Embody the three harmonies – Part 1

Dear <subscriber>,

This issue of CI News, and its companions to follow, are an experiment. They could form a blog post or an article – and at some point they may – but I feel I want to share this with you directly now.

Embody the three harmonies

In response to questions from Bright Future Now participants, I recently started assembling core concepts that provide a framework for understanding Context Institute’s work.

One of these concepts, important to me for a long time, is expressed in the saying, “Embody the three harmonies: the harmony within; the harmony with others; and the harmony with nature.” As I’ve revisited this saying it’s been revealing a whole new depth of meaning to me that I’d like to share with you.

As a concept, Embody the three harmonies can play many roles:

  • It can serve as a vision/goal/aspiration.
  • It can help illuminate the character of the Planetary Era and the current Empire-to-Planetary transition
  • It can help explain how Context Institute’s work relates to the good work of many, many other organizations and groups.

I’ll address all of these in this CI News series. Here in Part 1 we’ll start with it’s role as a vision/goal/aspiration.

As a saying, it’s pretty concise, so let me unpack it’s meaning.

  • embody – Embody is all about making something tangible and practical, going beyond the realm of ideas into behavior and established practice. It’s about integrity and genuineness, walking the talk, the opposite of lip service and pretense. To embody these harmonies is to make them a way of life.
  • harmony – We experience harmony directly in music, which makes it a great metaphorical starting point. We know it as pleasurable, dynamic and rich – more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes it involves tension yet that just makes the resolution all that much more powerful. The emotional territory that musical harmony can cover is immense, going from ethereally gentle to incredibly intense. Generalizing beyond music, harmony is fundamentally a systems concept since it is a quality of relationship among diverse interdependent parts. As in music, these relationships can be dynamic and full of life – and fundamentally mutually supportive.
  • within – One of the mysteries of human existence is that we can hold multiple opinions and perspectives simultaneously. We are indeed inwardly diverse. Whether or not the relationships among that inner diversity are harmonious has a huge impact on our experience of life and our effect on the world around us.
  • with others – Much of our distress in life seems to involve other people at either an individual or a group level. Clearly, we could be much happier if we were able to authentically achieve more harmonious relationships with others.
  • with nature – For much of human history, people close to the land – hunters and gatherers, farmers, herders, gardeners – have understood the importance of a harmonious relationship with nature. Those more removed – elites in agrarian empires and industrial civilizations – have been happy to take nature for granted and exploit what they could. We are now at a new stage where the human impact on nature is on a scale that threatens major natural systems worldwide. We need to take the respect common in indigenous cultures and implement it on a whole new scale and level of practicality. We will need to embody a profound harmony with nature to succeed.

Embody the three harmonies, as a vision/goal/aspiration, can thus be a profound call to action and transformation. It can be applied at many scales, from the personal, to the group, to the community, to the planet.

Does the prospect of living in a culture that embodies the three harmonies, both in its people and in its institutions, sound appealing? “Yes,” you may be thinking, “it would be wonderful. But isn’t it also hopelessly idealistic and naive? Wouldn’t such a culture be overpowered by others who are more interested in dominance than harmony?”

Your skepticism has 5,000 years of history to back it up and is thus well justified. Yet what isn’t as widely understood is that we are currently at an historic tipping point where Embody the three harmonies goes from an idealistic aspiration to the practical, preferred strategy for personal and cultural success. I’ll dive into that question in the next CI News.

With appreciation,
Robert Gilman
March 13, 2017

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