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The medicine wheel and human complexities

In my series of comparisons between my model of human complexities and ones introduced and used by other people, we encounter of course striking similarities but also some extra added inspiring novelties. This time I compare “the Medicine Wheel” of the Sioux tribes in the USA, with thanks to Ruby June for providing me with the YouTube links.

The Medicine Wheel
The natural wisdom of the Indians is of course well known. Watch it being explained on YouTube by an educated medical physician, with personal roots in these tribes. He posted three short 10 minute films:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIGrFHy463g

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK-RdmQwIvI

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HF1UBY2vjQ

Indian Medicine Wheel

Indian Medicine Wheel

The explanation done by someone educated in modern medicine makes it even more powerful. We live in times that money driven pharmaceutical industries together with growth economy focused politicians try to do their best to place the only medical truth in pharmaceutical science, eliminating all reference to the healing powers of nature and our own selves. Common sense and the Medicine Wheel will help us find the right balance ourselves, no matter what certain external forces claim.

The Medicine Wheel shows the human being also as a circle in which the four conscious building elements: ratio, emotion, body and spirituality, find their place. In the kernel of the circle is our balanced self, connected to the universe as if we were (and are) individually the Whole. Travelling along the outer circle we live our conscious building experiences as a self learning and healing human being through each of the four elements. Also the interaction with other human beings is shown and the danger of breaking up the wheel, creating severe imbalance.

Note: When we Google on the Medicine Wheel we will find that the usage of the colors and the significance given to them is not always the same. This should not confuse you. It is a learning process that travels into your own soul and understanding through reflective interpretations. Do not imply accept the models and description. Apply them to your own life and circumstances and make up your own mind. That is what matters and what all others did who published something on the network.

Human Complexities
My model does not start with the circle but with a two dimensional cross that shows the inner conflict between “to be” and “to do” that produces the self conscious self the action and reflection. Have a look at a short YouTube contribution about the positioning of Sustainocracy, a new democracy based on all these wisdoms together. Sustainocracy is becoming a practical reality in my own surroundings in the Netherlands.

English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWgVbDL4Tco

The evolution of humankind

The evolution of humankind

In the Human Complexities model the horizontal and vertical lines are  fixed, representing the learning process on the TO BE line, from nothing, all the way up to the higher conscience. And the (co-)creative organizational process of TO DO that produces awareness through action and establishes communities and cultures. Both lines can collapse due to intense human mentality, periods of risk avoidance and crises. The dynamics here is represented by the spiral line along time travelling and interacting through the four states.

The four quadrants that appear can receive the same explanation as the Medicine Wheel, adding the extra dimension of an evolutionary learning process in the shape of a spiral. The model of human complexities can be further enhanced by using the dynamics of moving up and down the levels of the being and doing from an individual and societal perspective. We can show cultural impositions and dogmas but also the evolutionary progression of humankind. The evolutionary line is the result of the spiral and moves from chaos through the point of self awareness finally to sustainable wellness.

It would go too far to explain all the healing awareness dimensions that can found by applying both models together. Just place the center of the individual Medicine Wheel on the spiral path of Human Complexity and see or feel what happens with individual dominance, imbalance,  breakings and healings.

Both models together, for individual and community usage

Both models together, for individual and community usage

Take also your own country’s societal culture and place it in perspective of time by choosing a significant historical event to define a starting position on your communit’s spiral. I did that as an exercize in 2011 in a chapter of my book in English for the USA, Netherlands and Spain. Feel free to experiment with it all yourself, applying also the Medicine Wheel, to your own self and your community. Dare to have an open mind, challenging yourself to let go of your own dependencies and dogma’s. Look at yourself and your surroundings from the perspective of rationality, emotions, spirituality, physical health and awareness. What do you see? Can you find balance yourself now with all this information, or do you need help?

Change yourself and you changed the world

The historic and modern wisdom of above simply shows us that we are a unique self aware species from the universe. In many parts of the world we have developed ourselves into a fragmented shackle of a human made (consumer economic) system that tends to disconnect us from our universal roots and learning processes. Until we are surprised by a natural, personal or other form of crisis. Then we encounter our imbalance and are forced to reflect to refind ourselves. This is happening to many people today. They suddenly find themselves deprived of the external securities that kept them blind for reality.  They start searching for renewal of their comfort and often start again by addressing the external world rather than the inner world. Only when they are painfully confronted with the fact that true sustainable progress does not come from outside but from within they start finding blogs like this. We then change.

We subsequently tend to feel disturbed that the rest of the world, and especially our immediate surrounding, claims a certain behavior from us and does not accept our change. Rather than being critical to our surrounding we should be critical with ourselves. When we learn to apply the Human Complexities and Medicine Wheel we will find that our interaction with our surroundings changes. The surroundings will react surprised and defensive. After all it is us that changed, not them..

If you free yourself from all the imposed dogma’s, even if this results in a confrontation with your own old beliefs and direct surroundings, you free humankind. It is up to your surroundings to follow your example, even if this is, at first, received with incredulous reactions, laughter and negation. When they do (and they will eventually) the world will change because you changed.

In that new world we will meet and co-create together.

Otto Scharmer (U-Theory) versus Jean-Paul Close (Human Complexities)

This is the second in my series of comparing commonly used methods and models in current human organizations (business, government, society, etc). The first reflected about Kondratiev and Close.

Today I try to compare the “U-Theory” of Otto Scharmer with my model of Human Complexities and its phases of Fear for Change, Paradigm Shift and the positioning of Sustainocracy. (Watch a short  11 minute explanation on Sustainocracy via YouTube here)

The U-Theory

The U-Theory has become a popular tool for trainers and coaches as well as executives teams in organizations to develop new, innovative ideas in a co-creative way and bring them into practical reality.

The U-Theory of Otto Scharmer

The U-Theory of Otto Scharmer

We see a U shaped model with five key points for progress: Co-Initiation, Co-Sensing, Presencing, Co-Creation and Co-Evolving.

When I compare this with my own model of Human Complexities there are of course striking similarities but also some curious differences to think about.

The cycle involves: organization, regression, collapse and recovery

The Human Complexities cycle

The four arrows (regression, collapse, enlightenment and co-creation) in the model of Human Complexities represent the movement between four states of evolving communities (greed, chaos, awareness, wellness) using the complex psychology of people and ways of structuring organizations and communities. It is always cyclic in a clockwise manner. After ever cycle the community has gone through a learning process. When we place the cycles one after the other in history and over time we can see an evolutionary path resembling a spiral, producing a line from chaos into sustainable progress.

The representation of human complexities in a crosslike drawing has to do with our perception of progress and organization by drawing a line from left to right. Right to left meaning just the opposite, a regression. Up means an increase or growing awareness and down the decrease or disappearance thereof. In the middel we see the crissing of the lines “to be” (search for unique edity and universal ethics) and “to do” (our actions and organization). The cross shows the continuous conflict between these two issues that produce the self aware learning curve. In each of the four resulting quadrants the overall dominant human culture is different and so is the intrinsic motivation or fear for change.

Fear for Change

Inside the model of Human Complexities I use the concept of “Fear for Change”.  This is needed to show people near or within the stress of a crisis that this a normal path of letting go for renewal. Once aware of this they can face a crisis with more confidence. The current global paradigm shift from economic societal collaps to sustainable human progress  is my main concern. In my approach I tend to focus on the side of transformation from collapse via chaos towards renewed wellness in the model. My approach is holistic inviting the entire society to become co-creative.

Schwarmer does exactly opposite, working from with the institutionalized fragments of society.

The psychology of change in a paradigm shift is the true transformative challenge of humankind

The psychology of change in a paradigm shift is the true transformative challenge of humankind

Human Complexities (J.P. Close) & Fear for Change

Important differences between the U-Theory and Fear for Change

When we look at the U-Theory and the path of Fear for Change in the model of Humian Complexities we see that both use exactly the same processes to get people to activate their inner energy for creation and co-creation.  Despite the different names the steps and significance are the same. Still there is a huge difference…..

U-Theory versus Paradigm Shift

U-Theory versus Paradigm Shift

At first sight both methods look and feel the same

In reality the creators of the U-Theory did a very smart thing. They created a sense of simulated chaos within the comfort of a running business.  Getting people to step out of the running business of greed to undergo the intense process of reflection and finally reach a state of co-creation is in reality the application of the chaos theory and human psychology in exactly the same way, yet without the need of a formal crisis or fear for change.

Drawing the U-line from left to right (against the stream of human complexities) gives a sense of a deepening spiritual experience within the context of financial recovery, enhancement or growth (greed). The smart thing is that the U-Theory gives innovative meaning to economic systems that have the tendency of becoming bureaucratic an reluctant to change (seeing themselves as eternal cash cows, which they are not).

The paradigm shift and its related fear for change is known for thousands of years already. The first people to describe this intense fear and its process of freedom when one finds a new route by letting go, were intellectuals like Dante (13th century) and later the psychologists and anthropologist of the 19th and 20th century, s.a. Steiner, when the hierarchies started to grow in magnitude and with it the complexities of organizing people and emotions.

The natural process of a system to collapse into chaos, like the Roman Empire and so many other civilizations before and after, is well documented. The intense learning curve through fear, pain, letting go, etc. is also well known now and well positioned, with logic, along the modern cycle of Human Complexities. It is typically applicable in these days of pain, chaos en crises today that are affecting everyone. People start to look at two ways to address the problem:

  1. How to avoid collaps by applying timely renewal and innovation (U-Theory)
  2. What to do when inside the collaps to get back into co-creative wellness (Fear for Change)

These are the two routes of least and most resistance, as written before in a previous blog.

This blog also introduced the law of opposites and we can see many in the Human Complexities model (transition quadrants, poor and rich, complex and simple, warm and cold cultures, spiritual and possessive  etc). The smart thing that was done by Otto Scharmer and his people was to turn the model of the paradigm shift, including the fear for change, around (fear avoidance).

Just observe the logic:

The model of Human Complexities follows a cyclic route clockwise. The segment on the circle that refers to the paradigm shift starts at the left hand side almost upon the line between chaos and enlightenment, when people let go of old security and become aware of the need of renewal. It continues all the way up to the state of co-creation for wellness. The shape is more line a big “n”.

Positiong of both theories

Positioning of both theories

When we look at the U-shape of Scharmer it starts at the same (virtual) point but travels down and to the right to end up on the line of wellness through greed. The psychological effect of visualizing this direction is that fear is eliminated by connected the process to greed (desire for unlimited prosperity). The process of the U-shape is to avoid jumping into the unknown by simulating it within the comfort of an existing organization that looks for renewed innovative or inventive success without the immediate need of a paradigm shift. It is a method for smart executives to transform an organization within its normal operations without the traditional reorganizational stress. This is brilliant.

So the method and knowledge of the Fear for Change within the need for a Paradigm Shift positions themselves essentially in left hand quadrants, the areas of poverty, chaos, illumination and experimentation with survival. The method and knowledge of the U-Theory positions itself in the rich areas of wealth and greed where enterprises want renewal, revival, inventiveness without disputing their reputation nor their original positioning. It is a protected environment for efficient creativity to enhance a competitive position.

Positioning application of the methods

Positioning application of the methods

The model of Human Complexities helps us to clarify the particular use of both models and in which situation they should be used. In fact, it is not just applicable in business, it can be applied to the entire society too. Sustainocracy is an example of jumping the state of chaos by inviting executives to co-creative renewal in a multidisciplinary setting that eventually will feed again an obsolete economy with true innovation.


The application of both theories is of interest. Sustainocracy positions itself in the wellness quadrant from a societal point of view.  In most occasions the paradigm shift through chaos is needed  in society due to the different power positions that try to uphold themselves at the expense of the others in the same community. Within each of the institutional pillars the U-Theory can help leadership to progress in such competitive environment. However in a multidisciplinary setting such a Sustainocracym where everyone has a co-creative mission at societal level, the combination of both can lead to remarkable results for the entire society.

So while the executives may be confronted with the own fear for change, within their own leadership, and the intense process of undergoing the risks of re-positioning a company within the context of sustainable progress of society as a whole, the organization itself may well be served through the techniques of the U-Theory that do not include this fear or risk. Knowing about the emotional difference between the two models the executive teams and participating consultants can create programs that are as effective as they can be in turbulent times, producing progress even in crisis with both societal and institutional success.

It would be very interesting to develop situations at regional level to experiment with this.

Route of least resistance – law of opposites

In various places of the world there are forthcoming general elections again, so are in the Netherlands. The public media circus has started again in which politicians compete with their lies to see if they can lure people to them. New political parties are not granted access to the commercial media that finds its friends in those who have most to give. New initiatives can’t grow in the darkness below powerful structures and need to wait until they fall over.

Or they find the route of least resistance.

Well-being is located at exactly the opposite side of the human complexity model from chaos. In human evolution societies reach the state of chaos normally due to the inflexibility of a long period of greed. Wellness is something that people tend to want to keep conservatively, creating systems to preserve it against progress. Progress is risky and could put wellness in danger. Greed gradually appears in the systems.

Never fight the system

Greed is a brick wall for those who wish to move from chaos to wellness

So when people or institutions find themselves in or near the field of chaos they can do two things:

  1. Move back against the line of human evolution (clock wise circle) to get to wellness via greed. They would either have to become greedy to fit in (criminality, manipulation, aggression) or try to force their way through the massive opposition of hierarchies, bureaucracy and system rules. (the red line)
  2. Or choose the rout of least resistance through awareness, trust building, cooperation (the green line) and development of pre-paradigms until one breaks through to replace the old one.

Interestingly in the model the opposition between greed and spiritual awareness is also well visible in reality. The more greed develops in the system the more people oppose through spiritualization, still highly individual but with a gradual built up in the field of awareness. This group is also fed by people who follow the traditional line through chaos and search the enlightenment of conscious reflection when facing the aggression in chaos. They create renewal by proposing true alternatives.

The green line is the route of least resistance but needs the talent of organization and willingness of people to build a new, parallel society. People can group together and use the modern means of social and alternative media to communicate and build up sufficient strength against the organized dominance of greed. In the field of greed competition and self interest is high and deadly. It has the tendency to inflate as a bubble to explode into a crisis with chaos as a result. My people keep up powerful positions managing the old system out of self interest.

In the field of awareness the process is exactly opposite. People become so aware of themselves and society that they need to be challenged to join and become organized around progress. The more greed collapses into chaos, the stronger awareness can organize itself eventually into wellness.

The law of opposites rules here. When people claim in public that they want to go back into recent history because of the wealth of that moment they can try the difficult (impossible) or the easy way (complicated). The way back is the one in which no lessons are learned, no forward reflection takes place. There is a simple anxiety to relive something of the past. The way forward is the one where abundance of the past is learned from in perspective of the scarcity of today. Steps can be taken through awareness to develop a new society based on accumulated knowledge. The route of least resistance is the one of awareness, hence an inner one of reflection, and action based o trust in each other. Sustainable human progress hence has to do with applied knowledge in  the warmth of social innovation. It can be applied, not by fighting the system of greed but by avoiding and even neglecting it, positioning your society building outside the dominant structures. If the latter are greedy for money, organize yourself without money.

Use the law of opposites and you will follow the green line without finding resistance.