In 65 AD, Seneca the Younger wrote in Naturales Quaestiones Book 1 that a rainbow “requires both sun and cloud, and these opposite to each other.” Optical physics informs us that, to see a rainbow, we need to be positioned at approximately 42° from the interaction between sunlight and rain or atmospheric water droplets to perceive the refraction of light. All of which adds to the apparent mystery that took place at 6:30am AEST on Saturday, April 30 around the Spring Cove Sydney Harbor. While we were commencing our morning yoga and meditation at the Breathing Enterprise inaugural laboratory at the Manly Q Station beach, a massive rainbow appeared before the sunrise in the East! Aristotle, Seneca, and others have explained that morning rainbows are to the west and afternoon rainbows are to the East. But this rainbow, on this day, didn’t get the memo. It sprung up in a solid light column in the southern bank of the Sydney harbor opening and arched its way north to the Manly beach. The sun had yet to rise yet there it was – a gorgeous arch of brilliant colors.
During the weekend, close to 60 of us were working through an intensive process of reorienting our perspective to examine the human condition and see if there are some principles in nature that could inform and better serve humanity’s interaction in the world. This involved a number of modalities engaged to deconstruct and integrate principles that are observed in nature to examine what makes them Persistent, Generative, and Infinitely Orthogonal while most, if not all, of our human systems seem to “require” effort and conflict. Using a method recently described by Jacques Derrida in his 1967 work Of Grammatology and sympathetic to works of Gregory Bateson, Bertrand Russell and others, I sought to awaken the minds of the participants by holding tension between the words we use – the technology of language – and the essence that they seek to awaken or engage. Deconstruction is a rigorous process and it stretches everyone to the edge (and for a few, beyond) their comfort zone. In the film I produced with Kaya Finlayson, Future Dreaming, I discussed the ways in which we’ve enslaved our human experience with language. I was intrigued, throughout the weekend, how many people, in spite of the explicit critique of our terms of indenture (having to “make a living”, the “need for…”, “if I had…”), continued to use as justification for their feelings of hurt, isolation, and purposelessness the illusion that the world is somehow conspiring against them and that they’re trapped. “Yes, I’d love to do things that deeply engage my true sense of purpose but I have to go to my job to make a living…”, was a refrain that echoed in many early hours of our interaction.
When light passes through a droplet of water, the luminance of the sun is refracted and is subtly dispersed based on the wavelengths within the light. Shorter wavelengths (blue) appear to distinguish from longer wavelengths (red) and the appearance of difference emerges. Our perception of the energy of light allows us, through the introduction of a temporal variation optimizing the spectrum, to manifest a momentary appreciation for dimensions that we could not otherwise perceive. The droplet of water – a time and space machine allowing for more precise discernment in the moment – is to light what the Breathing Enterprise laboratory is to the consensus energy of our social systems. By placing the droplet or the experience into the flow of existence, we can discern the subtle components of what appears to be an indecipherable whole. But like the rainbow which affords distinction in the unseen ray of light (you don’t see the shaft of light that is refracted by the droplet) so to does the deconstruction of language-linked reality afford us to perceive components that were not otherwise available for distinction and discernment.
Many enterprises strive to be capable of delivering a consensus product or service. “Come to the workshop and you will…,” is the siren that brings people into the modality of the modern social technology of learning. When we discussed The Awakening, I was very explicit on the fact that this was meant to be a laboratory – not a workshop in the common use of the term. Quite ironically, inspite of the clarity of that message, some people came expecting what they’ve been conditioned to experience in the past: an event that is constructed to salve the pain of the consensus illusion. These people left in frustration and in varying degrees of motivation to malign and diminish. Others came having no idea what to expect and it was in the very willingness to engage in the not knowing that their insights and personal break-through moments happened.
See the funny thing about nature is that it’s wisdom is available in its observation, not in its manipulation. The rainbow on Saturday couldn’t happen yet it did. And the life-transformations – the reality that for the first time many people uncovered as a path to their lives’ purposes – which also lay as fallow prospects in the distant memory of most manifest not because of a “truth” that was shared. These came about because of the dance between light and the storm. I’m deeply honored by all of the team in the Breathing Enterprise and I’m deeply honored by all of those who came and stuck through the process to the end. For in the end, we found our true beginnings and that, my friends, is the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow!