Emerging Life

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An Emergent Life cannot be lived frozen into the worship of the status quo.

Although it could be argued that the seeking of status quo is settling for that which is safe and predictable, life in reality never is. Life does not stand still. If it did, we would still be pre-historic beings. Life is in a constant state of motion and change.

Life is emergent. We are emergent beings. Although, we as homo sapiens like to think of ourselves as separate from nature, the fact is we aren’t. We are integrally part of the evolving emerging universe. Perhaps our problem is that in our evolving we have viewed ourselves superior to all natural phenomena.  We have dismissed that we are continuing to emerge individually and socially. We fear emergence rather than embrace it. We act as if we can control it. We never have and never will and what is more, emergence doesn’t care.  It doesn’t give a hoot if you ‘believe’ in it or not in the same way that gravity doesn’t give a damn if you don’t believe in it. It will still function in spite of you. Just try keeping upright after a night on the town a dozen or more beers later. Gravity will eventually pull you down.

We are constantly in a state of becoming. What we become is another issue which we can have control over.  What meaning we make to our becoming is also something which we can have influence over but only if we begin to befriend and embrace emergence.

How do you embrace emergence? Embracing emergence is not just about a set of techniques but more importantly having an ‘Attitude’ for embracing. Anthropologist, Mary Catherine Bateson, in her book Willing to Learn writes “We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.” We must develop an attitude of being willing to work with uncertainty. When faced with the thick of a problem there is often no presenting way out.  ‘Not knowing’ is often the only thing we can do. Mystery is essential to our growth. Without mystery we would not have been able to create, write, build. Mystery is the question.  So being able to ask the deeper questions point us in the direction towards where new answers may exist that we were not aware of before.  It takes great courage to ask the right question. By not knowing we also begin to tap into our inner strength.  Embracing emergence is being aware of what we already have in our strengths and building upon them. Cloud Thinking, an emergent process and way of living helps us find our strengths and inner narrative.

Embracing emergence is also having the willingness to find meaning in what is happening around you.  Life does not owe us pleasure but it does offer us meaning. There is no ‘right’ meaning. Meaning will be different to each person, however it is through meaning we move towards being response-able, that is, responding in a growthful way to what life throws our way and free – free to emerge and grow to that person we want to be.

I sat beside my father in his dying days in his struggle with cancer.  At first, he was naturally deeply depressed about his situation. Then one morning I had visited him in the hospital he had a calm expression.  When I asked him, what was happening it was clear he had found meaning, meaning in his life and meaning in what he was soon to become.  And a deep peace overcame him.

We are all emerging to the persons we will become.  The state of our becoming will either be strong emergence or weak emergence as it is known in the science and philosophy of emergence.  We aim for ‘strong’ emergence becoming the highest consciousness and potential we can become.  Whether we reach strong emergence depends solely upon our attitude and the steps we take towards growth for ourselves and all beings. Emerge free to the best that you can be.

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Author: Malcolm Hunt

I am founder of the Cloud Thinking method and Vice President of Youth for Global Peace, providing mentoring and coaching for young refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who have been socially and financially marginalized. I was a Buddhist monk in China for 4 years and recently returned to lay life in Australia. My professional background is in psychology and mental health education and support.

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