“He drew a circle that shut me out- / Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. / But love and I had the wit to win: / We drew a circle and took him In !”From the poem ” Outwitted” by Edwin Markham
The Uroborus image is essentially a system. In systems theory, they talk about self-reinforcing systems and self-balancing systems. A self-reinforcing system gathers momentum. It expands and builds. The system gathers more of itself into itself. On the other hand, a self-balancing system regulates the forces which hold it together. The system holds “in balance” the internal and external factors which cannot be broken apart. The whole is taken up altogether and the parts are kept in balance.
So which type of system is the Uroborus? Is it self-reinforcing or self-balancing?
Yesterday, I look at how self-awareness becomes confusing because it deals with two things: “the-truth-that-experience-teaches,” which builds and expands, or “the-impact-of-our-truth” which limits and discards. So we can see both the self-reinforcing system and the self-balancing system.
Conventional learning builds and expands as it offers new lens through which to see the world. The world is richer in most every way; except simplicity. With expanding complexity, there is a fundamental loss of simplicity and cohesion. A complex perspective cannot see the world in a simplified way and all the various parts fly in different directions. To counteract this loss, a self-balancing system limits and discards complexity. Our system of beliefs assigns values and priorities; we make the world into a single perspective: our own. And this provides us with great strength. We harness our knowledge and skill to a purpose which then regulates the means and ends of our perception by supplying us with a standardized point-of-view.
But by definition, the self-balancing limits of our beliefs become self-defeating. The expansion is held in check by the standard point-of-view. Our values and beliefs impose a ceiling on our awareness. Beyond here – we cannot pass. But what happens then to growth and development. Do we simply stop?
No. Not by a long shot. The beauty of our self-reinforcing and self-balancing systems is how they transcend and include themselves. Let’s look at some examples:
- Instinctual Survival. Whatever supports (or frustrates) our basic survival is noticed. Trust and engagement is given to what is noticed until an awareness that something “larger” than what we were noticing actually controls our survival. The survival perspective is transcended by extending trust and engagement in a new and different way.
- Magical-Animism. Survival is now equated with animistic worship and the belief in magic. Whatever supports (or frustrates) the power of that relation is noticed. Trust and engagement is given to animism and magic until there is an awareness of something “larger” than what we were noticing … which actually controls our survival. The Survival perspective and the Magical-Animism perspective is now taken up and included in the next perspective.
- Monotheism and Tribal Power. Survival is now equated with monotheistic worship and tribal power. Whatever supports (or frustrates) the power in that relationship is noticed. Trust and engagement is given to what is noticed until there is an awareness of something “larger” than than what we were noticing … which we now believe controls our survival. Monotheism and tribal power are then taken up and included in the next perspective. And so it goes… belief is refined based on all other preceding stages.
What is interesting is how the self-balancing part of the Uroborus system redefines itself. Trust and engagement are radically altered only when value and belief are altered. So what does that say about our limitations? The common theme in every level is the shift in awareness – when something “larger” than what we were noticing is discovered, something which is very much worth noticing. Edwin Markham’s poem brilliantly illustrates this. “But love and I had the wit to win: / We drew a circle and took him In !”
Thanks for listening!