In his lifelong process of research and experimentation some fundamental opportunities became manifest for his own personal development in the social realm. Through a long process of practicing the "social questioning", with a wish to support his clients in a meaningful way, he found a path of initiation in the social realm, which enables him to develop an authentic personality. It is his intention in this book to outline this path of initiation for everyone who has the desire to go out and deal with the social question in today's world. This path has the opportunity to develop an organ of observation for social reality as well as the ability to handle the social reality one is confronted with, both in the organisation one works in and in one's personal life. It also develops an organ of observation for the forces that work between us, in which we can grow as a conscious spiritual person. This is important for our own spiritual being as well as for the whole of humanity, living in the Divine creation given to us. The studying of this book can be the introduction to the path of initiation described in it. Still more important is to practise it in one's personal practical life, for which various tips are given. What he describe here is to be seen as a lens through which to observe one's social reality. On the basis of these conscious observations and their connection to one's own personality, one can then come to a conscious, meaningful deed.
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Our question as a human being
The path of initiation
Living with a question
Living in a process
Living in dialogue
Living in your own biography
Living in organisations
Living in roles
Living in leadership
Living in the soul
The path of initiation
The path of initiation body—spirit—soul
The personal social path to higher consciousness
All my life I have been dealing with the social question.
At school I was struck by the experience of coping with wild youngsters in the clubhouse in the centre of The Hague. At the same time I practised a religious meditation which gave me a clear awareness of myself.
This gave me a strong connection to the real practical social question as well as to my inner longing to connect to this social question in a creative and responsible way.
As a student in sociology, I was studying issues such as the meaning of values and norms for community life and, at the same time, as social affairs secretary carrying the responsibility for social issues like housing and insurance in Rotterdam’s student community, I was waking up to the understanding that our outer existence needs a strong connection to our inner world of ideals and strivings.
Working for Shell International, I was asked to guide organisational development processes. The employees were given room to ask themselves questions about their work processes and about the quality of the co-operation amongst themselves when they were invited to practise improvements and further learning steps. I started to see that people live in processes, and when they are seen as partners in processes of organisational development, they can connect their own inner values and strivings with the values and strivings of these organisational development processes.
In my work as an NPI consultant and now as director of IMO, I guide people involved in processes of organisational development. In long-term OD processes I work as a horizontal leader, together with the leadership and the work community in many organisations in different parts of the world, to help them take a meaningful next step in the organisation’s development and their own inner development. I can explore the horizontal space of leadership and, in a responsible co-operation with others, create a meaningful life reality. I can give my own soul the food it needs for rising to a higher consciousness level.
In this lifelong process of research and experimentation some fundamental opportunities became manifest for my own personal development in the social realm. Through a long process of practicing this “social questioning”, with a wish to support my clients in a meaningful way, I found a path of initiation in the social realm, which enables me to develop an authentic personality.
It is my intention in this book to outline this path of initiation for everyone who has the desire to go out and deal with the social question in today’s world. This path has the opportunity to develop an organ of observation for social reality as well as the ability to handle the social reality one is confronted with, both in the organisation one works in and in one’s personal life. It also develops an organ of observation for the forces that work between us, in which we can grow as a conscious spiritual person. This is important for our own spiritual being as well as for the whole of humanity, living in the Divine creation given to us.
This path of initiation differs from many other paths of initiation, since it does not focus primarily on the personal meditative activity, which concentrates on ones personal development as a spiritual being, but arises from the development process in the community one is part of. These communities are not primarily the natural communities given to us by birth, but are the organised communities that one decides to participate in.
Dealing with the other person is key, whilst also handling the task of the organisation in the wider community context. It is then the personal direction given to this task by the individual and also the shared reflecting on these experiences which form the main parts of this path of initiation.
The studying of this book can be the introduction to the path of initiation described in it. Still more important is to practise it in one’s personal practical life, for which various tips are given. What I describe here is to be seen as a lens through which to observe one’s social reality. On the basis of these conscious observations and their connection to one’s own personality, one can then come to a conscious, meaningful deed.
To support these conscious observations and actions, I will give some practical exercises to strengthen that process.
Through self-chosen study and personal meditations we can strengthen our observations and experiences. This both to gain insights in their meaning for the community we are part of, as well as for the path of personal development we are taking.
The human soul as a paradox reality
In order to be able to give meaning to the personal development path we take, it is advisable to face the question what it is that makes up the human soul, and how the human soul can develop itself.
The human soul may be the space, the organ in which our personal development takes place. We shape our soul according to the road we travel to develop ourselves in the practical social reality.
I would like to characterise the human soul, in the light of the practical social reality, as follows:
The creation we meet—nature, cosmos—is, in my understanding, harmonic in its essence. Everything is hugely interconnected to everything else.
The sun, moon and earth, they have their cosmic loop.
The plant grows and the air, well it is there.
Our spirit and body are embedded in this harmonic reality.
Our heart is beating, the skin is breathing, and we wake up every day.
In the natural and cosmic world everything is connected to everything else in an organic way.
There is only one exception to this—the human soul.
This is described in a marvellous way by Arthur Koestler when he points out that he can predict very precisely where the star Sirius will be in a million years from now, but that he is not able to foresee where his cook will be in the next five minutes.
Our human soul is composed by ourselves. We do this out of the spirit in connection to the body we are living in. The soul makes itself known in its own living way and shows itself in our thinking, feeling and willing: these are the manifestations of the soul.
The individual “I” can, when it lives in our soul on earth, break through the natural and cosmic thresholds. This was already shown to us by Aristotle in his writings on economy. There he describes how the human being, which originally is fully embedded in the organic Divine creation, breaks through the natural boundaries.
This started with the exchange of goods, with the postponing of need satisfaction and with observing the effects of our deeds. Today, we still see this process continuing, for example in phenomena like abortion and euthanasia. The effect of this process of breaking through organic boundaries and awakening the soul shows itself in human abilities like memorising and the use of language. They are the carriers of our earthly consciousness.
Everything that a human being touches on this earth changes from being in harmonic and organic order into a paradox, a contradictory and dialectic reality. There is then no evident organic principle at work any-more. It is the human soul itself that is working in us.
Instead of a harmonic world we create, as souls, a paradoxical world, a world that is in contradiction with nature.
All that is created by human beings becomes a question.
The consequences of the paradox of human creation are:
Nothing of our own creation, over time, stays alive by itself, but has to be taken care of by ourselves.
Nothing we create has any innate meaning apart from the meaning we give it.
This contrasts with the natural and cosmic world we meet and of which we are a part. This world is objective and true. It cares for itself and its meaning is inherent.
Our human creation only stays alive when we create a process in which we assure that:
there is continuation of what was created
meaning is given to what was created.
We are, as a result, tied to our own creations which tell us continuously: take care of me, keep me alive, give me meaning.
We see arising, in an ever wider and deeper form, a humanly created paradoxical world on this earth.
That is the world of questions, of imbalances.
How can we see and understand this paradox of the soul?
Here are some examples.
It is not evident that what a person says he will also do.
It is not evident that when one person speaks the other person is listening.
It is not evident that the house that was built takes care of its own maintenance.
It is not evident that the created quality system is working out of itself in the organisation.
The written novel gets meaning when it is read.
The hotel comes alive when there are guests.
The service is being delivered when it is paid for.
The car drives when we start it and steer it.
We can say that the human spirit, our “I”, in co-operation with our body, creates a soul we can live in and this soul shows itself in the processes in which we live and which we act out. This initiates the human creation and we also shape our own consciousness in doing so. Through this, our thinking, feeling and willing, as fundamental soul forces, are formed. We arrive at clearly structured thinking, meaningful feeling and moral willing when we shape and act out our processes in a conscious way, when we are taking a path of initiation.
This is precisely what will occupy us in this book.
Bernard Lievegoed distinguishes in his book “Scholingswegen” the Moon path and the Saturn path.
The Moon path he describes as an ancient path for the individual human being by which one is able to gain deep insights in the higher worlds. It is a meditative path that is followed through inner activity. The essence of this path is that the human being becomes conscious in a silent and concentrating manner of the inner process that is working within him, and how this inner process manifests itself in the actual deeds in the outer world.
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