In May 2012, I ran a three day retreat, the aim of the retreat was to support the participant in an exploration of how they could encounter their Alethic Self.
Here Donald skilfully navigates through 1-2-3 person perspectives, leading him to recognise the possibility of a 4th perspective.
It also shows how by contemplating what presupposes our ontology through the use of metaReality, to provide the supporting structure, and Integral Theory, as the over arching framework, we are drawn into a deeper understanding of our Alethic True Self.
Voice from the Retreat
The retreat was a very brilliant introduction to something entirely new, at least to me.
It was the experience of philosophy in action and a remarkable introduction.
The retreat revolved around the ontological nature of truth. This is an inquiry into the nature and premise of our own assumptions about the world as we see it and the belief structures we hold as fact.
Some of these beliefs will be more objective in nature than others.
For instance the belief that we are 6ft tall can be checked and verified but the belief that one is a bad person might be held up as a demi truth. Even if this were true one would have to inquire further into the nature of such a statement: where does it come from and what are the reasons behind saying it.
I found it to be very intriguing in that the statement “I am a bad person” might be something we are constantly evidencing for in life.
If we have an epistemological orientation to evidence for such a statement, we could easily preoccupy our lives around the evidence we find and call it truth thus confirming our world view.
The shadow aspect of this interested me a lot: the statement “I am a bad person” could also be used in the 2nd person, “You are a bad person”. We thus use epistemology as a means to evidence for that assumption, however the source of our inquiry is never inquired into. The question “Why am I evidencing for bad people?” never arises during epistemological inquiry, which would be the ontological nature of our epistemology. When seen from an integral point of view this becomes fascinating, as one exercise that Gary did showed.
If we looked at something from 1st 2nd and 3rd person perspectives we get a 4th person perspective. This was done I believe by asking us to form into pairs and express these statements to each other:
These statements are expressed with what arises for you in the moment with your respective partner and then the other does the same. On the surface it looks like a 1st and 2nd person interaction and even holds 3rd person connotations but then we are asked go into another pairing; it is then that the 4th person perspective comes into play. You begin to see the system governing all of this, and that we are actually evidencing for our own epistemology. For instance Inoticed sadness in one person and fear in another, whereas they both noticed things that seemed to preoccupy them and you could feel their projections being projected onto you. Every person has a different projection and you project something different onto them. However, all projections run a similar theme: sadness, fear, beauty, age, control and freedom. Each person you meet tells a story about the self as seen through many lenses but behind all these lenses is the ontology that holds all the epistemology together; it’s like looking at the sea that holds all archetypical structures.
I came to realize that each exercise was in a way directed towards seeing the relativity of truth but also that an aspect of truth is something we create our self through the other. Our beliefs are loaded with half truths and demi truths, all of which we confirm in our daily interactions with other people and further integrate into ourselves. In other words each person holds a piece of us.
This leads me to assume that the relativity of truth might not be something that we are supposed to integrate as though it is some type of narrative but that we are supposed to seek its source, which makes sense of all narratives.
This also brings to light some other meanings for developmental studies.
If our world view is constructed by an ontological source which is foundational, how does this inform our world view developmentally? Can we differentiate ourselves from our source and if we do so how does that change our world view?
For instance if my world view is to restore justice to humans rights crimes and I work hard to this end but then find that the source of all this is that my own human rights have been violated as a child which justice am I fighting for? My justice or the justice of others? Perhaps both.
What then happens if I differentiate myself from my childhood injustices and make peace with it? Will I then find that making peace with myself alters my relationship with myself and thus my relationship to my work?
Will I stop my work as I see it being built on a personal vendetta or will I engage in my work more authentically and do more good?
If the latter, could one really say that my developmental level was actually world-centric when in fact it was primarily motivated by my own trauma and directed more towards the self than the world?
If engagement comes from a more authentic self, could development be classed in two stages: that of authenticity and that of inauthenticity? It could even be that the cognitive structures are in place to allow for a certain developmental world view to occur, but the self as a coherent whole at a particular stage pretends or acts out a certain role stage, its real authenticity only revealed if an ontological engagement with self is adhered to.
This brings up myriad questions many of which it is not the place to speak of here, but fascinating nonetheless.
Another theme that arose for me in this retreat was a life’s purpose. What are we doing this for? I had very strong feeling about this and what my purpose here is. I really felt a sense that I have not yet started that journey and yet looking at this ontologically I can say that maybe there is a reason for this. Could it be that we don’t really start our work until we begin to realize that we are not being authentic? The whole retreat was about authenticity and I am beginning to see a relationship between authentic expression and our purpose here.
The need to wake up seems to be a strong motivator for me and others but I wonder what we will be waking up to and whether this need to wake up is actually our crutch. Do we really need to wake up to do our real work, are we waiting for a surge of responsibility towards our function in life just to make itself known to us?
Do we feel that waking up will somehow change everything.
I was inspired watching Gary experiment with his work and take chances. Whether he has woken up or not does not seem to matter: he is doing his work and using his talents. I believe it was watching him in the environment we created that tried to provide a space for authenticity, which brought up feelings of frustration in myself towards my own purpose. I felt inauthentic in my current expression of self.
Overall I gained more than I bargained for on this retreat and continue to explore what I’ve learnt.