|Closing the Circle|
Intuition large and small, The Intuitive Self, Creativity and Soul were now inextricably interwoven in the fabric of my experience. These concepts overlapped so that it was hard to tell where one left off and the other took up. The sharp lines my rational mind hoped would clearly distinguish mutually exclusive concepts blended together in a single strand of meaning. In what I have written, these terms were used somewhat interchangeably. That was a major revelation!
Mention of soul most often appeared in the supplements. Its presence was more subtle than joining self and intuition in frequent references to The Intuitive Self. This conjoining came from the deeper search for soul that characterized my life process. In this thread, I explore primal themes that enabled me to comprehend Self, Intuition, Creativity and Soul in the same breath. When all window dressing was shorn away, these ideas were coincident.
Isn't That a Coincidence!
My own route to soul at the heart of the intuitive source was nurtured by Carl Jung's writing about meaningful coincidences which he named synchronicity. In these situations, an inner psychic event coincided with an external physical happening without a causal explanation. The external event occured at the same physical time and place or it could be removed in time and/or space. Without a cause, rational thinking attributed the experience to chance. As I experienced them with increasing frequency, it was clear more than chance was at work. These facets of my experience did not fit my rational model of the world.
Those experiences which I dismissed as "Oh that's just a coincidence" suggested more than met the eye. But seeing that required a greater sensitivity than I had for many years. Once I was aware of them, I explained them away with a rational interpretation. My logical mind was reluctant to give an inch. The validity of synchronicities finally sunk in when I realized how seemingly trivial events led to auspicious outcomes. Conventional wisdom acknowledged auspicious beginnings, but I realized the greater valence of inauspicious initial conditions.
Although they are appreciated only through experience, an example suggests the flavor of a synchronicity. On a visit to Denver, I stayed in a downtown hotel. I was aware the art museum was within walking distance. On an afternoon stroll, I found myself heading off as if I was on a mission. When I noticed, I allowed myself to be carried along with the experience. Before long I was pulling in view of the museum. On entering I went immediately to the fourth floor where I was drawn to one part of the room. There in the middle of an open space was a small statue of Kuan Yin. She was an important archetype on my journey.
Many "explanations" could be offered, but after all was said and done this was a meaningful confluence of external physical factors and my internal states of mind. Try as I did to concoct rationalizations, the fact remained this was an acausal experience with deep personal meaning distilled from a mundane detail of daily living - taking a walk. Richard Bach's novels primed me for these kinds of experiences. This quote from One captured a theme I sensed in his writings:
When I realized my movements were part of a pattern beyond myself, I yielded to their guidance. With the incessant chatter of my rational mind in the background, that was difficult to do. Each time I accorded those rhythms of the moment, similar magical experiences rose from the dust of daily living.
Writing about meaningful coincidences, Carl Jung said synchronicity was a special case of "acausal orderedness" which accounted for all "acts of creation." How could their be meaning in the chaotic pattern of existence? Again Richard Back had primed my mind to consider outlandish possibilities. Here is an exchange between Richard and his protagonist Don in Illusions:
On the surface, the idea of a book without page numbers was absurd - to my rational mind. But the intuitive mind had other ways to plumb the truth. My encounters with the I Ching brought this understanding home. Here was a decision aid that used a completely random procedure to select information relevant to a problem. This was about as far from my operations research training as I could get! Everything in my linear programming models had been absolutely deterministic. Perhaps chaos was full of meaning if I learned how to listen.
Although I did not know when I purchased the I Ching, Carl Jung was captivated by the book also. When I read the Foreword to the Richard Wilhelm version, I discovered it was written by Jung. In this piece, he explored the psychology of the I Ching. I used Wilhelm's version in the classroom to illustrate synchronicity. As part of the orientation to the exercise, I read excerpts from the Foreward. The thoughts expressed there were so meaningful, but I realized most of what I read was going over their heads. Better to stick with the demonstration.
Student reactions to the exercise were a revelation. After explaining the approach, I passed around pennies to throw to select a reading. By this time eyes were raised, a few jaws were hanging open and some faces registered outright skepticism. As they tossed the coins there were giggles and nervous laughter. Then I gave each a copy of their reading to reflect on concerning the issue they posed. After a few minutes, I put them in pairs with their opposite style to discuss their reactions. By the end of the exercise, even the most hardened skeptics were willing to admit something interesting was going on even though they did not know what. As folk wisdom has it, "the proof is in the pudding."
Not every rational business scholar dismissed intuitive explorations such as the I Ching. The hard end of the rational spectrum was housed in graduate programs such as those at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Chicago. After all I received my Math Methods and Computer MBA at the latter school and I visited the former when preparing to return for a Ph.D. At the masters level, the softer end of the rational spectrum was found at schools like Harvard and Indiana which placed more emphasis on the case method of instruction. These schools did not forego the rational, but they were more flexible than schools at the hard end of the spectrum.
A case in point was my experience at the University of Pennsylvania. The Wharton MBA was located mid range on the rational spectrum. While Newell and Simon where fiddling with bits and bytes at Carnegie Mellon to emulate problem solving with a chess program, Russell Ackoff and West Churchman, who were also technically and mathematically gifted, were writing about the art of problem solving, purposeful systems, thought and wisdom and challenge to reason. At the Harvard end of the range, professors spent sabbaticals on location studying and writing cases for real world problems.
My Penn dissertation advisor, who started as an engineer and later got a doctorate in economics, encouraged a social science perspective. Along with Ackoff and Churchman, he counterpointed the excessive rationalization at one end of the business scholar spectrum. In one example of this balanced perspective, Churchman introduced the I Ching as a deductive method in his quantitative methods textbook Thinking for Decisions. Reading about the Chinese classic from an academic encouraged me to study and use the material in my classes. With Jung and Churchman on my side, my rational mind was more comfortable exploring the nonrational realm.
Armed with a deepened commitment to the non rational, I explored the further reaches beyond intuition in the small. I had clearly established that instantaneous gestalts of learning and experience could spring to mind and enlighten an otherwise puzzling situation. I was also convinced there was more than this. There was Yogananda's infallible counsel of the Inner Voice. And there was the whole realm of the creative which Huston Smith eloquently characterized:
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