Tag Archives: Taking Appearance Seriously

Getting to know Life in terms of Itself

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And so it begins….

Approaching life, people, plants, situations – any phenomenon – as if engaging in conversation with a new friend. I have an open mind and an open heart. I hold an air of wonder, I carry a positive expectancy of as-of-yet undiscovered uniqueness, confident that I am getting to know something new but aware of the mystery of the unknown and the potential for wonder and discovery that this process of ‘getting to know’ may bring. We meet each other on equal terms, I am aware that neither party is more or less worthy of the right to exist than the other – and that both of us may stand to learn from each other. The exchange is light at first, but not superficial – and I don’t expect to get to know them suddenly all at once, or to have their entire being laid bare in the first instance. I appreciate the nature of the process, that little by little, bit by bit, they will reveal themselves to me, on their own terms and in their own time – and that it is a two way process. For they may only fully come into being to me, within me. I have to participate in the process, to live into their livingness, to enliven their stories, to be actively receptive to what they are gracious enough to share with me. The open heart and open mind work together in allowing the ‘something’ or ‘someone’ to fully come into being.

This is complimented by a degree of critical thinking – for allowing the ‘something’ to come fully into being, I need to tend to my own inner being also. I need to continually sort the wheat from the chaff, what is mine and what is there’s? Are they living into me, or I am living onto them. Is it their own? Or my projection of my own? If I were completely open, this ‘something’ would flow directly through me. If I am not open enough I deny them their livingness  – for all I have to offer them are the dead, static frames into which I squeeze the life out of their livingness to make them fit. I bring a focus, which is my intention of ‘getting to know’. It is the openness that allows for discoveries to emerge, however it is a focused openness, as within the ‘conversation’ the intent is set for ‘getting to know’. I am not just tending to appearances, or repeating what I think or feel that I already know, but I am engaged in the dynamic act of know-ing.

There is no guarantee that the doing of this process will lead us where we want to be, we can only immerse ourselves in the process and see where we end up along the way. If the heart is open, but not focused on ‘getting to know’ we may attend to the ‘something’ and experience only what is immediate to our experience within the confines of past understanding. If the mind is open but not focused on ‘getting to know’ it know no more than that which is quite immediately apparent in how we react to it. So the ‘something’ may appear interesting, shocking, dull or uncomfortable, short or tall, but we skim over the details, we do not notice the uniqueness or particularities, nor the complexity and dynamism of what is being presented to us. It is in the details, in the parts, and in the rich context of which every element is a part – which is where the ‘something’ comes into being. That is where the ‘true’, authentic know-ing may arise – and so, these details, parts and context need consciously attending to if we want to truly get to know something, beyond just first impressions and appearances. To ensure that we are honestly getting to know someone we must take care not to project our ideas, theories and judgments onto them. Otherwise we are not open to letting them reveal themselves – instead we will get an inauthentic picture of ‘knowing’ based only on what we think that we already know.

Every ‘something’ or ‘someone’ is completely unique and dynamic, even if it’s dynamism and uniqueness are not immediately apparent to our thoughts or our senses. All ‘something’s’ are highly contextual, being and having been involved in many complex relationships – even if they are not immediately apparent. Only a deeper inquiry, such as the open and engaged intent of wholly ‘getting to know’ will, with time and continued participation, reveal the complexity and richness of it’s context and it’s relationships with the world. When I gain a richer picture of who ‘someone’ is, feel like I am know-ing them, but then ‘boom’ something completely out of the ordinary occurs, or a paradox arises, that this is when I truly feel like I am getting to know them. This opens my heart and my mind further, and stimulates my curiosity to continue getting to know them, further and deeper.

Everything surrounding us is imbued with the mystery of the unknown, if you can choose to let go for moment of everything you think that you already ‘know’. The curiosity from seeing with ‘fresh new eyes’ emerges when you open to the depth and mystery of the unknown, and from being content with dwelling in a process of know-ing, not known-ing – observing, not projecting. This can be cultivated in any situation and within every experience of ‘getting to know’. Expect their to be mystery, expect the unexpected to emerge, and expect there to be something new to be experienced or ‘known’.

Approach every encounter of ‘getting to know’ with a warm, open-minded, open-hearted greeting. Hello! Greet the ‘something’ as if it is ‘someone’ that you are pleased to meet, with a sense of anticipation of what is yet to come. “Ciao!” “Good morning!”. The tone of your welcome can set the tone for the rest of your encounter, and the conversation which then emerges. When you come face to face with ‘something’, you can often sense whether you are carrying a pre-occupation or judgment that is carried in your tone of ‘voice’, and non-verbally in the tone of your intention. Feel the difference between a closed, judgmental frame of mind – and an open, welcoming, willing gesture of ‘getting to know’. We need to let go of the closed, judgmental frame of mind and to cultivate a curious, welcoming openness – the inner ‘Hello!’. Once we are living this warm, open gesture of intent, we can more directly begin the receptive process of ‘getting to know’.

“Openness is required before truth unfolds and at the same time, as truth unfolds, it produces openness. Here we have what is known as ‘hermeneutical circularity’.” http://beliefinstitute.com/article/importance-hermeneutics

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Learning to embrace Diversity

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This is my thought for the day!
 
I think that if we reversed our habitual way of perceiving – which ‘sees’ separation onto the world, and instead tried to fully understand our ideas of ‘difference’ and ‘unity’ in the context of how they emerge organically within Nature, that we could be on our way to developing a more ‘inclusive’ way of seeing.
 
By developing this way of seeing, and understanding, we create the potential to start healing our actions of inhumane discrimination, and to grow the capacity within us to love and appreciate diversity. We begin to see mulitplicity in unity.
 
 To illustrate my ideas here is a quote from “Taking Appearance seriously”, Henri Bortoft pg 57, “Goethe’s way proceeds by active looking and exact sensorial imagination…..We visualise the first leaf, and then move in imagination to the next leaf, and so on. We begin to have the intuition that we are seeing ‘one’ leaf manifesting in different forms. We have the sense that this ‘one’ leaf is intrinsically dynamic, and that this dynamic whole is a movement of differencing which produces ‘multiplicity in unity’. The verbal-intellectual mind, in contrast, focuses on the sameness of the different leaves, and from this abstracts the notion of ‘one’ leaf as simply what all the leaves have in common – their lowest common denominator. All differences are excluded from this ‘one’, whereas for the sensuous-intuitive mode of perception the differences are within the ‘one’. Instead of abstracting unity from diversity, we have the intuition that the diversity is within unity……There is a reversal of perception here that it is hard to convey unless experienced – it’s as if our perception of unity and diversity is turned inside out, so that diversity is seen ‘within’ unity instead of unity being abstracted ‘from’ diversity.”
 
For more info or ideas on how to practically develop this with groups or individuals, email me at emmakidd81@gmail.com

Living Questions

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Aside from the type of logic we use, as I mentioned in my last post, the dynamics of knowing also depend on the types of questions we ask, and of becoming aware of the implications and assumptions held within the context and content of a question e.g. “What causes the disease?”.

A question is actually just the tip of an iceberg, encompassing a much deeper worldview and way of being in the world, and is a part of something much larger than itself.  According to the scientist and researcher Craig Holdrege, who studies biological life in context at the Nature Institute in New YorkState, questioning is in it’s nature a relational, dynamic act of inquiry. It is an expression of already having met something, of having related with something, as the expression of experience in questioning demonstrates both the knowing and unknowingness of something that has been touched, that we are then moved by enough to question. When I observe my own thinking process in this way, I can gain an insight into the dynamics of my knowing through the questions that I ask. If I choose for the questions to be open, and arising out of having been directly inspired by something in the world, they can form the seeds of a living inquiry.

 A living inquiry of knowing the world is a path of inquiry in which the phenomenon I want to get to know becomes an active participant. I have respect for the dynamism of the encounter and hold an open, honest intention of getting to know it in terms of itself – not out of what I think that I already know. Judgment, solidity and certainty are released to allow the world to speak through it’s own language of being. A living inquiry can also be considered as an open ended conversation, this type of open dialogue naturally arises when we sense the depth of the world, and of our inquiry simultaneously. To do this I engage, as if in a conversation, with the part of the world that I feel drawn to turn towards, observing it’s parts, qualities and particularities. By engaging in multiple occasions of directly participating with, and experiencing the phenomenon; and through exploring it’s living context and comparing the parts to the whole, I can bring the encounter into being without becoming attached to the questions themselves. In his most recent work “Taking Appearance Seriously”, the sadly late, and very wonderful, philosopher of science and phenomenological scholar Henri Bortoft aims to show how an inquiry becomes dynamic and alive when we begin to understand ‘knowing’ as ‘becoming’. He sees it as an evolutionary process that is as much an intrinsic and dynamic part of the world, as the world itself; rather than a fixed ‘knowledge’ that we statically project onto the world through our organising ‘ideas’ and ‘theories’.

My intention: Getting to know livingness of life

 

Welcome to Sensing Life! My name is Emma Kidd. I am a researcher, writer, underwear maker/designer, facilitator, photographer, philosopher and lover of life. After spending the first half of my career working as a Designer for International companies in Hong Kong and China, I experienced first hand the social and natural destruction caused by mass-production, globalisation and neo-Capitalism. Four years ago I relocated to the UK to begin my, inner and outer, journey to explore more meaningful, sustainable and harmonious ways of being and doing in life.

My personal intention is one of ‘becoming alive’, so that I may bring life to the world in my own unique way. I am doing this in various ways, and it is this process of ‘Sensing Life’, and becoming alive to the livingness of life, inside and outside of myself, that I would like to write about in this blog.

I am a guest writer for blogs such as Transition Consciousness. This was founded by a great friend and colleague of mine Simon Robinson. He has also been kind enough to feature my MSc Holistic Science dissertation on his site which is available for download here.

I have just finished writing a chapter for a book entitled “Stories of the Great Turning” which is contributed to by the great Joanna Macy, and is a wonderful collection of stories from a diverse collection of grass-roots sustainability projects – to be published April 2012.

I have particular interest in the practice of phenomenology – as a science of living experience, and a pathway to living knowledge. My key influence has been the writings and teaching of the English philosopher of Science, Henri Bortoft during, and after, the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College. Part of my phenomenological work with the Nettle has been referred to in his latest book “Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought” which has just been published and is available to buy from Floris Books.

I also work with the Holistic Science Journal. It is aunique and independent journal uncovering the living dynamic within the facts of science. Set up as a platform for living inquiry, it extends an invitation for authors and readers alike, to become co-creators, participating in an on-going, dynamic, evolutionary dialogue of lived experience.

I am also very passionate about empowering and inspiring women, and to develop this further I am Associate Design Manager at the fantastic women’s ‘pants making’ cooperative, Whomadeyourpants?

I also run my own knicker making project Emiliana Underwear which aims to empower women by teaching them how to upcycle unwanted stretchy fabric into new knickers that they create themselves.

To leave you for now here is a quote that summarizes my journey of vitalizing myself and the world:

Joseph Campbell: The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there’s no doubt about it. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case were the life is and to become alive yourself. … There’s something inside you that knows when you’re in the center, that knows when you’re on the beam or off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don’t get any money, you still have your bliss.