Clues to Movement and Attitude Control
- / -
Annex 2 of Navigating
Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms
through movement (2002)
Metaphoric Entrapment (Annex
Clues to Movement
and Attitude Control (Annex 2)
** Clues from
kinetic intelligence and sports psychology
** Clues from
** Clues from
animal locomotion understood generically
** Clues from
Christian vices and virtues
** Clues from
yogic perspectives on afflictions of the mind
** Clues from
** Clues from
the streetwise and from nonviolence
** Clues from
the martial arts
** Clues from
psychotherapy and game-playing
** Clues from
Combining Clues to
Movement and Attitude Control (Annex
Clues to 'Ascent'
and 'Escape' (Annex
Combining Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex
Clues from kinetic intelligence and sports
One approach to recognizing the possibility of intimate relationship
to other realities, is to explore clues to understanding how people move in
the 'flow world' of process reality -- namely clues from those who
engage in dancing, skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, hang-gliding and
other sports requiring balance, coordination and kinetic intelligence. Have
they ever been consulted about issues of governance -- as has been the case
with jazz musicians (Kao, 1996)?
What is intriguing is that many of these clues can perhaps only
be alluded to in aesthetic terms even amongst practitioners. These are extremely
difficult to explain. They can be demonstrated -- like riding a bicycle -- but
the conceptual shift that enables skateboarders to perform a complex movement
has a different locus. And whilst somewhat meaningful in relation to the material
world, it is necessary to look elsewhere for their equivalents in the alternative
realities that are the concern of this paper -- as has been illustrated in investigation
of 'flow' in the case of executives in the organizational world by
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,
Less abstract for many are the preoccupations of sports psychology
and the techniques of 'mental game coaching' or 'mental training'
for competitive sports designed to get athletes into the 'zone'. This
is a term athletes use to describe that state of mind-body unity when they are
positive, relaxed, and energized. It is critical for peak performance. When
in "the zone," things may seem to slow down, actions become effortless, and
things are done without thinking, operating from a deep, instinctual level.
They seem to know just what to do, and just do it. This is the state of mind
athletes strive for. The goal of sports psychology is make that kind of mental
state more readily accessible. It is seen as a secret weapon that can work for
For example, typical problems of athletes noted by Patrick Cohn
include: low self-confidence; concentration problems; dealing with pressure;
anxiety and stress; lack of motivation; perfectionism; fear of failure; lack
of trust; no patience; comfort zones; choking:; intimidation; lack of a routine;
lack of self-control; anger; frustration; psych-outs; poor mental preparation;
lack of game plan or strategy; and teammate or coach problems.
These bear an interesting resemblance to 'hindrances' and 'vices'
discussed below, whereas Brian Mackenzie's concerns resemble those of the corresponding
'perfections' and 'virtues'. He emphasizes concentration,
confidence, control and commitment (the 4C's) as the main mental qualities that
are important for successful performance in most sports [more]:
- Concentration: as the mental quality to maintain focus on the task in hand.
Common distractions are: anxiety, mistakes, fatigue, weather, public announcements,
coach, manager, opponent, negative thoughts etc.
- Confidence: resulting from the comparison an athlete makes between the goal
and their ability. The athlete will have self-confidence if they believe they
can achieve their goal. ( "You only achieve what you believe").
- Control: ability to maintain emotional control regardless of distraction.
Identifying when an athlete feels a particular emotion and understanding the
reason for the feelings is an important stage of helping an athlete gain emotional
control. An athlete's ability to maintain control of their emotions in the
face of adversity and remain positive is essential to successful performance.
Two emotions which are often associated with poor performance are anxiety
- Commitment: ability to continue working to agreed goals. Sports performance
depends on the athlete being fully committed to numerous goals over many years.
In competition with these goals the athlete will have many aspects of daily
life to manage including: work, studies, family/partner, friends, social life
and other hobbies/sports. Sport commitment can be undermined by: a perceived
lack of progress or improvement; not being sufficiently involved in developing
the training program; not understanding the objectives of the training program;
injury; lack of enjoyment; anxiety about performance - competition; becoming
bored; coach and athlete not working as a team; lack of commitment by other
Many of these points recall the traditional relationship between a disciple and
Clues from animal locomotion
The previous section already points to levels of coordinated understanding
of complex dynamic patterns of movement that are difficult to communicate in
practice -- even when the consequence can be observed and admired in their performance
and style. But before considering other kinds of clues, it is worth briefly
reviewing the movements that enable animals to traverse material spaces. The
patterns of behavior associated with such movement -- developed over millions
of years -- are highly likely to condition and constrain the patterns of behaviours
with which humans respond to any new reality.
The structure of animals reflects their locomotor habits, if
any, in four distinct environments: aerial (including arboreal), aquatic,
fossorial (underground), and terrestrial.
The physical restraints on movement are gravity and drag, although
these may be considered negligible in aquatic and terrestrial locomotion respectively.
Movement may be achieved by modifications of the body shape (eg squid, eel
or leech), by the operation of special appendages, or by drifting according
to wind or water currents.
Metaphorically it could be argued that the structure of groups
or individual personalities reflects their mode of movement through society,
whether through conceptual realms and frameworks, through administrative or
behavioural infrastructures, or over the interface between the latter and
the former. The restraints on such mobility are inertia, the weight of attachment,
or attraction to any particular social setting and the general social resistance
acting to inhibit any speech change, although these may be significantly reduced
in some contexts. Movement may be achieved by general modifications of structure
(e.g. a demonstrating crowd, an infantry manoeuvre, or a tribal war party),
by the action of special sections (e.g. public relations, research), or by
drifting with the prevailing current of opinion.
There is widespread recognition of individual mobility, of groups
'on the move', if the problems of overcoming resistance to such movements
and of 'getting things moving'. There is little explicit understanding
of the ways in which groups and individuals move in society, although frequent
use is made of such phrases as 'burrowing' (e.g. through archives),
'wriggling like an eel' (e.g. in a negotiation), 'rising'
(e.g. above sordid details).
Aquatic: The structure of aquatic animals reflects
their locomotor habits. In the case of micro-organisms, motion usually involves
the action of flagella or cilia (as planar waves, oar-like beating or three-dimensional
waves), through the extension of pseudopodia, or by sliding or undulating.
The main distinction in the case of invertebrates is between bottom locomotion
(ciliary gliding over mucus, contact-anchor-extend bottom creeping, pedal
contraction waves, peristaltic contraction, and bottom walking) and swimming
(hydraulic propulsion, or undulating all or parts of the body). Fish-like
vertebrates of elongated form (such as eels) use a series of oscillations,
passing from head to tail, to provide propulsion. In those of shorter form
only the posterior half of the body flexes with such contraction waves,
or in other cases only the caudal fin. Stabilization (to prevent rolling,
pitching or yawing) and steering are accomplished using secondary fins.
Tetrepodal vertebrates tend to use fish-like movements of their tails, rotation
of flippers or wings through a figure-of-eight configuration, or alternate
movement of the feet in the case of surface-swimming.
Metaphorically, the structure of affect-oriented groups or individual personalities
reflects their mode of movement through the affective and emotional contexts,
by which they are supported. Movement of some social actors is characterized
by 'waves of emotion', which in some forms is described as 'flapping' or
'fluttering', in others as 'lashing out'. Some characteristic modes are
based on 'putting out feelers' (and then shifting into the new context if
there is no threat), on various forms of 'social climbing' involving making
a firm contact (and using that as an anchor and then as a stepping stone
from which the next contact may be reached), or on 'creeping along' over
some dependable base to which adherence is assured. Another range of modes
is characterized by such terms as 'drifting', 'gliding' or 'undulating through
life', and also by such terms as 'wriggling' and 'slithering'; and another
by strong rejection mechanisms which force the body in the opposite direction
by reaction. In more controlled and directed forms, movement through society
is ensured by some kind of orderly alternations between alternatives (e.g.
excess and restraint, opening and closure to information, confidence and
suspicion, etc) which allows the individual or groups to navigate between
Scylla and Charybdis. With greater control, movement may be achieved in
several dimensions between several pairs of alternatives. The ways in which
such movements may be modelled by the varieties of aquatic locomotion has
not been explored, nor have: buoyancy and the reduction in the effort required
to overcome inertia; breaking mechanisms; the necessity for continual movement
in some cases; surface swimming; depth, pressure and characteristic forms.
- Arboreal: The structure of tree-dwelling animals reflects their locomotor
habits. There are many adaptations for climbing but all require strong grasping
abilities with no leg (or prehensile tail) being moved until others are firmly
anchored. The sequence of alternating movements in climbing is closely related
to that of walking or hopping. Leaping from limb to limb is also similar to
terrestrial saltation. In brachiation (using the arms to swing from one place
to another), the body is suspended rather than being supported, but the pattern
of movements is similar to walking. Birds also use walking and hopping movements
on tree branches.
Metaphorically, the structure of hierarchically-oriented groups or individual
personalities reflects their mode of movement through the social and conceptual
hierarchies within which they function. Of interest are the range of techniques
used to manoeuvre through a tree or a network of interweaving branches of
different trees. There is widespread recognition of 'climbing', whether up
an organizational hierarchy or in the form of 'social climbing' within an
informal network. There is some recognition of 'leaping' from one organizational
hierarchy to another, but more widespread disapproval of 'leaping' around
within conceptual hierarchies (because of the implied non sequitur). No equivalent
use is made of 'swinging' through interlacing organizational or conceptual
networks. There is however recognition of group or individual ability to 'perch'
on some particular 'branch' of knowledge or other position. Consideration
could also be given to: movement from position to position; continuous tree
canopies in contrast with isolated clusters; trees as an interface for birds,
tree-dwellers and ground-dwellers.
- Aerial (flight): The structure of animals moving through the air
by true flight (in contrast to gliding or soaring) reflects their locomotor
habits. True flight is produced by the simultaneous rotation of the left and
right wings in a circle or figure-of-eight, which has the appearance of alternating
up and down movement. This cycle produces the upward thrust required to overcome
gravity and the forward thrust necessary to overcome drag. Lift is produced
by the unequal velocities of the air across the upper and lower wing surfaces
when the downward and backward phase of the cycle forces the air backward
and the body forward. The actual flight pattern and wing movement varies with
the different insect, bird or mammal species capable of flight. Guidance and
stability are provided by minor alteration in the symmetry of the arched wings.
Metaphorically, the structure of individual personalities or groups reflects
their mode of movement in relation to public or peer group opinion. Certain
groups with two (or more) opposing factions are able to ensure that the cycle
of actions of each is the reflection of the other. The complementary cycles
produce the force necessary to counteract public or peer group opinion, enabling
the group to rise to a more advantageous social position or move to a new
position. The actual cycle of actions employed, how these are generated, and
the resulting pattern of movement varies with the different kinds of group
capable of this form of movement. Stability and guidance are provided by continually
alternating emphasis on each faction (e.g. the correct adjustment at one time
may be 'up' on 'right' and 'down' on 'left', which will tend to cell for the
reverse immediately afterwards as a counteracting adjustment). Interesting
characteristics include simultaneous mirror-image movements of the complementary
wings in each pair. Manoeverability is only possible by unbalancing the emphases
for an appropriate period of time. Extreme factions of a group are often distinguished
as right and left 'wings', especially in the case of political parties. In
individual modes of thought, right and left brain forms have been distinguished.
A group or programme is recognized as having 'taken off' or able 'to fly'
if it is able to coordinate its movements appropriately and overcome the resistance
of the environment to that initiative. But although terms such as 'wing' are
used, the manner in which such wings function together (rather individually
or consecutively) to engender social movement, and guide its development,
has not been explored. The counteracting controls, or constraints of one on
the other, are in fact the subject of acrimonious controversy. Consideration
could also be given to: controlling imbalance to achieve manoeuvrability;
flight under a variety of conditions and with different manoeverability requirements;
aircraft flight, flap movement; control of yawing, pitching and rolling; .
controlled turns; formation flying; takeoff and landing techniques; wingless
aircraft and propulsive guidance systems.
- Aerial (gliding and soaring): The structure of animals moving though
the air reflects their locomotor habits. Gravitational gliding by certain
amphibians, reptiles and mammals is based on their ability to increase the
relative width of their bodies thereby increasing the surface area exposed
to wind resistance. Direction is controlled by adjusting the surface area
(braking being achieved by stalling). Soaring is of two types and is restricted
to birds and includes use of gravitational gliding mechanisms. Static soaring
(at relatively high altitudes over land) depends on the presence of vertical
air currents, whether close to a cliff or within free-floating thermal bubbles
(thermals). In the latter case birds spiral downward in the updraft; however,
because the bubble rises faster than the birds descend, the birds are carried
upward, but at a speed less than that of the bubble. When they reach the bottom,
they begin a gravitational glide to the next bubble. They therefore alternate
between circling and straight gliding. Dynamic soaring (at relatively low
altitudes over water) depends on the presence of layers of air of different
horizontal velocity. Speed is acquired using gravitational gliding downwind
from the higher/faster layers, height is then reacquired by turning into the
wind. The pattern is therefore a series of loops inclined to the wind.
Metaphorically, the structure of groups or individual personalities reflects
their mode of movement in relation to public or peer group opinion. Certain
groups are able to minimize their degree of exposure to public opinion so
as to enable them to 'glide' through society with relatively little effort,
from a relatively advantageous position to a less advantageous but distant
position, such that the potential loss of advantage is reduced by public expectation.
The direction of movement is controlled by adjusting exposure to public opinion.
Some suitably adapted groups are able to use a rising current of public opinion
to carry them up to a more advantageous position from which they can seek
out and glide to some other rising current that will enable them to maintain
that advantage. Others glide from position to position, increasing their social
momentum as they lose their relative advantage, orienting themselves to the
prevailing force of public opinion whenever they need to acquire advantage
again despite the associated loss of social momentum. Of interest is also
the elegant manner in which forces in the environment are used to maintain
advantage, or to reduce its loss in the most effective manner. There is recognition
of the ability of individuals or groups to take advantage of a prevailing
current of opinion and 'ride with it' especially in relation to political
issues and research or other fashion. Public opinion is also tolerant of the
misdemeanours of those it favours, cushioning the excesses of media stars,
creative geniuses and aristocrats as they manoeuvre through the social system,
in a manner which is not possible to those without such relative advantage.
But whilst such techniques are vital to maintaining the relative social advantage
of many individuals and groups, they have not been explicitly defined. Consideration
could also be given to: wing span; sensitivity to air currents; control of
flight; locating food and recovering height.
- Terrestrial: The structure of animals moving on the surface of the
ground reflects their locomotor habits. Arthropods and vertebrates tend to
move by walking or running, using the legs to support the body off the surface
and to propel it forward. Stability is maintained during this process by a
functional sequence of limb movements which in the fastest case are asymmetrical
in the case of vertebrates (four-legged) and symmetrical in the case of arthropods
(six-legged or more) which are consequently less rapid. Movement by saltation
(hopping) is also used by some vertebrates and arthropods which necessarily
have larger hind legs; four patterns of saltation may be distinguished. Movement
by crawling is used by some invertebrates (using peristaltic locomotion or
contract-anchor-extend locomotion) and by limbless vertebrates. The latter
use one of four patterns: serpentine locomotion (simultaneous lateral thrusts
against solid projections by a body in a series of sinuous curves), concertina
locomotion (used when there is not enough frictional resistance for the serpentine
form), sidewinding locomotion (used over friable sand, such that only portions
of the body remain in contact with the ground), and rectilinear locomotion
(using movement of scales beneath the body in contraction waves from head
Metaphorically, the structure of praxis-oriented groups or individual personalities
reflects their mode of movement over social terrain. To reduce resistance
to such movement, the group may only interface with its programme through
a succession of complementary policies. These may each be discarded once their
immediate objectives have been achieved but may be reimplemented in a modified
form to achieve subsequent objectives. Stability is maintained by appropriately
ordering the process of implementing and abandoning such complementary policies.
An alternative procedure, rather than maintaining continuous contact with
the social terrain and its constraints, is to undertake a discontinuous succession
of policy leaps thus by-passing obstacles which might otherwise prove impassable.
Another alternative is to ensure that all parts of the group are in continuous
contact with the terrain and to coordinate the manner in which they each act
on it in order to move the group forward. Of interest is also the manner in
which support, propulsive and stabilizing functions are distinguished and
coordinated. In China official use has been made of the metaphor of 'walking
on two legs' as well as of the 'great leap forward'. But in general there
is little understanding of how the relationship between contrasting policies
is to be coordinated. It is as though the different legs win in competition
for the right to move forward. This is a guarantee of instability and discontinuity
in two-party systems and of confusion in multi-party systems. This clarifies
the frequent repeat that society can only advance at a 'crawling' pace. The
metaphor also throws light on the debate between those who favour organizations
in which all sections deal with practical issues and those favouring specialized
sections for such contact. Consideration could also be given to the contrast
between the evolutionary relationship between different forms of movement
and the effectiveness of particular forms in particular environments.
- Fossorial (underground): The structure of fossorial (burrowing or
boring) animals reflects their locomotor habits. Invertebrates and vertebrates
have evolved a number of different locomotor patterns to penetrate soil, wood
or stone. Some invertebrate (such as worms) may burrow using peristaltic locomotion
generated by the alternation of longitudinal- and circular-muscle contraction
waves flowing from head to tail. Others (such as molluscs) use the contract-anchor-extend
method. In the case of reptiles and amphibians, burrowing is accomplished
by alternating head movements, whereas in the case of mammals digging is achieved.
Metaphorically, the structure of infrastructure-oriented groups or individual
personalities reflects their mode of movement through relatively dense social
or information structures characterized by complex procedures (whether of
a modern administration or some traditional body) or by large quantities of
minimally ordered information (as in any system of archives). Also of interest
are the tunnels resulting from such movement. Terms such as 'barrowing' and
'boring' are frequently used, whether in relation to working through large
quantities of data or to the penetration of some complex social structure.
The terms 'bookworm' and 'mole' (as applied in espionage) reflect these perceptions.
Little attention has, however, been given to the range of ways in which such
movements are accomplished. Consideration could also be given to the contribution
of the earthworm to soil fertility; movement of reptiles and insects through
friable sand without resulting in tunnels; wood borers.
The past decade has seen an explosion of interest in the study
of animal movement to provide credibility to special effects in movies, and
in virtual reality presentations.
Clues from animal locomotion understood generically
What is required is a classification of such movements in their
most generic sense as a basis for understanding of how they both enable movement
and define experience of the space in which such movement occurs.
Movement with respect to physical space is in many ways replete with learnings
for movement with respect to any alternative reality. In the case of walking,
- One foot is moved forward to a position at which it can bear the full weight
of the body.
- The other foot is then brought forward, past the first, to a new position
at which it can in turn bear the full weight of the body. The arms are moved
in such a way as to act as a counterbalance.
- As a result of these movements the body can be moved forward at a constant
- Although in places of difficulty the attention may be focused on the movement
of one of the feet, normally attention is focused on the movement of the body
as a whole.
A special sequence of movements is required when climbing. This
is especially evident when climbing up between two smooth parallel walls (a
'chimney' in mountaineering terms). The climber has to ensure that there is
sufficient pressure against both walls to enable him to move upward in succession
his hands, feet or body. Variants are evident in the case of climbing through
trees. But the important insight is associated with the need to attach the limb
to a surface whilst another limb is detached from that surface, and then to
repeat the alternation between attachment and detachment.
Metaphorically, for example:
- One policy may be promoted and implemented to bring society forward to a
- Eventually however the momentum of this displacement requires another distinct
policy to be brought into play to prevent loss of balance and to carry the
society even further forward.
- During this latter phase the first policy must necessarily conserve the
achievements made although the weight attached to this role is gradually phased
out in anticipation of a reinterpretation of this policy to take the society
even further forward.
- Whilst attention is clearly required on the formulation and implementation
of each policy, particularly at points of crisis, the progress of society
is best guided in terms of the movement as a whole to which both policies
contribute, but for which neither is sufficient by itself.
The smooth transfer of weight from one foot to the other with
each foot alternately bearing the weight and then giving it up to the other.
The counterbalancing movement of each arm in harmony with the opposing leg.
Progress is measured by the number of alternations made. The metaphor of "walking
on two legs" has been used in China to describe a policy of technological dualism.
The present attitude of policy advocates may be likened to the attempt to move
forward with one foot only - whether it be the right or the left. This can only
be achieved by hopping - provided balance can be maintained. Policies have to
be relinquished in favour of an alternative and then renewed to fulfil a new
role. This is also true of any "alternative''. Consideration could also be
given to: more legs (4-legged, 6-legged, etc. animals); legless movement (serpentine);
learning to coordinate walking movements; drunken or spastic lack of coordination;
limping, paralysis and other obstacles to free movement; number of counteracting
muscles required; evolution of types of movement; monkey movement through trees
by swinging from the branches by the hands only.
The development of society may be seen as the upward movement
between any two constraining extremes (e.g. idealism and materialism) which
offer no permanent foothold. Developmental movement may be achieved by ensuring
that there is sufficient pressure against both extremes to guarantee a temporarily
secure or stable position from which a portion of society may be moved forward.
Of interest is the sequence of movements required for such a climb to be successfully
made, especially when the climber has to rest periodically. The way in which
different portions of the climber's anatomy (hands, feet, body) change their
function from applying pressure to moving upward. The basic requirement that
there always be sufficient counteracting pressure against both wall. t As with
the walking metaphor, the prevailing attitude may be likened to that of a climber
attempting to get up a chimney by attempting to cling to the one favoured wall
and to avoid touching the other (perceived as anathema). A skilled mountaineer
can do this by inserting spikes in the favoured wall. Much less skill is required
to climb using pressure on both walls. Consideration could also be given to:
a climber with more extremities; climbing up a multi-dimensional chimney with
N walls and N-1 directions in which to 'fall down'.
Clues from Christian vices and virtues
As indicated earlier, a particularly interesting possibility is
offered, ironically, by the patterns of vices and virtues traditionally articulated
by different religions from West and East. Understood slightly differently --
primarily as experiential, rather than as moralistic, behavioural guidelines
-- these might well suggest fruitful and less fruitful ways of navigating experientially
in other realities. The question is how to decode them.
One approach is to use them as templates through which to identify
the 'virtues' and 'vices' of particular movements in sports
like those named above -- just as there are virtues and vices in driving an
automobile or successfully piloting a helicopter. This approach is in fact
prefigured by various sports psychology books on acquiring the appropriate
attitude essential to better performance (cf the many books on the "Inner
Game" of tennis, golf, bowling, soccer, skiing, etc.) [more].
The articulation of generic virtues and vices of movement should
then offer insights into those of the flow and other worlds -- providing a
key to how the classic virtues and vices can be understood experientially
as necessary disciplines for navigational purposes (see also).
- Hope: appropriate to the successful achievement of any innovative manoeuver
- Will: appropriate to engaging in a challenging manoeuver
- Purpose: appropriate focus for the execution of a manoeuver
- Competence: appropriate discipline for structuring a manoeuver
- Loyalty: appropriate attitude to peers, predecessors, successors and
- Love: appropriate attitude to execution of the process itself,
but also in relation to others
- Care: appropriate concern for the consequences of any manoeuver
- Wisdom: appropriate contextual insight interrelating the above
The navigational skills associated with such virtues would be undermined by
corresponding vices in the sport:
- Despair: undermining hope and the ability to undertake a manoeuver
- Anger: undermining concentration and focus on execution of the manoeuver
- Greed: overambitious incautiousness, distorting relationship to others,
- Envy: excessive focus on others, distorting own initiatives
- Pride: excessive self-focus and insensitivity to context (literally "before
- Lust: disrespect for the process, but also for its significance for others
- Apathy: inability to "get one's act together"
- Excessive consumption of resources, especially energy
It is interesting how the moralistic focus of Christian dogma
has served to reveal and conceal vital insights. It is indeed the case that
ability to embody virtues may well enable a practitioner of a sport to hold
to a higher order of discipline -- as proponents of Christianity might well
stress in emphasizing 'character building'. However it is also the
case that superb practitioners may acquire those same kinetic insights elsewhere
in a manner totally unrelated to Christian teachings. Whether through that discipline
the person acquires a maturity and mode of being that is subsequently associated
by others with virtue, labelled 'Christian', is another matter --
even if the person is effectively an atheist or indulges in practices of which
the moral would severely disapprove.
Clues from yogic perspectives on afflictions
of the mind
Classic texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali stress
that suffering stems from desire, attachment, fear and certain unconscious universal
constructs, existing in unliberated human minds. These constructs or afflictions
(called Kleshas), are crystallized thought-forms according to Patanjali
(Sutras 2: 1, 2, 4) [more].
They may however be usefully reviewed for insights into how they inhibit, or
can be used to enable, new patterns of movement in previously unrecognized conceptual
Ignorance (avidiya): The primal and all-pervading
ignorance preventing awareness is experiential, not conceptual, in nature.
It is pure, all pervasive, immanent, and transcendent, radiating from
the core of our being. Ignorance is thus the modality by which we are
separated from the embracing flux of the eternal now wherein the frictions
of separateness are in dominant operation causing discomfort, desire,
craving, dissatisfaction, restlessness, and anxiety. The problem of stasis
arises when we become conditioned (habituated) to seeing the world, explaining
our existence, and identifying with this narrow perspective. When familiarity
with duality becomes confused with security, we start to demand (or mistake)
our obscured and limited familiar "state of reality" in place of unobstructed
clarity, true vision, or the real thing.
Clearly ignorance is a prime factor in inhibiting effective movement into
alternative realities, or within them. It is especially noteworthy in
the case of those who block out information on the existence of such realities,
particularly information from those who have experience of them. It might
be argued that many alternative approaches to current economic, employment,
environmental and other problems have degrees of viability that those
locked into a mainstream perspective are quite unable to detect. Paradoxically
a form of ignorance is however vital in arousing curiosity to encourage
movement. When moving it is also important to accept ignorance of the
surprises that the future may bring -- even to the degree of recognizing
that an apparently secure hold may not be secure.
Egoism (asmita): This is the false identification of separateness
or aloneness. This single thought of a limited self is enormously convincing
because it pervades the entire body-mind complex. It is the nature of
this individual "I-am" sense, or ego, to identify with something and become
attached to it. The result of this ignorance of our true nature is thus
our misidentification with some aspect of limited existence, which is
inherently painful because it is incomplete. Once this misidentification
occurs, the whole perception of reality is altered, so that the entire
universe is divided into "me" versus "not-me" and the objects of experience
are divided into "mine" and "not-mine". This is the result of the more
specific process of confusing the inherently transpersonal powers and
processes of consciousness with that of individual intellectualization
or cognition which then results in false or faulty identification with
fragmented existence -- a sense of a separate "I" or ego.
Misidentification with some limited aspect of existence (or model) attaches
identity to that feature so as to inhibit movement. In these terms, any
movement would call for relaxing attachment to one such feature or framework
to enable attachment to others as appropriate. The framework may be a
group, a place, a career, a relationship or a belief system -- from which
identity cannot be effectively disconnected. Identity is then bounded
and defined by such a framework and is not free to be defined in any other
way. But again, paradoxically, unless identity is attached to some limited
feature it is problematic to consider moving it with respect to others
or the whole. The challenge is to make such identification temporary rather
than permanent, namely to be able to 'don and doff' it as required
by the situation -- as is done with clothing to permit movement under
different weather conditions.
Attraction to appearance (raga): This is the attraction
or attachment to the appearance of objects. It is the specific false identification
that tells us that objects of attraction will bring about happiness. It
is the illusion that conjoining to, identifying with, or possessing separate
I-It objects will provide fulfillment i.e., attraction/attachment. This
creates in us a pattern of acquisition: we began to pursue human relationships,
knowledge, wealth, status, power-anything which might be capable of enlarging
and protecting our fragile individualized existence. But because change
is the nature of creation, all objects within it are impermanent, and
thus subject to loss at any moment.
When a particular form of appearance is considered more attractive than
others, this necessarily inhibits movement governed by other attractors
-- notably those that are less tangible or visible. Attractive aspects
may also prove to be a very effective camouflage for unattractive values,
whereas unattractive features may disguise qualities of greater value.
But again, paradoxically, appearance may be a vital guide to movement
-- offering directionality -- in the absence of any other information,
if the need for continual vigilance is recognized.
- Repulsion (dvesha): This is repulsion, hatred, and aversion.
In experiencing an object which gives us pleasure, we become attached to
that pleasure, and desire to experience it again. When the experience becomes
unavailable to us, we feel pain. If after repeated efforts we are not successful,
but our attachment remains strong, our pain and anger turns to depression,
helplessness, and finally hatred of ourselves and the world. This is based
on the confusion that possession of, or identification with, other objects,
the fear of losing objects, the change of states from one false identification
to another, or the loss of formerly possessed objects, will bring about
pain or sorrow
Obsession with forms that have proven to be repugnant can indeed become
obsessive, thus inhibiting movement because of what is effectively an attachment.
But again, paradoxically, aversion in some form is necessary as a platform
from which to push off into some other experience. Learning what has proven
to be unsatisfactory can be a vital prelude to movement and can provide
some useful impulse to move -- offering the resistance or friction against
which action can be taken.
- Fear of the unknown (abhinivesha): This is the fear of death
and the clinging to life as it is known. It is the insecurity and fear of
the unknown and death. Because of raga and dvesha, a tremendous,
habitual outflowing of energy and attention through the senses to the objects
of external world is set up. As long as the individual thinks that consciousness
is limited to bodily existence, he is forever at the mercy of forces beyond
his control, snatching a little happiness here and there but always aware,
even if it is on a subconscious level, that sooner or later the body will
die and the vehicle of experience will be no more.
Distinct in some ways from ignorance, is the fear of change itself. Change
necessarily affects the individual in ways which may be experienced as a
form of death when life until then was associated with a particular pattern
of experiences. But again, paradoxically, such fear can be a vital stimulus
-- even experienced as the essence of living -- as in the case of risk taking
of any form, but notably in dangerous sports and the undertaking of any
initiative (including stage-fright) or process of discovery.
The movement-enabling interpretations of the five 'afflictions' above
can be brought together in a single image that holds their ambiguity as the essence
of the experiential dynamics of movement. The symbol is the Fool
in the traditional tarot deck. Assuming his ignorance
of what the future
may bring, he repels
himself off a cliff-top -- attracted by something
unseen by others, mastering any fear of the unknown
in an act of daring.
The image has been cleverly illustrated in the closing drama of the popular movie
Raiders of the Lost Ark
when Indiana Jones steps into an abyss on his way
to the Grail. It is the process of how the future is enacted in that moment which
is a key to navigating alternative realities. As such it could be the key to the
temporal locus of what might be termed memetic stems
essential to transformation of belief system frameworks.
Clues from Buddhism
Five hindrances (pañcanivarana): This is
the principal classification used for the obstacles to meditation, because of
the way these hindrances hinder and envelop the mind, preventing meditative
development in the two spheres of serenity and insight. They are also referred
to as: obstructions, corruptions of the mind which weaken wisdom. In the list
below, two of the five are subdivided (making a total of seven) reflecting additional
Each hindrance impedes in its own way the mind's capacity for
concentration. It is in this sense that they provide clues to how to posture
awareness to move in other ways in other spaces, whether these are academic
studies, training in martial arts, or exploration of other cultural spaces:
Sensual desire (kamachanda): the desire for
sense pleasure: pleasant forms, sounds, smells, tastes and tangibles. It
ranges from subtle liking to powerful lust. It is closely associated with
greed. It is readily understandable that inability to detach from the stimuli
in one environment directly prevents any ability to move to, or within,
the framework of another space where pleasure may manifest in other ways.
Understanding 'pleasant' and 'unpleasant' in one environment
may have survival value, as with valuing water in a desert. However such
attachment would be quite problematic for navigation in a tropical delta.
Ill will (byapada): signifies aversion directed
towards disagreeable persons or things. It can vary in range from mild annoyance
to overpowering hatred. It is closely associated with hate. As with desire,
aversion can itself become a form of attachment to a particular framework
of mode of behaviour which because of its obsessive quality holds the person
in that reality and prevents them from recognizing, moving to, or within,
the framework of another space.
- Sloth (thina): dullness, inertia or mental stiffness. This
is an obvious inhibitor to any form of movement, whether in physical, mental
or existential spaces.
- Torpor (middha): indolence or drowsiness. As with sloth, this
is an obvious inhibitor to any form of movement, whether in physical, mental
or existential spaces. Both may however conceal skills vital when patience
is required in anticipation of movement at an appropriate moment.
- Restlessness (uddhacca): excitement, agitation or disquietude.
This is an obvious inhibitor of any form of effective movement (notably in
sports) that calls for attentive control, concentration and a sense of timing
-- especially when periods of non-movement are required to enable a shift
into another mode (as with jumping onto a passing vehicle). But it may be
vital to certain forms of vigilance and search patterns of movement.
- Worry (kukkucca): the sense of guilt aroused by moral
transgressions. No one that is required to engage in a complex pattern of
movement can afford to have their concentration distracted by matters from
the past, however important. To the practitioner of a sport, the injunctions
would be: 'put that out of your head' and 'get focused'
on what you need to do. On the other hand, patterns of exhausting worry have
often proven a vital prelude to creative, intuitive breakthroughs.
- Doubt (vicikiccha): uncertainty with regard to guiding principles.
Any form of movement, and notably movement into a different conceptual reality,
requires a degree of confidence -- typical of that of the practitioner of
an extreme sport. On the other hand, doubt may be an essential prerequisite
to any form of re-assessment of a current position in the light of challenging
information from another framework. No doubt, no dialogue!
|Ten perfections (paramis)
Ten fetters of existence
||Clinging to ritual
Greed for fine material existence
Greed for immaterial existence
In various Buddhist traditions, considerable importance is attached
to fundamental afflictions as the cause of suffering (and as responsible for
maintaining the cycle of rebirth). All other problems are seen as engendered
by them. In the Visuddhimagga (Buddhaghosa, 5th century AD), the following
detailed checklist is given (followed there by indications of which forms of
knowledge ensure release from them in each case). The seeming duplication is
due to the emphasis on the different ways a limited set of problems acts, as
indicated by the often metaphoric categories:
- Fetters: greed for material benefits, greed for non-material benefits,
conceit/pride, excitement/agitation, ignorance, delusion of selfhood (false
view of individuality), doubt, susceptibility to rites and rituals, greed
for sense desires, and resentment. -
- Corruptions/Defilements: greed, hatred, delusion, conceit/pride, false view,
uncertainty, mental sloth, excitement/agitation, consciencelessness, shamelessness.
- Wrongnesses: wrong view, wrong thinking, wrong speech (falsehood), wrong
action, wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong mindfulness, wrong concentration,
possibly together with wrong understanding of deliverance and wrong knowledge.
- Worldly conditions (despondency/servitude to states): gain, loss, fame,
disgrace, pleasure, pain, blame, praise.
- Meannesses (kinds of avarice): avarice about dwellings, families, gain,
- Perversions (reversals): perversion of perception, of consciousness, and
of view (whereby, in each case, the inappropriate is misapprehended as the
- Ties: covetousness, ill-will, susceptibility to rites and rituals, dogmatic
misinterpretation of truth.
- Tendencies to inappropriate action: partiality (desire/zeal), hatred, delusion,
- Bonds (cankers/yokes/floods): sensuous lust, lust for rebirth, wrong views,
uncontrolled sensuousness, being swept into becoming, difficulty of overcoming.
- Hindrances: sensuous desire, ill-will, sloth/torpor, distraction (agitation/worry),
- Misapprehension/Wrong views: ignoring essentials in favour of non-essentials.
- Graspings/Clingings: clinging to views, susceptibility to rites and rituals,
clinging to selfhood, desire.
- Inherent tendencies/Biases: sensuous passion, resentment, conceit/pride,
false view, doubt, craving for existence, ignorance.
- Stains/Taints: greed, hatred, delusion.
- Courses of immoral action: life-taking, theft, sexual misconduct, lying,
slanderous speech, harsh speech, gossip, covetousness, ill-will, wrong view.
- Immoral states of consciousness: eight rooted in greed, two rooted in hate,
two rooted in delusion.
Clues from the streetwise and from nonviolence
The above clues suggest the possibility of a (thought) experiment
in identifying the generic range of conceptual skills that might be required
to navigate alternative reality of any kind. Would decoding virtues and vices
provide such a checklist and, given such a list, how could the items on it be
organized into a coherent 'streetwise' mode of conceptual behaviours?
It is one thing to know what to do when riding a bicycle or piloting a helicopter,
it is a completely different matter to do so successfully. The checklists provided
in an earlier paper [more]
are too general and need to be given much greater focus, inspired to a far greater
degree by learnings from those with a high order of kinetic intelligence --
and notably those in the martial arts, or those who are indeed 'streetwise'
in the conventional sense, and necessarily capable of responding rapidly and
vigilantly to unusual situations. Other sources of insight might include mentors
of guided meditations or shamanic explorations.
It would be helpful therefore to be able to draw upon a consolidated
set of guidelines to those (like the streetwise) whose survival depends on an
alternative (possibly violent) pattern of behaviour, or to those who seek to
interact in new ways in order to engender a new framework, as in the case of
practitioners of non-violent responses in potentially threatening situations.
Some dispute the need for such guidelines [more].
It is interesting that the distilled articulation of guidelines
to nonviolence, notably on the occasion of major demonstrations [more],
tends to follow the style of injunction similar to the articulation of virtues
or the 10 Commandments. For example:
- Our attitude will be one of openness, friendliness, and respect towards
all people we encounter.
- We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person.
- We will not damage any property.
- We will not bring or use any drugs or alcohol other than for medical purposes.
- We will not run.
- We will carry no weapons. [more]
There is a focus on what should not be done in order to
exhibit nonviolence [more;
and a focus on exhibiting essentially static qualities in performing any associated
peacekeeping role [more].
Where efforts are made to articulate a more proactive role [more],
they tend necessarily to focus on visible actions rather than the dynamic attitudes
sustaining such actions and enabling innovative responses (as extolled in martial
Gandhi's major contribution in articulating and implementing a
style of nonviolence, as a basis for his strategy of civil disobedience, was
based on the Hindu doctrine of ahimsa. Its practitioners, or satyagrahis
were expected to give their lives in efforts to quell violence if it erupted.
Gandhi interpreted ahimsa broadly as refraining from anything at all
harmful. "The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue
haste, by Iying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by
our holding on to what the world needs." Thus even greed and avarice can violate
ahimsa. Nonviolence has a great spiritual power, but the slightest use
of violence can taint a just cause. The strength is not physical but comes from
the spiritual will [more]
The following is Gandhi's summary of the implications of nonviolence:
- Nonviolence is the law of the human race and is infinitely greater than
and superior to brute force.
- In the last resort it does not avail to those who do not possess a living
faith in the God of Love.
- Nonviolence affords the fullest protection to one's self-respect and sense
of honor, but not always to possession of land or movable property, though
its habitual practice does prove a better bulwark than the possession of armed
men to defend them. Nonviolence, in the very nature of things, is of no assistance
in the defense of ill-gotten gains and immoral acts.
- Individuals or nations who would practice nonviolence must be prepared
to sacrifice (nations to the last man) their all except honor. It is, therefore,
inconsistent with the possession of other people's countries, i.e., modern
imperialism, which is frankly based on force for its defense.
- Nonviolence is a power which can be wielded equally by all-children, young
men and women or grown-up people, provided they have a living faith in the
God of Love and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When nonviolence
is accepted as the law of life it must pervade the whole being and not be
applied to isolated acts.
- It is a profound error to suppose that whilst the law is good enough for
individuals it is not for masses of mankind.
The fundamental tenets of Martin Luther King's philosophy of nonviolence
- Nonviolence is not passive, but requires courage;
- Nonviolence seeks reconciliation, not defeat of an adversary;
- Nonviolent action is directed at eliminating evil, not destroying an evil-doer;
- A willingness to accept suffering for the cause, if necessary, but never
to inflict it;
- A rejection of hatred, animosity or violence of the spirit, as well as
refusal to commit physical violence; and
- Faith that justice will prevail.
But even the Six Steps of Nonviolence [more]
associated with these tenets appear to avoid any discussion of the dynamic attitudes
required in practice. Such attitudes are however clearly called for in a review,
from a Gandhian perspective, of the possible responses to bullying [more].
According to Gandhi, through their mentors: 'Just as physical training
was to be imparted through physical exercise, and intellectual through intellectual
exercise, even so the training of the spirit was possible only through the exercise
of the spirit. And the exercise of the spirit entirely depended on the life
and character of the teacher.'
Clues from the martial arts
It is from the philosophy and practice of certain Eastern martial
arts that more precise insights into these dynamic attitudes can be obtained.
a major example is aikido as developed by Morihei Ueshiba (see Mitsugi Saotome.
The Principles of Aikido, 1989). According to the claims for aikido,
for example :
'The idea of a non-violent martial art seems at first to be paradoxical
and self-contradictory. But in this respect, aikido is perhaps the most unique
and beautiful of all the martial arts: it is defensive and non-aggressive
both in its philosophy and techniques, yet incredibly versatile and practical.
Aikidoists do not try to initiate attacks, win fights or defeat opponents.
Instead, they seek to control and neutralize an attack not through sheer physical
strength, but rather through flowing circular motions that blend with the
energy of an attack and redirect that energy back against the attacker. Instead
of directly controlling an attack, the techniques of aikido are designed to
harmonize with the power and direction of the attack and convert it into a
force that will unbalance the attacker and render him or her helpless. Attacks
are then neutralized by the use of various wristlocks and arm pins, rather
than crippling kicks or blows. Aikido practice is as much a mental and spiritual
exercise as well as a physical one.' [more]
The question is how to clarify the nonphysical dynamics of 'through
flowing circular motions that blend with the energy of an attack and redirect
that energy back against the attacker'. An extremely useful step in this
direction has been made in Eri Izawa's Aikido Principles Transposed Up Into
the Realm of Spirit [more].
Also of interest are the insights offered in training in Tai Chi Chuan, notably
the levels of insight acquired through 7 steps [more].
Such insights are not well reflected in the collection of aikido
insights in response to 11th September [more].
Of more relevance is the work of Neil Bodine Interest-based Aikido: taming
the positional tiger [more]
who explores application of these principles. Work by Percy L. Julian, Jr. on
understanding the principles of aikido provides a theoretical construct for
their application in a mediation context in dealing with aggression, in developing
strategic interventions, in maintaining flexibility and in developing dynamic
ways of thinking about their role in the mediation process. An article in the
International Bulletin of Political Psychology (Vol.10 No.13 Apr 13,
2001) draws attention to the influence of Vladimir Putin, as a practitioner
of judo, on Russian foreign policy, in contrast to that of the USA as influenced
by 'weight machines' [more].
Clues from psychotherapy and game-playing
It is curious, although understandable, that martial arts necessarily
frame interaction with others in terms of vulnerability to attack. Use of the
term kata for the nature of the response precludes responses that are
not associated with attack -- even though kata may be understood more
generally as 'how one is to behave'. The many katas that are
the basis for a martial art neglect responses in situations that are recognized
in transactional analysis (Eric Berne. Games People Play: the psychology
of human relationships, 1968) [more].
It is is also interesting that one martial art, kenpo, stresses the way in which
it combines the different katas together, like letters in an alphabet
of behaviour, as a 'cursive' script. Rather than isolated 'print'
letters, one letter is blended with and seems to come from the preceding one.
Both straight and circular lines are used. This combination avoids hesitations
between katas. Rather, it all flows along, continuously, and speed is
enhanced. A good martial arts system combines the best of both elements found
in writing [more].
Berne defined certain socially dysfunctional behavioral patterns
as "games". These repetitive, devious transactions are intended to obtain strokes
but instead they reinforce negative feelings and self-concepts, and mask the
direct expression of thoughts and emotions. Berne tagged these games with such
instantly recognizable names as "Why Don't You, Yes But," and "I'm Only Trying
to Help You." The series of transactions in a game includes the following elements
(defined by Ian Stewart, Vann Joines in TA Today: A New Introduction to Transactional
- Con: a transactional stimulus which on the psychological level conveys
an invitation into game-playing
- Gimmick: a transactional response which on the psychological level conveys
that the person has accepted an invitation into game-playing
- Switch: a point in a game at which the player changes roles in order to
collect his or her payoff.
- Crossup: the moment of confusion experienced by a game-player immediately
after the switch, leading to
- Payoff: the racket feeling experienced by the player at the close of the
game, namely a set of scripty behaviors, intended outside awareness as a means
of manipulating the environment, and entailing thus the person's experiencing
a racket feeling
Other clues are provided by the variety of transactions between
client and therapist in psychotherapy. For example, the interpersonal principle
of complementarity specifies ways in which a person's interpersonal behavior
evokes restricted classes of behavior from an interactional partner, leading
to a self-sustaining and reinforcing system [more].
Clues from dialogue
A game may not necessarily be experienced in terms of an attack,
although when it is it may be primarily an emotional or mental attack (also
of great interest in martial arts). It would be useful to explore the relationship
between katas and such games. But this still excludes patterns of nonphysical
interaction that are not fruitfully framed as an attack but may call for skilled
patterns of response.
An important source of insight in this respect is etiquette, notably
as it relates to patterns of dialogue that are not simply characterized as game-playing.
Wilton S Dillon of the Smithsonian Institution, in More than Civility
(1999), focuses on how the dynamics and civility patterns of human organizations
are profoundly influenced by gift exchange, namely how gift-giving and reciprocity
are handled in different historical and cultural settings to constitute a vital
clue to promoting a civil society and to successful relations between one culture
and another [more].
Dillon sees the key question as: Does civility as a lubricant depend on how
people remember and handle their gifts, debts, and obligations? The assumption
is that reciprocity is an essential ingredient of civility. Could it just be
possible that gift exchange among humans, if properly managed, might help deter
violence and promote civility as an alternative?
Dillon contrasts Quaker civility with the mainstream cultural
habits described in Deborah Tannen's The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate
to Dialogue (1998):
[There is] a pervasive warlike atmosphere that makes us approach public dialogue...as
if it were a fight....Our spirits are corroded by living in an atmosphere
of unrelenting contention--an argument culture...an adversarial frame of mind...the
assumption that opposition is the best way to get anything done.
Dillon sees her observations as resonating with those of Daniel
Yankelovich The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict into Cooperation
I am troubled by the growing power of the forces dividing Americans from
one another, fragmenting our culture....[A] certain kind of dialogue can counterbalance
the worst effects...create better understanding among people with divergent
views...create new possibilities in personal relationships and community.
Thus advocating dialogue falls nicely into the gift-exchange metaphor.
Partners in a dialogue, coming out of fiercely partisan positions, in government,
business, academia and the media, may learn to reciprocate with "gifts" offered
for the common good. However this focus on essentially bilateral exchange loses
the evolutionary and transformative dimensions associated with game-playing
and martial arts. These dimensions are integrated in other ways in Timothy Wilken's
A Gift Tensegrity [more]
and in Stafford Beer's Beyond dispute: the invention of team syntegrity