Global Priors Council July 28, 1977
Profound humanness is something that we have run into this
year in a new way. It is something that when you've gotten the
taste of it, you can tell the difference, and if you haven't you
can't. It's objective. It's just there. And it's ontological.
By that I mean that it is the way life is. Life is structurally
interrelated, so that totality is not something added on to life.
It is simply the way life ls. There are four categories on the
chart under each one of the boxes. Some of the talks have taken
those very seriously and worked them through. Others, like the
one I am about to do, virtually ignore the boxes, but not completely.
They are still in a state of development. The chart came from
the results of the collegiums you did in your Houses and sent
to Research Centrum. Your work was gestalted and it's still in
a state of being shaped. That means we have work to do on it.
But it's not work about something abstract or something we don't
know anything about. Profound humanness has happened in our time.
My topic is totality. First of all, I'd like to say something
rational to locate the topic, followed by something phenomenological
to get inside of it, then something profound to point out its
importance, and finally something practical for obvious reasons.
Now the first part of it, the rational part, is longer than the
rest because the four categories keep getting mixed up. I want
to read a word of poetry.
"Thirty spokes will converge in the hub of a wheel, but
the use of a cart will depend on the part of the hub that is void.
With a wall all around a clay bowl is molded, but the use of the
bowl will depend on the part of the bowl that is void. Cut out
windows and doors in the house as you build, but the use of the
house will depend on the space in the walls that is void. So advantage
is had from whatever is there, but usefulness arises from whatever
This is really a talk about spokes and wheels and clay and
doors and windows with an attempt to get at the hole which is
the only important part. The totality that is profound humanness
is unreduced comprehensiveness. how that does not mean knowing
it all or doing it all or being all things to all people. It does
mean finding your spoke and your lump of clay related to that
hole in the center that makes sense out of whatever other hubs,
spokes, and lumps of clay you happen to run into. Or to say it
a little more rationally, totality means space blown out to the
infinite and given back as art. Totality that is profound humanness
means time extended to the eternal and given back to you as drama.
And totality that is profound humanness is selfhood intensified
to the transparent and given back to you as annointment.
Let me dig into those a bit more. We've discovered the significance
of space this year in the projects, on the maneuvers for community
forum, and even right here in Siberia. Incidentally, there was
a TV documentary on Siberia the other night that was absolutely
fantastic. That is great space. But there are two things about
space that are important for profound humanness. One is the global
extension of space and the other is the artful design of it.
The decor of this room probably has the greatest collection
of comprehensive global decor of any place I've ever seen: that
grid, these flags, the maps, the documents, the two campaign designs,
its absolutely staggering. You walk in here and something happens
to you. Occasionally we have visitors in the building and we take
them through rooms like this. And in the midst of that tour, something
happens. There's a pause. It's as though the world has impacted
them. But I want to say that this kind of decor is not what the
extended space of profound humanness is about. It may be a residue
and it's a very important reminder, but it's not the reality within
Once upon a time we had a program called the Global Odyssey
in which we went on a tour around the world to extend our internal
space. That was right for a time of knowing, and I'm here to bear
witness to you that it worked in terms of knowing. And I will
go to my grave with consciousness seared by the sights, sounds,
and smells that we saw on that trip. The greatness and the squalor
of this world. We never learned to give very good reports on those
trips. They tended to sound like travelogues, but we were different
people. You court see it in our eyes. The news wasn't abstract
anymore. It was flesh and blood reality that we were a part of.
That was some happening. It did something to our internal space.
For a time of doing we did something like teaching treks. There,
even if it was for a brief period of time, you got a chance to
mingle your sweat and blood with a people of an irrevocably otherness.
I'll never quite get over that LENS seminar in Sagata. Now Sagata
is a six hour oneway Jeep ride up a mountain road. We did
a LENS to Coleman lanterns with chickens and dogs running through
the room. I met the most fantastic group of people I'll ever meet
in my life, and it was an unbelievable happening. We got a chance
there to have our space expanded, and we were never quite the
same on the other side of that. That was another step in our corporate
globalization. Lately it's come to me that we're doing the HDP's
and that means actually being our being alongside that irrevocably
other being. And we're finding in that encounter being itself
in which we both share yet neither one of us contains. And it
is not reducible to the two of us together. It is a remarkable
phenomenon we've encountered, being in those villages. And its
fairly curious, isn't it, that the more particular we have become,
the more global we are internally. I think someone who has been
through a project outside his own culture, has had profound humanness
yanked out of him and his face extended to the globe. And he is
ready to go anywhere. My point here is that globality is not the
opposite of locality. It's the opposite of reductionism. And as
soon as anybody gets the picture that his little world is not
the only world, then he's global. I believe that's what these
trips the villagers take are about. And why they work to break
profound humanness loose. Once the reality that you live in a
very wide and varied world is incorporated into yourself then
you are global and the motivity of profound humanness is released.
Now a word about the artful design. That release is something
of the humanness of significant participation in the otherness
that is beauty. At the Kawangware Consult, someone happened to
point out the architectural lines of some buildings on the square
which were at that moment encrusted with mud, peeling paint and
teeming people. But as soon as it was mentioned that those architectural
lines had beauty about them, that place was changed. It was change
from a nondescript forgotten place into something that had beauty
and it was the beauty that linked it to the great cities of the
world: Nairobi, London, Paris and so forth. The words changed
the village. I'm sure deeds have done a lot more. That's why visibility
and living environment is so crucial in these projects. It occasions
profound humanness. It expands, it designs the space. It goes
to the hole at the center of the wheel.
Now totality is about extended time. The handtomouth,
daytoday existence is no more human than that of a
dog. And that's as true for the affluent rat race as it is for
the starving peasant. The factor is the scope of time out of which
you are living, and it's the eternal. We once emphasized making
your timeline. I remember an exercise in the Academy when we were
forced to make our life timelines. And I was shocked, profoundly
shocked, by two parts of it. One, that it was so short. And the
other, that it was so long. There was an end, too. And that was
an address. The real address was all those empty boxes out there
in the future. Those timelines tied us to the future. in a very
real way they blew out immediacy out into the distant future up
against the otherness of the eternal.
Then we discovered the story. Every place has its story. And
they are just incredible to hear. Probably the most important
thing about these stories out of town meeting is the way each
town expands the participants' operating context from that of
his family or himself to the community to the nation and, in some
of the better ones, to ties with the archaic, with the primordial.
Now when that happens it says two things. It says both that this
moment is the culmination of all of history. And then it says
that the particular issues of this moment are not much more than
a flyspeck on the path of history. It's a moment of finding yourself
in a sweep of history with ancestry and a destiny, and that makes
for profound humanness. Incidentally, I've been struck that if
you wanted to get a historic reading on some of these same issues,
you'd go to Wesley, Augustine, or Plato. This is not new stuff,
but its the dealing with the stuff of our time in getting said
what it means to be profoundly human.
Now the latest thing we've stumbled onto relative to time
is the maneuver. The timeline extended the future and the story
expanded the past, then I
believe the maneuver makes artistry out of the present. A good
maneuver has cleverness, delicacy, suspense, surprise, wonder
and all of those things which absolutely dispel the routine which
is so killing. It's not practical, it's artful. It's not dull,
it's invigorating. It's not predictable, it's victorious. I think
I'm beginning to get a little glimmer of why it is that Shogun
spent his time doing flower arranging.
It doesn't really matter if you are moving troops in a campaign
or moving dust off a flower petal, you are touching and dramatizing
theprofound significance of the moment. And that has to
do with the totality that is profound humanness.
Now, just a word about selfhood. The totality that is profound
humanness is managed tota1 selfhood, conscious and unconscious,
emotions and actions, mind and body. I suppose we have all been
through the individualism that makes the self into the center
of the universe. And we've seen the grimy unhumanness that it
creates. But at the same time we found the self to be both an
immense gift and a horrendous enemy. Time after time, I've come
out of a meeting realizing that I've Just been whining or pouting
or beating on somebody totally unintended and unrecognized until
afterwards. Then other times when something goes wrong, you come
away and reflect that you knew well in advance what would happen
if that course of action were pursued, and sure enough you pursued
it, and it did. It's like in the Ronin where the boy waits outside
the door, walks in and gets beat by the stick. And his teacher
says, "You knew. You knew, damn you. At least try to keep
me interested in holding school." The self is a tremendous
ally when its totality is managed for the sake of. That has to
do with profound humanness. I would guess that last year's victories
we've been celebrating these last 10 days suggest we've gotten
a hold of the intuitive, the irrational, the transrational; the
emotional. That kind of control accounts for the victories.
The profound humanness that is totality is totally engaged
in every situation without getting sucked into it. But I believe
we are finding out now it is also corporate. I've experienced
a strange thing this year. Your victories have been mine. And
I've heard you say that mine have been yours. A man visited here
from an HDP last April and said that Oklahoma 100 had saved his
life. Let me witness to you that in Oklahoma we were reminded
of that Old Testament story. Remember when Josuah went into battle
and had to hold his arms up while the people were fighting. The
minute his arms came down they began to lose the battle. Then
he finally had someone prop up his arms. In Oklahoma we felt that
somebody somewhere was holding his arms up awfully high. And that
was an experience; that wasn't a rationalization. And I believe
that corporate selfhood is something we know about. And we are
in the process of resolving to corporately hold up our arms for
one another for the year that's to come. We are learning something
about the corporate that goes far deeper and further than a group
of people sitting around a group of tables. The corporateness
that we have sensed ourselves a part of and that has to do with
profound humanness is unlimited by space. And I suspect it even
extends through time, to our colleagues in history and in that
community of the invisible college, the league, the crimson line
where profound humanness is released. Now there's one other aspect
of selfhood that I really don't know anything about yet.
It's unity. It is the "I and the Father are one"
dimension. It's the "brother sun" and "sister moon"
poetry. They say that after Plato died, his students were looking
around among his manuscripts trying to find the latest work that
the master had done. And when they came up with it, it was a bunch
of mathematical equations centering around the concept of oneness.
I was sort of interested. But whether or not we have any real
grasp experientially about what this is, I believe that our times
are experiencing a shift in that direction. One night right after
reading a National Geographic article that was laying out the
Marshallese use of the stick chart, we saw a TV special on the
heroic voyages around Cape Horn. As you watched those two different
modes of operation, you saw that one of them was a pitched battle
against the elements, and your mind immediately flipped to the
lunar shoots and landings. It struck me there are three completely
different modes of relating to the world: One, the elements are
in control and you cooperate. Second, it's man against the elements
in a relentless pitched battle. Thirdly, these days I believe
with the ecology and the environmental campaigns and the other
things, we've been coming conscious of it being a case of man
with the elements. We're all in this together. Now that may be
terribly poetic, but I believe that we can watch out for an inclusiveness
beginning to emerge in the operating modes of mankind. If that's
the case, its going to make our adversary systems of competition
in the economic and debate in the political and exclusiveness
in the cultural obsolete. It also makes some sense out of our
push for consensus polity and tensional dynamics within a framework
of unity. I believe that unity is a part of selfhood. the oneness
with all of reality. Its annointment by the Mystery.
Phenomenologically totality is encountered as objective, unwelcome,
heavy, and attractive all at the same time. Its objective. Have
you noticed that totality doesn't seem to give a damn whether
you want it or not? It's just there. I find myself from time to
time this year resisting some of the relationships that I've been
a part of. And you know what? They didn't go away. You still find
yourself in those relationships. This is probably what Lela was
getting at the other day when she talked about being in the projects
just day after day after day. Those relationships are just there
objectively, demanding and relating you totally.
Secondly, it is usually unwelcome. Several times this year,
I've been stuck in the role of playing one end of the area prior
-centrum prior tensional dynamic, usually by telephone call. And
its been something. Those contextually pushing calls are not friendly.
People do not easily give up their end of the pole. You have no
idea how many people were actually offended at coming to the Research
Assembly this summer. Everyone was very much into the campaign
and wanted to stay there and do it. The maneuver we finally used
was to get two house priors making the calls, and this worked
out fine. But the interesting thing was when you got here, the
tables turned completely. We centrum priors here in Siberia got
struck with the intrusion and unwelcomeness of the globality that's
the totality that is humanness. But I believe that we profoundly
depend on each other for maintaining that push back and forth
that allows us all to be profoundly human.
Thirdly, it's overwhelming. You probably all know of the fellow
who went into a bar in Texas and ordered a small glass of beer
and they brought him this five gallon jug and he said: "I
just ordered a small glass." They said, "In Texas, that
is a small glass." He didn't want to be offensive so he began
to drink it. After awhile nature called, and he asked the directions
to the men's room. They told him, "Now go out that door,
turn left and down three steps you'll find it." Well, being
slightly inebriated, he went out the other door, turned right
and walked up three steps and fell into the swimming pool. In
the bar they heard this horrendous thrashing around outside and
went out to look. He was yelling, "Don't flush it! Don't
flush it!" Totality is a little bit like that.
Finally, totality is irresistibly attractive. You just can't
get enough totality. You see it time after time in Town Meetings
when the steering committee out there setting up decor and wrapping
tape, all of Friday night, just stays around a couple of hours
afterwards talking, wanting to be a part of the big picture that
is going on. You see it in projects when people just keep showing
up to do and to do and to do. That story our colleague in Fifth
City told about the wins in 5th Clty is just one example among
many. And we've all experienced it. Around here at the priors'
meetings, people just keep coming, whether or not there is anything
really big brewing or whether there is anything to deal with.
We all have this drive to be where the action is, and we are privileged
to be in a spot where there is action, where profound humanness
is released. And then there's another side to that. Occasionally,
you find yourself in a position where people do not see you at
all. They just see right through you to where the action is. You
experience in yourself that quote about Gandhi: "wherever
he is, there is the capital of India." Occasionally, you
experience people just flocking to you not because of your neurosis
or your gifts and graces, but that for some strange unaccountable
reason you have for a moment become a mediator of the center of
totality. It does not much matter if you like it or not, or whether
you're good at it or not, you just sniff that somehow you've been
privileged to participate in profound humanness.
Now a few words on the profound side. First of all, you find yourself universally responsible. Profound humanness that is totality is never having to say, 'Who's in charge here?" I think the really addressing thing in the work that we've done with Sun Tzu so far is the sense that you never have to lose. Any battle is winnable, any gripe is curable, and it persists just because I've decided not to deal with it with all the resources of strategy. Now, in addition to being universally responsible, is the infinitesimal detail. I've never really quite gotten over the straight cup handles at RS1. Or this past year, we've heard some talks in development that went to the infinitesimal detail, about the type of shirt you wear and the type of socks you have on when making a call. Just every minute detail is significant. Totality doesn't have to do with doing everything. But it has to do with seeing everything you do as a microcosm of the whole universe. That's totality. Frankly, that's one of the frustrations about Siberia here. This place is awfully large for a few people to have the infintesima1 care that it takes. We've all got our blind spots. My blind spot is a red flag to you. What saved us is just simply immersion in the mission. One of our saints was talking about being in a state of outrage at having to make his fifth trip paying his own way by L to the bus station carrying a load of Town Meeting materials. And then he looked up and realized that he was having the time
of his life. Profound Humanness is evoked in the midst of
doing the infinitesimal detail.
Or another thing is the historical wave. Somehow or other,
we've gotten on the back of one of those historical waves with
these two campaigns of ours. It's probably because some people
were attuned to the total with the totality of their being. But
in any case we are on an absolute joyride now. Don't you sense
that? Especially considering this time, over against some of the
past times when we were struggling to probe here and there to
find that wave? I firmly believe that if this room were to explode
in the next 5 minutes, there would still be a sweep of awakenment
and engagement of human communities across this world. That's
what it means to be on an historical wave. I think that's really
a call to vigilance. That we keep ourselves just vigilantly attuned
to the shifts and currents here and there and then we keep on
having a few probes here and there looking for the next wave that's
coming over the horizon. Totality, totality, that's profound humanness.
That wave experienced is that kind of totality.
And now, finally, Just a practical note or two. The comprehensiveness screen is still an immensely useful tool for guarding your own Xavierism or caring for the whole in whatever spot you found yourself in. These worry lists that I tend to make are 10 times more useful when they have some categories on them. They allow you to plot your anxieties. They've been lifesavers. Secondly, I believe we have learned this year to protect your troops. I think we are probably the most singly neurotic and kookie body of people that history's got right now, but every last one of us is absolutely indispensable in getting the job done. And I think of going out and doing maneuvers, whoever we turn out to be with, care for the corporate in engagement and in totality is absolutely critical. That's part of profound humanness. Finally, keep the charts up. My sanity was saved more than once this year by that gimmick of having a chart that held the big picture and let anxieties and intrusions get themselves plotted on that chart so you could tell which ones had to be dealt with now and which ones were your intuitions about the long range future. Totality is part of being profoundly human, and it's a great gift we've been given this year.