Why would I spend several sweating hot days doing an inquiry that resulted in just a three word answer? Because I’m lazy. A peer, Michael Doneman, was acting as my coach when he shared the story of what characterise the best officers in the German army. They were lazy and intelligent, meaning they were “shortcut seekers”. Lazy is not a word I’ve heard anyone use to describe me so far, but I’d love it if they did. Especially if “lazy” referred to the fact that I chose to spend a few hours a month/year really figuring something out that was generative, rather than spending a few months/years working in a way that was depletive and futile.
The hours were spent in a semi-structured inquiry into qualities that would be enabling of conditions of generativity in interaction with ‘communities of ethos’ (i.e. people working in the same field, living in the same location or being of a similar set of values). That is, for the practice area of (“community animateur”) what qualities and practices would be enabling of generativity?
If there were some qualities that commonly characterised success for people working in the same field, living in the same location or being of a similar set of values, figuring out those qualities could really be useful for them. What came out was a trichotomy of:
This seems to be enabling of three attainments of:
Doing this inquiry involved set of explainable steps below:
- Searching through various notebooks and files of paper for the notes I’d made on how to ask this question, previous efforts at making the inquiry, tweets from late night discussions at Christmas parties, and answers I’d thought were useful,
- Reviewing notes from the Apithology course on the nine inquiries, and using templates created to assist with the inquiries,
- Looking up all the terms (“phobos”, “thanatos”) etc. again to be sure I was understanding them correctly,
- Reviewing the notes from Masterclass esp. the qualities of others’ apithological trichotomies, the ‘five things about trichotomies’
- Checking notes and blog posts I’d drafted following participation in recent conferences, gatherings or activities involving
- Sitting down, drawing, writing, pondering and making side notes on what I was noticing as I was making the inquiry,
- Letting go (temporarily) of my dissatisfaction with the limitations of the language I was coming up with, and just feeling more and more into the quality that seemed to be emerging,
- Getting ‘stuck’ at the 6th inquiry (3 coherences — trichotomy) and realising the ‘stuckness’ was because I didn’t want to bother completing the inquiries, I just wanted the trichotomy!
- Anticipating (and requesting) a ‘check’ from other members of the Apithology community who may be able to validate this as an apithological trichotomy,
- Based on feedback from the community, starting the triptych and 5 yogas as a way to check the functionality, coherency and generativity of the trichotomy,
- Continuing with the inquiry when the time and energy were appropriate, or doing things that were more enabling of the sort of mind I was seeking to articulate e.g. surfing, riding, going to NYE party, having an afternoon nap, meditating at random times when it felt needed (normally I only meditate morning or evening),
- Checking the descriptions of co-actions while completing the triptych after noticing the familiarity in the dynamics,
- Making lots of time to do the inquiry, letting go of any particular desire to have it ‘done’ in favour of doing it well.
There were also steps where the rational connection to the outcome of the inquiry would be less easy to articulate e.g. cleaning the house, responding to Christmas cards and emails from friends, cooking, going to a NYE party or servicing my motorbike.
Some things I noticed during this inquiry:
- I did the first 5 inquiries for three different communities and leaving the nine inquiries uncompleted while I participated in their gatherings, only to come back to complete the inquiries later. Which is when I realised that one reason for being stuck on them was that the inquiry (practice area) didn’t match the context (specific communities), but when the inquiry was expanded it could relate to all those contexts. The questions from the community redirected my attention back to this inquiry being about my practice area, because the inquiries in specific contexts can only really be done ‘with’ those contexts in-action (not pre-designed in isolation). This required that I drop my habitual reaching for the third person perspective such that I can find my first-person experience, and instead dissolving the conceptualised differentiation between contexts and creating a trichotomy that would be enabling of my contribution through embodiment, not ‘by design’
- Finding that I’d tended to frame the ‘Mind’/3rdness component of a trichotomy as a resultant or consequential of the first two, which meant I had previously done inquiries based on a somewhat linear or causal conceptualisation, rather than of a generative dynamic that could be enabled by the interaction of all three. A metaphor is that sensing the generative conditions is a bit like trying to see around corners, compared to looking down a straight street. Or, sensing the space inside the barrel of a moving wave compared to driving down a straight street — there’s different intelligences and senses that need to be engaged.
- The qualities of a trichotomy are called “coherences” in the documentation of the nine inquiries process, which gave me a clue about how to access the sort of ‘feel’ i.e. not incoherent, beautiful, rhyming or any other ‘feel’ in particular other than ‘coherence’
- Appreciating that there is a sort of fundamental trust or ‘endless believing’ that allowed me to enter through one of the “Four Doors of Apithology”. There is this sort of ‘seed’ I offer — a fundamental belief in humanity’s orientation towards health — that is foundational for practicing and needed to actually be embodied and lived during the inquiry,
- Expanding the inquiry beyond the boundary of the limited set of contexts I was initially considering was critical in enabling of the emergence of the qualities e.g. just considering a community of social entrepreneurs was disabling, expanding to all sorts of temporary (e.g. dance parties), permanent (e.g. Geraldton), or purposeful (e.g. Cheng Hsin) communities was a key ‘shift’ in attention,
- I am endlessly grateful for the Nine Inquiries questions and the capacities it enables e.g. considering the presences and absences without bias, when usually there is an immediate, obvious, and biased (therefore useless) answer,
- I had sort of assumed the 3 attainments would be directly related to the three coherences (trichotomy), however upon reaching that inquiry, three emerged that seemed to have no rational or definitional relationship to the body-speech-mind qualities, yet were just perfect,
- This blog post was written throughout the process — not just retrospectively at the end. My sense is that asking the community, documenting my inquiry, all made the outcomes more valuable, robust and therefore worth doing well.
- That I didn’t “put everything on hold” and just do the inquiry all day everyday. But what I did do was put my old mind and habits on hold, and actually tried to live and embody the qualities in the practice area as I was doing the inquiry. I very much noticed that my mind was occupied with the question while doing other things e.g. riding motorbike. It’s remarkable to think that I thought it could be done any other way!
- I couldn’t help but check my “Print” description afterwards and realised I was probably displaying many of my best-self attributes and many of the things I did (even going for a bike ride mid-day, mid-inquiry) prevented the shadow traits from emerging!
So, the nine inquiries were completed in community, and a trichtomy, triptych and new five yogas practice emerged.
And, what did we learn? I’m not quite sure how to articulate the learnings that may be of relevant to other practitioners or the practice, but I’ll do a first sketch:
- “Sharing is caring” — if it’s that important and of relevance to the community then you’d naturally want to share the inquiry,
- “Mind matters: embodiment enables emergence” — analytical, objective inquiry and interpretation wouldn’t enable the accessing of the wholistic intelligence required for emergence,
- “The answers are there, if you have the questions” — once you are doing the inquiries you may start looking around for, finding or requesting definitions, instructions and templates that suddenly become critically-relevant.