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These notes were first presented at
The Developing Group 6 December 2003

It's Happening Now!

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

This year we have introduced five aspects of a philosophical basis for Symbolic Modelling:

Constructivism All that we know is constructed.
Context Our constructs are situated in contexts of contexts of ...
Multiple Perspectives Every construct presupposes a perspective and all perspectives add to knowing.
Levels Qualitatively more complex constructs transcend & include less complex constructs.
Development Evolving through levels has directionality.

The last Developing Group day of 2003 will focus on the practical implications of another aspect of this philosophy: It's happening now.

These six aspects are highly interconnected and form part of a larger 'cosmology'. Our purpose in constructing such a cosmology is to enhance your ability to facilitate others to self-model their own constructs and to evolve in ways that are aligned with their system's natural development. Our aim is to operate out of constructs that are sufficiently flexible, open, inclusive and responsive that they enable us to:

(i)   minimally contaminate the client's perceptions
(ii)  be maximally informed by the client's language and behaviour
(iii) construct a model that is maximally isomorphic with the client's model
(iv) retain our own independence and integrity.

We associate three meanings to the phrase, "It's happening now".

1. There is no past or future, no other context. There never was and there never will be. There is simply here and now.

2. All behaviour exemplifies who we are at that moment — Behaviour is a metonymy for identity. (i.e. The part is iconic for the whole. The totality of current behaviour is an embodiment and fractal of, and code congruent with, the pattern of organisation. Noticing 'incongruence' means we are not noticing enough of the system.)

3. The pattern of behaviour of the client in the room is isomorphic with — a metaphor for — the pattern/logic of their metaphor Landscape (and vice versa).

Given the topic there is no preparation — but there are a few quotes below, just to stimulate thinking!

Tony Jacklin, remembered that:

"When I’m in this state everything is pure, vividly clear. I'm in a cocoon of concentration. And if I can put myself into that cocoon, I'm invincible ... I'm living fully in the present. I'm absolutely engaged, involved in what I'm doing ... It comes and it goes, and the pure fact that you are out on the first tee of a tournament and say, 'I must concentrate today,' is no good. It won't work."

Philip Harland read and then wondered:

"Astronomers have discovered the biggest, brightest and hottest star-forming region so far identified in the universe. ..... The Lynx Arc ['a spectacular cluster of an estimated million ultra-hot stars'] is 12,000m light years away, so astronomers focusing on it are looking at stars that existed 12bn years ago - in the childhood of the universe.  ... it must have existed when the universe was less than 2bn years old."

One way of looking at this is that our present is also 12bn years in the past — and we'll be capable of being even more in the past when telescopes get more powerful.  I wonder how much in the future we may be at the same time  ...

Nobel prize winner and neuroscientist, Gerald Edelman (and Giulio Tononi) conclude:

"Primary consciousness [is] the ability to construct an integrated mental scene in the present that does not require language or a true sense of self. We believe that this integrated mental scene depends not only on the perceptual categorization of incoming sensory stimuli – the present – but, most important, on their integration with categorical memories – the past. In other words, this integrated mental scene is a 'remembered present.' ... The efficacious role of consciousness is to construct an informative scene that connects present reality to the past value-ridden history of each individual, conscious animal." A Universe of Consciousness: How matter becomes conscious (2000) p. 78 & p. 218.

Robert Dilts stated:

"Because all behavior, microscopic or macroscopic, is a transform of internal neurological processes, it will carry information about those processes. All behavior then is in some way a communication about the internal neural organisation of an individual." 
Roots of NLP
(1983) p. 53 of Part II.

Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela came to the same conclusion:

"All behaviour is an outside view of the dance of internal relations of the organism."
The Tree of Knowledge (1992) p. 166

Stephen Kern examined changing perceptions of time and space 1880-1918 and concluded:

"The sense of the present was the most distinctively new, thickened temporally with retentions and protentions of past and future and, most important, expended spatially to create the vast, shared experience of simultaneity.  The present was no longer limited to one event in one place, sandwiched tightly between past and future and limited to local surroundings.  In an age of intrusive electronic communication "now" became an extended interval of time that could, indeed must, include events around the world."
The Culture of time and Space, p. 318

Mahatma Ghandi: "I am my message."

Penny Tompkins & James Lawley
Penny and James are supervising neurolinguistic psychotherapists – first registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy in 1993 – coaches in business, certified NLP trainers, and founders of The Developing Company.

They have provided consultancy to organisations as diverse as GlaxoSmithKline, Yale University Child Study Center, NASA Goddard Space Center and the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Northern Scotland.

Their book,
Metaphors in Mind
was the first comprehensive guide to Symbolic Modelling using the Clean Language of David Grove. An annotated training DVD, A Strange and Strong Sensation demonstrates their work in a live session. James has also written (with Marian Way) the first book dedicated to Clean Space: Insights in Space. Between them Penny and James have published over 200 articles and blogs freely available on their website:
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