Learning to see from a living systems world view has changed my life and how I relate to other living beings that inhabit my world, yes my world. It has got me very curious as I develop this way of seeing the world what else will be revealed.
When we see from a living systems world view we aim:
- to see others, not as a things, but as alive and unfolding.
- to see others as embedded within other systems which they affect and are affected by in return.
- to see others as unfolding, dynamically, in a value-adding process.
- to be aware of our influence as the observer
to see others, not as a things, but as alive and unfolding.
I have been confessing to friends, probably to their horror, that I have been only relating to my limited idea of them and not really seeing them as alive. What a horrible thing to admit! they are alive, so what I am seeing is not true.
This is a revelation and a relief. The source of this view for me is the arrest disorder / behavioural paradigm. i.e I am trying to control the world around me. When I consciously shift to the living systems paradigm one outcome has surprised me, the care for my friends increases.
to see others as embedded within other systems which they affect and are affected by in return.
The first time I had a concrete experience of this idea was while on a Guhyaloka retreat when it dawned on me that the spiritual experience I was having on and off my meditation cushion was heavily influenced by the positive conditions in which I found myself. My spiritual aptitude played a minor role.
I was surrounded by 20 other men meditating, developing metta and living mindfully in the open air of the Spanish mountains.
to see others as unfolding, dynamically, in a value-adding process.
I relate this idea to helping, either being helped or being helpful. It is very much part of the Triratna Buddhist culture I have grown up in and goes by two other names, being of service and altruism.
The shadow side of being helpful for me is thinking that I know what will be helpful for others. How would I know this? I am not them. It reminds me of the proverb 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. My thinking here is being sourced by the 'Do good' paradigm.
I am able to shift into the living systems paradigm by asking the question 'how can I help?'. What I have found fascinating by asking this question is that I am no longer having to work out all the ways I could help, and feel like I am failing, when they can just tell me.
For further reading on this subject I recommend the book called 'The Coaching Habit' by Michael Bungay Stanier. He lists seven questions and 'how can I help?' is one of them.
to be aware of our influence as the observer
What I didn’t know, and this comes from Quantum Physics, is that by seeing or observing someone else their behaviour can change. I recommend reading this blog post ‘The Observer Effect: Seeing Is Changing’ for increasing your understanding on this particular point. It is very good.
Thanks for reading.