People Are Self-interested AND Other-interested, Group-interested, Nature-interested, Spirit-interested — All Five at the Same Time

We experience self-interest.  Yes.  No matter how much some people decry self-interest, we each experience it.  We experience it as an interest in our experience in any given moment, as our learning and developing new capacities and relationships over time, and as the yet-untapped potential residing deep within us.  We do experience a relationship to ourselves, we are self-interested.

We are also other-interested.  We like seeing, acknowledging, engaging, partnering, supporting, and being with another human being.  We all want to be seen, acknowledged, supported, and loved by someone else.  We are other-interested.

And we are group-interested, wanting to make a unique contribution to any group we interact with, in a way that the group acknowledges and supports. We are also nature-interested, thrilling in the experience of different levels of perceived reality, of possibilities we can see, of the pathways we engage to realizing those possibilities envisioned, and of the outcomes we experience from that pathway in any given moment.  The there-then, the emergent-becoming, and the here-now are very real experiences of the time-space reality we experience in our nature-interest.  And, we are also spirit-interested, seeking the connection with the source of creativity, from the wisdom of the shoulders we stand on to the genius in each of us, we seek the spirit of creativity.  We are spirit-interested.

Given that we are interested in all five, the Ecosynomic question is how to set up our agreements to benefit all five in our daily experiences.  We know that in experiences of low harmonic vibrancy and scarcity, all five relationships are weak.  Conversely, we know that when we experience high harmonic vibrancy and abundance, all five relationships are strong.  We experience this difference, we know the difference between the two experiences — low and high — and we prefer the high.


How do we set up our agreements to achieve a higher level of all five?  Most theories and the processes derived from them suggest that we cannot achieve all five at the same time.  Yet, we do.  Through our survey, we have found hundreds of groups where people describe an experience of high levels of harmonic vibrancy and abundance, with strong relationships in all five at the same time.  People are doing this.

Ecosynomics asks how.  We ask how by understanding how to identify these groups, by finding them, by learning what they have learned, and by seeing deeper patterns across these many groups.  Ecosynomics is what we are naming the theoretical foundation that attempts to describe the experience of harmonic vibrancy and abundance.

To leave you with something other than our question, the first step towards the experience of higher levels of harmonic vibrancy and abundance in the agreements that most affect your daily experience is to realize that they are agreements, agreements that you choose, in each of the five relationships — self, other, group, nature, and spirit.  All five.

Transformative Organization of Human Interactions through Light-Verb-Noun Levels

You can now see how, in the figure below, that when you see organizing at the light level, you experience collaboration towards the highest harmonic vibrancy available within the group.  Working with the harmonic vibrancy is supported by “inspirited” structures that simultaneously support all five primary relationships.  When you filter out possibility, from the light level of organizing, you ground the harmonic vibrancy in specific opportunities for cooperative development and relationship building, at the verb level of organizing.  This is supported by structures focused on each group’s charter.  When you filter out time, from the verb level of organizing, you find the overlapping needs of individuals in the here and now, at the noun level of organizing.  This is supported by competition among incorporated structures focused on the needs of each group.



This highlights the insights gained over the past century at the light, verb, and noun levels of organizing, and how they interweave.  At this stage of human evolution, people want to learn how to work with all three levels simultaneously, transforming the infinite abundance of the light level of organizing to the experience of abundance at the verb level and sufficiency at the noun level of organizing.  This way people can experience the greater harmonic available by integrating all three levels, as in the figure below.



Implications for previous agreements

In the course of your life, you engage in organizing your interactions with others at the light, verb, and noun levels.  What you do at each level is very different.  How you see the potential in individuals and in the group, at the light level, is completely different than the development and relationships at the verb level.  Both of these are quite different than the contracting at the noun level.  You have also seen how collaboration is completely different from cooperative-competition and competition.  You know this, from your own experience.  What you know can change the agreements you make when you organize.

Most agreements today around how you organize your interactions start with the concept of contracting.  This belief focuses on the noun level of organizing.  Through contracts you agree on everything, from how much you pay for your phone and electric bill to your jobs to the taxes you pay and the price you pay for a banana at the grocery store.  These are all contractual agreements you enter, whether you are aware of them or not.  This is noun thinking, and it seems to work well.  Nonetheless, it does not include the verb and light levels of organizing.  Not integrating the verb and light levels of organizing decreases the group’s ability to attract higher potential people and bring in higher potential relationships, increasing duplication of efforts, decreasing the health of the work environment, and decreasing the group’s intellectual and social capital.  Fortunately, you have also seen that people are very comfortable organizing at all three levels, making it possible to shift the organizing agreements you enter.

An April 2011 article in the leading business magazine Forbes, whose motto is being “the capitalist’s tool,” highlights the predominance of the “obvious” noun-level approach to people, stating that, “the only three true job interview questions are: (1) can you do the job; (2) will you love the job; (3) can we tolerate working with you?  These look at (the candidates) strengths, motivation, and fit.”[1]

It is also clear that the movement from light to verb to noun levels of organizing leads to different results than the other way around.  Starting with a noun-level understanding of organizing, with scarcity driving contracts and an environment of competition, it is very difficult to add time and relationship to get to alliances and cooperation.  It is even more difficult to add possibility to arrive at expansive invitations and a collaborative environment.  Starting from the other end though is straightforward.  From light, you start with the assumption of infinite possibility, choosing to manifest specific verbs, which will meet in particular ways to become nouns here and now to address specific needs you choose – all from abundance.  In a space of expansive invitation and collaboration, you can choose flows where you enter cooperative alliances around specific developmental flows and relationships.  Within the cooperative flows, you can agree to very specific and concrete terms under which specific needs are met.  Both processes work with the interweaving of light, verb, and noun levels of organizing, and arrive at completely different experiences of what is possible.  The other goods news is that people around the globe are understanding this.  In the process, they are innovating many new organizing forms for working with abundance-based agreements, including new forms of the inspirited, chartered, and incorporated organizations (see figure below).  The framework of ecosynomics provides a light for identifying these people and learning from their experience.

Connection to big questions for value and resources

The big questions around organizing looked at why people organize in the first place, how to increase efficiency through agreements, and the specific structures and incentives to support these agreements.  As you explore these organizing questions, it becomes clear that the potential you see in people are the very resources the group wants to develop, as are the relationships they have.  You also see that the motivation for organizing a group and for contributing to that group are best expressed in terms of the value exchanged between the individual and the group.  Thus, the questions of organizing clearly interweave with those of value and resources.


[1] In this article, George Bradt interviews leading experts in executive recruitment (Bradt, 2011).

Lenses for Seeing Agreements

1st of 5 posts on “Lenses for Seeing Agreements”

With the five primary relationships and three levels of perceived reality, we now need some lenses to see the path to the experience of a higher level of harmonic vibrancy.  I will suggest some lenses that frame the big questions that influence the agreements among people, which will enable you to see how to shift the agreements that you make every day.  First, I need to unpack this idea of agreements, so that I can then dig into what can be done with them.

As you enter relationships, you make agreements.[1]  Whether you are aware of this process or not, it happens.  For example, when you are in a market place negotiating the price of the fruit, you are clear you are agreeing with the other person on the rules of the game.  Likewise, when deciding who will do what chores with your parents or children, whichever the case may be for you, you are conscious that you are deciding on how the game will be played – what the agreements are.  It is clear to you, often, that there are many ways to play that game, with some always ending poorly – someone always feels unappreciated – and there are ways that everyone feels appreciated, and the chores get done.

There are also many times when people tend not to be conscious of the agreements.  You drive on a specific side of the road, because it is an agreement to do so.  You also agree that you can be arrested for not complying with this agreement.  This might make it seem like a law: that’s just the way it is.  Except, that the law does not always apply.  In the countryside or on a farm, you might simply see that you are driving on the road.  There is not really a left or right lane.  In other words, it depends.  It depends on the situation whether the “law” applies, thus it is an agreement.  It is an agreement with strong consequences if not followed in certain circumstances, like in the middle of Manhattan or Rome, but an agreement nonetheless.  The same is true when you pay interest on a loan, take out a mortgage, send your kids to the local public school, pay your taxes, refrain from punching someone being mean to you, and decide to go back to school.  They are all agreements.  Agreements about how you are in relationship; relationship with your own self, with another person, with a group, with nature, and with spirit.

The reason this is important here is to realize that if these are all agreements, then you can change them.  In fact, these agreements have been changed thousands of times in the past.  The agreements that guide your interactions today are quite different than they were just a few years ago.  This means that you can change them if the agreements you have now do not work for you.  It is not about telling people what experience they should have, rather how to see and change the agreements to achieve what they actually want to have.  Ecosynomics is the science of how to change these agreements, so that you can achieve the outcomes you actually want, while moving towards higher harmonic vibrancy in all five relationships.

[1] Agreement comes from the old French agrément for pleasing, defined as an arrangement between two or more persons as to a course of action; a mutual understanding; a covenant; concord; harmony.

Three Levels of Perceived Reality and Three Circles of Harmonic Vibrancy

The 5th in a 9-post series on Perceived Levels of Reality

Following on the previous 4 posts (starting with “Perceived Levels of Reality“) people perceive three very different levels of reality. Nouns represent the static, momentary outcomes, the capacities presenced here-now, the things. Verbs reflect the flowing, ever moving shifts in relationships and capacities experienced over time, development. The verbs put the nouns in movement. Light focuses on the possibility seen, accelerating the potential, as people participate with it. Light accelerates the verb that moves the noun.

Now I will apply these three levels of perceived reality to the experiences of harmonic vibrancy (summarized in the post “3 Circles of Harmonic Vibrancy“), through the five primary relationships. By listening to what people describe as their experience of the harmonic vibrancy in the five primary relationships (self, other, group, nature, spirit), they describe the levels of reality most available to them.


People described the inner circle, in the figure above, as an experience of scarcity. In this experience, people can only access the things-noun level of reality. In the middle circle of the same figure, the circle of occasional abundance, people can access both the development-verb level and the things-noun level. In the outer circle, where people experience abundance in all five relationships, people can access all three levels of perceived reality. The table below captures the available levels of reality for each circle of harmonic vibrancy.

Circle of Harmonic Vibrancy

Things-Noun Level

Development-Verb Level

Possibility-Light Level










Table: Levels of Reality Accessible in Circles of Harmonic Vibrancy

In the next 4 posts, I will integrate the three levels of perceived reality and the five primary relationships.


Perceived Levels of Reality

The 1st of a 9-post series on Perceived Levels of Reality

Having looked at five relationships through which people experience harmonic vibrancy (self, other, group, nature, spirit), as well as three circles of the vibrancy experienced (low, medium, high), as in the figure below, we see that people in the three circles experience very different realities.  This 9-post series explores the differences in those realities.



To cut to the punch line, as one expands from scarcity to abundance, reality also expands from working with the visibly tangible to including processes of development to working in the possibility realm.  In each circle, people work with different processes, tools, and capacities, because they use different realities.  Now I will describe those realities, starting again with your own experience.

In the inner circle of low harmonic vibrancy, where scarcity dominates, reality consists of the visibly tangible.  This includes what is available at hand, right here, right now.  In the middle circle of medium harmonic vibrancy, where occasional abundance comes through, perceived reality includes both the tangible here-now capacities and the developmental processes of those capacities.  Both and.  At the middle level, one works with what is here and what is being developed.  In the outer circle, where abundance dominates, perceived reality includes tangible capacities, developmental processes, and possibility – three levels.  Once again, both and.

I emphasize “perceived reality,” because all three levels are always present, yet they are not always perceived.  It seems that the level of scarcity/abundance and harmonic vibrancy one experiences relates directly to the levels of reality perceived in the agreements in human interactions.

In their national bestseller The Art of Possibility, the Zanders tell a story to highlight the difference between seeing scarcity and seeing abundance.  “A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business.  One sends back a telegram saying, ‘SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES.’  The other writes back triumphantly, ‘GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY STOP THEY HAVE NO SHOES.’” The authors go on to explain what they see in this story, “To the marketing expert who sees no shoes, all the evidence points to hopelessness.  To his colleague, the same conditions point to abundance and possibility.  Each scout comes to the scene with his own perspective; each returns telling a different tale.  Indeed, all of life comes to us in narrative form; it’s a story we tell.”[1]

Looking at the stories hundreds of people have told me about their experiences of harmonic vibrancy, some of which I shared in earlier blogs, I find that the ability to perceive and work with these three levels of reality differentiates those groups that experience low, medium, and high harmonic vibrancy.  Furthermore, these three levels highlight what to do to achieve higher levels of harmonic vibrancy and abundance, which I will describe in detail in subsequent posts.

[1] This story comes from (Zander & Zander, 2002, p. 9).

Distinguishing Experiences of Scarcity and Abundance

To summarize what I covered in the 7-post series, I will make some distinctions between the experiences of scarcity and abundance, of low and high harmonic vibrancy.  First, when you experience scarcity, you tend to experience lower harmonic vibrancy in all five relationships.  And when you experience abundance, you tend to experience higher harmonic vibrancy in all five relationships.  Thus, a key difference is whether the group experience is one of scarcity or abundance.  When you look a little deeper into the assumptions the group holds, it turns out that those groups that experience mostly scarcity start from an assumption of scarcity and those that experience mostly abundance start with an assumption of abundance.  It is not that scarcity or abundance is absolutely right, rather that it shows up when it is perceived to be the underlying basis of the agreements in the group.  Having said this, I will also suggest that abundance has to exist for the whole system to work.  By this I mean that the abundance is always there, it is just a matter of peoples’ capacity to perceive it.  When the abundance, the infinite light, is not perceived, it is kept in the dark.  By keeping it in the dark, it is undernourished, underutilized, underdeveloped, and undervalued.

Another distinction I have made is that the degree of harmonic vibrancy you experience in any one of the five relationships is very similar to what you experience in all of the relationships.  The experience of a low harmonic vibrancy in any relationship seems to be present when they are all low, and a high harmonic vibrancy in any relationship is only experienced when they are all high.  This suggests that to experience abundance and greater harmonic vibrancy, one needs to pay attention to all five relationships at the same time.

A third distinction I have made is about relationship.  The individual and the group are better off, experiencing greater abundance and harmonic vibrancy, when all five relationships are stronger.  Relationship matters, and the agreements in those relationships determine what is possible.  It is a system.

I started with the fourth distinction.  People prefer the experience of greater harmonic vibrancy to the experience of less, and people experience that harmonic vibrancy in all five relationships – to their own self, to the other, to the group, to nature, and to spirit.

To summarize the four distinctions made so far, some groups start with an assumption of scarcity and others start from abundance.  High-vibrancy groups pay attention to all five primary relationships and low-vibrancy groups do not.  High-vibrancy groups realize that the web of relationships make up a system and low-vibrancy groups do not.  Finally, people prefer higher harmonic vibrancy, as experienced in all five relationships.  For now I will suggest these as four distinctions between groups that experience lower and higher harmonic vibrancy.  With these four distinctions about your experience and the five primary relationships, you have the foundation you need to see, explain, and choose healthier, freer agreements; agreements for higher harmonic vibrancy and abundance.  Future posts will show you how.  With these four distinctions, the journey starts: the journey to uncover the agreements that drive different levels of harmonic vibrancy.  To give the journey a name, something with which I can reference what my colleagues and I learn along the way, I call this journey “ecosynomics.”  More on that journey in the next post.

3 Circles of Harmonic Vibrancy

This is part 7 in a 7-part post.

At this point in the conversation, having looked at the five primary relationships people experience in the harmonic vibrancy of the group, it starts to seem like a bit much.  Five relationships experienced at three different levels.  I take this feeling of fullness as an opportunity to summarize what people have described so far.  When people experience greater harmonic vibrancy, which is what they want, all relationships are taken care of, and through those relationships they accomplish more.  Conversely, when people experience less vibrancy, which they do not want, it is hard to pay attention to relationships, and everyone does what they can alone, accomplishing much less.

What I have seen, when I share this summary, is that someone will speak up, saying that this sounds like a set of principles – guiding principles.  Starting from abundance, all relationships work together to generate a higher vibrancy.  Starting from scarcity, the lack of relationship generates a lower vibrancy.  The figure below shows this.  The inner circle describes the experience of the lack of relationship in all five relationships.  Likewise, the middle circle describes the experience of medium vibrancy in all relationships, and the outer circle describes the experience of high vibrancy in all five relationships.


3 Circles of Harmonic Vibrancy3CirclesRotated040816

The questions now begin to focus the conversation, finding that the experience is that of the inner circle, or the middle circle, or the outer circle.  My curiosity about this question as a researcher over the last eighteen years has taken me to teachers who have taught me why it is difficult to see these agreements.  From decision theory, I saw that the judgments people make are full of assumptions of values that others and I have and of how things work.  From systems theory, I saw that the relationships among the actors and the decisions they make generate dynamics that determine system-wide behaviors that are different than what the individuals want or see.  From integral theory, I saw the importance of including the different lenses or perspectives on agreements and transcending them to a higher, more integral perspective.

Interweaving these lessons learned helped me see the harmonic in the stories.  When I asked, some say this experience of the harmonic is like ice cream.  One person is describing the experience of taste – it is all about the sweetness, while another is describing texture – it is all about being both smooth and crunchy, yet another is describing temperature – it is all about being cold, while another describes appearance – it is all about the colors of the cream, cone, and sprinkles.  While each is partially correct, they all describe a critical dimension, bringing in an important voice, and none is complete on its own.  Ice cream is about the perfect combination of taste, texture, temperature, and appearance.  Nobody wants just sweet, just smooth and crunchy, just cold, or just colorful.  Others liken it to music, where the richest songs that move us most have rich harmonies, where each voice contributes to the harmonic, yet no voice alone sings it.

Now comes the realization of the agreements driving the experience of scarcity or abundance in any group.  People are choosing to experience lower vibrancy most of the time.  That’s the inner circle of scarcity.  Why would they do that?  Maybe because they are not aware that it was an agreement they were making.  Could they make different agreements?  It is easy to see how they can make different agreements, sometimes.  But it seems hard to figure out what this means for different groups.  It gets pretty complicated.  Or does it?  In Tom Robbins’ saga of the many facets of the beet, Jitterbug Perfume, Dr. Dannyboy summarizes what he has learned, “The universe does not have laws.  It has habits.  And habits can be broken.”[1]

My request to you

I invite you to share here your own experiences of these relationships to the harmonic vibrancy you experience.


[1] See (Robbins, 1990, p. 312).

Your Relationship to Spirit

This is part 6 in a 7-part post.

There is one other relationship I hear in people’s stories.  A corporate executive shared his perspective of this, “In scarcity mode, there just isn’t any creativity.  We know what to do in this mode, because the rules are given.  They are in the book.  We just ask what we are supposed to do.  I mean, somebody just tells us what the rules are.  This is very different in the abundance place, where we never even ask, because I can see what we can do, the creativity and knowing is everywhere.  The essence of the spirit of the group is that anything is possible.”  The figure below captures this.

In many groups, you experience the light coming from a respected, well established source.  Often in the form of a book, this is the story that shows the way.   At home, these are often the family standards for how things are done – the current generation’s interpretation of the family traditions.  At work this might be the employee handbook, the industry standards for best practices, or the code of ethics.  In religions these are the books of the guiding word of the omnipresent spirit.  This relationship you have to spirit as being the light coming from the accepted word is in the top-right of the figure above.

In other groups you are able to experience a greater invitation to spirit, where the creative force flows from you, in addition to the book.  The light shines through you as well.  This is when you experience the exhilaration of creativity, when it flows through you.  You experience yourself as being able to see the teachings from others, as well as having your own interpretations of what you think.  This is the creative force in you that makes others’ hearts sing, your parents cry, and your friends adore you.  This is the experience of yourself as the portal, the host, for the flow of spirit, as depicted in the middle of the figure above.

Sometimes you also experience your relationship to spirit as one of the radiance of everything around you.  In these moments, spirit is invited to show up everywhere it exists.  You see that spirit radiates from everything all around you – it is everywhere.  It is in these moments that you experience that you are actually co-hosting the flow of spirit: it is flowing in you, in everything else, and it is this awareness of hosting that awareness of flow that is your co-hosting gesture.  It is important that you are not only an observer, as when the light is sourced from outside of you, rather that you are an active participant, bringing spirit-awareness to the flow all around you.  This relationship to spirit is reflected in the bottom-left of the figure above.

Your relationship to spirit is where you experience the light with which you see everything else.  The level of harmonic vibrancy you experience in your relationship to spirit reflects the level of spirit that is invited into your experience.  From being a recipient of the light at the lowest vibrancy to an active host-recipient of the flow of spirit at middle vibrancy, to the co-host-participant-recipient at high vibrancy.  The agreements in different groups invite in different levels of spirit’s presence, from received wisdom in the book, to what you can see in yourself, to what can be experienced in everything.[1]

People have shared lots of distinctions around the spirit of the source of creativity.  When you feel all alone, nothing is there to support you, nothing is on your side.  Everything and everyone disappoints you.  There is no point to the whole game.  All that exists is what you can see in front of you.  The only thing that is real is what you can touch.  When you feel a part of a much greater whole, a part of the cosmos, you know that you are supported by something greater than you.  However you choose to acknowledge that relationship to a greater power, you are in awe of the potential.  In this space, anything is possible; you just have to see it.  Even the spirit of the group at work, on your team, and in your community is palpable.

My request to you

As in the previous five posts in this series, I invite your participation.  Share your own experiences in these pages — thoughts on what I share, or questions that arise.  I invite you as a citizen scientist to participate in the naming of the emerging field of ecosynomics, realizing the higher harmonic vibrancy available to all of us.


[1] Our relationship with Spirit explores the realm of possibility, where the absolute of the light-Spirit remains in the infinite.  The inner experience of this relationship to Spirit is simultaneously self-in-Spirit and self-as-Spirit, experienced as the transcendent I that continues after death and as the Thou in Thy will be done.  The self’s Spirit expression is physically observable in one’s continuous experience of and work with subtle-causal energies.  Culturally, the group supports the individual’s transcendent relationship with Spirit.  This culture of rejoining Spirit is supported by the social structures and processes of religion and spiritual development.

Your Relationship to Nature

This is part 5 in a 7-part post.

It seems that people agree to scarcity or abundance in the group, whether or not they are aware of the agreement.  And, when they agree on abundance, they experience a greater harmonic and a greater vibrancy.  Everyone seems to agree that this is what they want and that they just do not always get it.  It also seems that when people experience greater abundance, there is a greater vibrancy in their relationships to their own self, to the other, and to the group.  And, when they experience greater scarcity, there is less vibrancy in all of these relationships.  This seems to show something about people’s ability to bring vibrancy to all of the group or none of the group, and that is related somehow to the level of scarcity or abundance they experience.  Furthermore, when the group is in scarcity mode, it is very hard to pay attention to the vibrancy in any of the relationships.  In abundance mode, it all shows up.  There’s relationship all over the place.  Specifically, in the scarcity mode, each person tries to do what is required to move the thing along, to keep life going.  No relationship there, just a lot of everyone doing their own thing.  The abundance mode is completely different.  It is through the relationships that people get things done; a lot more done.  And, just as important, it is not harder to get more done, rather when people experience greater vibrancy, there seems to be creativity and energy in abundance.  They are in the flow, and they get a lot done.  In lower vibrancy, they never have enough, and everything gets stuck.

This brings in a fourth relationship people describe in their experience of harmonic vibrancy, their relationship to “what is real” and how they work with it.  This is what comes naturally to you, that which you perceive and experience as “reality,” where reality is simply that which is visible, that which exists.  Some people require reality to be touchable.  If they cannot touch it, it is not real.  Thus, reality for them includes rocks, humans, food, air, money, and their house, as reflected in the bottom-right of the figure below.  Other people include the processes of growing older, maturing, learning, and building of their home along with many other “ing’s,” as captured in the middle of the figure.  For them these are just as real.  They describe the ‘”ing’s” as the journey, the path, which is just as real as the momentary outcomes, the things, of those processes.[1]  Still other people include the “realities” they envision, the possibilities and visions that motivate people into action.  Whether it is a design for a home, as in the top-left of the figure, a plan for a team, or a vision for a community, this very real possibility creates movement.  In hearing over and over again how people talk about with is natural to them, and what is real, and the nature of things, I started to suggest that working among these different realms of reality is the process of “Nature.”[2]  This has seemed to describe this experience for most people.


You also have the experience of the aliveness of nature, of processes.  Think of your favorite place in the whole world.  This is the place that makes you feel the best.  Where is it?  What is it about this place that makes you feel so good?  Describe the essence of this place that makes you love it so much.  Interestingly, when I ask this question, most people tell me they love the beach, rivers, or mountains.  They describe what they love in nature with a noun, a thing: a beach, a river, a mountain.  When I ask them to name a specific place and to describe it, the name other nouns: sun, sand, salt water, heat (for the beach lovers).  When I suggest that I will give them light (lamp), sand, salty water, and heat, right where they are, I ask them if that makes them really happy.  They always smile or frown, and say “no.”  Then I suggest that it is not those “things” that feel them so deeply.  If not those things, then what?  They then begin to describe the moving of the river, its pushing downhill, its chillingness, its smelling, and its ever-changing nature.  These are verbs.  These are descriptions of the forces that enliven the nouns.  People love the verbs in nature.

These same verbs describe your experience of processes, of change over time.  You develop new capacities as you learn, over time.  People often describe these processes with “ing” – dancing, cooking, reading, walking, thinking.  It is not about the end product, the momentary outcome, the thing, rather it is about the activity itself, the journey

You also experience nature as the manifesting of possibility.  This is when you know that something has become “real,” long before it becomes tangible.  Think of all of the resources that came together, over months and months, on your last big project, way before the final product, the noun, ever appeared.  My wife Leslie is an architect.  It is exciting to see when the image of the home finally materializes in the minds of the homeowner, Leslie, and all of the contractors that work on that image, for many months, before it becomes a tangible reality.  It is no less real to them at earlier stages of manifestation than it is when it is “done.”  It became the home they were to live in when they saw it, and it became real.  This experience of the relationship to nature is one of light.  Of the infinite potential of what the light energy could become, in that moment the light shifted from possibility to probability, from an idea to a manifest reality, equally available to many people.

You experience your relationship to nature at all three points along this continuum.  What changes along the continuum is the choice for how it manifests.  At low vibrancy, the noun already exists.  At middle vibrancy the noun is in the process of forming, as a verb.  At this level of relationship, one can choose how to work with the verb, choosing when to relate to the noun, and how to more optimally relate to the sustainability of the verb-noun.  At high vibrancy, one can also choose among the infinitely possible, what will even begin to manifest.  Practically speaking, we can see the water in front of us, the noun.  We can also see the inflows and outflows of water, choosing to put in more of the locally available water than we take out, thus maintaining a sustainable, local source of water – this is the verb view.  And, we can also choose to redefine what we understand as available water, making it important that everyone have access to clean water, not just those with money or proximity to water – this is the light view.[3]

The level of harmonic vibrancy you experience in your relationship to nature in any given group or place is an agreement.  That you experience different levels of the harmonic vibrancy of this relationship in different groups shows you that different levels are available, based on the accepted agreements in the group.  This means that you can choose a different agreement, one of higher harmonic vibrancy.

Listening to people’s experience of the nature of scarcity and abundance, I hear experiences of infinite abundance of beautiful expressions and experiences of there is never enough and nothing works.  The world of lack never seems to work well.  It feels dead.  It is full of things I want and cannot get, things I do not want, and things that I want, get, and throw away.  None of it does what I wanted it to do.  There is never enough money, food, or time.  In the world of infinite abundance, everything seems amazing.  It is all beautiful.  The Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.”  We can make anything real, by just adding imagination.  We come together to make a house, based on an idea, months before we even step foot into a building.

A forester suggested that the human relationship with nature is the experience of manifestation, and that is why people have such a strong relationship with the natural environment.  That is where they most directly experience the transformation of infinite light-energy potential into continuously developing processes that we experience in every given moment.  We love the strength and growth in the tree, through the seasons, and its fruit on a given day.  The same energy transforms from sunlight into the tree then into leaves that fertilize the soil.  It is the manifesting cycle of life that mesmerizes us in our relationship to the natural environment, in specific, and to nature, in general.  This includes our experience of human nature, the creative flow of manifestation from an imagination and concept to the development of the capacities to translate the concept into form, and the final form.  We experience the whole process – this is our relationship to nature.

My request to you

As in the other posts in this series, I extend a request to you to participate.  Please reply in these pages to share your own experiences, thoughts on what I share, or questions that arise.  I invite you as a citizen scientist to participate in the naming of the emerging field, which I refer to as ecosynomics, and in realizing the higher harmonic vibrancy available to all of us.

[1] I will show later how what seem to be concrete things, the starting point of scarcity, might also be seen as momentary outcomes of a continuous process of people manifesting possibilities out of an infinity of forms of light energy.

[2] Much research has shown the importance of the human relationship to nature, in its forms of possibility, process, and momentary outcomes.  University of Michigan psychology professor Stephen Kaplan finds, “the natural environment is experienced as particularly high in compatibility.  It is as if there were a special resonance between the natural setting and human inclinations” (Kaplan, 1995, p. 174).  This is supported by recent experimental research, such as (Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008; Hartig, Evans, Jamner, Davis, & Garling, 2003).

[3] Our relationship with Nature explores the manifest realm of probability, when life meets with the possible, where the absolute nature of the light-flow-Spirit expresses itself in a relative form within the human-perceived universe.  Probability is when possibility meets nature, that instant when one knows something as “real,” even if it is far from manifesting in a tangible form.  Most of human life is experienced this way.  For example, from when the design of a house is “seen” by the architect, owner, and builder, many weeks of work and resources start moving ever before the house shows up.  When did it become very “real” for everyone involved?  When it became a probability.  The inner experience of this relationship to Nature is the psychic energy one experiences as life-force, intentions, feelings, and thoughts as perceptions of the movement of light – one’s relationship with self-in-Nature – how I relate to Nature.  The self’s Nature expression is physically observable in one’s sensory-perception organs of touch, life, movement, balance, warmth, taste, sight, and hearing.   Culturally, the group supports the individual’s balance within the ecosystem.

Your Relationship to the Group

This is part 4 in a 7-part post.

In everyone’s stories of their experiences, I also hear people describe their relationship to the group.  A young man from Germany captured what many have shared, “When the vibrancy in the group is low, I just want to be told what to do.  It is clear that none of me is needed, other than what I can do right then.  It is very frustrating.  I am in a box, somebody has a whip, and I am submissive to the task at hand.  When I experience high vibrancy in a group, we are all looking for the unique contributions our creativity can make to the group.  It’s like the harmonic we create when we each sing our piece.  Together we are able to take on anything.”  You often experience your relationship to the “we” as one of “just tell me what to do.”  This is an experience many of us have at work and in communities where we have no voice.  In this relationship, you are clear that you make no unique contribution, as a matter of fact, many people could easily replace you in your job.  If someone else lived in your house, the community would never know.  If you stopped playing in the bowling league, nothing would change.  This is the experience of the individual at the top-left in the figure below.



You also have the experience of feeling like you can stand tall, as a contributing member of the group, where your skills are needed for the group to be able to succeed, as it competes with others.  Your group is able to stand up to “them,” whoever the opposition is.  You experience your contribution as clear in this group, and the group is clear that it is stronger because you are bringing your abilities.  This is the cooperative competition of us versus them, as seen in the middle group in the figure below.[1]

You have also had the occasional experience of a group where the relationship was one of deep collaboration.  Sometimes this is experienced as “being in the groove,” where the ensemble really melds and a much greater possibility emerges for the group.  This is the experience of “united we can,” when a people come together to achieve outcomes that they previously thought were impossible.  These are moments of greatness, often experienced on sports teams, in transformational family moments, or when a country comes together to face an extraordinary hardship.  This is the experience of the united group at the bottom-right of the figure below.

Your relationship to the group is how you experience the “we.”   The “we” is another interesting experience, which is completely different than the “I” that only you can experience for yourself or the “you” that I experience with you.  The collectively experienced we-ness is the experience we have of “our” family, which in my case is the Ritchie-Dunhams.  The experience of “family” is different than that of me as an individual member of the family.  I am both Jim (the “I”) and Ritchie-Dunham (the “we”).

You have experienced your relationship to the group along this continuum, from the subsuming experience of low vibrancy to the uniting experience of high vibrancy.  As you experience greater harmonic vibrancy along this continuum, what is present at the lower levels of vibrancy is also available at higher levels, along with new dimensions.  In the first experience, of low vibrancy, you are a “doer” – just tell me what to do.  In the second experience, of medium vibrancy, you are a contributor, both able to do, as before, and to bring greater gifts, talents, and abilities to the group.  In the third experience, of high vibrancy, you are a doer, a contributor, and full of great potential, all at the same time.  Thus, in the higher levels of vibrancy, you have access to more – you can make a larger contribution to the group.[2]

Once again we return to seeing that the level of harmonic vibrancy experienced in your relationship to the group is an agreement.  That you experience higher or lower levels in different groups is not a fact of nature.  It is not physics, rather an agreement about your relationship to the group.  You choose and accept that relationship, which makes it an agreement.  Thus, you can make an agreement for a different relationship to the group.

In all of the stories people have shared with me about their relationship to groups, such as their immediate and extended family, their community, where they work, where they commute, or where they hang out with friends, they tell stories of experiencing a greater energy while being with them that stays afterwards and experiences of being exhausted when they leave them.   The exhausting groups bore us, increase our fatigue, and always ask too much of us.  Yet another endless meeting?  Another group where my contribution is underappreciated?  You have to medicate yourself after being with them, by thinking about something else, being with other people, drinking, watching television – somehow you have to disconnect from them and connect to something else.  The energizing groups make you feel even better after being with them than when you started.  Even if you built a house together, went for a run, designed a whole new project, delivered an intense workshop, no matter how many hours and how much effort it took, you feel invigorated afterwards.  You made a contribution, which the group engaged with, and it felt great.  You are a better person because you were with them today.

The framework now includes relationships to the self, other, and group.  This is the traditional set of me, you, us.  At first this seemed complete to me.  However, I found that the stories people shared added some other dimensions.  I continued the inquiry.  “It seems that there is a huge difference in the experience of the low and high vibrancy groups.”  Everyone responded that there definitely was, with scarcity everywhere in the low-vibrancy experience and abundance everywhere in the high-vibrancy experience.  When I pry a little, asking, “Why is there scarcity in one group and abundance in another?,” people respond with something like, “There just is.  Right?”  “Why?,” I ask.  This is when we hit another huge insight.  A senior teacher characterized the typical response I get, “Because that’s what we agree to.”  She went on to describe that in the low vibrancy group, everyone shows up knowing that this is just the way it is.  “Somehow I just agree that it is okay to be that way.  We all do.  In the high vibrancy group, we agree to be more abundant.  In fact, sometimes it is the same people in the different groups.  We just agree to be different in different groups.  Doesn’t seem that we see that though.”

My request to you

Please reply in these pages to share your own experiences, thoughts on what I share, or questions that arise.  I invite you as a citizen scientist to participate in the naming of the emerging field, which I refer to as ecosynomics, and in realizing the higher harmonic vibrancy available to all of us.

[1] A very enlightening description of cooperative competition, Co-opetition provides many examples of this practice and its benefits, from intersections with four gas stations to restaurants all piled up in the same location (Brandenburger & Nalebuff, 1998).

[2] The relationship that we have to the group explores one’s social expression of group intention, that to which we give of our group will and cannot achieve on our own.  This is a group form of light flow, which requires a group to manifest.  The inner experience of this relationship to the group manifests as one’s own group higher purpose, the superordinate essence to which we relate the contributions we want to make – one’s relationship with self-in-group – how I relate to the group.  The self’s group expression is physically observable in one’s gut, one’s will, that which one serves.   Culturally, the group supports and embraces the individual in exploring the gifts they contribute to the needs of the group.  Our experience of the group nature of light-Spirit is one of interdependence, which in the old French is solidaire.  This culture of interdependence is supported by social structures and processes focused on the integration of interests, purpose, or sympathies among members of a group; a fellowship of responsibilities and interests, such as collaborations, co-operatives, and the primary focus politically of collectivists.