Tag Archives: new paradigms


Sat down with collaborative learning specialist George Por, and a group from E4S, over delicious Thai food, on Thursday. It was a great session, yet suprisingly it became oriented around my experiential tool, Playing the Opposites, rather than George’s groundbreaking work in intelligent human networks and collabortive learning. This was a bit of a missed opportunity, because George travelled to Cleveland from Belgium, had a packed agenda, and this was our only encounter.

Still, the group rolled with the compelling and thoughtful flow, so we commenced an individual and collective reflection on a question, “What hints might we learn about advancing sustainability?” and used the card deck of opposites to inspire our conversation. As it turned out the experiential play teased out lots of insights. In the nosy, tiny and busy restaurant we could not afford ourselves a chance to document the proceeding. Nor could we take the process into a second 90 minutes, yet, in such a group of smart people, our moment was a fully engaged one.

By the time I parted with the group and George, George and me had decided our concerns and approaches were in so much affinity with one another that we were sort of like brothers!

George’s own work is all about actualizing the humane whole from human parts, using the power of relationship and the vehicle implicit in any and all kinds of networks to further the cause of collaborative work and collective enlightenment. Just a simple search on google showcases how many networks George is energizing.

It would be interesting to ‘square’ his and my ‘differentials,’ because its where we don’t overlap so much that possibly fruitful differences could be leveraged. George, during this session, was open to my emphasis on the (so-called) lower. Or, on what in other contexts is termed shadow, or the inferior, tacit, hidden, etc.. This comes out of the model for the Play of Opposites, and it reinforces learning from not only what is attractive but from what seems strange or repulsive.

One of the graces of having so much mindheart power around the table, was how far our interplay danced. It was cool and an honor to have such a moment with friends, and a long lost brother!

George PorGeorge Por:

Interview | CommunityIntelligence home | blog

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C. Otto Scharmer speaks here of Theory U. It’s a terrific book even if it contains too many non-nutritional exhortations. Coming out of the various vectors of constructivism, integralism, and, modern adult learning theory, both Theory U. and the earlier Presence (Senge, Scharmer, et al.,) both demand and deserve attention and study.

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This is one of my favorite idea bites. I’ve truncated a long section of McSwain’s work to make it bite-sized. The paper it was taken from, A Transformational Theory of Organizations, is one of my all-time favorites. It actually served to put me on the hunt for new paradigms in organizational theorizing.

The baseline goal that that the organization or any human system must pursue is the development of the person within it; other matters, other goals, must come after.

…the primary axiological commitment of transformational theory is not dominantly rational or utilitarian in motivation or behavior.

… indeed it is not an exaggeration to say that the technology of the field of organization development is at bottom a set of techniques for managing the resolution of individual and group projections, thereby releasing the energy that is bound up by them.

Cynthia McSwain/
A Transformational Theory of Organizations
American Review of Public Administration 23:2.1993

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For the past two years I have been researching with a colleague the following mouthful: informal, self-managed problem solving in dyadic interpersonal contexts. Okay? The research is informal and is driven by loosely coupled folk psychological theorizing about potentially productive heuristics. This means the theorizing is pragmatic but not formally disciplined. Although it could elaborate formal theorizing based in rational-emotive psychology, this isn’t its focus. Self-managed refers to intentional self-regulation. Obviously problem solving in a dyadic context simply means between two people. However, the experimental implementation is that of one of the pair of persons.

The foundational premise takes the form of a question: what kinds of intentional acts can be utilized to interrupt reactive cascades which normally result in a habitual response, and, due to this possible outcome, can be utilized to generate more, rather than fewer, options for problem navigation, negotiation, and, resolution.

Here are two schematic representations that integrate the pragmatic results of experiential experimentation on several vectors of self-management. One result is that the heuristics we’ve employed are apparently productive in the right circumstances.

control panel

A typical ‘high velocity’ cascade might lead to: heightened anxiety/heightened reactivity/habituated, non-productive response.

MDFI Matrix

Note that the (so-called) MDFI Matrix cannot schematize habitual flexibility.

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After borrowing Ken Wilber’s latest book,Integral Spirituality from the library, I was moved to purchase it because I had dipped into it and read the following on page 176:

The myth of the given or monological consciousness is essentially another name for phenomenology and mere empiricism in any of a hundred guises–whether regular empiricism, radical empiricism, interior empiricism, transpersonal empiricism, empirical phenomenology, transcendental phenomenology, radical phenomenology, and so forth. As important as they might be, what they all have in common is the myth of the given, which includes:

the belief that reality is simply given to me, [etc.].

My jaw dropped. If all those empiricisms and phenomenologies are equivalent, (ummm, ‘guised,’?) are they really a matter of the subject’s belief? Belief hangs over Wilber’s argument like a piano suspended from a crane over a tent. One supposes the tent is full of academic phenomenologists and empiricists!

Belief is an odd psychologizing turn. Why does Wilber choose belief to be the critical verb? Do we believe in givenness of reality? Leave aside the strange and flattening conflation of, for example, James and Husserl around the construct ‘monological’ consciousness, and consider why Wilber is unwilling to state that for these cases reality itself is given to the subjective consciousness regardless of intentionality of any kind. This includes belief.

Some of the many problems of his theory are here in this excerpt.

This is aside from the controversies which have to do with the institutionalisation of the Integral and Wilber’s own stature as king of his own hermetic kingdom. There’s a connection however. Wilber wants very much to privilege his own consciousness and build a system from it. (This is why Integral Theory hasn’t found rigorous  analytic and scritical venue outside of its originator’s own opus and his groups.) Wilber doesn’t seem to grok the givenness of his reality is no less a worthy subject for his own criticism, criticism waged against all those old school philosophical phenomenologists. Wilber’s theory has yet to obtain a privileged “meta-frame” for simple technical reasons.

Wilber, is not a convincing conceptual, propositional, and operational thinker. He manages to conflate, for example, the empiricism of James with the phenomenology of, for example, Merleau-Ponty. In his flattening move, he implies they are equivalent because they are oriented around around the belief that reality is given. Then, disregarding the longstanding alternative view, (one view among many,) that reality is a suchness, and, completely turning this on its head, he reduces all the ways various phenomenological viewpoints are, in fact, different from one another to a singular, (weakly) psychologized posit with intentional belief at the center of his implicit criticism. (Is belief necessary to a radical empiricism?) In the prototypical Wilberian turn, he develops his argument as if his idiosyncratic interpretation is per force authoritative, correct, and, even, in a purportedly better ‘Wilberian’ future, normative.

Belief can’t be the catch-all for phenomenological reflexivity unless one implements a monological meta-perspective with a definitive (ie. well defined) version of belief at its core! There exist alternatives different than this possibility, and different than another whipping boy of Wilber’s, pluralistic relativism. Even so, this monological view would be not much more than a notion of Wilber’s. There are lots of alternatives, among them are: mysterium, incompleteness, various monisms and realisms, and idealisms. etc. We might admit too ways in which these and other facets of experience are entangled, and are entangled at different orders, and within dynamic arrays of psychological contingencies. We might, too, entertain belief as a problematic of subjectivity, psychologize it as a problematic of reflexivity, or even play with novel views, one such being that belief is a measure of suspicion of that which isn’t seemingly (to the subject) true.

By virtue of my own prejudices, I suspect a truly integral psychology would invert Wilber’s concerns. Rather than psychologize philosophical dispositions, it would philosophize psychological dispositions. This would require Wilber to investigate cognitive psychology and also research folk psychology because commonsense theories of mind, (alternately: everyday practical phenomenology,) are not constructed out of experience and knowledge of august philosophers!

Then there are the folk theories of mind in their infinite subjective varieties. Those count for a great deal since the flux of subjective perspectives is incredibly diverse. (Keep in mind most people don’t construct their perspectives because they’ve evaluated the options given by the ‘history of ideas’. Wilber’s foundational quasi-constructivist supposition strikes me as a strawman with respect to the extant plurality of actual instantiated intentionalities, including those classifiable under the rubric, ‘belief.’ Those possibilities aren’t required to lend themselves to reduction. Wilber’s never groked this although it remains a commonsense objection to his weird integral flatland where the disparate get mixed to grey like finger paints do when subject to overactive artistry!

Is Wilber arguing against belief in givenness (in his own terms,) because he’d like his Integral perspective to supplant the flattened ‘phenomenological’ he decries? Taken specifically, there’s no reason a phenomenology can’t also take as a given experience while making no appeal to intentionality. (It would be paradoxical like Strawson is paradoxical.)

Anyway, he has yet to develop any warrants for this turn he makes. I’m left to ponder why his own subjectivism has become so limited and incapable of self-criticism. Taken generally the phenomenological is hardly monological. As a catch-all, and taken as a term for the richness of subjectivity, it seems strikingly to be the antithesis of monological. Yet, clearly to argue against this, Wilber requires it to be reified. Thus, once again, Wilber’s orienting of generalities concretizes a map about only his own interpretation. Moreover, this map, evidently, is of a territory surrounded by a big protective wall!

This is all unfortunate. If I may suggest: a meta-sociology of knowledge, perspectivism, and consciousness is a worthwhile project. But, in buffering out dialectical, cooperative research with authoritative, likeminded thinkers across the spectrum of interdisciplinarity, Wilber has implemented a hierarchical defense against just about any and all contestation of his work. That this defense rotates around a fallacious appeal to his own authority, and has, over the past decade or so, caused Wilber to rationalize his superiority in the most self-serving, loony terms, has polluted the otherwise worthwhile integral project.

In fact he’s polluted the Integral with his own consciousness cum personality. (Integral Spirituality is full of snippy asides and reflexive dodges.) This is ironic. Nowadays one notes the project includes an admission fee if the polloi want to get close to the pandit; has popped up a consulting cottage industry, and suckered insiders to obtain, well, mere belief. When the lack of warrants and intersubjective contests are pointed out, Wilber lashes out, effecting a refuge of scoundrels: that his critics misunderstand him because they haven’t read his work. Loony.

I have no idea why he can’t step outside himself and his hermetic prejudices enough to see how odd this all is. At the end of this day, Wilber can’t carry much integral water simply because he’s not very integral himself. (Pro-certainty; anti-critical inquiry.) He’s, strangely enough, a warped kind of traditionalist, kind of a post post-modern (Fritjof) Schuon for our times, at the head of a spiritual food chain he’s constructed for himself, with all roads leading to nis own mind. He wrote it and he understands it best. (Incidentally, once you unbolt all the jargon and junk away, and cut wilber a bunch of slack for his being at least a king of category errors, the whole edifice of the Integral isn’t difficult or hard to understand.

His appeal to (his conjured) injunctive verification and its fallacious appeal to authority and non-falsifiability; overlays the mere assertion that “he knows because he knows,” and underpins the necessary master mentality asserted to defend against criticism, says more about Wilber than it can possibly say about how a renegade intelligence might forge an important new outlook–meta-perspective–on the entanglement of subjective and objective and hybrid perspectives.

Or: he knows because his consciousness is so vaunted and valorized. Not only does he read his own clippings but he certifies many of his own reviewers! This harkens back to a psychology about self-inflation. Pathos comes to mind too.

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KW I’m interested in the way morphic fields might determine culture. For instance, repeating and idea with the intention of influencing overall human consciousness- if it’s thought about many times, will it have an effect?

RS You mean the more people think about something, the more it’s likely to happen? Yes. Basically, morphic fields are fields of habit, and they’ve been set up through habits of thought, through habits of activity, and through habits of speech. Most of our culture is habitual, I mean, most of our personal life, and most of our cultural life is habitual. We don’t invent the English language. We inherit the whole English language with all its habits, its turns of phrase, its usage of words, its s tructure, its grammar. Occasionally people invents new words, but basically, once we’ve assimilated it, it happens automatically. I don’t have to think when I’m speaking, reaching for the next word. It just happens, and the same is true about physical skills, like riding a bicycle, or swimming, or skiing if you can ski, these kinds of things. So I think the more often these things happen the easier they become for people to learn. Things like learning language have happened over- well, we don’t know how long human language has been around, at least 50,000 years, so there’s a tremendously well-established morphic field for language-speaking. Each particular language has its own field which is usually established over centuries at least.

Rupert Sheldrake in conversation with Ken Weathersby

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(Terence McKenna clip) To this I would add: Culture programs you and deprograms the Four Noble Truths.

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Where The Sidewalk Ends
Behavioral psychology’s unexpected lesson for urban design
(Linda Baker)
“The idea of this street is that it’s designed like a public square but it’s open to traffic,” said Ellen Vanderslice, a project manager for the Portland Department of Transportation. “We were very consciously trying to create a body language of the street that tells people something different is going on here.”

Combining traffic engineering, urban planning and behavioral psychology, the projects are inspired by a provocative new European street design trend known as “psychological traffic calming,” or “shared space.” Upending conventional wisdom, advocates of this approach argue that removing road signs, sidewalks, and traffic lights actually slows cars and is safer for pedestrians. Without any clear right-of-way, so the logic goes, motorists are forced to slow down to safer speeds, make eye contact with pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers, and decide among themselves when it is safe to proceed.

“The whole notion behind psychological traffic calming is to give drivers responsibility for the speed they choose,” said Andrew Parkes, a research scientist at the U.K.-based Transport Research Laboratory (TRL)

I’m trying to visualize a shared right-of-way. I squint and see the cars moving very very slow. Read the article from Seed magazine; it’s really a different take on controlling urban velocities.

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Jeezum… from the blog about stuff Integral (aka Ken Wilber et al) Mystery of Existence,

Dangers of models
In writing the aqal review of local organizations, and also talking with a friend yesterday who’s very much into integral things, I am reminded of the dangers of Spiral Dynamics, and of any map, framework or model.

As with any map, or sets of ideas, it can be taken as a relative or an absolute truth, it can be used in service of shadow projections, and it can be used with more or less heart and empathy.

Relative and absolute truths

The clearest danger is in taking it as an absolute truth, to mistake the map for the terrain, to put more faith in and emphasis on what the model says rather than what the terrain is doing.

Seeing any map as a relative truth, it becomes a tool of temporary and practical value, an aid for navigating and functioning in the world. There is nothing absolute about it. Just a tool that works more or less well in any situation. A tool with no inherent value, which can be modified and discarded as needed. It remains secondary to the terrain, to life itself.

“Just a tool that works more or less well in any situation.” No, a model works for exacting reasons in only situations for which those reasons hold. Always the question begged by a model has to do with how these reasons are commensurate with a precise situation where the utility of the model is demonstrable.

The model is not the thing modeled. A model describes and may depict operations. If you could start up a model of an internal combustion engine it would not be a model.

The description is not the thing described. The danger implicit in any model comes about from their reification. This turn immediatly causes a category error. It does so even if the utility of a model lends itself to the description of predictable consequences of the operations of the thing modeled.

Models may be more or less accurate but they cannot be absolutely true. Their accuracy refers to the accuracy of their description, and given predictive utility, their predictions. But, models are by their categorical (or domain) nature are always, by definition,always reductive.

Every model’s utility is constrained for many reasons but one of the primary reasons is that for every model the implicate description is not complete, nor can it be completely accurate. It is okay to qualify the truthfulness of the description compilation and the model itself, but absurd to say a model is itself and otherwise relatively or absolutely true. A model is true relative to a qualified frame of reference. If you can think of a universal model unhinged from a relation to a frame of reference, please let me know!

And, now I must go on at length about a very pet peeve.

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A long excerpt from a book-length Ph.D. dissertation evokes the scope of Robert Stuart Houghton’s theorizing about education. A Chaotic Paradigm: An Alternative World View of the Foundations of Educational Inquiry. It’s gist is this: there is an implicit potential able to emerge and realize substantial effects were learning to be concerned with the actual nature of an ‘implicitly able’ human system. This is my language, (one can tell, it’s oblique!) and way of highlighting the idea that interesting innovations are products of unstability and discontinuity.

Certain curriculum scholars have also identified and discussed the value of these concepts of holism and self-organization (Doll, 1986; Romberg, 1984; Romberg et al, 1987; Sawada and Caley, 1985) for building a new educational paradigm. These scholars in turn were following the tracks laid out by general system theorists (Ackoff, 1974; Bertalanffy, 1968) and later the nonlinear system theory of Prigogine (1977, 1980, 1984).

They have used the concepts of self-organizationist writers like Prigogine in a variety of ways. They make their points about holism and self-organization clearly and in detail. However, the concept of unpredictability receives much less explanation and emphasis. Just how this unpredictability comes about is not clear and curious linkages indicate a need for further thought. For example, integrating holism and self-organization with a multi-causal model that is to be judged by its “predictive power” (Romberg et al, 1987) takes a stand that chaos theory would open to question.

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Patti Anklam, as is her marvelous way, weaves valuable threads leading to thought provoking places.

“Virtual” is a funny word for me right now, as I’m deep into writing Net Work, and the distinction virtual works for online communities as well as distributed communities, but there’s a difference and I’ve not yet found the right pair of words to signify the difference.

I don’t use “virtual” much but I might have the same problem if I did! It’s got the virtu; virtiiroot. Virtual rolls better than ‘temporary’ or ad hoc. In online lingo it refers to semblance, as in the virtual world resembles the real world. There’s a need for disambiguation here.

If we pose two polar qualities to better hinge the conception of the virtual, my initial choices would be: primary< -->secondary, and, similitude< -->analogy. The rich differentiation is found in the secondary/similitude and.or secondary/analogy. So, a real world virtual network could be secondary to, and similar, or, analogous to the primary network. Also, virtual networks in organizations tend to be spontaneous and this evokes for me their tacit in waiting and emergent status.
Her recent post got me wanderingwondering and it contains some valuable links about networks, communication and learning to explore.

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Yeah, What Bateson said.

From a Batesonian perspective, it is the way we classify, make distinctions, and make sense of things that is fundamental. If it is the distinctions we ourselves make that are causes, then it is how we process information and map the territory that explains. Within this framework, any explanation or scientific activity becomes fundamentally recursive. It follows that if the world of mental process is recursive, then our descriptions of it should also be recursive and address the multiple layers of mutual influence in any relationship. Once it is understood that recursiveness is fundamental to the development of a science of human interacting systems, “the focus of explanation shifts from the world of matter to the world of form” (Bochner, 1981, p. 74). There are always different orders of recursion and different ways of slicing things up. Every picture can tell a multiplicity of stories.

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Kazimierz Dabrowski

Lincoln as an Exemplar

We can find in Lincoln distinct presence of all the characteristics cited by Dabrowski as indications of a very high level of mental development, particularly the level of autonomous personality and secondary integration.

A self-chosen, self-confirmed and self-educating harmonious and stable organization of highly refined mental qualities —long itemization follows.

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The first presentation in the Music and Experience series, KALAHARI ORIGINS, takes place Thursday, June 1st at 7:00pm in the Main Auditorium of Lakewood Public Library. (15425 Detroit, Lakewood, Ohio) The program’s are focused on a deeply appreciative encounter aimed to go beyond mere ‘musical appreciation’.

KALAHARI ORIGINS is about the folkloric music of the San and Himba peoples of the Kalahari Desert (in southern Africa) and the music of ancient Africa. Participants will listen to both Khoi-San music and other spiritual music from South African traditions and then collaboratively imagine this music’s purposes and transmission over tens of millenia.

Bring your big ears and hearts when you come!

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“Yes, it’s a physical atrophying of the whole sensory system.”

I don’t know if the research Joseph Chilton Pearce refers to in this interview at the always mind-bending Rat Haus has been satisfactorily verified.

But, I have long wondered about the differentials in cognitive abilities that became evident to me during the period when part of my job was to interview entry level retail clerks. It was, to say the least, very depressing to comprehend what a high school diploma was evidence for. Present company excepted!

Waking Up to the Holographic Heart. Starting over with Education
Joseph Chilton Pearce (1998) courtesy ratical.org

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I’m presenting an ambitious series at The Lakewood Public Library,

EXPERIENCE & THE LIBRARY Personal Development & Transformative Learning in the Library


Lakewood Public Library
15425 Detroit Rd.
Lakewood, Ohio 44107

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…is pairs, dichotomies, opposites, twins, binary, polarities, poles, doubles, dyads, dialog, duo, dual…

Which led me to the Pairs subset in the Twexus galleries,
Twexus pairs

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“Now this is called the “quantum measurement paradox.” It is a paradox because who are we to do this conversion? Because after all, in the materialist paradigm we don’t have any causal efficacy. We are nothing but the brain, which is made up of atoms and elementary particles. So how can a brain which is made up of atoms and elementary particles convert a possibility wave that it itself is? It itself is made up of the possibility waves of atoms and elementary particles, so it cannot convert its own possibility wave into actuality. This is called a paradox. Now in the new view, consciousness is the ground of being. So who converts possibility into actuality? Consciousness does, because consciousness does not obey quantum physics. Consciousness is not made of material. Consciousness is transcendent. Do you see the paradigm-changing view right here; how consciousness can be said to create the material world? The material world of quantum physics is just possibility. It is consciousness, through the conversion of possibility into actuality, that creates what we see manifest. In other words, consciousness creates the manifest world.”

An Interview with Amit Goswami

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Might as well make a second entry to briefly identify the practical application. In my work I am not in the least bit interested in implementing any act of substitution of what works for me for what works for my Socratic associate. What matters is what works for us both given the intention to work through and out of, (usually, down and out of,) what is, in my terms, the initial box of folly praising itself .

At the same time my practice is called into the circumstance of a challenge to be better defined through a creative dialogue. Most often the beginning of the playful work is focused on recognition of the ‘control panel’. So: how to manipulate the controls? How to: adjust the velocity, flexibility, receptivity, the focal points?

There can soon develop the experiential sense that the map exists, yet is not the territory. Also: that there are energetics, logical and artistic relations, and, soon enough, that here is positive learning and negative learning. This latter modality is not negative, bad, but is negative, “casting away”. Learning how to learn requires as much!

Elsewhere, (with respect to my own publications,) this is rooted in the constructive terms of adult learning. It is enough to pose very broad conceptions: intention, exploration, discovery, insight, and, in the assimilation of insight, the captivating accommodation to liberative experience. I cannot make any claim for this other than to suggest that transformative experience causes a pervasive result; the person-system is irrevocably changed. Often enough this means personal purpose strikes a higher chord too. Down and out leads to up and out.

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The turn from 19th century hydraulic, “linear,” propulsive-impulsive, dramaturgical, ‘protagonistic’ (i.e. heroic) depth psychology, is a “turning into” the unframeable frame: so the move is surely post-Jungian, it develops a new order, is meta-psychological, resolves to living dynamic valences, allows a creative (sometimes dialectic,) interplay of psychological knowledge.

In this last sense, the interplay is something creative betwixt reduction and expansion. There is no way out of the cave except to leave its concerns. In doing this, it is my sense, that we step out into the light of knowing much much less, of even knowing hardly anything at all; this is to step into the mysteries of the question.

Conceptually, my own position triangulates Jamesian* empiricism, (what is to me ‘throughness,’ although radical empiricism is more commonly sensible a term;) phenomenology, and, the constructive-poetical. It’s unseen ‘fourth’ is learning from creative experience, which is to say synchronies and synchronicities may erupt from their mysterium to change the ‘state’ of awareness.

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