Tuesday, January 26, 2010


How The Laughing Heart Provides the Tools, Methods and Context for Advancing the Six Memes in the First Tier toward the Second Integral Tier.

Using Humor with Families

(q.v. "Spiral Dynamics" p://www.spiraldynamics.com/book/SDreview_Dinan.htm)

It seems that to consciously and actively participate in the evolutionary spiral, we'd want to advance each meme to its highest development and to assist it in transitioning to the next meme. (Meme = cultural matrix that has distinctive values, belief systems, ways of behaving that have evolved out of each other in an attempt to solve evolutionary problems. Each meme partially solves problems from the previous meme while generating new and different problems that in turn give birth to the next cultural matrix--meme).

While we need to honor and work with the evolutionary cycle/spiral, it is equally important to realize that we can interface with all memes in any given instant through accessing the still point that exists at the center of all this turning and spiraling that is always accessible… ("God exists at the still point at the center of our turning.")

The Laughing Heart provides a system for aiding each meme to access that still point, while simultaneously offering a communication technology to support each meme in solving the challenges each faces and that all memes face collectively (war, disease, environmental degradation, injustice, etc). By participating in this process, each meme can evolve to its zenith and then on to the next meme and eventually to the next tier.

A big part of that process is to mitigate the toxic side/effects of the red meme to the degree it asserts itself harmfully in each of the other memes thus reducing unnecessary wear and tear on our culture, and to empower all memes to address and transition through the inevitable breakdown of the last evolutionary stage which has been dominated by and characterized by a commitment to duality and to evolve the system to higher degrees of fulfilling the evolutionary imperative…liberating more and more creativity in dynamic balance with ever greater harmony and coherence. Compassion, which should be stoked in every meme (and which comes from that still point) demands it, justice demands it, health and well being demand it, our freedom and our unity demand it.

That being said, the Laughing Heart system provides a blueprint for building the infrastructure of the emerging stage of evolution which, by its very nature and principles resonates with both the fundamental patterns of reality and the urge to 'progress'. It is a model for Integral Education.

If you're reading this and can relate to it you are clearly one of those choosing ones who have heard the call to the Second Tier and are eager to make your (not insignificant) contribution.

The Laughing Heart provides the context for the meeting of the memes in ways that dissipate the tensions within them, between them and that can support individuals of all ages to relax their resistance to the evolutionary pull…whatever is the next inevitable condition that evolution is inviting them to engage with, transform and grow from. As these resistances are diminished, it is then possible to "install" a more progressive orientation that can help each meme evolve from where it is.

At The Laughing Heart we determine what helpful influences, knowledge, activities and practices will all the memes respond to while diffusing the natural resistance of the "dualistic mind" to perpetuate separation as a replacement for the unifying ground of being.

The Laughing Heart, through the use of theater, art, comedy and interactive processes, holds up a mirror to personal and collective awareness, so that toxic attitudes and behaviors, otherwise leaching into the whole system, can be recognized. Once recognized, it becomes possible to reveal creative choices and possibilities that are far more life enhancing.

In other words, "In order to get to where we're going we have to start from where we are." But if we don't actually know where we are, and even more importantly, are out of touch with where we are…and where others are… no matter what meme we're operating out of, or what combination of memes—which is more often the case—then it is almost impossible to recognize the creative alternative that can advance our status (move individuals and institutions to become more aligned with the positive directionality of evolution.) The use of art, laughter and interactive processes that involves families enables us to accomplish this with the least amount of defensiveness and damage and the greatest amount of joy, intelligence and playfulness.

Tool one: Artful humor. All memes have the capacity for laughter…admittedly some more than others. Since the ego needs to defend and perpetuate its existence, it can take itself (and its position) very seriously (false pride). This, as is so obvious, is the stimulus for so much interpersonal and inter-group conflict that leads to wars obsessive focus on competition and just generally not getting along. In turn, many of our dreams and efforts to make life more livable and meaningful are sabotaged.

Our ability to laugh at ourselves and our perspective, is inversely proportional to the ego investment we have in our ego' orientation and the degree to which our identity is tied up with our need to be separate and right.

This is why the use of laughter, especially, helping people to release the attachment they may have to recalcitrant perspectives, is so important to the process and why "The Laughing Heart" is about getting the heart laughing. A laughing heart is an open, flexible and vital heart, as opposed to a hardened heart where the doors of compassion are closed and the capacity to hold someone else's interests as our own is abrogated [Love your neighbor as yourself].

At "The Laughing Heart" and through LH activities, by helping different generations interact successfully with each other through play, art, humor and problem solving, we are setting the stage (establishing the foundational grid) for the unitive experience…the Integral Tier to emerge. (Kind of like those thin strips of metal webbing used in building highways that the concrete can adhere to.)

The activities, processes and environments of "The Laughing Heart" also build understanding, respect, tolerance, and forgiveness (adaptability) which, because they are transcendent values, need to come into being at every meme level. In addition problem solving skills developed within the family through LH activities can be used to address the very real problems that exist in our world.

"God is All Love rolled up into One. We are all love unfolding as the Many."

Think on't!

Next blogs…continuing how "The Laughing Heart" and its principles and practices and how they can facilitate individual and collective healing and growth.

Errol Strider
(415) 459-4512

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


A Vision for Radical Change
"A hands on approach to transformation"
From Bill Bradley and his book, The New American Story
"The only things that can stop us are fear, ignorance, self-centeredness, and greed."
From Marianne Williamson's Healing of America

"What we lack is an evolved sense of our collective purpose for our talent and intelligence."
"But it feels as though there is no unified social force field for the effort, no number to call, no place to sign up."
"We need a new vortex of social energy in America, one that arises from the shared intention of our society."
"Minds in agreement form the most powerful force in the universe. To harness that force would constitute not so much a bridge as a super sonic transport into the 21st century."
"They want to feel that they are contributing to a larger process, something bigger than themselves."
The Laughing Heart is a response to this need…to be the "unified social force field for the effort, the number to call, the place to sign up, to be that super sonic transport" into the next millenium, and to provide the antidote to "fear, ignorance, self-centeredness and greed." (Talk about "audacity")GOALS OF THE LAUGHING HEART:To support and impact arguably the 5 major influences on the development and education of children: family, school, media, peers, religion.
To demonstrate and utilize state the of the art transformational methodologies through media
To provide a home/context for those individuals who see to cooperate with evolution and want to both support and be supported by others in doing the same.
To hold up a mirror to individual and cultural consciousness and attitudes in such a way that the individual can look at his/her perspective and see ways of improving it
To provide the support, education and guidance for making these radical advancements.
To provide the foundation and educational technology to develop enlightened leaders
The Laughing Heart is both about creating context and content for personal awakening and social transformation.
I had a conversation with Barbara Marx Hubbard, author and futurist) several years ago when she suggested that those of us who are at the cusp of evolution (meaning that we're probably broke but we do have a clue) have to create not only the creative content, but also the context to house it, since those contexts don't really exist…yet.
If we consider the Spiral dynamics perspective, then we can appreciate that as we leave the first tier of evolution which includes (in order)
  1. Survival stage—let's get fed, warm, safe and laid,
  2. Magic and mythic stage-warding off the bad through ritual and superstition,
  3. Ego-emergence stage—when the individual makes its presence felt beyond the tribe…Attila the Hun, Mike Tyson, Dick Chane
  4. Top down control stage—"How are we going to manage these barbarians and get them to give us their stuff?"
  5. Rationality based stage—"You mean there's cause and effect, wow, and no more guilt? Sign me up!"
  6. And finally the more sensitive egalitarian stage—"There's an inner self?" "My actions affect the environment?" "Holy Cow!" ("Oh really, some people think cows are holy? Who'd a thought?") etc.
To a lesser or greater degree these six stages come about as a reaction to the limitations and the shadow side of the previous stage (meme), and the impulse to find better ways to gain control over the forces that seem to be preventing people from the "good" life. But since each meme has emerged in reaction to the previous one, they linger in relative resistance to each other—with little mutual understanding, lots of competition, subjugation, wars and a propensity to take themselves way too seriously.
Indeed, we are at the brink of moving to the Integral tier, where self or collective identity is not known by what it is not, but by what it is… It becomes who it is by mining, harnessing and directing its talents for the betterment of the whole (it being a part of that whole) without the necessity of distinguishing itself from the other value systems and life forms through separation. And separation usually involves some kind of domination/subordination system…up/down comparison, us/them, "Mine!" "No "mine!!"--variations of giving life the finger...or as Rodney Dangerfield said so eloquently, "I get no respect."
This is why the Laughing Heart is about creating both the context and the content where integralism and its life affirming attributes can flourish.
The Laughing Heart is as much about place as it is about methodology, a place to congregate, grow, create and Be. And what makes it a "place" in this integral model is the community, specifically, the relationships we establish between ourselves and all of life.
("Everything non-spiritual in human experience, excepting personality, is a means to an end. Every true relationship of mortal man with other persons--human or divine--is an end in itself."—The Urantia Book)
In the emerging evolutionary paradigm, it is the community itself that forms the "place," that is the new "church", that forms the "new covenant" that establishes a basis for a new kind of agreement to take place which in turn sets the stage for a more cooperative and life enhancing society. Indeed, the Laughing Heart which is a combination of the place, the relationships and the dynamics, is the very setting of that stage.
Teilhard de Chardin predicted the coming of what he calls "human energy technicians"…at Laughing Heart, we call them "Innertainers"
"He (the human energy technician) becomes the technician and engineer of the spiritual energies of the world. The highest morality is henceforth that which will best develop the phenomena of nature to its upper limits. No longer to protect but to develop, by awakening and convergence, the individual riches of the earth." Teilhard de Chardin
Traditionally in Judaism 10 "men" are required to form a minion… which is the requisite "context" for prayer (for some reason their idea of God needed ten guys, yes guys—but we've gotten beyond that. Jesus, being the efficient Jew that he was, got it down to 2... or more…because it only takes two to have an exchange). The Laughing Heart empowers that creative exchange (integral prayer). It establishes the holding space (like a womb, like the picture above) for our beloved self to emerge and for creation to occur. It also provides the tools, methods, principles, processes and the stage to practice and rehearse these dynamics, learn to excel in their use and prepare us to step onto the stage of life…without a net. ("Places, everyone")
"…the morality of interpersonal relationships, for such is the seed and secret of the continued and purposeful growth of society and government, human or superhuman. " The Urantia Book
Years ago I read that one of the main challenges for liberating atomic fusion is the difficulty of creating a container that won't self-destruct when such a powerful conflagration occurs. So every place where the Laughing Heart shows up-- whether live events, on the web, through media like video, audio and the printed word, in every relationship where there is true "meeting," The Laughing Heart emerges simultaneously as the container, the context and the co-creative activities that precipitate the emergence of the True and Noble Self. The Laughing Heart is the container that allows for fusion—a way to hold, energize and sustain life. We are thus nourished and empowered to be with life without leaving an unhealthy "wake" as the aftermath of our being together, but rather to leave us "awake" as we pass through each other's lives.
The context of humanity is so filled with discord, competition and separation (duh) that we need to prepare ourselves for this next step of fusion power, to establish the context that supports individuals and families to actually be the "containers" for the emergence of a more soulful awareness which provides a fertile soil for progress…and we need to rehearse our new roles!
Think on't!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010




Accessorize, okay…generalize…watch out!

When you make a generalization, you're not actually describing anything that's really going on, just some temporary approximation about life to make it more "manageable."

Like the fellow in the picture, as he sits reading his paper near the Brooklyn Bridge. He's probably accepting some generalization, or at least an approximation of reality at that moment.

He may be reading about mass starvation, or massive layoffs, or just the plight of the masses, but even mass human suffering doesn't accurately describe what's going on at any given moment, because each person is having his or her own unique experience of tribulation. While it may appear that suffering is shared by the collective, and though it is influenced by the collective, in fact, all suffering as well as joy is experienced on an individual basis.

Maybe this guy's just a sports fan, in fact a NY Yankee fan reading about demolishing the Red Sox 10 to 3. But though his fellow Yankee fans may be sharing in the joy of winning, this guy is having his unique experience of victory, a day later with the sun on his back in the middle of a jog with sweat beads dripping on to the newspaper. Joy or pain though shared are uniquely experienced by each individual participant.

So, in order to stay conscious and not get sucked into making conclusions based on some generalization, which is, at best, a very fuzzy and indistinct approximation of reality, and which may or may not be relevant to my experience, I try to remind myself that at any given instant, billions of individual events are occurring on this planet…billions of conversations, billions of decisions, billions of observations, billions of interpretation of those observations, billions of people saying, "yes" to something, billions of people saying "no" to something else and billions of people who, at this moment, either can't make up their minds or are busy changing them…or both...I can't decide.

There are billions of individual people eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom, copulating, taking care of their children, working, cleaning up, messing up…and billions of people who are completely unaware of you or me…or each other. Except for a very small group—family, co-workers, fellow-students, lovers, cell-mates, fellow conspirators, Face-bookees, etc; all of these billions of us have a VERY limited experience of the other billions of us.

"So what?" you may ask, "What matters is what the Dow Jones is doing today? With all due respect," you may be thinking, "that generalization does indeed affect my life." (Maybe our guy on the bench is looking up the NASDAQ)

Yup, that's where the media comes in, by necessity and job description the media is the architect of many of our most popular generalizations: electronic media, print media, especially. For most of us, the only access to the other billions of people is through this media. So one thing the billions of us have in common is that we are relating to each other and interfacing with life through technological intermediaries …whether it's a pencil, a cell phone or the latest computer with the most advanced software.

Media has made it possible, apparently, to find out about those other billions of people. For instance, billions of us will watch the 2010 Winter Olympics. At least millions of us are staring at some screen, computer or TV set right now. And billions of us are coming to conclusions about life based on the media, which by its very nature can only make generalizations about anything, not to mention its propensity to focus on what is most dramatic—hence, if not billions, then at least dozens of crime shows on TV any given week…let alone re-runs.

When the news is reported, each of us will fall into some collective…some generalization, like "bureaucrats, terrorists, traffic, families, Christians, Libras, Moslems, insurgents, Cubans, CEO's, porn stars, academics, news people, housewives, kids, criminals, thirteen year olds, labor, management, Communists, birdwatchers"…any way that we can encapsulate collectives and make generalizations about groups of us who orient around some common phenomenon.…etc. etc. ad infinitum…so that we can have some control over our lives. "If we can generalize people, then we can control them." The fallacy of this generalization becomes more and more apparent the deeper we look.

One of the most persistent categorical generalizations we can make about ourselves is when we humans are considered "The Economy," and within that, "consumers". And since "the economy" is so vast, intricate and complex, because it really does involve all the billions of us, what are we as individuals, apparently at the mercy of "the economy," to do? We resort to generalizations like, "find a job", "look on Craig's list", "network," "get an education", "call your brother-in-law," or get sucked into the most alluring get rich quick scheme that comes to us. Yep, we hope that the generalization we make in response to the generalizations we adopt, will solve our individual problems. Often they do, too often…they don't.

Because of the Media, we assume that these generalizations fed to us by the experts, pollsters and those in "the know" can be useful in controlling our own set of circumstances and, as a result, we are can be more comfortable, stay healthier, have more pleasure, be better able to beat the other guys and get their stuff at a minimal loss to ourselves, and generally have a life created to our satisfaction so that in some media analysis, we would be classified and generalized as the "well off people"...and happy to be so dubbed.

But then again, there are other billions of us who, though we interact with the media and depend on those generalizations made about us to try and navigate our way through existence, still find ourselves classified by the media, when they even deign to mention as, as "the not so well off," and what makes it even worse, it does indeed appear that there are the "well-off"s" and the "not so well-off's"…the "have's" and the "have not's," two of our most cherished and efficient generalizations.

So, which, ultimately, is more useful? The generalizations we make about existence handed down to us by our priests, the media, pundits, pollsters and sociologists or is it in being aware of the actions, thoughts, desires, reactions, etc. that are taking place now by billions of individuals, one of which is reading this sentence. At this moment you, one of the billions, are thinking about what you're reading and finding some place in your meaning matrix to fit it in. (make sense of it), with the hope that considering these ideas will help you conform existence to what makes you feel your best, look your best, hear your best and even…be at your best... generally stimulate your senses to communicate very positive messages to you and assist you to make sense out of your life.

"Well," you may ask, "what's a billion-heir to do?" Since the concept of "billions of us" is too mind boggling to be relevant and since the generalizations we make are only relatively useful, at best, and not near as useful for the "not well off" as "the well off," what other option do we have?

My God…the individual. I rather suspect that the Divine knower of All Being doesn't recognize any of the generalizations we default to and find so useful, but, in fact, only relates to us as individuals.

So what really influences our lives for better or worse? The generalizations we make and react to or the billions of individuals and what each of us is choosing...at this very moment even...and who gets to decide? The generalization (get out the vote, vote for our guy and that will create the kind of government, hence the quality of life we want) or the individual voter who may ask in a moment of brave insight, "You mean it's up to me?"

Ultimately, each individual gets to determine whether to be run and delimited by generalizations or to chart his or her own course among the billions of available choices that could not possibly fit into any generalization ever offered to us.

And while we may not be directly acquainted with each other (and here the media actually is helpful), we know that not only are we all inextricably connected, but that in all of this mass of interconnections the individual is far more powerful than any generalization about him or her and is the ultimate arbiter and determiner of the nature and quality of his/her experience, that is, if he or she has the courage to lay claim to his unique and original self-made destiny.

But wait…bonus!…the more self-aware and enlightened each of us becomes, (and that truly is an individual attainment) the more we realize that it is we, not as a collective, but as individuals who determine the direction and quality of our lives and indeed of our civilization and that each of us as an individual just might be the trend setter that others will some day classify as a generalization. ("Buddhists", Freudians," "Franciscans"…as if the all the chips emulated the same block.) After all, all generalization began as some individual's distinctive experience.

In summary, question all generalizations (even this one), and learn to treasure and act on your unique relationship to life that may in fact transcend any generalization that you or anyone else could ever possibly make about you. You get to carve your unique signature on the face of reality. Indeed reality depends on it.

As amazing as it is that no two snow flakes are exactly alike, how much more differentiated can the billions of us become as we each follow our own calling and dance to our own drummer? While a generalization might attempt to encapsulate us, it can never fully and accurately identity you or me. That's up to...well...

the bilions of you's and me's.

Think on't.

Errol Strider
(415) 459-4512