Category Archives: Futures Articles

Towards a Futures Discourse in Mainland China

ACADEMIC ARTICLES: There are currently no well-established Futures practitioners working full-time in the People’s Republic of China, although certain futurists visit China regularly. This paper addresses the conditions, including political, social and economic, which futurists looking to set up in China are likely to face. It is argued that the time is now right for a range of types of futures practitioners to work permanently in China, or at least have China as a major focus. Conditions are sufficiently permissive, and with an increasing range of major issues and problems facing China in the next decade, the tools and methods of Futures Studies could potentially play an important role in the development of China. Finally, the paper outlines some suggested steps that can be taken to begin to more fully establish a healthy discourse for Futures Studies in China.

Title: Towards a Futures Discourse in Mainland China

Author: Marcus T Anthony

Publication details: Journal of Futures Studies, May 2008, 12(4): 53 – 68

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Towards Futures Discourse in China

 
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Integrated Intelligence: The Future of Intelligence?

ACADEMIC ARTICLES: Many classical depictions of intelligence suggest that individual human intelligence is part of a greater transpersonal consciousness. The concept of this integrated intelligence has resurfaced in contemporary times in a number of fields. This paper presents the ideas of four thinkers whose works incorporate integrated intelligence – Broomfield, Dossey, Wilber and Zohar. Inayatullah’s Causal Layered Analysis is used to deconstruct them. The four authors and their texts are compared and contrasted on some of their major themes. Finally, some of the most significant issues associated with integrated intelligence are introduced.

Title: Integrated Intelligence: The Future of Intelligence?
Author: Marcus T Anthony (Director, MindFutures Australia)
Publication details: Journal of Futures Studies, November 2003, 8(2): 39 – 54

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INI Future of Intelligence

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Education For Transformation: Integrated Intelligence in the Knowledge Society and Beyond

ACADEMIC ARTICLES: The purpose of this paper is to introduce several possibilities and potentials regarding the implementation
of integrated intelligence into the modern pubic education system and the knowledge economy which it serves.
There are thus two seminal questions. Firstly, what general uses might integrated intelligence have in the modern
secular public education system? Secondly, what place might integrated intelligence have in the long-term
development of education and society?

Title: Education For Transformation: Integrated Intelligence in the Knowledge Society and Beyond

Author: Marcus T Anthony (Director of MindFutures, Austraia)

Publication details: Journal of Futures Studies, Feb., 2005.

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INI in Knowledge Economy

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A Personal Vision of the Integrated Society

 

ACADEMIC ARTICLES: In this paper I draw upon theory within critical and postconventional futures studies to develop a vision for some potential applications of advanced cognitive capacities in an idealised society of the future – the integrated city. Specifically I refer to the theory of integrated intelligence (Anthony, 2008). This theory posits that the human mind is embedded within a sea of consciousness, and that contemporary human beings can consciously utilise this consciousness. In this paper I focus upon the future of life and especially work in the modern city in developed Western and Asian localities.

Title: A Personal Vision of the Integrated Society

Author: Marcus T Anthony

Publication details: Journal of Futures Studies, August 2008, 13(1): 87 – 112

 

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A Personal Vision of the IS

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Deep Futures: Beyond Money and Machines

ACADEMIC ARTICLE: This is a paper written for Nanyang University of Technology (Singapore). The purpose is to briefly introduce the concept of Deep Futures and the emerging discipline of Postconventional Futures Studies (PFS). The goal is to outline potential applications and benefits for Foresight and Futures practitioners. Deep Futures can be viewed in a historical context, as a development which emerged from earlier expressions of Futures Studies. DF incorporates recognised Futures methodologies and philosophies, and then adds new concepts and tools incorporating other ways of knowing. The primary function of DF at present is to act as a provocation to the dominant discourses of all disciplines, and to offer dissent to more conventional Foresight and Futures work. It thus presents the possibility of deepening the way we see the past, present, and future.

Author: Marcus T Anthony

Publication details: Risk Assessment & Horizon Scanning, (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore). Feb. 2010 .

 

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DeepFutures:

 

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Deep Futures: Beyond Money and Machines

Marcus T. Anthony, 2010

(For Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)


“…it should be our challenge, as practitioners, to turn…foresight into insight.” (Andrew Curry, quoted in Inayatullah 2008b: 76)

 

“Many people believe that emotions stand in opposition to rational thought, but scientific evidence suggests the opposite. While emotions can overwhelm your rationality, you cannot be rational without being emotional. Emotions predate thoughts in the evolution of the human species and our personal development. Emotion can disrupt reasoning in certain circumstances, but without it there is no reasoning at all. Traditional cognitive models don’t understand that reduction in emotion may constitute an equally important source of irrational behavior.”

(Neuroscientist Antonia Demasio, quoted Burke 2009: 99)

 

It was Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. A man peeled a violin from his case, placed his hat before him, and proceeded to play six Bach pieces. During his sixty minutes in that place, some 3,000 people passed by, most on their way to work (Weingarten 2007).

Three minutes after the man began playing, a middle-aged gentleman stopped to look for a few seconds, before hurrying on. About four minutes after that, a woman threw a dollar into the hat and continued past. A couple of minutes later, a young man leaned against the wall nearby and listened for a few moments. Then he checked his watch and left. Next, a boy of about three years stopped, but his mother pulled him away. As she dragged him off, he kept turning back to look at the man with the violin. Similar scenes unfolded as several other children took an interest in the musician, but in every case the parents dragged them on.

In total, only six people stopped to listen, most for just a few moments. About twenty gave money, then hurried off. The man collected a total of $32. He finished playing and humbly left. There was no applause, nor any indication his playing had been appreciated.

Yet this had been no ordinary street performance. The violinist was Joshua Bell, a world-renowned player, and he had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written. His violin was worth 3.5- million dollars. Just two days prior to his inauspicious subway performance, Joshua Bell had played to a packed house in Boston, where the cost of a seat averaged one hundred dollars.

The subway performance had been organised by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and people’s priorities.[ii] In commonplace situations, where time has been reassigned to focus attention upon other things, how readily can we perceive the present? Beauty? Do we stop to appreciate the subtle? Are we capable of recognising human passion, human expression in a novel context? Have the cognitive spaces of our lives been colonised by an unconscious and invisible hegemony?

One person who did stop a moment to observe Bell was a woman named Jackie Hessain. Her perception tells us much about the nature of the modern world. When later asked what she had noted, she replied: “…nothing about him struck me as much of anything.” (Weingarten 2007)

In fact she was not listening to the music at all. Instead, her perception was mediated by the social context of the situation and layers of subtle, unexamined meaning.

“I really didn’t hear that much,” she said. “I was just trying to figure out what he was doing there, how does this work for him, can he make much money, would it be better to start with some money in the case, or for it to be empty, so people feel sorry for you? I was analysing it financially.” (Weingarten 2007, italics added)

She was then asked what she does for a living.

“I’m a lawyer in labor relations with the United States Postal Service. I just negotiated a national contract.” (Weingarten 2007)

Hessain’s delimited perception here is a function of the key way of knowing she employed within the situation: analysis, or “figuring out.” It is my contention that Hessain’s preferred way of knowing is one of the dominant ways of knowing of modern education, and especially modern academia, as I have argued elsewhere (Anthony 2008). Here what I refer to as critical rationality has assumed a hegemony over and above other ways of knowing, as I shall explain, below. Foresight and Futures work is no exception.

The second important factor to note is that the mind is a self-organising system (de Bono 2009). What we focus upon expands. Hessain’s attention within the context of Joshua Bell’s subway performance, and possibly across the broader context of her life, is upon financial concerns and “getting ahead.” Similarly, where the study of futures focuses upon money, technology, and power, the futures that are discussed and imagined may be artificially narrow. I refer to these futures as “money and machine” futures.

The discipline of Critical Futures Studies (CFS) was initiated to address some of these cultural delimitations and their perceptual limitations (Inayatullah 2004). In theory it allows for other ways of knowing to be employed, yet in practice CFS remains heavily analytical. A more recent expression of Futures studies—Postconventional Futures Studies (PFS)—may be a means to build upon the cognitive insights identified intellectually within CFS, by permitting a greater legitimacy for, and incorporation of, other ways of knowing, especially the intuitive, the creative, and the spiritual. As opposed to Critical Futures studies, Postconventional Futures actively encourage the full employment of these other ways of knowing. Theory moves into praxis.

There are several things that I am going to discuss in this paper. In the first section I am going to trace the historical process behind the present domination of critical/rational ways of knowing in modern education and science. In the following section I shall address the question, “What are Deep Futures?” The third section three queries, “Why do we need Deep Futures?” I then outline several specific Postconventional Futures tools and methods. Finally, I use a specific example—the teenage drug problem in Hong Kong—as an example of the way PFS might be used in a real world policy situation.

 

Foresight, Knowing, and History

Like the famous “gorilla in the room” experiment (Simons & Chabris 1999) where people are asked to fill out a questionnaire, and many fail to notice a man in a gorilla suit who enters the room, the Joshua Bell situation tells us much. People tend to see what they focus upon, and their relationship with the immediate environment and the world greatly influences their ability to perceive. It is also my contention that it also greatly retards their capacity to feel. This is of the greatest importance for what I am about to argue.

The self-stultifying function of paradigms, and the ways that dominant discourses control and mediate knowledge, has been widely discussed (Inayatullah 2004, Kuhn 1986, Sardar 1998). Paradigms delimit not only the boundaries of knowledge, but also restrict what questions can be asked and dictate what ways of knowing are legitimate (Grof 2000). Poststrucuturalism, and in its wake, Critical Futures Studies, have emphasised that discourses tend to be dominated by both explicit and implicit power struggles (Inayatullah 2004). Feminists, for example, have long decried that modern science is patriarchal, and that women’s voices and feminine ways of knowing have been largely eliminated from science today (Eisler 2004, Milojevic 2005). Further, qualitative analyses which I have conducted of popular and academic tests dealing with the subject of human intelligence indicate that the computer metaphor dominates representations of the brain, creating a mechanistic and reductionist view of consciousness, and restricting alternative representations of mind. This hegemonic problematique has flowed through to mainstream education and academia, where other ways of knowing have been stripped from many discourses (Anthony 2008).

The dominant ways of knowing in modern Western education and science have historical roots. The Western episteme has established critical/rational ways of knowing as the dominant cognitive processes which underpin Western knowledge. Around the 1500s scholasticism developed in Europe. This movement, which was central to the founding of modern education systems and universities, featured classification as its prime way of knowing. By 1800 analysis had fully developed in the social sciences, and around 1850 experimentation became a key way of knowing in the sciences (Pickstone 2000). These three dominant ways of knowing can typically be seen in the scientific method and the peer review system that underpin the publication of scientific research in the present age.

Finally, the birth of the modern personal computer after the mid-twentieth century heralded a new way of knowing. The computer became a prime mediator of knowledge, and with it came the advent of computer rationality (Klein 2003) as a highly influential way of knowing. The separation between observer and subject became even more distinct. Data came to be mediated via the machine on the desktop. As just one example, where once weather forecasters had relied, in part, upon an intuitive connection with the environment—going outside to check weather vanes, to feel the wind on their faces and the humidity in the air—they have now come to sit before computers and analyse data fed to them via sophisticated computer models.[iii]

History has not been so kind to some other ways of knowing, however—especially affective and intuitive cognition. Intuitive, mystical, and spiritual ways of knowing had often been suppressed throughout the history of Western thought. Now they have been almost completely crushed (Tarnas 2000, Anthony 2005b, 2006).

 

 

 

Other Ways of Knowing, Other Ways of Thinking, Other Ways of Being

Yet, what exactly is “intuition”? There are multiple definitions, but for the sake of manageability I refer to two main kinds of intuition. The first is mundane intuition, which is the subliminal processing of information in the brain. This intuition makes itself known through subtle feelings which bubble up from just below the surface of cognition. Mundane intuition has not been widely investigated, but there is a body of legitimate research available (Torff & Sternberg 2001). Because this intuition is explained in terms of known brain physiology, it does not challenge mainstream scientific thinking about the mind and brain.

The second kind of intuition I refer to as mystical intuition, which has featured little in research, and is thus poorly understood. Few researchers want to touch it, because mystical intuition contains references to spiritual, mystical, and religious experience. It brings in discussion of psi phenomena and the paranormal, and the idea of the extended mind—that consciousness transcends the brain.[iv] There is an effective “psi taboo” (Radin 2006) in modern science, making this domain of inquiry unattractive for most researchers. The provocation I present to Foresight and Futures practitioners is that both mundane and mystical intuition have legitimate cognitive functions, and are potentially invaluable in our work.

 

The split in the modern mind

The development of modern science thus brought a rapid increase in our ability to process and develop rationality, as well as scientific knowledge and technologies. Yet this tremendous progress in the hard and soft sciences came at a great price. It has created a split in the Western mind (Tarnas 2000).

By the turn of the twentieth century another realm of knowledge had become suppressed, silenced. The once influential Romantic Movement lost momentum. Its prime ways of knowing had involved intuition and an emotive relationship with the other: the deep connection of the knower and the known. This affective cognitive process stood in complete contrast to the detachment of the scientific method, which necessitated that the observer be disconnected from the subject of observation. Even in the analytical and humanistic disciplines, academics were eventually forced to remove affective language and first person references. To generalise, Foresight and Futures work has been no exception.

The “alienated mind” was born (Anthony 2008). This is mind which is emotively disconnected from its environment, and by implication, from its intuitive and emotional body. Inner worlds—contemplation, reflexivity, meditation and prayer—have been largely erased. The advent of computer rationality meant that intuition was drowned out by the noise of mobile phones, MP3 players, and laptops. The intuitive and spiritual has become part of the disowned future (Inayatullah 2008). As the twentieth century evolved, and life became increasingly individualistic and focused upon career, achievement, and entertainment, this estrangement from inner worlds became entrenched across the Western world. It has now become the norm in developed Asian cultures as well.

This historical process has enormous implications for foresight practitioners and futurists.

 

The implications

An important aspect of Foresight is being able to perceive the trends, processes, and “signals” which are creating and affecting change within the present, and in turn shaping futures. The key point is that the above-mentioned historical hegemony means that these are now identified and processed via critical/rational ways of knowing, and especially via the mass media and computer. The whole process is mediated via databases, search engines, computer hardware, and sophisticated computer models. Computer rationality has now become the dominant way of knowing.

Given this problematique, what kind of information might we be failing to perceive? How can we be sure that we are being attentive to an optimal array of data, and processing it in an impartial way? Merely expanding the volume of information is not enough. It is the way information is being perceived and handled that is a key issue here.

 

Deep Futures

Futures are not simply dry Scenarios, not merely the compact, politically correct visions of policy makers and government think tanks. They are the images which fire our hopes and dreams within the present. Futures, whether preferred, probable, or possible, can call us to action, and can inspire us to reach higher and further. Human beings do not respond well to dry, empirical data. If that were the case, data for increasing greenhouse emissions would have seen a much greater shift in consumer awareness than we have observed. We human beings need something to be passionate about, something that gives us meaning and hope, something that brings us into deep relationship with each other, the world, and Gaia. Because they employ other ways of knowing and valorise intuition and inner worlds, Postconventional Futures methods, if diligently applied, can deepen our futures work. This paper title begins with the phrase “Deep Futures,” because I believe that the greatest benefit of Postconventional Futures Studies methods may be that they can help us envisage and create deeply meaningful futures with depth.

To summarise, futures with depth contain these elements:

  • They inspire. They instill us with passion, and ignite something deep within us.
  • They are the big picture. They encourage us to see things in broader perspective, including the cultural, national, civilisational, the Gaian, and the spiritual.
  • They honour both the head and the heart. They permit rational and intuitive ways of knowing and living to co-exist.
  • They permit expression of multiple cultures and worldviews, not just dominant ones.
  • They are deeply meaningful, not merely interesting, amusing, or engaging.
  • They permit deep connection with each other, with nature, and with inner and spiritual worlds.
  • They honour universal human values: peace, beauty, freedom, justice, and love (including freedom of thought and information, and financial freedom).
  • People and Gaia lie at the heart of the future, not merely money and machines.

Critical Futures Studies inform us that all Futures work is embedded within worldviews and paradigms, and this typically includes implicit hegemonies. The other becomes part of the disowned future (Inayatullah 2008). Like so many civilisations, the Western critical/rational worldview tends to see its version of social expression as a result of ineluctable historical forces—in this case the march of progress away from superstition and the primitive and toward the rational and technological. Many non-Western countries have adopted a version of this worldview as their preferred future. Chinese central government policy makers, for example, have developed the model of “scientific development” (Hu 2005), which, in practice, is extreme capitalism without democracy. Yet futures centred within the critical/rational worldview are but one expression of multiple possible futures. A key role of the postconventional futurist is to offer provocative alternatives (Slaughter 2006).

The concept of Deep Futures is effectively a synthesis of the critical/rational and mystical/spiritual[v] worldviews (Anthony 2008). The concept of DF is broadly representative of the philosophical perspective of postconventional futurists in general. Deep Futures is therefore no less “subjective” than any other expression of Futures.

The kind of science, education, and culture that we have developed in modern society make us proficient at analysing, classifying, and experimenting. But we are not so good at putting things back together, at identifying what is important, what is moral, what is great. Deep Futures has a prime aim of bringing together rational and intuitive thinking, to assist us in developing minds and futures that can help us thrive in a dynamic and rapidly changing world (Anthony 2005a).[vi]

 

The Four Branches of Futures Studies and Their Role in Policy

Australian futurist Richard Slaughter (2003) sees Futures Studies as having evolved through four distinct phases. The first was the empirical tradition, which was most prominent in the United States. The second was a “culturally based” approach—predominantly European—which eventually led to Critical Futures Studies. Then in the third phase an international and multicultural thrust emerged, which Slaughter finds is still developing. Slaughter’s fourth phase has been the emergence of Postconventional Futures.[vii]

We can depict the development of Futures Studies as in Figure 1, below.

 

Figure 1. The four phases of the development of Futures Studies, according to Slaughter (2003)

 

The development of Futures Studies reflects trends in Western thought before and during the twentieth century. Empirical Futures is the hard-fact approach, typical of the Western empirical tradition and experimentalism which quickened after 1850 (Pickstone 2000). Critical Futures Studies have been influenced by the mid-twentieth century postmodernists and poststructuralists, especially Michel Foucault (Ianyatullah 2004). Multi-perspectives are consistent with an addition of broader thinking in line with multi-culturalism. Finally, the postconventionalists have been influenced by thought emerging in the alternative movement of the 1960s and ’70s, Eastern philosophy, and some of the advances in physics, systems thinking, and consciousness studies of recent decades.[viii]

Each phase has its distinct tools, and in turn the ways of knowing employed vary. Therefore each has the potential to affect the development of policy in different ways.

 

 

 

The empiricists and trends analysers

This group of futurists is concerned about identifying the thrust of change, eliciting trends, and making extrapolations about the future. John Naisbitt’s (1996) Megatrends books are a classic example. Their prime analytical process involves reading signals from the environment, and then extrapolating possible and probable futures. A more recent and commercially successful example is the Foresight Network.[ix] This company, run by futurist Michael Jackson, engages in extensive Horizon Scanning, taking much of its data from academic journals and the mass media. It offers forecasts for corporations and governments.

Trends analysers often engage in some degree of speculation and sometimes engage in Visioning, but they tend not to question deeply the presuppositions of dominant discourses.

 

Critical and Multi-perspective Futures studies

Critical and Multi-perspective Futures Studies can help to examine issues at a greater depth than do the empiricists. These branches of Futures Studies seek to help individuals and organisations better understand the processes of change, so that wiser and preferred futures can be created (Inayatullah 2008: 5, italics added).

Prediction is not the primary thrust of Multi-perspective and Critical Futures Studies, as they are more concerned with identifying the agents of change, who controls things, and who is going to benefit (Inayatullah 2008). A problem with dominant discourses within particular domains of enquiry is that they tend not to question the givens, the basic concepts which underpin discourses. In other words, the paradigm does not get named. The result is that thinkers may be too close to their subject matter, and fail to achieve the distance necessary to see alternative perspectives (Inayatullah 2004).

Some notable futurists in this domain are Jim Dator (2009), Zia Sardar (1998), and Ivana Milojevic (2005).

 

Postconventional Futures studies

Consider the following knowledge claims made by Sohail Inayatullah. They encapsulate the essence of Postconventional Futures Studies.

  • Questioning assumptions at every level: the mission, the goals, the product, core competencies.
  • Anticipatory—scanning the future, using all of our ways of knowing, all of our senses.
  • Participatory—including others, since non-inclusion of one variable can change outcomes in unanticipated ways (Inayatullah 2002: 121).

In this instance, Inayatullah is referring to Anticipatory Action Learning, but within the context of his deep approach to Futures. Inayatullah’s approach encapsulates the essence of good Futures work: deep questioning and a commitment to action, to change.

Postconventional Futures Studies incorporate all the tools of the empiricists and the critical futurists, and then adds some. The key distinction is that postconventionalists incorporate data and ways of knowing which are often excluded from dominant discourses in modern Western and developed societies, and make this a central aspect of their approach. In particular, there may be an inclusion of arguments, perspectives, and the data of emotional, intuitive, spiritual, and visionary human experience. In other words, the inner dimensions of cognitive experience return to the discourse. Some postconventionalists, such as the Integral Futures practioners (who employ the thinking of Ken Wilber), may actively seek dissent (Slaughter 2006).

In my own writing I have introduced the idea of deliberate provocation, taking the term from Edward de Bono (2009). de Bono points out that the mind is a self-organising system, and that traditional thinking tends to hinder genuinely novel perception and creativity. Some of the concepts and tools I have developed fall beyond the boundaries of critical/rational thinking. These include integrated intelligence (Anthony 2008) (where intelligence is viewed as transpersonal, rather than being restricted to individual brains); the Harmonic Circles method (Anthony 2007) (where participants assume responsibility for psychological projections at the other via deep introspection); and Integral Inquiry (Anthony 2010b) (where research is carried out while deliberately using specific tools that require the application of mundane and mystical intuition).

My concepts and tools are deliberately designed to make users uncomfortable, in particular with the use of other ways of knowing, thinking, and doing.

The ideas and methods used by postconventionalists may lead to some degree of tension with more conservative thinkers in dominant science and education. However, it is my contention that, if skillfully managed, this tension can be used to great benefit, and as a means to explore futures in greater depth. It can help us to question more deeply the presuppositions of more conventional Futures work, and dominant discourses in general.

Finally, while Postconventional Futures practitioners adopt an approach which is provocative and encourages deep reflection, the process is not meant to impose an alternative worldview on stakeholders.

While the categorisation of “postconventional” is not hard and fast, futurists employing an approach which is consistent with my definition include Marcus Bussey (2009), Linda Groff (2008), Sohail Inayatullah (2009), Tom Lombardo (2007), Richard Slaughter (2006), and the writer Marcus T. Anthony (see references).

 

Some tools of PFS

One of the benefits of being a postconventional futurist is that all the tools of the other branches of Futures Studies can be included in the futures process. The specific methods and tools employed, and the range and depth of analyses, can be varied according to the nature of the audience and the aims of the gathering. In my own writing and presentations I can refer to empirical studies and trends analysis, use Causal Layered Analysis (Inayatullah 2008), or encourage participants to explore intuitive processes.

In some situations it may necessary to emphasise different tools. For example, more conservative institutions and audiences within the hard sciences may be more receptive to empirical methods and analyses. In such a situation, a postconventional futurist might focus upon the data, but then develop a deeper analysis via tools like Causal Layered Analysis. This is an approach which Sohail Inayatullah employs.

Bringing in the deeper psychological and spiritual perspectives of the postconventional futurist may be difficult, or even impossible, in some circumstances. The key is to appreciate just how far an audience can be stretched in terms of their understanding and their worldview. As futurist John Naisbitt (2007) says, one should not get so far ahead of the parade so that nobody can see where you are.

Table 1, below, is a generalised depiction of some Futures and Foresight tools and approaches which are suitable for each phase of Futures Studies. The table also indicates that there is an approximate correlation between the branches of Futures Studies and the four levels of Inayatullah’s (2004) Causal Layered Analysis. As mentioned, each branch incorporates the tools and ideas of the previous branch(es).

 

Phase of Futures Studies

Tools and Methods

Approximate Level of Causal Layered Analysis

Empirical

Trends analysis, Horizon Scanning, data collection & analysis, Scenarios.[x]

Level 1. The Litany

Critical and Multi-perspective

Multiple perspectives, incorporating the other, Scenarios, Backcasting, Visioning, Causal Layered Analysis.

Levels 2 & 3. The Social/Systems & Worldview/Paradigm Levels

Postconventional Futures Studies

Causal Layered Analysis, Integral Futures, Harmonic Circles, Integrated Inquiry, integrated intelligence and other ways of knowing, deep Visioning.

Level 4. The Myth/Metaphors Level

 

Table 1: The phases of Futures Studies and their preferred methods

 

Why we need PFS and Deep Futures

Ultimately all policy requires choices. Deep Futures, as I define them, potentially allow for a greater diversity of stakeholders to participate in decision-making, using a broader range of ways of knowing. The analytical tools of Multi-perspective and Critical Futures Studies open spaces for “others” to participate; the introspective component of Postconventional Futures Studies permits a theoretical inclusion of the other ways of knowing.

We have reached a threshold in human history. Now, early in the twenty-first century, there is a convergence of critical issues which threaten our very existence: climate change and environmental degradation; terrorism and a possible clash of civilisations; the growing gap between rich and poor; the incredible power—and danger—of science and technology; and most recently, the financial crisis. Deep Futures can be employed within this context of crisis, and for the following reasons.

  1. We need tools which provoke new ways of thinking—to bring to attention, and then challenge, existing paradigms and ways of doing things.
  2. We need ways to get people to really engage with each other, to get them thinking beyond their entrenched perspectives and worldviews, and their different paradigms.
  3. We need deep connection with others and the world, and the reigniting of inner worlds and intuitive knowledge—other ways of knowing alongside the rational mind.
  4. We need to honour the data and empirical methods, but to contextualise them (Hawkins 2002).[xi]
  5. We need responsible, adaptable, creative, and wise leaders and citizens (Moffet 1994, Pink 2005).
  6. We need processes which place people and relationships back at the centre of society and culture. We need to move beyond money and machines futures.

 

Money and Machine Futures

The essential philosophical position I take is that the combination of capitalism and technoscience[xii] creates societies dominated by money and machines, bereft of depth, heart, soul, and deep connection. Futures without depth. Such shallow futures stultify the development of inner worlds, the balanced connection with emotional and intuitive ways of knowing, as perception becomes fixed upon external loci and immediate gratification. Money and machine futures take people away from the present moment, where the connection with the intuitive is most readily felt in a relaxed and centred state (Jacobson 2008). The Joshua Bell anecdote at the beginning of this paper exemplifies this process.

Worldviews and paradigms are typically implicit and unconscious (Kuhn 1964), and thus tend to remain unexamined; the unexamined potentially becomes hegemonic. The self-organising nature of mind tends to reinforce the known, and “the thinking trap” may occur when we do not deliberately invoke provocation to stir ourselves out of the human tendency toward linear thinking (de Bono 2009). Policy makers, organisations, and futurists are not exempt from this problematique.

Therefore we need ways to avoid becoming trapped in shallow futures. We need ways to ensure that our policies are informed by a broader awareness of the social, cultural, and paradigmatic constraints that bind us. It is my contention that Postconventional Futures methods can help.

Money and machine futures depict future society as being like a great machine. Computers and technologically advanced and prosperous cities are central motifs. These are images of the future dominated by flying cars, robots, and glass domes. They often make minimal reference to inner worlds, the human psyche, the emotional, psychological, or spiritual.

Policy which focuses upon science and technology at the expense of inner worlds and connection will likely create social and psychological problems, as is discussed later in this paper.

 

Futures Methods with Depth

Here I outline several Deep Futures methods. Some of these are methods in development, and require further application before their genuine value can be determined.

 

Causal Layered Analysis (Sohail Inayatullah 2004, 2009)

Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) is a poststructuralist Futures method developed by futurist Sohail Inayatullah (2004). CLA can help examine the deeper meanings imbedded within problems, texts, and discourses through an exploration of four specific levels. It is particularly useful as a means to conduct inquiry into the nature of past, present, and future. It opens up the present and the past to create the possibility of alternative futures.

In other words, it can deepen our understanding of the future.

CLA is an extremely flexible tool, and the focus of analysis can be upon different levels according to the aims of the research, the gathering, and the audience. Many other Futures methods can be used alongside it. For example, my Harmonic Circles method (Anthony 2007, 2010a) can be used as part of the worldview/paradigm level, as it encourages participants to reflect upon their worldview and biases.

These are CLA’s four levels:

  • The litany examines the “surface” of the issue—empirical and verifiable data, what can be readily seen and measured, or what is typically seen when there is no attempt to look deeper. Data at this level can be useful in making immediate changes, but may be limited if participants lack a broader understanding of the problem.
  • The social/systems level identifies underlying systemic issues. The greater depth allows stakeholders to deepen their understanding of the situation and place the data in greater context.
  • The worldview/paradigm level examines the paradigmatic and civilisational factors which affect the issue. Futures thinking which addresses this level can help create the conditions for a paradigm shift. We can envisage new futures and devise new strategies.
  • The myth/metaphor level uncovers the myths, metaphors, and deeper psycho-spiritual drivers of issues. It is at the mythic and metaphorical level that postconventional methods come into play. Most notably, other ways of knowing can be used.

 

Integral Futures (Richard Slaughter 2003, 2006).

This approach to Futures  uses Ken Wilber’s Integral Operating System and Four Quadrant system to deconstruct and analyse futures. The four quadrants are the social, the cultural, the empirical, and the first-person. Most notably, Integral Futures acknowledges the transpersonal realms and the perennial philosophy of the Eastern world. This sees consciousness as evolving from pre-personal (unconsciousness), to conscious/rational, and then to transpersonal.

Visioning

Visioning, where idealised futures are imagined and planned, is in itself neutral in terms of the application of ways of knowing, but is an ideal situation to allow intuitive and emotive cognitive processes to be employed.

Scenarios

Scenarios may work best where deeply reflective work is done beforehand, opening spaces for alternative futures to emerge (Curry & Shultz 2009). Causal Layered Analysis, in combination with creative and intuitive thinking, can be used here.

Harmonic Circles (Marcus T. Anthony 2007, 2010a).[xiii]

This tool invites the user to reflect deeply upon his/her worldview and biases, via a depth-psychology approach. It employs a free association method to assist the user in tapping into the unconscious, and is compatible with non-ordinary states of consciousness.

Integrated Inquiry (Marcus T. Anthony 2010b).

This recently-developed alternative research method combines intuitive and rational ways of knowing, as the researcher goes about investigating his subject matter. The researcher pays as much attention to the inner world of thoughts, feelings, and dreams as to the external environment. Foresight and Futures practioners can use it during their research.

 Integrated intelligence and other ways of knowing (Marcus T. Anthony 2008, 2010c).

Integrated intelligence (INI) assumes that the mind extends beyond the brain, and that the information that is “out there” can be consciously accessed via feelings, images, dreams, auditory prompts, and so on. The process incorporates non-ordinary states of consciousness, achieved through deep relaxation and physiological self-control. INI can be employed as an assumed genuine human capacity, or used as a provocation. In the latter case, it is not necessary to “believe” in it, merely to go about futures work employing specific INI tools and using them as prompts toward the end of achieving more innovative and creative thinking.

 

The Purpose of Postconventional Approaches

What is the purpose of allowing such alternative thinking to be part of Futures and Foresight work? Sohail Inayatullah puts it this way:

“Futures thinking ultimately can go far as mapping and changing memes and fields of reality.” (Inayatullah 2008)

This is a contentious issue, but one with which I concur. There is a great deal of scientific evidence to support the ideas of non-local fields of consciousness and collective intelligence (McTaggart 2007, Grof 2000, Sheldrake 2003, Radin 2006), and just as much skepticism (Dawkins 2006, Blackmore 2003, de Glasse Tyson 2001). However, it should be pointed out that the purpose of the employment of Deep Futures tools should not be as a means to change people’s belief structures or worldviews. Such an approach would be a violation of the participants’ rights, and an abuse of the role of teacher/futurist as facilitator. Instead, Deep Futures can be used as a way to incorporate a broader range of perspectives and types of data, to act as a deliberate provocation, and to break through entrenched ways of thinking about and perceiving the world and its many possible futures.

Much of what is true of Causal Layered Analysis is true of Deep Futures in general. Inayatullah (2008b) points out that the goal of CLA is the integration of the four levels, to honour each, and allow the expanded understanding which emerges to help us better prepare for, and consciously develop, our futures. As Inayatullah writes:

Each level is true, and solutions need to be found at each level. Thus policy solutions can be deeper. Litany interventions lead to short-term solutions, easy to grasp, packed with data. Systemic answers require interventions by efficiency experts. Governmental policies linked to partnership with the private sector often results. Worldview change is much harder and longer term. It requires seeking solutions from outside the framework in which the solution has been defined. And myth solutions require deepest interventions, as this requires telling a new story, rewiring the brain and building new memories and the personal and collective body (Inayatullah, 2008: 9).

Deep Futures in general can be used as a framework for teaching Futures Studies, for specific analyses, and for workshops and seminars. Its focus upon depth and bringing forth data and perspectives from within different layers of the problem permits other futures methods to be used alongside it. In this sense it is reminiscent of de Bono’s (2009) “six thinking hats” method, which permits a place for a broader range of cognitive processes than are typically permitted in modern education and organisations.

Taken together, CLA, interwoven with the other methods referred to here, can potentially deepen our appreciation of the forces driving change and futures. The processes create the potential for insight and for greater awareness of the forces which shape the self, from within and without. This may potentially lead to better foresight.

 

Effective Policy vs. Deep Policy

Deep policy goes deep. By definition. How, then, do standard policy guidelines about delivering effective policies compare to Deep Futures? The British government has developed the following criteria for policy makers. We may assume that the goal is to be inclusive, and to go deep. I list the general guidelines here, and indicate what level of Inayatullah’s Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) they address. Recall, level one is the surface/empirical, level two the social/systems, level three the worldview/paradigm, and level four the myth/metaphor.

  1. It clearly defines outcomes, taking into account the likely effect and impact of the policy in the future, five to ten years and beyond. L1
  2. It takes full account of the national and international situation. L2
  3. It takes a holistic view, looking beyond institutional boundaries to the government’s “strategic objectives.” L2
  4. It is flexible and innovative, willing to question established ways of dealing with things and encourage new and creative ideas. L3
  5. It uses the best available evidence from a wide range of sources. L1
  6. It constantly reviews existing policy to ensure it is really dealing with problems it was designed to solve without having unintended detrimental effects elsewhere. L1-L2
  7. It is fair to all people directly or indirectly affected by it and takes account of its impact more generally. L2-L3
  8. It involves all stakeholders at an early stage and throughout its development. L3
  9. It learns from experience what works and what doesn’t through systematic evaluation. L1-L4 (Kamerer 2009)

At first glance, this looks quite comprehensive. It potentially allows for all of levels of CLA, with the possible exception of a weakly represented level four, myth and metaphor.

Yet there are often problems in the implementation of policy guidelines. Firstly, governments and organisations often fail to follow their own effective policy guidelines. The United States and its allies, for example, did not invoke a deep approach in invading Iraq. They didn’t consult the Islamic World, and we can assume they did not examine their own civilisational biases. And this is not to mention the obvious lack of foresight in failing to think very far beyond the fall of Baghdad.

My second issue is in regard to the methods that can really really make policy go deep. To do this we need tools which allow policy makers to be poked and prodded into seeing things at deeper levels. Simply saying, “Let’s include the Muslims,” for example, may be limited if there are no ways for a deep level of communication to unfold, for worldview assumptions to be addressed, and for prejudice and judgment to be acknowledged. This is where CLA, used in conjunction with other methods such as Harmonic Circles, might be of great benefit.

The third observable point about effective policy guidelines going deep is that they do not address much of level four of CLA—where deeper psycho-spiritual factors come into play. And this includes the employment of intuitive and introspective ways of knowing.

 

Teenage drug abuse in Hong Kong

Finally, I shall address a specific policy issue in Hong Kong, and see just how deep policy and analysis went (at the time of writing). Joseph Wong (2009), a former secretary for the civil service in Hong Kong, in an article published in the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, addressed the problem of drug abuse by teenagers in HK. This is a problem which has come to attention in recent times. Just a week before the article was written, around 700 young people were arrested, including 110 Hong Kong citizens in Shenzhen, the mainland Chinese city bordering Hong Kong. The youngest of them was only 13 years old (Wong 2009).

Hong Kong officials have tried to address the problem. Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang was stated as saying that drug abuse is a “tough enemy.” He said that voluntary drug testing at the community level would begin as soon as possible. Further, he announced that the government was studying hair-testing as a way to test for drugs. Secondary schools in a school in Tai Po district would be asked to join a pioneer scheme for drug testing in schools. (Wong 2009)

The media and discussion at the time turned to the question of drug testing, and the logistical nightmare of implementing it. The government was not unaware of the shallowness of such a focus. Donald Tsang himself pointed out that a comprehensive policy should include the problem of “mobilising the whole community, law enforcement against drug traffickers, and rehabilitation of drug takers.” (Wong 2009)

Here, Tsang is moving into the social and systems levels of the problem. But even this remains at the social/systems level, and does not address worldview and mythic levels three and four of CLA.

Within this situation, we can see that CLA provides a framework which enables us to at least observe the depth of the policy.

The next question which follows is: what factors which underpin teenage drug taking have not been addressed? We still have not really asked why students are taking drugs. Some community members have been quick to point this out. Some have said the young people are bored. There is nothing fun to do. But is this the entire answer?

We could go deeper still, and ask if modern life in HK genuinely addresses deeper psycho-spiritual needs of human beings. This is a level four issue, where other ways of knowing, inner worlds, passion, feeling, a sense of connection, and deeper meanings come into play. We might note that Hong Kong is almost the archetypal money and machines society, famous (perhaps infamous) for its finance-based culture and concrete and glass skyline.

Another issue is whether the policy addressed all stakeholders. What about the teenagers themselves? Are we really addressing their needs? This would require an expansion of analysis to become truly holistic, including looking at what the education system is doing to the young. Cultural issues come into play, as the Hong Kong education system is still strongly Confucian, with memorisation, rote learning, and testing dominating. Society is very hierarchical and super competitive. It’s the neo-Darwinian paradigm (Loye 2004) in operation, and students who fail are often just left to sleep in class, or put in the back row (with the best students up in front). Because of the focus upon work and “getting ahead,” many teenagers barely see their parents, who often work long hours. The psychological implications for teenagers are obvious.

In China, where the central policy of “scientific development” lies at the heart the Communist party’s vision of the future, up to twenty five million of the eighty million teenage Internet users are addicted to the Net; numerous military-style boot camps have sprung up to help cope with the problem (Free To Make 2009). In Hong Kong, some children are developing “biophobia,” and are scared of trees and of walking barefoot on grass (K, 2009).Some argue that the internet deepens understanding and awareness, but many would disagree. A recent US study found that 40 per cent of Twitter chat is “pointless babble,” along the lines of “I am eating a sandwich now” (Forty Per Cent 2009). This is not a deep future, but one of mindless distraction.

Shallow policy initiatives begin by asking how we can get teenagers to start taking drug tests. The very lack of depth in such policy may reflect the lack of personal connection in Hong Kong society. The government is often seen as aloof and unaccountable, and not truly representative of the people. Seen in this context, the shallow response of government reflects a top-down, hierarchical power structure, which lacks genuine relationship with the people. Deep policy in a perfect world would consider a more holistic range of factors, or at least acknowledge their impact on the young people.

 

Conclusion

What will come of Postconventional Futures Studies remains to be seen. Its central processes and other ways of knowing may become more acceptable to governments and educational institutions in the future. It may be that the other ways of knowing will remain “other,” limiting Postconventional Futures to a position on the fringes of mainstream discourse.

Nonetheless, it is my contention that PFS methods may potentially enhance Foresight and Futures practice, including policy-making processes. PFS may help us create Deep Futures. Money and machines are not enough to sustain our species. We can no longer afford business as usual. As the Joshua Bell anecdote posted at the beginning of this paper suggests, something subtle yet crucial is missing from developed cultures, with their rush to achieve external gratification. The critical/rational worldview which focuses upon these values has created an impasse in the development of materialistic, developed cultures. A shift in thinking is required. Yet even this may not be enough. We may also require a shift in feeling (as a way of knowing), in relationship, in education, and in the way we perceive and create our Futures. It is my hope that we can all be part of this shift.

 

Bibliography

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Anthony, Marcus (2005a). “Education for Transformation: Integrated Intelligence in the Knowledge Economy and Beyond.” Journal of Futures Studies, 9(3), 31-35.

Anthony, Marcus (2005b). “Integrated Intelligence and the Psycho-Spiritual Imperatives of Mechanistic Science.” Journal of Futures Studies, (10) 1, 31-48.

Anthony, Marcus (2006). “A Genealogy of the Western Rationalist Hegemony.” Journal of Futures Studies. May 2006, 10 (4): 25 – 38.

Anthony, Marcus (2007). “Harmonic Circles: A New Futures Tool.” Foresight, 9 (5), 23-34.

Anthony, Marcus (2008). Integrated Intelligence. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Anthony, Marcus (2010a). “Civilisational Clashes and Harmonic Circles.” Futures, Upcoming, 2010.

Anthony, Marcus (2010b). The Professor’s Other Brain. Hong Kong: Benjamin Franklin Press Asia.

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Sheldrake, Rupert, McKenna, Terrence, & Abraham, Ralph. (2001). Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness. Rochester: Park Street Press.

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Endnotes

 


[i] I have used upper case for “Foresight”, “Futures” and “Futures Studies”, where the reference is to the disciplines of Foresight and Futures, but lower case where referring to “foresight” as a verb, and “futures” in the general sense (as the plural of “future”). I have also used upper case for the various branches of Futures Studies, and the formal concepts and tools of Futures Studies, including the tools which I have developed.

[ii] Video footage of the performance can be seen on YouTube.com, and at www.washingtonpost.com/

wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html.

[iii] Klein (2003) also uses the example of weather forecasters.

[iv] For a summary of the evidence and arguments for mystical intuition, see Radin 2006, Sheldrake 2003, McTaggart 2007, and Anthony 2008, 2010c (upcoming).

[v] The mystical spiritual worldview is not really a single philosophy. I use the term to connect multiple expressions of culture, which share the commonality of seeing a mystical thread running through history. These cultures see minds as being connected to a kind of spiritual noosphere, and human beings as being capable of accessing this integrated intelligence (Anthony 2008). Examples include many indigenous cultures, much of ancient Greek culture, Christian mysticism, the European Romantics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the alternative culture movement of the 1960s-’70s.

[vi] Elsewhere (Anthony 2005b) I have addressed the characteristics and problematiques of the knowledge economy which I feel necessitate a broader range of ways of knowing (including the intuitive and creative) if people are to thrive.

[vii] Slaughter (2003) distinguishes his Integral Futures Studies—predicated upon the work of Ken Wilber—from Postconventional Futures. However, for the sake of simplicity I have placed them in the one category, as they both honour a full range of ways of knowing and incorporate ideas from other branches of Futures Studies.

[viii] For physics and systems thinking see Ervin Laszlo (2004) and Sheldrake, McKenna, & Abraham (2001). For developments in consciousness studies see Grof (2000), Radin (2006), Sheldrake (2003).

[ix] www.shapingtomorrow .com

[x] Obviously the application of a tool like Scenarios would vary greatly when used in each branch, because the ways of knowing vary. The same applies to any given tool.

[xi] Hawkins, a modern mystic, posits a hierarchical model of cognitive development, both individual and collective human. He argues that there are limits to the rational mind, and that by itself it is poor at contextualising data, because it is inherently dissociated from the other, and from the world. I have argued this position also (Anthony 2008).

[xii] Technoscience is science driven by modern capitalist society (Pickstone 2000). Pickstone argues that it constitutes a new way of knowing.

[xiii] I have used these three tools extensively in my own research and futures work. However, they are in the early stages of development, and require more extensive application in real time and space.

Deepening Russian Futures

ACADEMIC ARTICLES: This conceptual paper expands upon the concept of Deep Futures (DF), as introduced in a previous volume of Foresight. It shall be argued that Deep Futures is part of the emerging discipline of Postconventional Futures Studies (PFS)

Title: Deepening Russian Futures (Deep Futures, part 2)

Journal: Foresight (Russia – translated into Russian)

Date: Upcoming, late 2012

Paper type: Conceptual

Author: Marcus T. Anthony, PhD

 

For the PDF version, click on the link below. Or read the text, below.

 

Deepening Russian Futures

 

[facebook]  [retweet] Follow Marcus on Twitter:[twitter name=”marcusTanthony1″]

 

This conceptual paper expands upon the concept of Deep Futures (DF), as introduced in a previous volume of Foresight. It shall be argued that Deep Futures is part of the emerging discipline of Postconventional Futures Studies (PFS).[i] A prime purpose here is to outline more specific applications for Russia, especially in terms of the deepest levels of awareness of any given problematique – worldviews, paradigms, and the expression of consciousness (or mind). The recent issue involving Russian punk band “Pussy Riot” is used to exemplify the way DF might deepen policy and the way we view future. DF utilises recognised Futures methodologies and philosophies, but expands the depth of analysis and insight by incorporating additional tools and other ways of knowing not traditionally utilized by Futures practitioners.

 

As I argued in a previous paper here in Foresight journal, mainstream and conventional Futures work can often operate with implicit and unchallenged assumptions. In particular, there is often a focus on technology and economics: what I call “money and machines futures.” This assumes that the future is mostly about science and technology; and progress in a western materialistic sense. The concept of Deep Futures (DF) challenges those assumptions, and introduces tools and methods to “destabilize” business-as-usual thinking about the future. Therefore, a prime purpose of DF is to act as a provocation to dominant discourses. It provides an enhanced capacity for dissent – to challenge conventional Foresight and Futures work, as well as other fields of knowledge it turns its gaze upon. It thus presents the possibility of deepening the way we view the past, present, and future.

In brief, futures with depth contain these elements:

 

  • They inspire. They instill us with passion, and ignite something deep within us.
  • They are the big picture. They encourage us to see things in broader perspective, including the cultural, national, civilisational, the Gaian, and the spiritual.
  • They honour both the head and the heart. They permit rational and intuitive ways of knowing and living to co-exist.
  • They permit expression of multiple cultures and worldviews, not just dominant ones.
  • They are deeply meaningful, not merely interesting, amusing, or engaging.
  • They permit deep connection with each other, with nature, and with inner and spiritual worlds.
  • They honour universal human values: peace, beauty, freedom, justice, and love (including freedom of thought and information, and financial freedom).
  • People and Gaia lie at the heart of the future, not merely money and machines.

Futures Methods with Depth

Below I outline several Deep Futures methods and approaches. They can be applied by futurists in presentations, workshops, institutional settings and in research. Some of these are methods in development, and require further application before their genuine value can be determined.

 

Causal Layered Analysis (Sohail Inayatullah 2004, 2009)

Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) is a poststructuralist Futures method developed by futurist Sohail Inayatullah (2004). CLA can help examine the deeper meanings imbedded within problems, texts, and discourses through an exploration of four specific levels. It is particularly useful as a means to conduct inquiry into the nature of past, present, and future. It opens up the present and the past to create the possibility of alternative futures.

In other words, it can deepen our understanding of the future.

CLA is an extremely flexible tool, and the focus of analysis can be upon different levels according to the aims of the research, the gathering, and the audience. Many other Futures methods can be used alongside it. For example, my Harmonic Circles method (Anthony 2007, 2010a) can be used as part of the worldview/paradigm level, as it encourages participants to reflect upon their worldview and biases.

These are CLA’s five levels: [ii]

 

The litany examines the “surface” of the issue—empirical and verifiable data, what can be readily seen and measured, or what is typically seen when there is no attempt to look deeper. Data at this level can be useful in making immediate changes, but may be limited if participants lack a broader understanding of the problem.

The social/systems level identifies underlying systemic issues. The greater depth allows stakeholders to deepen their understanding of the situation and place the data in greater context.

The worldview/paradigm level examines the paradigmatic and civilisational factors which affect the issue. Futures thinking which addresses this level can help create the conditions for a paradigm shift. We can envisage new futures and devise new strategies.

The myth/metaphor level uncovers the myths, metaphors, and deeper psycho-spiritual drivers of issues. It is at the mythic and metaphorical level that postconventional methods come into play. Most notably, other ways of knowing can be used.

The consciousness level opens a space for the emotional, intuitive and spiritual aspects of the mind to be explored and find expression. Deep meanings and ultimate causes can be honoured at this level, including spiritual guidance.

 

Integral Futures (Richard Slaughter 2003, 2006).

This approach to Futures uses Ken Wilber’s (2000) Integral Operating System and Four Quadrant system to deconstruct and analyse futures. The four quadrants are the social, the cultural, the empirical, and the first-person. Most notably, Integral Futures acknowledges the transpersonal realms and the perennial philosophy of the Eastern world. This sees consciousness as evolving from pre-personal (unconsciousness), to conscious/rational, and then to transpersonal.

 

Visioning

Visioning, where idealised futures are imagined and planned, is in itself neutral in terms of the application of ways of knowing, but is an ideal situation to allow intuitive and emotive cognitive processes to be employed.

 

Scenarios

Scenarios may work best where deeply reflective work is done beforehand, opening spaces for alternative futures to emerge (Curry & Shultz 2009). Causal Layered Analysis, in combination with creative and intuitive thinking, can be used here.

 

Harmonic Circles (Marcus T. Anthony 2007, 2010a).[iii]

This tool invites deep reflection upon the individual’s worldview and biases, via a depth-psychology approach, and meditative insight. It employs a free association method to assist the user in tapping into the unconscious, and utilises non-ordinary states of consciousness.

 

Integrated Inquiry (Marcus T. Anthony 2010b; 2012b).

This recently-developed alternative research method combines intuitive and rational ways of knowing, as the researcher goes about investigating his subject matter. The researcher pays as much attention to the inner world of thoughts, feelings, intuitions and dreams as to the external environment. The entire approach to knowledge transcends the strict subject/object dichotomy of modern and postmodern though, and invites exploration of Integrated Intelligence (see below). Integrated Inquiry does not necessarily require a mystical worldview (though it helps); it can be employed as a provocation designed to stimulate creativity and insight. Foresight and Futures practitioners can use Integrated Inquiry during their research. I employed this approach during my own doctoral studies, as outlined in my eBook How to Channel a PhD (Anthony 2012b).

 

Integrated intelligence and other ways of knowing (Marcus T. Anthony 2008, 2010c).

The concept of Integrated intelligence (INI) rests upon the presupposition that the mind extends beyond the brain, and that some information that is “out there” can be consciously accessed via feelings, intuitions, images, dreams, auditory prompts, and so on. The process incorporates non-ordinary states of consciousness, achieved through deep relaxation and physiological self-control. As with Integrated Enquiry, INI can be employed as an assumed genuine human capacity, or used as a provocation. In the latter case, it is not necessary to “believe” in it, merely to go about Futures work employing specific INI tools and using them as prompts toward the end of achieving more innovative and creative thinking.

 

The Purpose of Postconventional Approaches

What is the purpose of allowing such alternative thinking and cognitive depth to be part of Futures and Foresight work? Sohail Inayatullah puts it this way:

“Futures thinking ultimately can go as far as mapping and changing memes and fields of reality.” (Inayatullah 2008)

This is a contentious issue, but one with which I concur. There is a great deal of scientific evidence to support the ideas of non-local fields of consciousness and collective intelligence (Grof 2000; Sheldrake 2003; Radin 2006; McTaggart 2007; LeShan 2019), and just as much skepticism (Dawkins 2006, Blackmore 2003, de Glasse Tyson 2001). However, it should be pointed out that the purpose of the employment of Deep Futures tools should not be used as a means to change people’s belief structures or worldviews. Such an approach would be a violation of participants’ rights, and an abuse of the role of teacher/futurist as facilitator. Instead, Deep Futures can be used as a way to incorporate a broader range of perspectives and types of data, to act as a deliberate provocation, and to break through entrenched ways of thinking about and perceiving the world and its many possible futures. It can thus help to subvert cognitive dissonance and what Edward de Bon0 (200( calls “The knowledge trap”. This is where we make the self-limiting mistake of becoming too comfortable with our knowledge and approach to learning, and fail to embrace a greater diversity of cognitive tools, mental states and ways of knowing.

Much of what is true of Causal Layered Analysis is also true of Deep Futures in general. Inayatullah (2008b) points out that the goal of CLA is the integration of all its levels of ennquiry, to honour each, and allow the expanded understanding which emerges to help us better prepare for, and consciously develop, our futures. As Inayatullah writes:

 

Each level is true, and solutions need to be found at each level. Thus policy solutions can be deeper. Litany interventions lead to short-term solutions, easy to grasp, packed with data. Systemic answers require interventions by efficiency experts. Governmental policies linked to partnership with the private sector often results. Worldview change is much harder and longer term. It requires seeking solutions from outside the framework in which the solution has been defined. And myth solutions require deepest interventions, as this requires telling a new story, rewiring the brain and building new memories and the personal and collective body (Inayatullah, 2008: 9).

 

Deep Futures in general can be used as a framework for examining the future of any given problem (and analyzing the depth of any given Futures idea, text, organisation or thinker). It is thus an approach which seeks to facilitate the deepening Futures Studies, for specific analyses, and to expand the processes used in workshops and seminars. The focus of Deep Futures is upon depth and bringing forth data and perspectives from within different layers of the problem, and it permits other futures methods to be used alongside it. In this sense it is reminiscent of de Bono’s (2009) “six thinking hats” method, which allows a place for a broader range of cognitive processes than are typically permitted in modern education and organisations.

Taken together, CLA, interwoven with the other methods referred to here, can potentially deepen our appreciation of the forces driving change and futures. The processes create the potential for insight and for greater awareness of the forces which shape the self, from within and without. This may potentially lead to better foresight.

 

 

Effective Policy vs. Deep Policy

Deep policy goes deep, by definition. How, then, do standard policy guidelines about delivering effective policies compare to Deep Futures? As one example, the British government has developed the following criteria for policy makers (Ching 2009). We may assume that the goal of the approach is to be inclusive and comprehensive. I list the general guidelines here, and indicate what level of Inayatullah’s Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) they primarily address. Recall, level one (L1) is the surface/empirical, level two (L2) the social/systems, level three (L3) the worldview/paradigm, level four (L4) the myth/metaphor, and level five (L5) consciousness/mind.

 

  1. It clearly defines outcomes, taking into account the likely effect and impact of the policy in the future, five to ten years and beyond. L1
  2. It takes full account of the national and international situation. L2
  3. It takes a holistic view, looking beyond institutional boundaries to the government’s “strategic objectives.” L2
  4. It is flexible and innovative, willing to question established ways of dealing with things and encourage new and creative ideas. L3 (potentially)
  5. It uses the best available evidence from a wide range of sources. L1
  6. It constantly reviews existing policy to ensure it is really dealing with problems it was designed to solve without having unintended detrimental effects elsewhere. L1-L2
  7. It is fair to all people directly or indirectly affected by it and takes account of its impact more generally. L2-L3
  8. It involves all stakeholders at an early stage and throughout its development. L3
  9. It learns from experience what works and what doesn’t through systematic evaluation. L1-L2 (Ching 2009)

 

At first glance, this list looks reasonably comprehensive. It potentially allows for the first four levels of CLA, but with a weakly represented level four – myth and metaphor. Notably, level five – consciousness – is completely absent.

There are often problems in the implementation of policy guidelines. Firstly, governments and organisations often fail to follow their own guidelines. The United States and its allies, for example, did not invoke a “deep” approach in invading Iraq, despite a record of historical failures in invading other nations with little foresight of the consequences (e.g, Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs). They didn’t consult the Islamic World, and we can assume they did not examine their own civilisational biases. And this is not to mention the obvious lack of foresight in failing to think very far beyond the fall of Baghdad.

My second issue is in regard to the methods that can genuinely make policy go deep. To do this we need tools which allow policy makers to be poked and prodded into seeing things at deeper levels. Simply saying, “Let’s include the Muslims,” for example, may be limited if there are no ways for mutually respectful communication to unfold, for worldview assumptions to be addressed, and for prejudice and judgment to be acknowledged. This is where CLA, used in conjunction with other methods such as Harmonic Circles, might be of great benefit.

The third observable point about the above effective policy guidelines is that they do not address much of level four of CLA, and nothing of Level five—where deeper psycho-spiritual factors and introspection come into play.

 

 

The “Pussy Riot” controversy

In this next and longest section of this paper, I shall address a specific policy issue in Russia – the Pussy Riot problematique – and see just how deep policy and analysis tends to go in government, selected media outlets and the blogosphere.

Pussy Riot is a now-notorious Moscow-based feminist punk-rock group. The band has staged several rebellious performances, typically in unauthorized locations, such as Lobnoye Mesto in Red Square, on top of a trolleybus, and on a scaffold in the Moscow Metro. The performance which came to the attention of the Russian authorities – and subsequently the international media – occurred on February 21, 2012, when five membersof the group enacted a very brief performance on the soleas of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, before they were stopped by church officials. They invoked the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin and threw insults at both Putin and the Moscow Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.On March 3 a video of the performance appeared online, and subsequently three of the group members were arrested. They were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and given two-year sentences with heavy labour (Pussy Riot, 2012). Much international media attention has focused upon the story, most of it critical of the Russian authorities. Putin has stated that this is an orchestrated foreign plot designed to discredit him (Pussy riot, 2012).

Yet opinion in Russia has been more subdued. A series of Levada Center polls (an independent polling organisation in Russia) indicated that 44 percent of Russians felt that the trial was fair, and only 17 percent believed it was not impartial. Only 18 percent believed that the verdict would be influenced by the state. Just six percent of those polled sympathised with Pussy Riot, while 41 percent felt antipathy towards them. It can be noted that 58 percent of those who responded to the poll believed that the band members would receive an unduly harsh punishment (Pussy Riot 2012).

Speaking at a liturgy in Moscow’s Deposition of the Robe Church on March 21, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill I, condemned Pussy Riot’s actions as “blasphemous”, saying that the “Devil has laughed at all of us.” He said that “We have no future if we allow mockery in front of great shrines, and if some see such mockery as a sort of bravery, an expression of political protest, an acceptable action or a harmless joke.”

 

 

CLA and the Pussy Riot incident

Within this situation, Causal Layered Analysis provides a framework which enables us to observe the depth of the Russian government response to the issue. Since we do not know precisely what is going on in the minds of officials and media outlets, I focus here upon the actions they have taken.

An obvious issue is whether policy has addressed all stakeholders. What about the youth of Russia itself? Are their needs being met? Throwing youngsters in jail and calling their actions “blasphemous” does not do so.

 

The Litany: At this level we get descriptive reports of the event. In practice, it is not common to find reports and texts of any event which are purely litany. Most media and policy reports cover the litany and at least touch upon the social-systems level. However headlines, search engine results pages, summaries and extracts may have a dominant focus on this level. This can be seen in snippets in foreign media reports which merely stated that Russian authorities had imprisoned members of Pussy Riot for its criticism of Putin. Where texts contain short references and quotes about specific individuals and organisations, this may also be superficial. An example is the following.

 

The Russian Orthodox church criticized the band’s actions as “blasphemous”, and said they displayed “crude hostility towards millions of people”.[iv] (Elder, 2012).

 

In fact the Church also made pleas for leniency for the group members on trial (Pussy riot, 2012).

 

The social/systems level: Here we can note youth culture, which is quintessentially rebellious, at least in Western and Caucasian-dominant countries. [v]

In regard to youth rebellion in Russia, shallow policy initiatives begin by asking how to punish those who transgress moral norms or legal systems. The very lack of depth in such policy may reflect the authoritarian nature of modern government in Russia (a level two issue). Putin is often perceived as the archetypal strong man. It is an image he has deliberately sought to convey. The Church too, is conservative and hierarchical, with power structures mediated by a largely inaccessible and seemingly other-worldly elite.

Seen in this context, the shallow response of government and Church reflects top-down, hierarchical power structures which lack genuine relationship with the people. Deep policy in an ideal world would consider a more holistic range of causal factors for the actions of Pussy Riot, or at least acknowledge the impact of rigid authoritarianism on young people.

Reports in international media have tended to be critical of the treatment of the band by the Russian authorities, focusing upon the political implications for Putin and the issues of human rights and freedom of expression. For example Engalnd’s The Guardian wrote that:

 

Three members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot are facing two years in a prison colony after they were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, in a case seen as the first salvo in Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on opposition to his rule. (Elder, 2012)

 

Meanwhile British and American officials have raised concerns about human rights and international norms regarding transparency of judicial proceedings (Elder, 2012).

Putin has alleged that foreign powers have been behind the protest movement against him (Elder 2012). Like much political ‘spin’, Putin’s response focuses upon an emotional issue designed to rally listeners around his cause. There is no reference to underlying issues.

It can be seen that each of the above deals primarily with societal and systems factors – and we may assume quite deliberately so, as deeper analysis would make clear that the problem is not as simple as good versus bad/us versus them. Political discourse and much media analysis nearly operates in this way, and rarely moves beyond it. For it is beyond the second level of CLA that introspection begins to come into play; and then the enquiry has to turn inward to gaze upon the knower/perceiver.

 

Worldview/paradigm level:

This level identifies deeper systemic and epistemological issues. The greater depth allows stakeholders to deepen their understanding of the situation and place the data in greater context. To allow worldview and paradigmatic perspectives to emerge and become part of the discourse, stakeholders have to permit a “distancing” process to emerge (Inayatullah, 2002), where they step back and view their discourse, their organisation, their nation, and their civilisation from the perspective of an outsider.

Much discourse at the litany and social/systems levels contains what Inayatullah (2008) calls “the used future”, adopting themes unconsciously borrowed from someone else; or as I would argue, projected from unconscious elements contained within the human psyche. For example, the implicit “us vs them” mentality that underpins both Putin’s and often (implicitly) Western news reports of the Pussy Riot incident retains a Cold War worldview.

The West tends to see Putin as the archetypal, hard-faced, Cold War Kremlin dictator. Yet this is not entirely without substance, given Putin’s Kremlin background. Most tellingly, this is the very image that Putin has tried to convey to both Russians and foreigners. Carefully managed photos showing him bare-chested and engaging in very physical pastimes live kayaking and wrestling have been deliberately and widely circulated. Here Putin is the archetypal strongman. It is a quintessentially masculine and authoritarian image he has sought to project.

In contrast, Pussy Riot has strong feminist, Western and egalitarian influences (Pussy Riot 2012). There is a clear rejection of the status quo. The patriarchal/authoritarian way is to punish and crush such resistance.

A Deep Futures approach to the problematique moving to level three of CLA would permit a deep questioning process (Inayatullah 2002). We might then ask:

 

  • Are egalitarianism and freedom of expression only ever “Western” ideals, or are they also part of Russian (and broader human) history and experience?
  • “How can a more empowered and feminine consciousness rise peacefully in Russia; along with more empowered women?”
  • “Does Russia really require a strongman leader? If not, what other possibilities might there be (including that of a female leader)?
  • “Is it possible that power can be shared more equally and responsibly in Russian futures?”
  • “How can we educate people to accept their power and responsibility in a more egalitarian society?”

 

The reality is that for a peaceful Russia and a peaceful world to emerge, all parties must find ways to create new futures. The alternative is to continue to go along with the used future. This used future will probably recreate the past. Inayatullah’s CLA moves the analysis into deeper civilisational, global and (ultimately) psycho-spiritual considerations. Litany and limited social/systems-level analyses and the interventions which emerge from them are likely to be largely impotent in creating lasting positive change if they cannot penetrate beyond superficialities. This is the level of much political and media discourse, both in Russia and beyond.

 

The myth/metaphor level:

At this level we can note several important issues.

The most notable perhaps is that of rock/pop music itself (and punk music can be seen as one branch of this). Since the time of Elvis Presley rock ‘n roll has always featured two predominant aspects: sexual expression and rebellion against authority. The rock singer is the quintessential angry teenager raising the finger at authority. In the West it is James Dean and Elvis’ hip-shaking (banned from the waist down!). Infamous British punk band the Sex Pistols sang about “anarchy in the UK”, and one of their music videos featured singer Johnny Rotten shooting concert audience members, including The Queen. We might note the obvious sexual references in band names like the Sex Pistols and Pussy Riot.

But what is sexuality? In the Indic tradition the genital area is the base chakra (or energy centre). This is the centre not only of sexuality, but also of personal power. The base of the spine is also commonly associated with the psychic storing of anger. Some rebirthing processes that I have personally engaged in encourage the expression of repressed anger, which is literally “screamed out” while focusing upon the base chakra. In this worldview, trauma, anger, rebellion and sexual expression are all intimately connected. Perhaps this is why sexuality, anger and rebellion are such strong themes in rock music. [vi]

Rebellion is also a strong theme in modern Russian history. Twentieth century Russia had some of the most famous rebellions in History – the February and October 1917 revolutions and that of 1925. There was also the more peaceful power shift of 1989. The so-called Russian oligarchs – who came into their power after 1989 – have alleged connections with illegal activities. They can be seen as rebellious, challenging the authorities; and having their power challenged in return by the state. Oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, perhaps the most well known internationally, has been serving a fourteen year prison sentence since 2003 (Russian oligarchs, 2012).

Thus “the rebel” is both part of punk music, youth culture, and is mythic and archetypal to modern Russia. It can be seen as overlapping with the social/systems level, as it ties into modern Russian social structures.

For the Western world and media, the fear of Big Brother has moved from a mere social and political concept, to the point where it can now be deemed mythic. It was perhaps Orwell’s classic book 1984 (published in 1948) which turned the idea of evil government into a deeper motif within the Western psyche. Yet distrust of – and rebellion against – authoritarianism has long been a part of Western societies. The modern Western, democratic ideal emerged from acts of rebellion. We can trace this back to the deep questioning of Socrates and the ancient Greek philosophers; Martin Luther’s 95 theses (which challenged papal authority); and the French and American Revolutions, just to mention a few incidents. Distrust of authority now finds its common expression in the typical American distrust of government. Perhaps its most neurotic expression is now found in the contemporary conspiracy theorist, who finds authoritarian deception and hegemony at every turn, even without definitive evidence.

It is important to note that the mythological and paradigmatic can only be transcended when the dominant narrative becomes conscious. Only then can it be questioned and challenged. This is where Inayatullah’s (2002a) “deep questioning” can be most powerful. The Pussy Riot incident might bring forth questions like these

 

  • Is it always “blasphemous” to challenge a sacred symbol or icon?
  • Has the sacred symbol run its course; and is it time for a new symbol?
  • Can democracy have multiple expressions, not merely the Western or “our democracy”?
  • Are non-democratic political structures better for some countries (such as in China, where the Communist Party’s “scientific development” has seen the country become the world’s economic engine)?
  • What are the limits of freedom of expression?
  • Are there means to rule our country beyond the strongman archetype?
  • How can women be truly empowered in our country?

 

It must be remembered that paradigms and worldviews delimit the range of questions that are permitted to be asked. When we begin to delve into the paradigmatic level (and beyond) and answer such deep questions, the future can be challenged more deeply. We are deliberately inviting dissent, which futurist Richard Slaughter (2006) says if the responsibility of good Futures practitioners. After deep questioning, what Inayatullah (2008) calls “disowned futures” can be brought forward. These are the possible futures that we have discarded, forgotten, or dare not contemplate; either out of fear, because they are seen as forbidden, or because they have become too alien for us to understand.

 

The consciousness level: At the deepest level of consciousness, we begin to address psycho-spiritual aspects of an event, concept, thinker or text. It is here that the most profound and spiritual questions can be asked and contemplated; and where the ways of knowing employed can incorporate a strong introspective and meditative component. Ultimate questions – especially those involving the meaning and purpose of events and life itself – cannot be answered only through empirical observation and scientific methodology. This is even true for modern mainstream cosmology, which can trace the physical origins of the universe back to the big bang, but is powerless to provide data for the ultimate source of that event; or whether an intelligence of any kind underpins it.

At the consciousness level dreams, daydreams, visions, epiphanies, intuitive feelings and transcendental experiences can give us insight into what drives us at the deepest level.

Ideally, while addressing the Pussy Riot situation in a workshop setting, or even in the private – and when moving into the final level of CLA – all stakeholders (Russian and foreign) can contemplate, mediate, reflect and pray about what the Pussy Riot incident means; including how to best deal with it and all those involved. They should reflect upon their own perceptions, reactions and biases.

We might note that Russians have generally become richer since 1989, and that the Church has resumed an important role for many in society. However, we might then ask if modern life in Russia genuinely addresses the deeper psycho-spiritual needs of human beings. This is where other ways of knowing, inner worlds, passions, feelings, a sense of connection and deeper meanings come into play.

 

 

A deeper perspective on the Pussy riot problematique

A personal anecdote provides a good clarification of how meditative reflection and non-ordinary states of mind can help an individual come to a deeper appreciation of a problematique. When I lived in China I found myself feeling some resentment at the authoritarian government. Then one night I had a dream which shed light on a deeper narrative which lay behind my anger. In the dream I was scrolling down a computer screen. But the computer screen was divided in two. On left side were images of severe-looking Chinese Communist party leaders dressed in their black suits; on the right side of the screen were images of my father; equally angry and severe and punitive. That dream told me something important. That my attitudes towards China’s leaders was in part a projection of unresolved anger I had with my father. After this event I was able to assume a greater degree of responsibility for the way I thought, spoke and wrote about the Chinese Communist Party.

At the deepest level of consciousness we come to the realization that much mental construct tends towards projection – especially personal judgments and opinions. Our mental concepts tend to create binaries and oppositions while investing these dichotomies with emotional energy. Finally, the mind tends to fight for the justification of its mental constructs, once it has invested emotionality in them. It is for this reason that I created the “Harmonic Circles” process to help individuals and groups come to an awareness of the subjective nature of their judgments and projections (Anthony 2007, 2010). Once the awareness is present, individuals can then learn to take more responsibility for the way they create their subjective world.

As a mystic and deep meditator I also believe that we all carry “the sins of the fathers”. The consciousness of the ancestors trails behind us, potentially pulling us back into their pain and trauma, as well as the ‘memory’ of glory and success. Just as one example, during World War Two Russia lost some twenty million people. This ‘pain’ does not evaporate, but continues to haunt the psyches of the individuals involved. There is a danger that such subtle psychic forces might help recreate the same dominant narratives that underpins its origins – in this case violence and war.

Clearly “psychic” influences in people and populations is a highly contentious area to explore, and these forms of knowledge and understandings lie far off the official maps of reality that dominate education and society. This is the domain of Dean Radin’s “psi taboo”. Yet my experience is that they form part of the awareness of many people in greater society. People may not talk about such things in public, but many believe they are at least possible. Finally, there is a definitive but problematic body of evidence for the existence of the extended mind (Radin 2006; Sheldrake 2012) and I believe that the evidence will only grow stronger as the years pass.

The existence of the psi taboo is supported by at least some surveys into the way academics view psi experience. In Entangled Minds, Radin (2006) writes that less than one per cent of academic faculty members in the USA are willing to publically admit to a belief in the existence of psi. Yet Bem and Honorton (1994) cite a survey of over a thousand college faculty in the USA. That survey found that over fifty-five percent of natural science faculty members either strongly believe that telepathy is an established fact or feel it is a strong likelihood. The figure for the Social Sciences was sixty-six percent, while seventy-seven percent was the figure in arts, humanities, and education.

The question then becomes: how can futurists honour this consciousness level and heal it when most of our institutions do not permit its expression? The following represents my perspective, taken from years of experience with Deep Futures.

 

  • The futures practitioner must ground his/her arguments/workshop in the first two levels of CLA, including the scientific; and using familiar Futures tools and processes. This will provide a firm grounding before the deeper levels are explored.
  • The practitioner must keep in mind his/her audience; and remain vigilant to the atmosphere in the room. This way processes can be modified according to the audience’s receptiveness to Deep Futures tools. For example, the kinds of processes that will work with an audience of predominantly male engineers at a sandstone university will differ markedly with what might work with a female-dominant group at the university yoga centre.
  • Where permission is denied in the mainstream, Deep Futures work can be conducted in alternative and permissive institutions, organisations and settings – perhaps discretely. I have conducted workshops (which incorporated the consciousness level) in many settings. One such event I conducted in 2011 in association with a major university in Hong Kong. This workshop was affiliated with the Hong Kong Consciousness Festival and incorporated practical participation in experiencing Integrated Intelligence. I also modeled the intelligence before the group. Further, I organized and hosted an international conference – “Shifting Hong Kong” – in 2010, where I invited systems theorist Ervin Laszlo to that city. The conference was centred around the idea of Deep Futures. However on that occasion the ideas were explored more theoretically than practically, due to the academic audience present.

 

I have been privileged to be part of workshops and healing groups all over the world which explored consciousness at a deep level. Mnay of these were not specifically centred on human futures, but they have helped me gain an understanding of how these processes can be practically utilized.

 

The importance of presence

One of the key factors in teaching people about the way ego/mind works is to invite them into a deeper experience of mind – a place where many in the modern world have never ventured. Rather than talk about lofty, abstract and culturally-defined ideas like “enlightenment” and “transcendence”, I prefer to use terms like “presence” and “mindfulness”. If I were to tell an audience that “I am going to invite you into a transcendent state”, many would immediately become nervous or doubtful, as the self-concept of many people probably does not include the idea of being an enlightened spiritual master. So I keep it all very simple. To move into a state where the workings of the mind can be witnesses from an “outside” position (distancing), all that is required is for the person to actually be fully present in the moment. It is in presence that mental chatter stops, and ego-identification lessens.

A key distinction here is coming to the awareness that mind tends to function in imagined futures and remembered pasts. Imagined futures tend to be anxiety-laden, while remembered pasts tend to activate guilt and the pain body. When the mind is silent and fully present, we get to experience this idea directly, rather than merely as an intellectual understanding (by merely reading or thinking about it).

When the mind is brought into presence something remarkable happens (and sometimes this may be experienced as being unpleasant). The emotional body begins to “speak”. It seeks release. The pain of childhood and past hurts may try to make its way up from the depths of the psyche. We may want to cry, scream, vent anger and so on. Yet this is how healing can be facilitated, and the past released. The key is that individuals be taught how to develop the right relationship with their pain; what I call “the wounded child”. A key part of this is coming to a deeper understanding that the story of pain and suffering that the wounded child believes in is not actually real in the present moment. And in order for that to be fully appreciated experientially, the person has to be taught not only how to become present, but how to remain present. The following anecdote provides a good example.

 

A Chinese healing

In August 2011 I attended a four day workshop/retreat near Beijing by Australian mystic Leonard Jacobson (2008). It is Jacobson more than any other individual who has taught me most about the importance of presence, and how to facilitate it.

There were about 130 people at that workshop. I was the only foreigner in attendance, with all other attendees being Chinese. Leonard does not speak Chinese, and most of the audience members did not speak English, so there was an interpreter on hand who translated everything. Once Leonard’s workshop started, I was amazed at how receptive most of the Chinese people were to Leonard’s teachings and the simple – yet powerful – processes he used. Leonard’s workshops focus on one central motif – bringing people into deep presence. His entire teaching centres on the single premise that “enlightenment” happens now, and that attachment to the past and thought of the future ensnare us in the mind and ego.

Incredible as it may seem, Leonard does no preparation for his workshops. Not even a four day workshop like that one in Beijing. The entire event unfolds spontaneously, as he brings people into presence.

As the audience began to relax into presence on that day, the same thing began to happen as happens with all Leonard’s workshops. Put simply, people’s repressed emotional pain started to spontaneously emerge. I was quite surprised. I really did not think Chinese people would allow themselves to be so emotionally vulnerable in public, due to cultural restrictions there.

Typically, what would happen is that Leonard would begin to talk about an emotional issue at a personal or social level, then someone in the audience would begin to sob or wail as their emotional energy began to surface. Leonard would (on most occasions) then address the person. Sometimes he would invite them out the front of the group. Leonard would then help them to express whatever emotional pain they felt. This in turn would trigger some emotional release in other audience members.

On one of the retreat there was a middle-aged woman sitting directly in front of me who kept putting her hand up. I could see and hear that she was scared, from sobbing and shaking. She kept putting her hand half up, but not high enough to actually attract attention. Finally, Leonard saw her and asked her what her problem was. The woman then stood up and began speaking between sobs. She was terribly distraught, telling of how childhood was “a nightmare”. Leonard invited her out the front, and allowed her to express what she felt (the whole process was incredibly loving and gentle). Then the little girl inside her started raging against what happened during the Cultural Revolution (an extreme social movement started by Mao Ze Dong, lasting a whole decade, 1966-76). As she allowed the pain to surface, she raged about how everything around her was darkness and pain and suffering, and nothing was safe. She was reliving her childhood before the group.

Other people started to shift uncomfortably in their seats. All talk of this period in Chinese history is effectively banned in China, right to this day. But this didn’t stop this courageous women. She clenched her fists and began to rage with full fury against the government and the Communist Party for the living hell she felt they had created. She simply let loose her murderous wrath, expressing what the wounded part of herself had been wanting to “do” for forty years – to kill and destroy, to take revenge against those who had hurt her and those she loved.

Then, crucially, Leonard Jacobson helped her bring that wounded part of herself into the present, which is so vital for healing (as long as we are stuck in the pain, the suffering and the blame, we cannot heal). The purpose of this was to allow the pain and its accompanying story to surface, then to arouse the deeper understanding that the story is not real anymore. It is only the pain that is real. After a time the woman began to relax, and her mind slowly became present as Leonard held her hand. After a while she relaxed and began smiling. She returned to her seat, and the workshop moved on.

The next morning I was walking to breakfast at the retreat centre, and the woman just happened to be coming out of her villa at the same time as me. So I started talking to her, and told her how brave she was, and how China needed more people like her who could face the pain inside themselves and express it responsibly. She agreed. She told me that she had talked to a friend beforehand and decided it was okay that she brought it up.

The whole workshop made me realise that there are many people in China (and many other parts of the non-Western world) who are now willing to explore consciousness at a deeper level. Other Chinese people I spoke with at that retreat told me that these kinds of ideas are booming in China now, and in the last year or two they have really taken off. One aspect of this is that life coaching using spiritual or intuitive consciousness is now increasingly in demand. I was told that there were many middle class people in their 30s and 40s who are well off, but who are asking themselves why they are not happy and fulfilled. It is our educational and scientific institutions which are lagging behind the general public, lacking in the courage to move beyond the safeness of intellectuality and book knowledge.

Presence work at the level that Leonard Jacobson facilitates is clearly a highly skilled process, and requires a facilitator who can “walk the talk” – who is also able to allow deep presence within himself at will. I cite this story here – and the concept of deep presence – not because such deep processes are a requirement for Futures practitioners and participants, but as an example of where deep consciousness work can lead when taken to its full depth. Similar processes can be facilitated at the consciousness level in Deep Futures work, although in practice the depth will often be less marked than in the example above. The simple facilitation of relaxed presence is often enough to give participants a taste of consciousness at a deeper level, and bring about the awareness of how mind typically constructs reality; and is trapped in the painful pasts or fearful futures which are not real.

 

Self-awareness

In order for the deeper layers of a discourse to open up, there needs to be a deepening of awareness, especially self-awareness. This requires an inner journey, as I have tried to convey in this paper. Unfortunately it is this domain of mind that modern education systems are failing to address. In the hard sciences, even the concept of social and cultural influences on science is often scorned as irrelevant.

 

 

Conclusion

What will come of Postconventional Futures Studies remains to be seen. Its central processes and other ways of knowing may become more acceptable to governments and educational institutions in the future. Or it may be that the other ways of knowing will remain “other,” limiting Postconventional Futures to a position on the fringes of mainstream discourse.

Nonetheless, it is my contention that PFS methods may potentially enhance Foresight and Futures practice, including policy-making processes for organisations and perhaps even government in Russia. PFS may help us create Deep Futures. Money and machines are not enough to fulfill hearts and minds. We can no longer afford business as usual. Something subtle yet crucial is missing from modern cultures (including Russia’s), with their rush to achieve material gratification. The critical/rational worldview which trumpets these values has created an impasse in the development of materialistic, economically developed cultures. A shift in thinking is required. Yet even this may not be enough. We may also require a shift in feeling (as a way of knowing) – in relationship, in education, and in the way we perceive and create our futures. It is my hope that we can all be part of this shift in Russia, and right around the world.

 

 

 

References

Anthony, Marcus (2007). “Harmonic Circles: A New Futures Tool.” Foresight, 9 (5), 23-34.

Anthony, Marcus (2008). Integrated Intelligence. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Anthony, Marcus (2010a). “Civilisational Clashes and Harmonic Circles.” Futures, 2010.

Anthony, Marcus (2010c). Extraordinary Mind: Integrated Intelligence and the Future. MindFutures, Hong Kong.

Anthony, Marcus (2012b). How to Channel a PhD. MindFutures, 2012 (available in eBook formats only).

Bem, Daryl and Honorton, Charles (1994), “Does psi exist? Replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer,” Psychological Bulletin, 115, no. 1 (1994).

Blackmore, Susan, (2003). Consciousness: An Introduction. Oxford: Hodder & Stoughton.

Braud, William. (2003). Distant mental influence. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads.

Curry, Andrew, and Shultz, Wendy (2009). “Roads less travelled: Different methods, different futures.” Journal of Futures Studies. 13 (4), 35-60.

Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God Delusion. London: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

De Bono, Edward (2009). Think! Before it’s too Late! London: Random House.

de Grasse Tyson, Neil, (2001). “Coming to our Senses.” Natural History. New York,  110(2),  84.

Elder, Miriam (2012). “Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in prison colony over anti-Putin protest”. The Guardianhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/aug/17/pussy-riot-sentenced-prison-putin. Accessed 24.08.12.

Grof, Stan (2000). Psychology of the Future. New York: Suny.

Inayatullah, Sohail. (2002a). Questioning the Future. Taipei: Tamkang University Press.

Inayatullah, Sohail (2004). “Causal Layered Analysis: Theory, Historical Context, and Case Studies.” In Inayatullah, Sohail (ed.) The Causal Layered Analysis Reader. Taipei, Tamkang University Press.

Inayatullah, Sohail (2008). “Six Pillars: Futures Thinking for Transforming.” Foresight, 10 (1), 4-21.

Inner Truth (2012). “Emotional understanding”. http://www.inner-truth.net/emotions/anger.html. Accessed 26.08.12.

Jacobson, Leonard (2008). Journey into Now. Sydney: Conscious Living.

Ching, Frank (2009) “Learning From the Past.” South China Morning Post, 29.07.09.

Kundalini Yoga (2012), http://www.kundaliniyoga.org/kyt09.html; accessed 26.08.2012.

LeShan, Lawrence. (2009). A new science of the paranormal. London: Quest Books.

McTaggart, Lynn (2007). The Intention Experiment. New York: Free Press.

Moffett, James, (1994). “On to the past: Wrong-headed School Reform.” Phi Delta Kappan, 75(8), 584-590.

Pink, Daniel (2005). A Whole New Mind. New York: Riverhead Trade.

“Pussy Riot”, Wikipedia.    ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_Riot#cite_note-39 23.08.2012. Retrieved 22.08.12

“Pussy Riot reply”, RT (online) http://rt.com/art-and-culture/news/pussy-riot-clash-patriarch-567/ , retrieved 23.08.12.

Radin, Dean, (2006). Entangled Minds. New York: Paraview.

Russian oligarchs (2012), Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_oligarchs. Retrieved 24.08.12.

Sheldrake, Rupert (2012). The Science Delusion. Hachette, Little Hampton. Kindle Edition.

Slaughter, Richard., (2003). “Integral Futures—a new Model for Futures Enquiry and Practice.”

Available from: http://foresightinternational.com.au/catalogue/resources/Integral_Futures.pdf

(Retrieved 7 July 2006).

Slaughter, Richard. (2006). “Beyond the Mundane—Towards Post-Conventional Futures Practice.” The Journal of Futures Studies, 10 (4), 15-24.

Tarnas, R., (2000). The Passion of the Western Mind. London: Pimlico.

Weingarten, Gene (2007). “Pearls Before Breakfast”. Washington Post (online), 08.04.07. www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html. Accessed 20.10.09.

Wilber, Ken. (2000). Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. Boston: Shambhala.

 

 

Endnotes

 


[i] I have used upper case for “Foresight”, “Futures” and “Futures Studies”, where the reference is to the disciplines of Foresight and Futures, but lower case where referring to “foresight” as a verb, and “futures” in the general sense (as the plural of “future”). I have also used upper case for the various branches of Futures Studies, and the formal concepts and tools of Futures Studies, including the tools which I have developed.

[ii] The fifth level – consciousness – has been added by the author (Marcus T Anthony) as a means to deliberately explore consciousness  and the experience of mind itself.

[iii] I have used these three tools extensively in my own research and futures work. However, they are in the early stages of development, and require more extensive application in real time and space.

[iv] The Church did ask for leniency for the group before their sentencing. (Elder, 2012).

[v] This is not true in all cultures. In Confucian cultures teenagers tend to be quite respectful of elders, and often defer power to family, teachers and adults.

[vi] Indic and yogic philosophy is not an empirical science, and interpretations can differ. However many practitioners subscribe to similar views to mine (e.g. Kundalini yoga, 2012; Inner truth, 2012).

 

China: Big Brother, Brave New World or Harmonious Society?

ACADEMIC ARTICLE: In this paper I examine three textual mythologies regarding China’s evolving present. These are an Orwellian world of covert and overt state control; a Brave New World dystopia where the spirit of the people is subsumed in hedonistic distractions; and finally I assess the progress towards the official vision of the current Beijing authorities: the “harmonious society”. These three “pulls” of the future are juxtaposed with certain key “pushes” and “weights”, and I explore their interplay within a “futures triangle”. Finally, I suggest whether any of these mythologies is likely play a significant role in the possible futures of China.

Title: The New China: Big Brother, Brave NewWorld or Harmonious Society?

Journal: The Journal of Futures Studies

Publication details: Vol. 11 No. 4 May 2007

Click on the link below to read the PDF;

China Big Brother or Brave New World?

Harmonic Circles: An Introspective Tool for Futurists

ACADEMIC. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a Futures tool developed by Marcus Anthony called Harmonic Circles. There is a description of the tool itself, and its purposes. An example from the author’s own research is used to demonstrate one potential way of implementing Harmonic Circles. Some appropriate and inappropriate applications of Harmonic Circles are then outlined, as well as possible problems.

 

Title: Harmonic Circles: A new Tool for Futurists

Journal: Foresight,

Date: Vol. 9, No.5 2007, pgs. 23-34

 

Click on the link below to read the PDF

Harmonic Circles

 

Deepening China’s Environmental Policies

ACADEMIC: The purpose of this paper is to unpack the discourse on China’s futures, with a particular focus upon the relationship of Chinese people and the environment. The goal is to problematise the dominant discourse, and view the issue though new perspectives. Two tools from Critical Futures Studies will be employed: Sohail Inayatullah’s Causal Layered Analysis and his Futures Triangle. Two possible scenarios for China’s futures will be used as a focus: Brave New China and the Harmonious Society.

 

Paper: Deep Futures and China’s Environment

Journal: The Journal of Futures Studies,

Date: Vol. 14 No. 2  November 2009

 

Click on the link below to read the PDF

Deep Futures and China’s Environment

Crisis, Deep Meaning & the Opportunity for Change

ACADEMIC ARTICLE: The world has been in a state of economic uncertainty since the 2008 financial crisis. Despite efforts by governments worldwide to stabilise the system and return to business as usual, the future remains uncertain. Times of crisis are opportunities to introspect and to question deeply the foundations of society, culture and education. In this paper it is argued that we can no longer found futures and develop educational curricula centred upon immediate economic considerations. This paper begins with an ethnographic perspective, then introduces the concepts of Deep Futures and “money and machines” futures. The discussion centres upon their possible relevance to the current world economic situation. It is argued that the foundations of the current dilemma are, in their essence, psycho-spiritual.

Title: Crisis, Deep Meaning & the Opportunity for Change

Author: Marcus T Anthony

Publication details: December 2011, 16(2): 47 – 64

Journal: Journal of Futures Studies

Paper type: conceptual

 


Click on the link below to read the PDF.

Crisis Deep Meaning & the Opportunity for Change

 

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