Sharif is one of our favorite people and he coined one of our favorite terms: "a world that works for all." I first encountered him via an email of the delightful and profound "A Moment for Wisdom" meditation he offers regularly to the world. A Moment for Wisdom has been focused on #Occupy for a couple of weeks now, ever since Sharif began participating in Occupy Portland.

Here is a mash-up of two of his postings from A Moment for Wisdom that a local paper ran there recently ran:

This I Believe

My old friend, Native American activist Calvin Hecocta, called me up and asked me to come to Occupy Portland. Since this was the second phone call that I’ve gotten from him in 10 years, I thought I’d better pay attention.

I have long been an advocate for a visionary, inclusive transformation of society. I have been calling for such a transformation for decades, based on our values and on a clear vision of a positive future for all beings.

As I told Calvin, I’ve been following the Occupy Together (OT) movement in the alternative press, and I have not yet seen a vision emerge. Even more than that, I have not heard people talking about the spirit that must be an integral part of any real change. We must transform this society — not because we’re angry at corporate greed, but because that’s what it will take to save the Earth and save our souls. The Earth is sacred, corporations are not.

I said all this to Calvin. After a pause, he said, “Well, if you come, the vision and the spirit will be there.” Pretty hard to argue with his logic.

So I went to Occupy Portland not because I’m angry or frustrated — I’m not. I went to share a vision: A society where people dismantle the toxic systems and structures by imagining and creating brand new ones, where we roll up our sleeves and do the hard work and heavy lifting of creating a world that works for all beings.

I went for another reason: To bear witness that there is a new society waiting to be born. Whether it’s OT or some other manifestation, the new society is not only necessary — it's inevitable.

I’ve learned a lot about this phenomenon, from participating in Occupy Portland to speaking at Occupy LA. In my speech on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, I mentioned several times the necessity for vision.

Some listeners thought I was calling for goals or demands. I was not.

Visions and goals are different — understanding this is absolutely critical to the continued existence of OT. This is not the time for the OT forces to develop a “12-point platform.” That comes much later, after a coherent vision has emerged. However, the development of vision is both timely and important.

In the search for vision, the vision voyagers must get out of their heads and into their hearts. Vision is a function of spirit — it comes when the mind and heart are at rest, focused on the largest, most positive and most inclusive future.

I am encouraged by the willingness of the OT forces to release the existing forms and structures of political discourse. There is one truth that the OT folks have understood very well: We have little experience in the practice of democracy in this country. Our political institutions give us almost no experience in democracy. Pulling a lever for prepackaged candidates is the antithesis of democracy.

We’ve got to be willing to make this up as we go along, creating, modifying (and discarding when appropriate) new systems and structures — for economics, for politics, for all of the elements that make up a society.

And, along with releasing existing forms and structures of politics, the Occupiers must also let go of the theories of capitalism (it’s dying), communism (it’s dead) and any other theory that was formulated by men long dead and buried.

This is an essential truth:

We are smart enough to figure out how to get ourselves out of this hole we’re in. And we don’t need anyone’s permission in order to think big.

— Dr. Sharif Abdullah

Dr. Sharif Abdullah
P. O. Box 12541
Portland, OR 97212
(503) 281-1667

Click here for Dr. Sharif Abdullah's Page on Facebook

Visit "Commonway Praxis":  The Praxis is Emerging

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Nice job capturing the the essential tension between what appear to be conflicting impulses. I see your "both/and" and raise you with a "both can be seen part of one INTEGRAL approach!"

Fellow OC member Michelle Holliday expresses this beautifully in her provocative slideshare "Humanity 4.0."  Here, she synthesizes the thinking of many people you no doubt know and love, emerging with an elegant and compelling framework regarding the FOUR THINGS required to have a resiliant and thriving "living system."  These are:

  1. Diverse parts (the more diversity, the greater the resilience)
  2. A convergent whole (the more there is convergence, the more adaptive and creative the system becomes)
  3. Relationships between the parts, the whole and the outside environment (the more open and free flowing, the better)
  4. A "self-integrating property."  This might also be called "life force" or spirit.  Without it, the other three components don't have any energy.

Holliday goes on to suggest that human social/economic/political/spiritual evolution parallels these three elements, with the first three corresponding to the hunter-gatherer (convergence), hydraulic/agrarian (relationships) and industrial (divergence) ages and the fourth integral phase being the one we are now emerging/awakening into.

It's completely consistent with the Thakar piece you site as well.  

SO... what I'm suggesting this tells us as "change agents" is that we want to find ways to feed ALL FOUR of these components, with a particular focus and grounding in the fourth.  "Spirit" or "heart" or "love," must inform all our other efforts.   In doing so, we can create a dynamic, resilient, adaptive and creative LIVING SYSTEM capable of handling all the complexity of our current transitional phase, as we "hospice the old paradigm and midwife the new."


Ben, I go for this.  Thanks.

And I went to the "Humanity 4.0" thing -- and love it.  It's perfect for us -- for "all" of us...

So, that got me excited.


My own so-called technical background does involve a lot of analytic study of this whole/part relationship -- that Michelle Holliday illustrates so gracefully and intuitively in her presentation (which I would immediately download, if her installation allowed it!)

Yes, Ken Wilber did put this theme on the modern map.  It's "integral".  It's "transcend and include".  It's "holons" -- those two-sided "Janus-faced" abstract logical objects, originally named and conceived by Arthur Koestler -- that show the whole/part relationship -- as "looking down the hierarchy" we see the parts that combine to form a whole, and "looking the other way, up the hierarchy", we see the wholes that are composed or assembled or synthesized from the parts.

Since I've been rattling my brain on this subject for many many years -- here's a graphic -- kinda large, maybe hard to see in this compressed framework -- that shows a hierarchy of holons.

Sharif in his comments does talk about "taxonomies" -- genus, species, etc. -- and he's looking at that analytic concept from the critical side -- emphasizing the fact that "analyzing things into components" (reductionism) does tend to break the world into little pieces -- the tendency that Vimala Thakar decries in her article, that ends up fragmenting the world.  But yes, I'd say you are so right.  Don't pit one side of the holon against the other -- as if the "whole" side were morally superior to the parts that compose it -- and each part IS a whole at its own level.  So yes, we need both sides -- and we probably need an enlightened view of reality that recognizes the nature of holons -- a relatively simple idea that could probably defuse a million unnecessary conflicts...

This is my network on this theme:

A little dry and abstract perhaps, and lacking the charm and visual magnetism of Michelle's elegant and persuasive presentation.  But it takes a hard crack at the analysis.  It would be very exciting to get into an integral/holon model of the kind of vision we want to synthesize.

The Whole -- The One -- at the top of the vision -- containing all these other levels in some way -- ranging from the "Web of Life" idea, for the evolutionary/gaia theorists, to the "Mystical Body of Christ" for the Logos/Christians -- to the "Sangha" for the Buddhists.  The wholeness and oneness which contains all things, and out of which emerges all diversity and specificity....

Man, if we got buy-in on this -- we be rockin'


Arthur Koestler: Holons / Hierarchy 1200px

Always fun to see you get excited, my friend!  Found this Humanity 4.0 ning site--maybe you can download the slideshare from there.  Or just ask Michelle. She's here at OC.

Have you ever had the thought that network marketing was an engineered exercise to prepare people to #Occupy our planet?  [Diagram above aside]

I'm not at all sure what you're getting at, Jitendra, but network marketing is a hierarchical, pyramid, ponzi scheme. 

My point is not aimed at the philosophy or efficacy of network marketing as a business model, there are no shortage of arguments pro and con, yours is certainly valid.  It doesn't capture my interest.

My point is that I've witnesses people using network marketing as an exercise in building huge networks of communication and connection, invaluable assets to growing a cause like #Occupy.

Thank you, Lauren, for this "meditation" on the core idea of our deep interconnectedness and the challenges we face in staying aware of this reality.  

I think this speaks directly to the question of framing for the Occupy movement.  In the end, do we want to focus on "Us" versus the "1%?"  How do we stand most powerfully for a world in which our connectedness is the guiding principle behind all that we do?

By the way, Jitendra Darling is starting a new Cafe Call series on Fridays from 3-5pm EST--Occupy Heart-- that will take us into this realm at an experiential level.  I hope you can join us and help to spread the word.

Ben Roberts

The Vimala Thakar article is powerful.  She absolutely NAILS the argument that has been the fuel for my fire for a long time: that we must "Occupy" the space between societal transformation and spiritual awareness. 

Many have ignored this junction.  Others have approached it the way that Obama approaches the political "center": trying to bring together the two parties, failing to realize that they have ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST IN BEING BROUGHT TOGETHER.

The space for society-spirit work is by forging a NEW BRIDGE, one that is ABOVE the current landscape, not mired in it.  Thakar's call for "total revolution" begins to address all of the issues -- not just how to get dry sleeping bags into an encampment.

Her statement is the "3-D's" in action: direction, discipline and devotion.  And, I am SO happy that it is too long to "tweet"!  It gets us back into some very old habits -- like thinking, reflecting and contemplating, as opposed to scanning and reacting.  (Please take time to download and read the whole thing!)

Thanks so much for turning me on to this article! 



Check out this relevant blog in which I mention spirit in a manner/context that seems not to repel.

Some thoughts about the time with Sharif on Monday:

* Your comparison between the Occupy! movement and the Boston Tea Party works for me. I see Occupy! as a way for feelings and voices to emerge and for change agents to find each other and find support. This is very exciting to me! I agree that more formal and legal and studied action will follow, just as the revolutionary events followed the Boston Tea Party.

* You and folks responding to you are discussing your experiences of waiting for a group to gather and waiting for the vision. I wonder if even more time is needed for this forum since we are in a new experiment with Occupy Cafe and moving away from our more familiar ways of being in the same physical shared space. No matter, if each "Now" is precious. I see our Cafe forum as a home. As with a family, sometimes someone will stay home a lot and get caught up or enjoy the nurturing that is there. At other times, one might grab a sandwich and run. Both possibilities are so important.

* I also agree that the people who show up at Occupy sites who are called "mentally ill" or other names are part of our society and part of what we must handle. How wonderful if people at the sites are able and willing and prepared to handle issues of safety and or disruption with such people. i see these issues as  a responsibility and a challenge to any Occupy community. Sharif, I didn't hear if you had suggestions for supporting an occupy community in being inclusive in difficult situations. I am interested in hearing more on this topic from you and any other interested participant.

Monday's phone conversation stimulated me to make my first visit to Occupy Austin (my reactions?"mixed pickles") I would want to spend more time at the site before sharing the experience with this group. I also got into two conversations away from the site- one with the election judges at my polling place and one with my granddaughter.

Lastly, I am very fond of the meanings of "occupy" and I am enjoy playing with the various and dissimilar ways that we use it.

Many thanks to each one in our virtual circle.

Helen Roberts


Weekly Cafe Calls

Regular Calls are no longer being held.  Below is the schedule that was maintained from the Fall of 2011 through Jan 10, 2013.

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8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT 

Tuesdays (except 10/16)
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1-3p PDT | 4-6p EDT | 8-10p GMT

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