HUMAN KNOWLEDGE AND DEEP INTELLIGENCE:
TRANSITION TO CONNECTEDNESS
We live in an era of stark and increasing alienation of humankind from ourselves, each other, and the natural world. Around the globe we are being confronted with the human and technological consequences of grossly inadequate assumptions about human knowing and functioning. The way we conceive, teach and apply knowledge in many disciplines and fields of endeavour overshadows intuition. It overshadows direct experience, spiritual connectedness, and the perception and wisdom of the heart.
We tend to assume that having defined things, we know what they are. We do not. Most of us live in a world deadened by mental abstraction, and no longer sense the aliveness of the universe. Modes of human functioning beyond the cognitive and conceptual are largely ignored. The history of the adoption of new policies and strategies, of new models of organization and development, of educational reform agendas, and of new ‘knowledge’, shows that, by themselves, these things are not helpful. They have not led to the achievement of more creative and dynamic organisations. They have not led to more productive and equitable economies, more sustainable relationships with Nature, or more sane, humane and evolutionary societies.
However, author’s doctoral research confirmed that a different way of ‘being’ is possible for humanity. My thesis synthesised a ‘Dynamic Paradigm of Learning and Change’ from a wide variety of research, theories, and experiences regarding human intelligence, consciousness and experience. There is an old Indian story of three blind men who were led to an elephant. They reached out to touch it and told what they thought it was. One touched the elephant’s side, and said it was like a wall. A second touched the tail, and said, no, it’s like a strong rope. The third man touched a leg, and said, no, you are both wrong, it’s like a tree trunk. Each individual’s perspective is to some extent unique. However, the thesis looked at many theories of knowledge, learning and intelligence, and instead of looking for what was unique in each view, the author looked for what was similar or complementary.
The study found that the philosophical and, more importantly, the experiential foundations of human knowing and functioning affirm an extended image and experience of ourselves as deeply connected to the dynamic intelligence underlying the natural world. They affirm our positive role in the co-creation of our reality, and open the way to solving humanity’s pervasive economic, social and psychological problems.
THE LIMITATIONS OF ‘HUMAN KNOWLEDGE’
It is only our discriminative intellect that defines and categorises elements of reality as though they were discrete or separate. Our definitions of many things are mutually exclusive, only because we have defined them that way. Defining something is not the same as knowing what it is. Words, concepts and definitions are not only constructed by each individual, but they are merely constructions (see, for example, Glasersfeld 1995). Our ‘human knowledge’ is an interpretation of reality, an abstraction, a fabrication, an illusion, maya. It may be helpful in limited contexts to categorise and define things, but it is a mistake to let the definition dominate our perception and experience of the world.
We tend not to see things freshly, as they are, here and now. We tend to ‘see’ through our memory, through our definitions, through our expectations, through our judgements. Ordinary human perception is selective. You and I can look at a scene, or experience an environment for an hour, and come away having ‘perceived’ them very differently. Our perception is selective in two senses (see, for example, Glasersfeld 1995, pp. 10-11, 115-116). First, we attend to some things and not others, because they are more relevant to our interests or our fears. Secondly, what we do selectively attend to, we then interpret. In ordinary perception we do not perceive things as they are, but as we interpret them, and a large element of this interpretation is that we perceive things as we expect to perceive them, or want to perceive them. If you tell me that John Smith is a horrible person, when I meet him for the first time I am much more likely to ‘perceive’ him critically, than if you had told me he was the most loving, kind and intelligent person you had ever met.
mental ‘furniture’ can powerfully affect and limit what we ‘see’. There is a
story of the natives of central America, who could not
So there is a third, important sense in which human perception is selective, and that is that our dominant thoughts and intents influence our behaviour and our environment. We create what we expect. In some famous research by Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968), two teachers came to a new school where they did not know the children. One was given a class of high achieving kids and the other a class of low achieving kids. But they were told the opposite. The teacher with the high achievers was told they were strugglers, and not to expect too much in the way of academic achievement. The other teacher was told the opposite. After one semester, one year and two years, the students were tested. The low achievers showed great achievement, the high achievers did relatively poor. This phenomenon is widely known as the self-fulfilling prophecy, and in education circles as the Pygmalion Effect. Rosenthal also found that the maze performance of rats is influenced by what their keepers are told about their maze performance ability (Rosenthal & Lawson 1964). Increasingly, scientists are reporting findings that human consciousness influences the world around us in profound ways. For example, Pert (1997; 2004) explains that our state of consciousness powerfully influences the cellular functioning within our body. So powerful is this influence that a person with multiple personalities ‘can be near-sighted in one state and far-sighted in another, or allergic to cats in one state, and not allergic to them in another’ (Pert, 2004). Quantum physicist, Goswami (1995), explains that it no longer makes sense to think of the world as being ‘out there’, independent of our experience. Our consciousness is involved in choosing from among the quantum possibilities within and around us to bring about our actual experience. And Japanese scientist, Emoto (2004), has found that human thought or intent affects the structure of water molecules (and, of course, most of the natural world, including human beings, is mostly water).
Our habitual, conditioned mental and emotional functioning alienates the individual from him or herself, from others and from the natural world. It may sometimes be helpful to think about and do things in standard or routine ways, but the key is not to be bound by the routines. Everybody has sensings, intuitions, dreams, ideals of the ways things are or can be for themselves or for the world. However, in most people these get swamped by the dominance of a head and a family, institutional and/or cultural environment cluttered with concepts, definitions, expectations, judgements, emotions, and cultural assumptions that block out what they know in their ”heart of hearts”, in the depths of their soul. “Most people are other people”, said Oscar Wilde. Conditioning blocks us off from sensitivity to our inner world, and to the freshness of experience of the world through which we live. It also leads us to unwittingly create realities of experience out of conditioned frames of mind (conscious or unconscious) that do not reflect the intents and wisdom of our inner core. Fromm (1976) refers to this alienated mode of being as the having mode, the most common mode of human functioning in modern society, one which concentrates on material possession, acquisitiveness, consumption, image, power and aggression.
Despite the almost universal experience of separateness brought about by our almost exclusive focus on rational processes in schooling, separateness is not the ultimate reality. Despite the claims of the so-called “European Enlightenment”, the faculty of reason is not the highest faculty in man. Buhner  refers to this period as the “Endarkenment”. Human beings have within us, all of what it takes to manifest now a very different kind of experience, a different ‘way’ of being in the world, one consistent with the Dynamic Paradigm of Learning and Change. Fromm (1976) refers to this mode of human functioning as the being mode, an unalienated, authentic mode, which is based on love, identity, autonomy and critical reason, on the pleasure of sharing, on the satisfaction of contributing, and on purposeful and productive, rather than wasteful activity. For civilisation to make a transition from the having to the being mode, we must learn to play the instrument of our whole human ‘being’, and herein lies the essential role of education.
There is not a variety of intelligences, despite some popular views to the contrary. Certainly, however, the old notion of IQ is grossly inadequate. It ignores the existence and significance of a variety of intimately connected human faculties. Human intelligence is the combined functioning of all our faculties that seeks to ensure our survival and the satisfaction of our expectations and intentions. To express this more complete notion of human intelligence, the term Deep Intelligence has been used, which means our ability to prosper through conscious and intentional coordination of the inner and outer faculties of our being with the inner and outer qualities of the world through which we live.
Educational experiences can be provided that help people to detach from abstract concepts and programmed patterns of thinking and emotion, and help them to perceive things freshly and more deeply, and to sense the bubbling up of intuitions and inner yearnings. Such experiences help people to begin to find, and to express, and to create in their lives those realities that are more deeply satisfying to them, that are more sustainable and life-supporting.
As we begin to live more ‘consciously’, all things begin to work in continuity with each other, in a form of unity, in a dynamic and sustainable relationship. However, choice plays a crucial role in such conscious, ‘mindful’ living. Choice and fully conscious functioning require that each of us knows our ‘self’ deeply and fully, including all our selfish impulses, all our emotions, reaction patterns, and conditioning, as well as our ‘inner’ perceptions, intuitions and soul urges.
Human beings behave any way we must so that our perception, or experience, matches what we physiologically or psychologically believe we should, or would like to experience (Powers 1973; 1998). In a very real way, we individually and collectively create our own reality. However, there may be differences between the formulations of what we think or feel we should experience that arise from different areas of our body-mind-soul system. Various patterns of emotion, for example, are built around past experiences and instinctual fears and drives that constitute the subconscious mind, which modern science shows is ‘located’ throughout the body (Pert 1997; 2004). There are also a variety of patterns of thought, belief and emotion associated with the laws and mores of those around us – our community, our parents, close friends, relatives and associates. Those thoughts and beliefs include some we have been socialised into, and some we have consciously adopted or formulated for ourselves. Some of the concepts, beliefs and judgements operating on this ‘level’ explicitly serve the purpose of over-riding certain instinctive and/or ego-based impulses.
However, on a ‘deeper’ level, there may be promptings or values or motivations that arise through intuition, or some sense of inner knowing or feeling. Feelings, perceptions, motivations and expectations at this level typically have a quality of universality, of connection, of self-transcendence. They may contradict the socially sanctioned beliefs and judgements of our conditioning (and of our social group). The irony is that it is only by respecting, supporting and enlivening consciousness at this deep level within each individual, that we experience the flowering of the self-transcendent feelings and intents. Universality, Deep Intelligence, and sustainability, have their place in the dimension of depth, not breadth.
The solution to the dilemma of the struggle between the having mode and the being mode, the dilemma of our suppressed Deep Intelligence, lies in strategies relating to this ‘hierarchy of controls’, and to the very conscious use of choice. There are many ways in which we can manage our environments, our experiences, deliberately to facilitate the shifting of our functioning, our state of consciousness, from our sense of self as separate (‘lower’) to the sense of self as connected to or one with universal Being (‘higher’), so that the latter ‘controls’ the former. The objective is not to deny the ‘lower’ ones, to hide from them, fear them or feel guilt or shame for them. The objective is to recognise them, face them, and bring them into the governance of the ‘higher’ by full awareness and conscious choice.
When we allow ourselves to see our definitions and conditioned beliefs and fears for what they are, when we face and experience our buried memories, and our hidden emotions and impulses, we release ourselves from their hold. A mode of perception, knowing and connectedness opens up that is beyond the purely cognitive, beyond the abstract, beyond maya. We perceive and relate with ‘true nature’ and with the core of other people. The reality and depth of the oneness experienced when such Deep Intelligence is activated within us has been recorded by countless people who have chosen not to be bound by the limitations of the discriminative intellect.
EDUCATION FOR DEEP INTELLIGENCE
How does an education program cultivate Deep Intelligence? A few of the more direct considerations are these: The first part of the answer concerns providing people with an adequate conceptual framework. Human beings can only perceive things they have some expectation or sense of possibility of perceiving. People need a conceptual framework of ‘reality’ and of human nature that allows for the operation of the mechanisms of transformation of consciousness briefly outlined above. For example, appropriate selection of stories for the young to hear and to read. People need to be familiar with ways of deciding if something makes sense – if it is illogical, unfounded, or unhelpful. They need the simple basics of philosophy to discriminate between formulations, and to reflect ‘critically’ on whose purposes they may serve or not serve. People need to be familiar with a variety of ways of determining if an idea, process or action is viable. Familiarity with applying the basic elements of scientific method is useful here. People need encouragement in bringing their attention fully to bear on their present experience. People need encouragement and opportunities to choose a clear intention, and to give it their attention. People need encouragement, guidance and skilling in taking action to realise an intention. This includes being able to express, explain or communicate their understanding or intent, as well as to apply, pursue or create it. People need opportunities to recognise, express and accept their bodily sensations, their emotions, their thoughts, their pains, fears and desires. People need opportunities to identify their beliefs, and to test the helpfulness of beliefs, behaviours and lifestyles, both their own, and those of others. People need opportunities, encouragement and inspiration to review and reconstruct from a higher ‘reference point’ their own body, emotions, thoughts, goals and behaviours, if they find them inadequate, unhelpful or unsatisfying. Strategies here can include reviewing the day, journaling, affirmations, ‘sounding’, writing ‘cutting the cord’ and forgiveness letters, and rituals. People need encouragement and skills to challenge the beliefs and behaviours of others, if they are experiencing others’ beliefs or behaviours as limiting, damaging or disempowering. People need a variety of kinds of opportunities for experiencing, expressing and changing their emotions, their body, their perceptions and their relationships. They need opportunities to give visual expression to their emotions, their experiences, their intuitions and their beliefs. And they need to be encouraged to find or place into their living environment forms of visual art which have the ability to inspire and lift the spirit, that is, to bring about a shift in consciousness from one category or level to a larger or higher one, respectively. People need similar opportunities with regard to sound, the voice, and various forms of instrumental music – to express in these ways and to experience them with full attention, deliberately for the purpose of enjoyment and altering consciousness in evolutionary ways. People need similar opportunities with regard to touch and movement – to express their emotions, their experiences, their intentions and their beliefs in tactile and kinaesthetic ways, including free form dance movement and breathing techniques. People need opportunities for contact with things that awaken feelings of the magical, of beauty, tenderness, and ethereality, such as babies, baby animals, flowers, incense and other aromas, ritual, open sharing of themselves with others, and regular time communing with nature. They need opportunities and encouragement to be alone, to be silent, to be fully aware of their internal environment, to be aware of themselves as a field of energy, to be aware with full sensory attention of their external environment, and of their connectedness to it.
Education programmes characterised by such experiences are liberating and empowering. They involve more than just conceptual learning. They involve consciously changing and transcending concepts, definitions, beliefs and patterns, which limit how we perceive ourselves, others and the world. They go beyond cognition, into experience. They involve emotions, feelings, intuition, expanded perception, bodily experience, a new consciousness of Being, and purposeful and creative expression and action. Of course, opportunities need to be provided first for teachers and teacher educators to have experiences in cultivating Deep Intelligence. The resulting changes in identity, disposition and orientation to the world will enable them to support others in their cultivation of Deep Intelligence.
Education for Deep Intelligence develops a much broader set of human faculties, qualities and abilities than traditional education has done. In contrast to conventional schooling programmes, education characterised by such experiences genuinely cultivates the Deep Intelligence required for sustainable living and development in all its forms. Such education enables us to find more effective and satisfying ways of thinking, feeling, knowing, relating, living and being-in-the-world. It opens the way for humanity’s transition to a civilisation characterised by connectedness, prosperity, and cooperation with the natural world.
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