculous: The Definitive Exploration of G.I. Gurdjieff’s mystical thought and universal view by P.D. Ouspensky
  • In Search of Being: The Fourth Way to Consciousness by G.I. Gurdjieff
  • The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff by Jeanne de Salzmann
  • Deeper Man by J.G. Bennett
  • The Fourth Way by P. D. Ouspensky
  • The Intelligent Enneagram by Anthony Blake
  • The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
  • Advances in Presencing: Volume 1 by Olen Gunnlaugson, William Brendel (Editors)

I want to read the following books (latest added, listed first):

  • How to Be Animal: A New History of What It Means to Be Human by Melanie Challenger
  • A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future by David Attenborough, Jonnie Hughes
  • Disobedient Teaching: Surviving and Creating Change in Education by Welby Ings
  • The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All by Tom Atlee, Rosa Zubizarreta, Jacquelyn Lynn
  • Empowering Public Wisdom: A Practical Vision of Citizen-Led Politics by Tom Atlee
  • Collective Intelligence: Creating A Prosperous World At Peace by Tom Atlee, Paul Martin
  • Reflections on Evolutionary Activism: Essays, poems and prayers from an emerging field of sacred social change by Tom Atlee
  • Participatory Sustainability: Notes for an Emerging Field of Civilizational Engagement by Tom Atlee
  • Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life by Harriet McBryde Johnson
  • Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors by Edward Niedermeyer
  • The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives by William Stixrud, Ned Johnson
  • Complexity: A Key Idea for Business and Society by Chris Mowles
  • Moose Heads on the Table: Stories About Self-Managing Organisations from Sweden by Karin Tenelius, Lisa Gill
  • Practicing Open Space by HansGeorg Wicke
  • Equity: How to Design Organizations Where Everyone Thrives by Minal Bopaiah
  • Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart M. Brown Jr., Christopher Vaughan
  • Intelligence in the Flesh: Why Your Mind Needs Your Body Much More Than It Thinks by Guy Claxton
  • Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought by George Lakoff, Mark Johnson
  • Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff, Mark Johnson
  • Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation by Adrienne Maree Brown
  • Capital and Imperialism: Theory, History, and the Present by Utsa Patnaik, Prabhat Patnaik
  • Readers of the Book of Life: Contextualizing Developmental Evolutionary Biology by Anton Markoš
  • Mind from Matter Cloth by Max Delbrück
  • Patterns of Connection: Essential Essays from Five Decades by Fritjof Capra
  • Toward a General Theory of Action: Theoretical Foundations for the Social Sciences by Talcott Parsons, Edward Shils
  • Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers Of Mary Parker Follett by Mary Parker Follett
  • Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West by Morris Berman
  • Bewilderment by Richard Powers
  • Hospicing Modernity: Facing Humanity’s Wrongs and the Implications for Social Activism by Vanessa Machado De Oliveira
  • Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin
  • Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations, 5-Volume Set by Gavin van Horn, Robin Wall Kimmerer, John Hausdoerffer (Editors)
  • Anthro-Vision: A New Way to See in Business and Life by Gillian Tett
  • Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey B. West
  • Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction by Jennifer Nagel
  • The Science of Can and Can’t: A Physicist’s Journey Through the Land of Counterfactuals by Chiara Marletto
  • Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future by Bruce H. Lipton, Steve Bhaerman
  • Collective Wisdom in the West: Beyond the Shadows of the Enlightenment by Liam Kavanagh
  • Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer
  • The Psychology of Pandemics by Steven Taylor
  • Why You Dread Work: What’s Going Wrong in Your Workplace and How to Fix It by Helen Holmes
  • The Art of Patience: Seeking the Snow Leopard in Tibet by Sylvain Tesson
  • Finding Our Niche: Toward a Restorative Human Ecology by Philip A. Loring
  • Listen: How to Find the Words for Tender Conversations by Kathryn Mannix
  • Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse by Dave Goulson
  • Learning to Die: Wisdom in the Age of Climate Crisis by Robert Bringhurst, Jan Zwicky Sakuteiki
  • Visions of the Japanese Garden: A Modern Translation of Japan’s Gardening Classic by Jiro Takei, Marc Peter Keane
  • The Promises of Giants: How YOU can fill the leadership void by John Amaechi Obe
  • Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher Alexander
  • A Journey into Gravity and Spacetime by John Archibald Wheeler
  • Feminism: A Key Idea for Business and Society by Celia V Harquail
  • The Power of Not Thinking: How Our Bodies Learn and Why We Should Trust Them by Simon Roberts
  • The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality by Katharina Pistor
  • Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry by Owen Barfield
  • A Life of One’s Own by Marion Milner
  • The Revenge of the Real: Politics for a Post-pandemic World by Benjamin H. Bratton
  • The Travels of A T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade by Pietra Rivoli
  • Faces: The Changing Look of Humankind by Milton E. Brener
  • The Paradoxes of Delusion: Wittgenstein, Schreber, and the Schizophrenic Mind by Louis A. Sass
  • Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature, and Thought by Louis A. Sass
  • Grace: A Leader’s Guide to a Better Us by John Baldon
  • More Than This: Your Heroic Quest to Find Inspiration, Intent, Impact and Insight in a Broken World by Rebecca Elvy
  • From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want by Rob Hopkins
  • Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response by Andy Slavitt
  • Deep Tech and the Amplified Organisation: How to elevate, scale and amplify your business through the New 4Ps of platforms, purpose, people and planet by Simon Robinson, Maria Moraes Robinson, Igor Couto
  • Choosing Earth: Humanity’s Great Transition to a Mature Planetary Civilization by Duane Elgin
  • The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place in the Universe by Jeremy Lent
  • Concerning the Inner Life by Evelyn Underhill
  • Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges
  • The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain by Annie Murphy Paul
  • The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go by Matthew Barzun
  • Better work together: How the power of community can transform your business by Susan Basterfield, Anthony Cabraal
  • Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David
  • The Precipice: Neoliberalism, the Pandemic, and the Urgent Need for Radical Change by Noam Chomsky, C.J. Polychroniou
  • Renaissance Man by Ágnes Heller
  • The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt
  • How to: Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff and Alex Barker
  • Social by Design: How to create and scale a collaborative company by Mark Britz and James Tyer
  • Changing Our Minds: How children can take control of their own learning by Naomi Fisher
  • These Wilds Beyond Our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home by Bayo Akomolafe
  • Work With Source: Realize Big Ideas, Organise for Emergence and Work Artfully with Money by Tom Nixon
  • Systems Thinking – And Other Dangerous Habits by H. William Dettmer
  • Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality by Frank Wilczek
  • Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary by Louis Hyman
  • Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul by Stephen Jenkinson
  • Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto by Bryan W. Van Norden
  • Radical Help: How We Can Remake the Relationships Between Us and Revolutionize the Welfare State by Hilary Cottam
  • Radical Uncertainty by Marvyn King and John Kay
  • The Corona Chronicles: Envisioning a New Normal for Regeneration and Thriving by Ralph Thurm
  • Biology Revisioned by Willis Harman Visual Thinking by Rudolf Arnheim
  • Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Heavy Light: A Journey through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare
  • The Making of a Democratic Economy: Building Prosperity for the Many, Not Just the Few by Marjorie Kelly and Ted Howard
  • Numbskull in The Theatre of Inquiry: Transforming Self, Friends, Organizations, and Social Science by William R. Torbert
  • Cognition and Categorization by Eleanor Rosch
  • Powered by Purpose by Sarah Rozenthuler
  • Indigenomics: Taking a Seat at the Economic Table by Carol Anne Hilton
  • Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save The World by Jason Hickel
  • Organisationer i en overgangstid: Handbok for ledere av Maya Drøschler (in Danish)
  • Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray by Sabine Hossenfelder
  • You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How To Lead When it Matters Most by Lonard J. Marcus, Eric. J. McNulty, Joseph M. Henderson, and Barry C. Dorn
  • The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins by Anna Lowenhapupt Tsing
  • The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
  • Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become by Barbara L. Fredrickson
  • Do Build – How to make and lead a business the world needs by Alan Moore
  • Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism by Mariana Mazzucato
  • Culture and Value by Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science by Michael Strevens
  • The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness by Antonio R. Damásio
  • The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn: A Facsimile
  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson
  • Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders by Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston
  • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
  • Reality by Peter Kingsley
  • Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence that Caring Makes a Difference by Stephen Trzeciak and Anthony Mazzarelli
  • Call Us What We Carry: Poems by Amanda Gorman
  • Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Atheltics, Business, and Life by Chungliang Al Huang, Jerry Lynch
  • Attention by Joshua Cohen
  • Quantum Social Science by Emmanuel Haven and Andrei Khrennikov
  • Koinonia: From Hate Through Dialogue to Culture in the Larger Group by Patrick B. de Maré
  • The Leadership Dance: Pathways to Extraordinary Organizational Effectiveness by Richard N. Knowles
  • The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt
  • The Dramatic Universe: The Foundations of Natural Philosphy by J.G. Bennett

Articles Books Letters Retrospectives

Retrospective 2021-03–13

This is a summary of my reading during the first quarter 2021 (weeks 3–13). There are two list below:

  • The first list consists of books, articles, and letters that I have read (more or less in the order read).
  • The second list are notes I made while reading (in chronological order).

A collection of robert wolff’s unpublished writings are available in the robert wolff Library. I warmly recommend robert wolff’s published book Original Wisdom. I also want to express my gratitude to Skye Hirst for so generously sharing Norm Hirst’s interesting articles. Here is, by the way, an imagined conversation between Ouspensky, Gurdjieff, and Norm Hirst on whether people are machines, which is based on my reading.

Books, Articles, and Letters

  • Keith Sawyer, Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
  • Thomas Hübl, Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds
  • Ervin Laszlo, How We Can Build a Better World: The Worldshift Manual
  • Carol Sanford, The Regenerative Business: Redesign Work, Cultivate Human Potential, Achieve Extraordinary Outcomes
  • Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian
  • Argyris Arnellos, From Organizations of Processes to Organisms and Other Biological Individuals in Daniel J. Nicholson (Editor), John Dupré (Editor), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology
  • Ursula Versteegen and Jill Jakimetz, Gestures of the Mind as an Invisible Force for Social Change: A Phenomenological Exploration of what it is to Listen in Olen Gunnlaugson (Editor), William Brendel (Editor), Advances in Presencing Volume 2: Individual Approaches in Theory U
  • Kelvy Bird, Visual Presencing in Olen Gunnlaugson (Editor), William Brendel (Editor), Advances in Presencing: Volume 1
  • Claus Otto Scharmer, The Heart is the Key to All of This: Conversation with Joseph Jaworski, October 29, 1999
  • Joseph Jaworski, Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership
  • James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds
  • Anthony Blake, The Intelligent Enneagram
  • P.D. Ouspensky, The Fourth Way: A Record of Talks and Answers to Questions Based on the Teaching of G.I. Gurdjieff
  • J.G. Bennett, Deeper Man
  • Chuck Pezeshki, The Power of Empathetic Leadership in an Evolving World
  • Jeanne de Salzmann, The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff
  • P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching
  • J.G. Bennett, Witness: The Story of a Search
  • Anthony Blake, A Gymnasium Of Beliefs In Higher Intelligence
  • Anthony Blake, The Intelligent Enneagram
  • Mae-Wan Ho, Meaning of Life and the Universe: Transforming
  • Alan W. Watts, Al Chung-liang Huang (Collaborator), Lee Chih-chang (Illustrator), Tao: The Watercourse Way
  • Mae-Wan Ho, The Biology of Free Will
  • Alexander Lowen, Joy: The Surrender to the Body and to Life
  • Eugene Gendlin, A Process Model
  • J.G. Bennett, What Are We Living For?
  • Mary C. Richards, Centering in pottery, poetry, and the person
  • Mary C. Richards, The Crossing Point: Selected Talks and Writings
  • Mary C. Richards, Toward Wholeness: Rudolf Steiner Education in America
  • Sky Nelson-Isaacs, Living in Flow: The Science of Synchronicity and How Your Choices Shape Your World
  • Caitlin Rosenthal, Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management
  • George Leonard, The Silent Pulse: A Search for the Perfect Rhythm that Exists in Each of Us
  • Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos
  • Mitsugi Saotome, Aikido and the Harmony of Nature
  • Calvin Schermerhorn, Unrequited Toil: A History of United States Slavery
  • William Gleason, Aikido and Words of Power: The Sacred Sounds of Kototama
  • Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development
  • Alan Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
  • David Bohm, Quantum Theory Erwin Schrödinger, My View of the World
  • Alan Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
  • Cathryn Barnard, Moments in Love: How to Build Authentic Engagement with Anyone
  • John Holt, How Children Learn Michael Jones, The Soul of Place: Re-imagining Leadership Through Nature, Art and Community
  • Sabine Hossenfelder, Lost in Math
  • Frank Wilczek, A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design
  • Bernard F. Schutz, Geometrical Methods of Mathematical Physics
  • Robert S. Hartman, The Individual in Management
  • Norm Hirst, My Thoughts on my 80th Birthday
  • Norm Hirst, Foundations For An Axiological Science: Hartman’s Science Realized
  • Michael Jones, The Soul of Place: Re-imagining Leadership Through Nature, Art and Community
  • robert wolff, Have We Lost Our Humanity? (2013)
  • robert wolff, War on Terra (2006)
  • robert wolff, Conundrum: Climate Change, world culture and “democracy”
  • robert wolff, Politics Is Not Enough
  • robert wolff, Locks & Keys
  • robert wolff, Sailing to the Moon
  • robert wolff, Questions, questions
  • robert wolff, These Times
  • robert wolff, What There Is – Is All There Is
  • robert wolff, A Modest Proposal
  • robert wolff, for your entertainment a wider perspective
  • robert wolff, Interregnum means between reigns
  • robert wolff, Eight Months Into a new Administration What’s Next? (2009)
  • robert wolff, Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing
  • robert wolff, Smile
  • robert wolff, The Rights of Mother Earth
  • robert wolff, War on the World
  • robert wolff, Realities
  • robert wolff, Evolution Devolution
  • robert wolff, Adapt (2010)
  • robert wolff, What I Look At Looks At Me
  • robert wolff, Is there an alternative to constant economic growth?
  • robert wolff, The Rights of Mother Earth
  • Eleanor Rosch, Primary Knowing: When Perception Happens from the Whole Field [pdf]
  • robert wolff, Now What?
  • robert wolff, one one eleven (1/1/2011)
  • robert wolff, ”Let them it cake”
  • robert wolff, Be Prepared
  • robert wolff, Money, money
  • robert wolff, The Last War, Having vs Being
  • robert wolff, Fiddling While the Planet Burns
  • robert wolff, Worth
  • robert wolff, Search for Simple
  • robert wolff, What do you mean, “ecology?”
  • robert wolff, Titanic World
  • robert wolff, What domesticating does to us and how to get our from under
  • robert wolff, Last night’s dream; inhuman humans
  • robert wolff, Remember Hiroshima?
  • robert wolff, Strange, very strange, dangerously strange
  • robert wolff, What it means to be conservative
  • robert wolff, How we see others, how they see us
  • robert wolff, Money – and why we must learn to do without
  • David Bohm, The Limitations of Thought: A conversation with Michael Mendizza
  • David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order
  • Eleanor Rosch, What Buddhist Meditation has to Tell Psychology About the Mind
  • Rupert Sheldrake, Morphic Fields and the Implicate Order: A Dialogue with David Bohm
  • Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
  • robert wolff, “Yes, corporations are persons, my friend” robert wolff, What does it cost?
  • robert wolff, Interregnum (again)
  • robert wolff, A very immodest proposal (2012)
  • robert wolff, Tamed (2012)
  • robert wolff, Hello! Anybody home?
  • robert wolff, Why we cannot lead humankind to a sustainable world (2012)
  • robert wolff, From the end of 2012 looking at 2013
  • robert wolff, SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES and changes the planet
  • robert wolff, A Wider View robert wolff, Wars Come In Many Flavors (2013)
  • robert wolff, Immodest Proposals
  • robert wolff, Memes, Genes and Us
  • Elisabet Sahtouris, EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution


  • There is a profound loss of something deep inside that I don’t have words for. (Reference: Ursula Versteegen)
  • We need to relate the invisible dynamic of our own inner experience to the visible effects evolving in the current moment. (Reference: Ursula Versteegen and Jill Jakimetz)
  • Listening is at the cross-section of awareness and action.
  • People are effective despite and not because of the management system.
  • People self-organize along real needs.
  • There is a dissonance between my intellectual understanding and a felt understanding.
  • Life emerges bit by bit.
  • Children know how to improvise. Adults may need to relearn improvisation. (Reference: Keith Sawyer)
  • There is no correspondence between the size of your wallet and your personal worth. (Reference: Ervin Laszlo)
  • What are the principles that inform the world of the living?
  • Content informs drawing, spirit informs listening, and the hand unites the two. (Reference: Kelvy Bird)
  • The process of drawing carries the meaning. (Reference: Kelvy Bird)
  • Something has broken in how we treat each other. It’s about empathy, kindness, and respect. (Reference: Sarah Kendzior)
  • The insights, and the process by which I came to those insights, are inseparable. (Reference: Peter Senge)
  • Life has to be experienced, directly. (Reference: Anthony Blake)
  • Design is artifice. (Reference: Anthony Blake)
  • What is the burning question which is necessary to have if you are to go forward in your quest for reality? (Reference: Anthony Blake)
  • No good work comes out of rigid adherence to a formula. (Reference: Anthony Blake)
  • Felt sense is ’subtle thought’.
  • The subtle is ’finely woven’. (Reference: David Bohm via Anthony Blake)
  • The implicate order is deep structure?
  • What if there is an order which is not the result of laws which people are compelled to obey by external violence?
  • The seven-year period 2013-2020 represents a cycle in my life. (Reference: Mary C. Richards)
  • Attending carefully to the choices available in the moment. (Reference: Sky Nelson-Isaacs)
  • Flow is acting out of the unfolding generative order. (Reference: Joseph Jaworski)
  • My eyes are tired from reading. I need to let my hands carry forward the learning.
  • If there ever is a place where the unexpected can arise, it is in relationships.
  • An appropriate intention ls an anticipated qualitative experience.
  • Breath is both form and feeling. (Reference: William Gleason)
  • Markets constrain and commodify human freedom.
  • Capitalism’s defining characteristic is general commodification of labor.
  • There are times when logic only get between us and reality.
  • Treating people as humans worthy of respect actually works.
  • It is through immersing ourselves in the depths of life that life itself is transformed into aliveness
  • In order to let generative order inform the work we need to stay in alignment with what is unfolding, to distinguish between what wants to happen and what we believe ought to happen.
  • Generative order is in the flow of felt sense. The desire for success and positive outcomes impedes this flow.
  • The unity of mind, heart and hand is always being tested.
  • By following the lead of the hand, the artist learns dropping into the moment while letting go into the next.
  • Exploring the space in-between.
  • The destination is not a place, but a new way of seeing things.
  • What if schools are an expression of colonialism?
  • Engaging in true dialogue is a learning experience.
  • The deep song is a generative order.
  • We grab more of what we want by stepping on the backs of others.
  • We are so busy doing that we forget who we are.
  • Life is not a logical problem to be solved. We need to move beyond science (and religion). We don’t need new ways of thinking, we need a new heart. We don’t need a new understanding, we need a new way of sering.
  • Logic (although useful) is a construction.
  • What can not be said in mathematics can not be said in poetry.
  • What if there are truths that can not be reached by any formalism?
  • What if the foundations of any science will be incomplete?
  • What if explicate order is not law bound?
  • The word law is problematic in living context. It indicates something imposed from without.
  • Thought is ephemeral.
  • What we find out is already a foregone conclusion because of what we have already built in with our formalism.
  • The consequences of exceptionalism are dire.
  • Many of us know but it is unthinkable.
  • It is easy to see the end. Difficult to see a beginning.
  • We still don’t want to know. Civil servants promise that there is nothing to worry about. Media make it easy to ignore reality.
  • It’s a deep challenge to bring about deep change.
  • The basic trouble with thought is that it does not distinguish between the part of reality which is created by thought and the part of which is independent of thought.
  • Thought can be too powerful.
  • Surface order unfolds from a deeper order.
  • You’re not able to learn when you can’t keep straight what is independent reality and what is not. (David Bohm)
  • A healthy structure gives plenty of room for freedom and creativity.
  • The organization is a living system which has a deep structure. The health of this structure is dependent on the integration within the organization.
  • It’s not possible to control a living system in the way a machine can be controlled.
  • Cultural development influences how people talk, think, and act together.
  • An organizations is a living system that lives its own life with its own inner dynamics.
  • A mechanical system is designed to work in a relatively simple way. The networks of cause and effect can be understood.
  • Changes ripple causing unforeseen consequences in a living system.
  • Every living process is a structured organization of information, energy and matter. Energy is continuously consumed and must be continuously replenished. Information and matter continually flow and get changed.
  • Living systems adapt to, meet, and interact with the shifting conditions that occur both within and outside of its border.
  • The organization is an organic whole. Every part must be integrated in order to retain vitality, resilience, and ability to meet challenges.
  • It is the deep structure which holds the organization together as a single unit.
  • It is mutual understanding that keeps everyone pulling in the same direction, allowing people to keep pace with each other.
  • Most managers look only at the organization’s surface structure. The surface structure is what everyone can see. Sources to problems lie in the deeper structures of the organization.
  • The health of an organization’s deep structure is a function of how well the organization is integrated (connection between people).
  • To repair the deep structure in the organization, everyone needs to understand what’s at stake and why it’s important.
  • The deep structure needs to be repaired before you can make any headway.
  • People, without exception, do care about what happens once they understand what’s at stake.
  • Only when a real choice is possible can the full power and potential of an organization be mobilized.
  • Individuals must be allowed the freedom to say Yes or No (consent).
  • A person who is fully informed about their organization will behave differently than someone who is not.
  • Visibility increases the likelihood of constructive, responsible action.
  • Invite all involved.
  • The individual that suffers most often has the strongest incentive to do something about it.
  • It’s possible to build on what others know and really mean, when everyone has access to the thoughts and know-how of the entire group.
  • Groups that can interact rise their level creativity.
  • You cannot run a knowledge-based organization by direct control, pressure, high demands, and micro-management.
  • You simply cannot control an organization the way a single operator might control a machine. It’s not enough to merely design functions into workflows and then run these through various control mechanisms.
  • Making a commitment is an existential action. Something happens inside — and, importantly, it is an event that cannot be controlled from the outside. You can only be asked to take that step; no one can force you, or order you to do it.
  • Work, where you have total control, does not exist.
  • An organization must be led, but what this entails is not obvious.
  • Leadership involves touching the heart of every person — something that needs to be done if you expect to influence others.
  • Leadership involves building on the common interests between the organization, customers, people, and community.
  • Leadership is to ensure that the conditions of life are put in place.
  • Leadership is to inspire and focus the energy, to facilitate interplay and learning, and to ensure a steady outflow of results.
  • Cultural patterns show up as repetitive ways of speaking and acting.
  • Culture is always based on habitual ways of viewing and interpreting reality.
  • Culture forms the eyes you see with.
  • Cultural development lose momentum if there is no clarity concerning how people talk, think, and act.
  • Long-term energy and commitment is sustained when all are involved in the organization’s future. Activate the combined intelligence in the entire organization.
  • Put local knowledge and experience into play.
  • If people feel it’s important they will spontaneously pitch in and assist each other.
  • A well-integrated organization generates more energy and uses it to greater effect.
  • Thinking together requires communication and interaction.
  • Open space makes it possible for everyone to think, reflect, and learn together.
  • It takes time and effort for a group to agree on what the major challenges are and what has to be done about it.
  • Understanding and acting are all but obvious.
  • A mechanistic order is one in which the fundamental elements are independently existent, lying outside each other, and connected only by external relationships.
  • Mechanistic order is a limiting case of organismic order.
  • There is a sharp break between abstract logical thought and concrete immediate experience that doesn’t have to be maintained. The movement from immediate experience to logical thought doesn’t have to be fragmented.
  • Logic is constructed thought.
  • Constructs are mechanical.
  • Experiencing—through feeling—is immediate and direct and real? Experience—organized through thought—is a more or less logically coherent construction?
  • Creative intelligence vs. intellect.
  • External vs. internal relationship.
  • We have an almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance. (Reference: Daniel Kahneman)
  • Our language perpetuates illusions.
  • Only coerced action can be increased by rules.
  • Action can take palce in very different ways. There’s a huge difference between doing somthing bechase there’s a rule or becuase it’s the right thing to do.
  • Rules leads to action that’s rigid and ultimately less successful.
  • There are times when it is good to see everything, but other times when it is not good. It is difficult to know without the protection of a community.
  • The freer and safer, the deeper the insights.
  • Do you feel free and safe in the workplace?
  • Act from a sense of play rather than from ego or obligation.
  • Life is a particular kind of working organization.
  • Information is anything that is in formation. (Reference: Elisabet Sahtouris)
  • A living organism is always a holon within larger holons depending on them for its very life. (Reference: Elisabet Sahtouris)
  • Organisms are experiencing, experimenting.

Books Coaching Life Motivation Thoughts Workplaces

My story

In one of our conversations, Skye Hirst said:

—I think there is an outline that I am hearing from you that I would like you to hear. Write this down…

My journey started as a little boy in Africa. I liked to draw. I loved to be in the forest with the trees. I have been on a lifetime journey to reconnect to that little boy that got lost, who got left some place.
I have taken enormous steps of accomplishment. The world has rewarded me with a good job, with money to support my family. I think I have helped a lot of people in my workplace, but in that workplace I discovered that I was being killed. I was dying, and I didn’t know why.
I knew I had to find out what I could do differently. I had reached the end. I had hit the wall. I could not continue. I had to go into finding out where that little boy was, but I didn’t know that when I started the journey.
I am going to tell you about that journey. I may be able to pass a few ideas along to you that you can relate to in your own life, but mostly I really want to communicate how deadly our world of workplace has become for so many people—and that it doesn’t have to be that way.”

—How you weave that is up to you. That is your story, and your passion. The beauty of this story is that you get to bring in your paintings.

—There is a very important phrase that I want you to start with somewhere…

I want to show you my little Jan and the quiet joy that I have discovered.

Thank you, Skye!