Sociocracy – Renewing Governance

Is your workplace a psychologically safe environment and productive at the same time? How are decisions taken? Coming from the top? Consulted? Majority voting? Do all the workers have a shared objective and goal? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then it is likely that your workplace is very close to applying the principles and practices proposed by sociocracy, the governance structure created by French philosopher Auguste Comte, and Gerard Endenburg developer of the Sociocratic Circle Method, than you might think.

So what is sociocracy? It is a Governance system and practice, its purpose is to increase the productivity of bodies and organisations by ensuring psychologically safe environments, and it is applied is by working on consensus instead of directive or majority voting, and ensuring that a worker’s role includes participation in defining objectives, work processes and decision-making. In other words in sociocracy the whole has sovereign rights, and is responsible for the wellbeing and safeguard of the interest of the whole, be it a company, a body or society.
Sociocracy is a governance system, just like democracy is, and it resonates best with organisations and companies, where regulations are kept to the minimum power is equally distributed to groups and networks, and decision-making and choices are supported and empowered.

So we are talking about a corporate governance system which we can say resembles how a human body, or living organism lives, centred on a natural system where it’s work is decentralised and the subsystems are partly autonomous and yet dependent on one another, just like our internal organs. The rules are simplified to the core, such as the creation of circles and sub-circles within each circle and so on and so forth, just like tissue made by cells. Although the main principle is that of inclusion and egalitarian values applied at all levels, with as much participatory decision-making with a feedback loop system. The proposed sociocratic structure has guidelines and approaches to any aspect of management up to even how to structure work meetings, and making of the organisation a fertile soil for ongoing improvement

Holacracy – Biological Governance and Management 

Think of biology, how the simple biological structure of any living being, how cells, particles and molecules all work together to make any living organism function? Well, we can actually imitate that very natural way of organising life to  how we organise companies, bodies and organisations. After all, this has worked for millions of years and worked for billions of organisms. One of the proposed systems is called holacracy, a management system without assigned roles, and the workers are flexible and mobile, can join different teams and carry out different tasks, a very limited hierarchy and fairly linear and horizontal structures across the organisation. 

The peculiar and interesting aspect is that everyone is CEO of themselves, or at least of their own roles and tasks, instead of the common pyramid management and leadership structures, and those roles and tasks are shaped by their contribution rather than by a limiting terms of reference. 

The way we do management today is a result of the industrial revolution, and its purpose was to run factories, and back then it delivered efficiency, enabled constant production and planning. Today seemingly we are still using this. There are approaches such as Holacracy, and others like Agile or Sociocracy which understand that this does not work anymore and wish to apply a more human oriented management style. Today’s economy is much more complex than the XIX century supply-demand-production, and the expected contribution of individual workers is much greater than that of workers in chain-production factories, skills like creativity, decision-making, problem-solving and adaptation can be required today from workers at any level, which makes work indeed more human and less mechanical, and yet presents new sets of challenges. 

Therefore, want it or not, today’s companies, corporations and organisations are the result of the individuals who work there, their specifics, competences, skills, knowledge and attitudes, and the quest now is to identify a system that fits the maximisation of that potential, growing individuality and specific organisational culture, rather than one-size-fits-all. 

The focus is increasing the level of ownership and engagement, belongingness is recently being studied and identified as one of the key factors to a person’s wellbeing, and considering the how much of our lifespan we actually spend at work, it is important for the personal and mental wellbeing to enable belonging, ownership, engagement in a very important aspect of life that is work, and not mere material sustainment.  Holacracy is one of the proposed methods to do so.

Agile Organisational Management’s Overview

Can you imagine a working place without hierarchy, bosses, chain-of-command? If you are, it is possible that an image of havoc and chaos came to your mind with everyone running around and doing their thing without anyone telling them what to do, how to do it and resulting in a complete mess, and therefore bound to become an epic fail. Is it though? software developers, including Martin Fowler, Jim Highsmith, Jon Kern, Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber, and Bob Martin, to mention a few might disagree with you, when in 2001 they came up with the Agile Manifesto, on how to smoothly run a software development team and company, and later applied it to other workplaces, becoming an extremely trendy and versatile system currently used, to mention a few, by Google and Netflix. 

We are looking at an organisational structure that allows massive flexibility and competent in quick answers and reactions to changes in the market, which operates without the classic hierarchy pyramid structure that we are so used to since before the Industrial Revolution. Imagine that! The core ingredients here are : Open Communication, Customer Centred, Fast Cycles and Teams able to work in autonomy, which allows flexibility and therefore requires little time to adapt to circumstances. One thing is for sure, that this does not happen overnight, there it needs work, effort and willingness to transform the mindset, starting with: Feeling the feelings – speak the words – think the thoughts of the customers and act accordingly as if you and your customers are one community for each other’s benefit; then to perceive the working place and operational space as a network of teams with clear mandate and purpose; regarding purpose this needs to be jointly agreed and shared openly with all workers and collaborators with clarity, transparency and inclusive processes that allow freedom of expression, sharing, understanding and criticism; That is very important to establish a culture of open communication both internally and externally; which will help with time to be able to learn fast, as well as to take fast and efficient decisions. 

Which means you are investing in your workers, transparently communicate with them, and support ongoing learning and try out new things, and will see a decision-making empowering culture arise, and the benefit of all that is to have a structure competent in fast responses to market conditions, loyalty and belongingness to a shared purpose, and a fertile ground to experiment and try out. 

So it could well be that this is the structure for you, what would you need, and what does it take, for you to try this out? 

What is Green Communication

Today’s efforts in terms of sustainability and regeneration of our environment, and way to do business, are centred around the creation of technological, scientific research and economic remodelling, which is great! And yet not enough. To accomplish sustainability we need to tackle interventions on the environment, on the economy and on the social sphere, if only one is missing then the whole processes can be hindered and incomplete. Green Communication of course concerns using efficient communication and networking technologies and products, and internal policies on minimising resource waste. That is absolutely true, and on top of that, Green Communication also means how we communicate internally and externally, 

Green here is understood as sustainable, inclusive, open and value-based communication practices, for example how to communicate internally, within the working environment promote  the workers’ time and energy, inclusivity and respect for diversity, fostering a sense of belonging and community, and most of all to adopt the ecological models that already exist in nature where everything alive serves a purpose and need of other living beings, in other words service based in its broader meaning and understanding. This is not something new at all, we have witnessed such social structures in the past, and great minds today have developed concepts and approaches such as sociocracy, holacracy and agile especially for that purpose, to rethink how we operate as communities within a working place. 

The second aspect of Green Communication is how we communicate externally the purpose and value of our work and efforts, how do we position ourselves according to our values and principles, what is the added value of our service or product that contributes to our own wellbeing, that of other and of the ecosystem, and what extra mile do we take to make that positive impact,  how do the communities in our vicinity and our clients reflect our good intention and behaviour that benefits all that lives around us, from community to the biosphere. Of course here introspection and honesty are quintessential, there is a critical mass out there ready to bust any greenwashing (fake green approaches) practice out there. 

Therefore Green Communication is a revolution, or rather an evolution, as the world is changing and presenting new challenges, and our way to do business needs to adapt accordingly to face those challenges, to prosper and to meet the new arising mindset across all society of buyers, customers, target groups which more and more place responsibility at the centre of their choices. 

World Maritime Day

Over 80% of global trade occurs through shipping, the most efficient, cost-effective method for most good, which helps trade as well as spreading prosperity among peoples. This is one of the focuses in sustainable green economic growth across the globe.  Sustainable shipping and maritime development are on top of the global agenda, which translates into energy efficiency, new technologies, innovation, security, traffic management and investments on maritime infrastructures that foster sustainability. This is an annual celebration acknowledged all over the world. This year’s focus is seafarers, the people who make this possible and daily work, live and strive along on our most important ecosystemic parts, and trade route, with special attention to their quality of life, safety, well-being and environmental protection; ensuring environmental, social and economic sustainability for these professional women and men that keep on connecting the world’s cultures, goods and prosperity. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach

It is time to take the Torah out of the Synagogue

Simchat Torah is a Jewish celebration where all the Torah scrolls are taken out of the Ark in the Synagogue and the evening is one of rejoice, happiness, songs and dances, marking the merriment of this day and night. The holy scrolls are taken around the sanctuary seven times in a ritual called Hakafot, but the dancing continues for much longer. Why so much joy?  This is the faithful expressing their happiness that the have the Law (the Torah) and have observed it, and the joy that results from that. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach.

International Day for Universal Access to Information 

Only an informed citizen can take informed decisions, and to this end on the 17th of November 2015 UNESCO declared this day the International Day for Universal Access to Information. Universal access means that everybody can access publicly available communication networks, facilities and services, which includes access to internet and other means and tools to collect information. To some this might be seem obvious and taken for granted, and yet there are still parts of the world where this is still a luxury or at least hindered, either by restrictive policies or lack of digital literacy skills, low education and lack of infrastructures. When a citizen knows how they are governed, only then can they make governments accountable, information means power, universal access to information is vital to sustainable, healthy and inclusive societies based on knowledge. Therefore, access to information is a fundamental right to seek, receive and impart information, inseparable from the right to freedom to expression. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

The Eighth Day of the Solemn Assembly 

Shemini Atzeret is the Eighth Day of the Solemn Assembly, celebrated by Jews on the Eighth Day of Sukkot, or following Sukkot. Shemini means Eighth, and refers to the 26th weekly part of the Torah (the Jewish Holy Book) and Atzeret means holiday. This festivity aims to be a more deeply spiritual celebration and to Sukkot, a time for the soul’s contemplation, prayer and rest, concerning the deep meaning and understanding of the gratitude expressed during the week-long holiday, and meaning and understanding of having a shelter, food and health and feeling truly protected and loved by God. A typical dish for this day among Ashkenazic Jews is the Kreplach, that is like a wonton dough which is stuffed with meat and comes with a chicken soup. Enjoy ! 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

A Few Words about Green Marketing

What do we understand by green marketing is where a good or service is promoted according its real environmental, social and sustainable value, and safety for the person, community and the biosphere. Should that be only perceived and not reflect the reality, then goes under the definition of greenwashing. That can imply quite a lot of activities, from actually rethinking the production process in order to promote it, showcase sustainable practices and most of all, adapt how advertisement is done, with a stronger focus on the social and environmental benefits, underlining the responsible real practices embedded in product or service to be sold. 

It can go two ways, either the products and services are environmentally friendly or they are made in environmental friendly ways, ideally actually both wherever possible. What does it mean environmentally friendly? Simple, something that is good for you and your workers, is good for the community where you are and operate, is good for your customers and stakeholders and is good for the ecosystem, if you tick those four boxes then you will know the grounds where you can build your communication campaign. 

Green Marketing is an adaptation to consumers’ demands, in the present day where the environmental crisis is among the top concerns many people, especially younger generations seek for responsibility in their choices and loyalties to manufacturers and providers of services. 

A field of green marketing that is not so well explored is the potential of promoting the socially sustainable practices of a company or corporation as a tool to communicate the real values and principles and how they are applied, inclusive policies, decision-making, community responsibility and involvement, all are aspects of social responsibility that can be transferred to marketing, advertisement and external communication as promotion of the company’s identity, principles and practices also in social sustainability. As long as it is all true, nowadays it is extremely easy to get busted. 🙂  

Social Sustainability and Democracy – Part 1 

If Social Sustainability was a train, then sooner or later it would need to stop at the “democracy” station, actually the sooner the better. That is because democracy is part of the Sustainable Welfare Indicator, and a necessary elements in society’s satisfaction and happiness, aiming at ensure that these are widespread across the citizens. That is because the government is accountable to its citizens and therefore required to look after the needs of the people and their satisfaction. Also important to know that the 3 pillars of sustainability, economy, environment and society are an important pillar for the Human Satisfaction Measure (HSM) to indicate sustainable welfare which include:  societies where people consider the earth environment; without war, crime or anxiety; with equality and no social gap; where life is stable; where democracy is well.established; where education is accessible to all. And under the democracy measurements we see :  Fair and representative elections; Competent and honest governments; Fair and equal laws; active and knowledgeable citizens; shared belief in the public interest; reasonable equality in wealth and power; openness and transparency; devolution of power; trust between citizens and governments; innovation, evaluation, change; freedom of expression; Internet censorship; parliament representing a public opinion

Emancipation is at the heart of democracy, liberation, and its link to sustainability is firstly how sustainable democracy actually is, and secondly how equipped and competent it is as a system to deal with the sustainability crisis and global warming; especially in a time of political cynicism and lessened trust in democratic institutions, one answer can be that no political system is more resilient and adaptable than democracy. Are democratic systems competent in addressing the current ecological challenges and transition to a post-growth economy? The last trend of movements in democracies was that of emancipation, gender and racial, but also environmental pushing the ecological agenda onto the political programmes. Today’s emancipation movements loudly demand environmental intervention at global level, climbing up the priority agenda for governments and international organisations, and one shared concern for the world population. A grassroot movement bottom-up, steering political and policy decision-making, marking the priority on life of individuals, communities and ecosystems by reducing that of the economic elites. Until it left temporarily the political debate by entering the technology, science and academia, abandoning its political drive, until recently, due to the failure of the latter of bringing the significant and radical change we need, witnessing the failure of most environmental global conferences. For that there is a need for shared ownership and responsibility, of rights and duties, shared by all communities to be empowered in decision-making and action, and tools to dictate the political agenda, tools which are only provided by a democratic system, grounded on participation; the key for the grassroot to reclaim democracy as a constructive solution-finding process, survival of the earth and life depend on it and many have understood it. That is in the hands of communities, civil society, policymakers and public sector, as well as of the business and manufacturing communities, a global and participating, co-owned process towards tangible solutions.  Markets born out of a consumerism and endless growth focused on the short-term can’t regulate themselves, because it is not in the nature of that economic culture, a new one is necessary and a democratised one. 

Democracy and sustainability

There are two ways to tackle a solution to today’s crisis, a democratic and participatory approach, or a technocratic-authoritarian one, otherwise maintain the present unsustainable status quo. Lets not forget that democracy, as a system is what it is, a system, and that means it can be part of either the solution or the problem, therefore it is not about the system per se but the attitudes of the citizens and sectors of society in addressing and using the system to steer it towards sustainable approaches. The faults of the system today concerning sustainability are quite a few, being anthropocentric and based on voting does not represent ecosystems with no political voice; it is fixed in the present with goals varying from election to election addressing today rather than tomorrow; is a fertile system for compromise which in ecological terms does not work; it has time consuming processes; today it is very individualistic and egocentric around individual needs and wants; aligned to the will of the majority often appealing to individual hedonism; under pressure to reduce costs, burdens and sacrifices of its citizens in order to be re-elected; being emancipatory it can’t restrict rights and material conditions that impact the majority unless it has tangible benefits. Does that mean we need to choose between saving the planet and ourselves and our rights and quality of life? Or rather there is a need for a wider ownership of the problem and equip the population for the next step and a bottom up approach democratically legitimised? We are looking at local cross-sectoral cooperation between public, private and third sectors and unorganised citizens, creating policies and implementing them, and can be subsystems regardless of governmental support, like US States respecting the Paris Agreement regardless of the White House position in the Trump era. As well there needs to be a parallel process of global governance, while thousands of communities in parallel operate locally; Norway’s ban on cutting trees is of course an initiative to be praised and also a drop in the ocean when it comes to global deforestation, treaties, agreements and a judiciary system in place to regulate the respect of what was agreed, ensuring that the developing world that missed the Industrial Revolution and is hungry to catch up, is able to jump in the 3d industrial revolution bypassing the other two. In other words the individuals and communities need to demand and act in favour of life, survival and ecosystem, pressure their decision-making bodies to act as well and place it on the global agenda, because it is a global challenge, not a national one, a country implementing the greenest and most sustainable policies won’t be spared because of that from environmental disasters spurred by global warming.

Therefore the inability of democratic systems, locally, nationally, globally does not demonstrate that this is an inefficient method to tackle sustainability, rather that there is a democratic deficit, and what we need is more democracy, a next level of emancipation that distances the destructive practices of careless growth and consumption as sole economic model. This would be something brand new in humanity’s history and unchartered land, as there is no model or economic, social and political experiment where this has been tried out, and yet so necessary to pave the way for the future, and distant from the present consumer-based attitude and value based on acts of self-construction, self-expression and self-experience at the expense of community and biosphere construction, expression and experience. That meaning that the inclusive, diversity-respecting, transparent and accountable, representative elements that make a democracy need to enter a post-democratic transition period where this becomes a governing practice not only applicable to governments and public authorities, but include also the third sector and private sector and population at large, as an attitude, a responsibility and a right. 

Democracy and sustainability: a joint cause

A new manifesto argues that the advance of democracy and of sustainable development is at heart a shared endeavour. Halina Ward & Clare Shine explain the initiative’s purpose and invite support.

The way democracy works in many countries today, where it is geared to short-term electoral cycles and political comparisons based on GDP growth, makes it badly prepared for the great intergenerational challenges that will dominate the next generation: among them climate change, resource scarcity and demographic pressures (such as aging or expanding populations).  

Democracy as it has evolved over the past two hundred years or so has always been about delivering “more”. It has relied on conventional econometric measurements as its main unit of accounting, rather than on the real values added to society.

The flaws in this approach are increasingly clear as the environmental pressures and impacts of the human thirst for “more” intensify. From local to global level, as accelerating environmental degradation strains food, energy and water resources, the ability of existing institutions to cope with the resulting social, economic and demographic pressures will be sorely tested – in some regions, potentially to breaking-point.  

The opening words of the summary of the authoritative GEO-5 Global Environmental Outlook (2012), an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme – namely, that the “currently observed changes in the Earth System are unprecedented in human history” – hint at the scale of the changes required.

Democracy is central to these changes. It is the only political system through which a majority of the world’s people can learn how to determine together and express “how much is enough” (as Robert and Edward Skidelsky would have it). The problem is that we citizens of democracy don’t yet know how to do it – and the time to learn is running out.

What makes this situation worse is that the wider public view of the future, in many parts of the world, is becoming deeply sceptical and pessimistic.  A global poll in 2012 by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) asked adults in thirteen countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa , the United Kingdom and the United States – whether they felt future generations would be worse off than their own generation. Overall, 66% said yes. In the UK, the figure was 78%, and in Greece it was 77%. Yet even in the economic powerhouse of Germany, 85% of respondents thought future generations would be worse off; in France, the figure reached a dismal 93%. The contrast with rapidly growing economies – Brazil (24%) and Indonesia (26%) – is striking.  

The connection with a sense of democratic malaise in western states such as Britain is highlighted  by the stresses and strains on democracy recorded in the 2012 report of the research project Democratic Audit. This notes, among other conclusions, that “almost all available indicators suggest that representative democracy is in long-term, terminal decline, but no viable alternative model of democracy currently exists” (see  S Wilks-Heeg et al, How Democratic is the UK? The 2012 Audit [Democratic Audit, 2012).

A time to renew

But a crisis is also an opportunity. After all, if people think the future will be worse but still believe that democracy is the political system best able to deliver improvement – and if the experience of those in non-western states is a lesson that democracy is still evolving and being learned – then the ability of democracy to address serious environmental and social problems remains in the hands of people and their governments.

If democracy is to thrive, however, it also needs to adapt to the reality that it is not the only game in play when it comes to securing improvements in living conditions. Already, some environmentalists are known to sigh wistfully (even naively) at the apparent ease with China is able to exercise leadership on climate change-related issues. Yet most also know that to take sustainable development seriously, democracy is essential. This was recognised in the formal outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, with UN member-states acknowledging that “democracy, good governance and the rule of law, at the national and international levels, as well as an enabling environment, are essential for sustainable development…”.

The best chance of delivering adequate responses to unsustainable development and tackling emerging risks is provided by healthy democratic systems. But if democracy is to flourish during the difficult years ahead, fresh thinking will be needed to motivate and harness the power both of individuals and institutions. So we need actively to seek to nurture and renew our commitment to democracy, and the forms in which it is practised.

An opportunity for change

To this end, in June 2012 the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development (FDSD) launched international public consultations to develop a Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainable Development.

The open consultation runs to mid-November 2012. The FDSD welcomes all ideas. There’s a short online consultation form here  (and, in the case of the Spanish version, here); but we’d also like to hear from groups or organisations that might like to get involved via a consultation workshop.  

November will mark the transition from consultation to drafting. A first discussion draft of the Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainable Development, highlighting key differences of perspective, will be thoroughly debated at a workshop to be hosted over two days by the Salzburg Global Seminar in December 2012. The Seminar has a sixty-five-year track-record of supporting multi-stakeholder dialogue and leadership development around long-term issues related to democracy and governance, social and economic justice, sustainability and education for global citizenship.  

The FDSD aims to launch the manifesto for sign-on early in 2013. It will set out a vision, principles and actions for a practical agenda for change. It will be a short document with which people or institutions can associate themselves, pointing to workable changes that are needed to ensure that democracy around the world is equipped to deliver a healthy environment and fairness for all, now and in the future.

This is an opportunity for all concerned to help create the ripple effect that’s needed to equip democracy to deliver sustainable development. The job of ensuring that democracy is resilient needs to begin now.

Do you celebrate the Autumn Equinox?

Mabon is an ancient pagan holiday, to Wiccans and Neopagans this one of the 8 sabbats of the year, and it celebrates the Autumn Equinox. Want to join the celebrations? Then have a bonfire to celebrate with family and friends, and make sure your home entrance is decorated with autumn themes and leafs, and write down on a journal all the blessings and good fortune you had this year, and most importantly make sure you deeply clean your house and rid it of all negative energy. 

The celebration of Equinox occurs in mythology on the day when in battle the God of Light was defeated by the God of Darkness resulting in shorter days and darker nights. Mabon was the son of Modron, the Earth Goddess, who after his birth was kidnapped for three days, and light went into hiding.  Today, by the way, Mabon is also a male name in Wales, and translates as Child. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

International Day of Peace 

Today is the 40th year the world celebrates the International Day of Peace, not very successfully until now, and still peace activists across the globe did not give up yet, and the theme of the year is “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world” therefore intending peace not only as an end to intra-human conflicts, but also to make peace with the outer world and ecosystems, which we are damaging as if in conflict. For this special day the UN calls to devote this day’s activities to building a culture of peace, strengthen its ideals, calling for at least 24 of non-violence, to mark the importance of this topic, theme, state that too many consider unnatural and not human, and prove them wrong. The ambition of course is the end of hostilities, and to honour the memory of the lost lives and not only due to conflict, while proactively carrying out educational and awareness campaigns that concern Peace. Keep tuned here to find events near you, or create your own. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach.

40 years in the desert call for a celebration

Sukkot is the commemoration of the 40 years Jews spent in the desert, travelling to the Promised Land after being freed from slavery in Egypt. The celebration is of the journey and of the protection God bestowed unto them as they ventured through the perilous desert. Another name is Feast of Tabernacles. 

The meaning of this festivity is gratitude, for the food and shelter, and remembrance of the sacrifices made to attain freedom. Shelters play a significant role, as the Jews in their travel to the Promised Land lived off temporary shelters, in Hebrew Sukkot. And usually the feast occurs five days after Yom Kippur. 

One of this week’s symbols is the Arba Minim, those are etrogs, in appearance seem like a big lemon, then we have the Lulav which are palm branches, Hadasim which are branches of myrtle and Aravot, willows. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Social Sustainability-The ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) 

When we talk about governance we mean rules, principles, rights, responsibilities and expectations concerning how a body should function as a standard, applicable to any type of body, be it in the private sector, public or third sector. 

To this end the ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) was created, to apply, in the private sector, non-financial elements as part of the process for the identification or risks and opportunities for growth. This helps manage investment risks, and the performance ratings and reports help investors how a company takes risks into consideration, prevents them, and generate sustainable financial returns.  ESG aims at collecting and measuring metric that are relevant to the objectives and plans, as well as accountability concerning social and environmental impact, by showing the intangible assets of an enterprise and its social credit score, thus impacting the value of the company not just in financial terms. 

This standard sets criteria to measure and report the sustainability of bodies, organisations and enterprises, and it is calculated on their performance, for example the behaviour towards the ESG issues identified, construction of reputation and, if any, gap between reality and perception. 

The environmental indicators regard the effects on the planet and its internal proceedings and functioning, while the social ones concern relations with people, institutions, customers and stakeholders. 

Let’s dig a bit deeper on the Environmental, Social and Governance Criteria. We understand now  that these are standards for operation that investors who are socially and environmentally responsible and conscious use to decide whether to potentially invest or not. How is this acting responsibly and proactively towards nature and how relationships are managed when it comes to employees, stakeholders, suppliers, customers and the community where they operate, while governance concerns leadership, audits, internal control and shareholders rights. 

The good news is that ESG criteria are gaining ground and popularity when it comes to investment evaluation, and started to become a branding exercises as many products placed on the market start to boast ESG criteria to the customers; while on the other hand exposes those don’t meet the criteria and are considered more at risk due to their unsustainable practices. This we mostly witness today from the new generation of entrepreneurs and startuppers, upon deciding on investments that yes make profit and also match their values. 

ESG is not that complicated, it involves mostly behaviour observation, for example use of energy, generating waste, pollution, preservation of natural resources or treatment of animals are some of the criteria against which the ESG performance of a company is assessed. Part the evaluation includes the environmental and social risks the company might face, or cause, and how this is taken into account in strategic planning; for example management of contaminated waste or emissions, and how it complies the regulating laws. 

When it comes to social criteria the magnifying glass is on business relationships, such as the shared values with its suppliers and stakeholders, investments on local community improvements, corporate social responsibility, volunteering schemes, quality of working conditions for the employees and health and safety standards, and relationships with the other stakeholders. 

Moreover, investors would be very interested to find out, in terms of governance, how transparent the accounting methods are and how shareholders are treated and involved in decision-making, measures in place to mitigate conflicts of interest and accountability of the board members, and of course avoiding illegal practices and political lobbying to gain favours. 

One minus is that it is very unlikely for any enterprise to fully pass the test, which also leaves stakeholders and investors to prioritise what really matters, however the model allows to set priorities and therefore positioning against the ESG criteria. Moreover unclear international and national regulations make ESG just a voluntary action on behalf of companies repositioning and working on a more positive/responsible reputation, it is not mandatory nor fully accepted in the world of business, whereas there are plenty of “nasty” businesses out there which are extremely profitable to invest in. 

Good news is that there is an increase of investors that are starting to believe that ESG criteria are not only about ethics but concern also profitability of an investment, demonstrating the reliability, responsibility and long term planning of a company, which makes it a safer investment, therefore,  it is gaining ground. 

International Day of Democracy 

Happy democracy day to everyone, as through our articles and research we have identified in democracy the best system available to promote social sustainability we feel this celebration very close to us. Why this day? This was the day when Nigeria became a democratic country, and this turning point in this major African country has become a global milestone to mark the significance of democracy across the world since 2000. 

Since 2020 the Pandemic came to affect our lives, in parallel creating legal and political challenges with emergency measures coming into place, and sometimes making it more difficult to adapt our life to the widely accepted principles of the rule of law and democratic processes, while identifying ways to uphold these values and deal with the emergency through responsibility and accountability, on the principles of non-discrimination while protecting the health and safety of all people; in particular upholding freedom of expression while contrasting the false news circulating in these dire times. Because democracy is the best system at our disposal for implementing the sustainability process we and our world need. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Social Sustainability – Social Cohesion 

Social Cohesion is the process that build shared values within a community, aiming at eliminating or reducing inequality when it comes to wealth and income, empowering people to develop a feeling of belonging, attachment and responsibility from being part of that community, overcoming together challenges and obstacles. 

One of the main aspects, and desired results is the reduction and poverty by supporting long.term sustainable growth based on equity and distribution of the benefits. Recently the social cohesion trend, applied to sustainability process, started to be applied around local models, where the progress can be tangible within local communities, then in turn applied at wider cultural and territorial scopes, often accompanied by policies, incentives and funding, creating a plethora of positive local good practices. So, when we look at social cohesion we have these main ingredients; long term partnerships within and around the targeted community, people engagement in understanding the issues and challenges at hand, implementing targeted actions, local policy dialogue, and shared results and outcomes, as the simple (apparently) recipe to initiate social cohesion in one’s community. 

Development often occurs driven by a specific need that too often is a short term one and ignores the future impact. The outcome of that type of thinking is the climate crisis, pollution and global warming, as well as a rise in inequalities and social injustice, with a widening rich-poor gap in many parts of the world. Development needs to include a core element and indicators and that is the basic right to dignity that comes from simply being human.

Here comes into play social cohesion, when that sense of feel part of a community is the source and place where dignity is applied, and on this ground strong relationships can be built, fostering respect, safety, support and most of all mutuality. The principle of community is embedded in our mind since ages forgotten, mostly determined by cultural and territorial limitation, nonetheless the increased global connections and interactions have lead also to the creation of a global community, which already exists and most of us are still unconscious about it. And with this knowledge of being part of something planetary should come the inspiration for local actions aiming towards local changes, plenty of them, everywhere and mutually inspiring. Because the challenges we face today are global ones and need a global answer. 

Social cohesion is one of the keys to sustainability because it stresses the interconnection and interdependence and to be aware of that, in order to allow solidarity to blossom and lead to common-good actions, because we all have a responsibility towards the solution. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to a halt many of the sustainability processes that were being initiated around the world, switching the attention from climate and solutions to contrasting the virus. However, it also helped us understand that the current methods and models of development were very inadequate and not really providing solutions to an increasing problem and threat to life.  The idea that first we generate wealth and then distribute it to the public is greatly outdated and already inefficient. What is emerging now, perhaps as a result of the pandemic, is a new idea, that of a society where creation and distribution of wealth are one and the same, ongoing, circular, and involves all actors in society. This is a massive mind-shift and is already happening as we speak, taking the name of “cohesive economy” a new system that improves the relationship between private, public and third sector by promoting shared initiatives aimed at regeneration. This is on what social cohesion today is rooted, and it is manifested in many different facets, such as groups of people who informally seek to identify solutions to social problems, or the public sector establishing programmes and projects that foster participation, sometimes cross-sectoral initiatives coming together in partnership to manage community projects. Therefore once we work together, the solutions provided are shared, as is the sense of belonging to those solutions, observed from every possible perspective and therefore a self-evident and empirical answer to real needs. 

Tzom Gedeliah – It’s time to fast 


This is a Jewish commemoration event that takes place today from sunrise to sunset, the Fast of Gedalia. This is done in remembrance of Gedeliah, governor of Judah, eliminated by the Persians and with him ended Jewish autonomy, destruction of the Temple, and beginning of the Babylonian captivity. It is a sad remembrance, and hence this day was dedicated to fasting and mourning the assassination, as he governed on behalf of Babylonian emperor Nebuchadrezzar, and Ishmail, a member of the former royal family, got him killed, causing the anger of Babylon and destruction that followed. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

International Literacy Day

Did you know that in the world today we still have 773 million adults who lack basic literacy skills, and 617 million youths who do not achieve basic reading and maths proficiency? If you thought illiteracy was a thing of the past, well it is not. This day exists for the last 60 years, remarking how literacy is an essential part of dignity and human rights, vital for a sustainable society, and does not only stress the importance of being able to read, write and calculate, it also concerns the competences necessary to process and understand information, becoming extremely relevant in an age afflicted by the malaise of fake news and distorted information, whereas critical thinking becomes a skill of paramount importance in today’s world. As according to UNESCO, literacy is …”The ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying context.” 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Shanah Tova – Happy New

Can you imagine the taste of  apples dipped in honey, warm delicious briskets, cakes, then you are likely celebrating the Jewish New Year and toasting to Shanah Tova to the “head of the year”, and you are in for two days of celebrations. What is the commemoration? But of course the creation of the world, and renewal as a new year starts over, so it is a time for celebration as well as time for asking God forgiveness for the mistakes of the past, learn from them and not repeat them, Rosh Hashanah – the Head of the Year. It begins on the first day, Tishrei and goes on for a whole 48 hours, and families, friends, communities say to each other – I wish you a good and sweet year! It is a time for rest, where work is actually forbidden, and enjoyment is highly encouraged. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

International Day of Charity 

Charity seems to have somehow gained a negative connotation recently, as disempowering, almost becoming an antonym to development, and conscience washing limited to giving away, up to creating dependence on caregiving. But is it really? The famous quote says “give someone a fish and you will feed them for one, teach them to fish and they will never go hungry”, however somebody recently commented that one does not exclude the other, and learning how to fish while being hungry is not exactly the best state for concentrating and learning, therefore giving the fish, and learning how to fish, are not exactly mutually excluding.  

This day was born to raise awareness on the importance of charity as well as reminder of the necessity to coordinate charity activities, and organisations across the world, be that individual all the way to philanthropic organisations. The goal is to make people sensible about the importance and to connect NGOs and stakeholders around the world to support one another, and of course to celebrate the accomplishments achieved so far by convincing others to donate material resources or their time to carry out charitable work, in order for development to occur. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

The role of Inclusion and Diversity in Social Sustainability 

Simply said “Put people first” as stated by the United Nations’ Development Goals, and that translates as addressing the poor and vulnerable through social inclusion, which is done by; empowering people, building resilient society, cohesion, and the accountability, transparency and responsibility of institutions. 

Environmental and economic sustainability can’t happen without addressing diversity and inclusion, and, hold on to your seat! This is actually good for business, improving profits by increasing the quality of productivity, efficiency and involvement in decision-making, enhancing a more widespread sense of belonging. That is exactly the meaning of people first. It starts by accepting one simple truth, communities are diverse and this is something to be embraced for the community itself to grow and develop, and each community has that one and unique voice which can be heard once it is united and participated, upon this depends the resilience, benefit and even survival of a community when facing challenges, demographic growth, lack of resources and climate crisis of course, unity and joint work make the community more resilient, from local to global. We may think of ourselves as humans as above nature, in ecosystems the more biodiversity there is, the more that ecosystem is sustainable as it is inclusive and harmonious of all its variables, human communities work just the same! The more diversity is embraced within a community the more the community-system is sustainable, the more conflict, exclusion and marginalisation we have the more the community becomes dysfunctional and unable to reach its goals. 

Where equality is better promoted and protected there we see more social cohesion, and the outcome of that is a sustainable approach applied to society, economy and the environment; whereas where this is absent then both development and sustainability are heavily obstacles. Social Sustainability has social inclusion and promotion of diversity as one of its pillars, as equality, education and employment opportunities can’t happen without inclusive actions and policies, and an effect of proper investment in fostering inclusion and promoting diversity is actually economic growth. 

Sustainability goes hand in hand with equity, because it is the seed to a world which can be more just and sustainable, as sometimes equity becomes synonymous to social sustainability – Equity, Environment, Economy (EEE), though this is often forgotten or bypassed, and we lack measurables and metrics concerning social sustainability and equity, although we have plenty concerning economic and environmental sustainability, somehow it seems harder to reach consensus on that pillar of sustainability when compared to the other two. Nonetheless there is more or less consensus on a few aspects, a sustainable future can’t exist without meaningful and real participation of all community members, be it local, a city, tribes, or the whole world, where barriers to participation and inclusion of diversity are removed or to the least greatly reduced to ensure each has a right to a say and a duty to contribute. For example, the poorer communities of the world are the ones suffering the most from the effects of the climate crisis and more prone to receive long term harm from environmental disasters, and yet dispose disproportionately fewer resources and means to speak up or make the necessary physical and social infrastructures for safekeeping, as a result of a systemic injustice which hampers sustainability. In our first article on sustainability we mentioned that current lifestyles and systems we live are unsustainable and some of the damage has been done beyond repair, therefore it is mandatory right now to work on regeneration or as much as possible that was destroyed along the way of unsustainable progress, and regeneration also concerns or societies, divisions (artificial especially) means of participation, and envision in diversity the added value missing from our communities, there is indeed much to do and not so much time, and it is possible. 

Social sustainability, diversity, inclusion, we were led to believe that these fields mostly belong to the Third Sector of civil society groups and NGOs, as well as a political agenda. True that in the last decades this was mostly a field of operations limited to this niche, and yet we would like to take an example of actually how diversity and inclusion can have a strong and positive impact on the corporate world. 

The stereotype says that companies are cold-blooded profit-before-people institutions, and again it is a stereotype, and yet stereotypes come from somewhere and can say that the reputation is not the best at present and are by many considered to be the culprit of the current climate crisis. There might be some truth there, but this ignores another truth, that nowadays the private sector is leading the sustainability effort, upon finding how that is indeed ethical and as added value brings quite a bit of a competitive advantage.  Investing in diversity and inclusion indeed has positive impact on Planet, People and Profit! As many enterprises out there already prove it, from applying gender equality policies, to transforming one’s market from environmental harming practice to sustainable ones, and actually seeing their revenues steadily increased. Much of this is a result of people’s habits and increased environmental consciousness, choosing certain labels instead of others because of a lesser impact on the ecosystem or sustainable practices, even if it costs more. This resulted in companies needed to rebrand and reposition by introducing eco-friendly practices in economy, environment and society. Even we at Rescogita in a recent contract upon making recommendations to a customer regarding some software companies we gave priority to those who had a clear and tangible CSR policy.  The trend is that eventually all companies will need to move towards sustainable practices, consumers, governments and our ecosystem demand it. Besides the environmental and economic criteria that we mentioned above, there is a dawn of social criteria against which it is possible to measure the social sustainability of a company, for example how it manages relationships with its workers, customers, suppliers and their community, and how this is reflected in the internal governance, controls, leadership and shareholders. 

And after that preamble let’s look closer at diversity and inclusion as a corporate asset, and how such practices make business very attractive to investors and customers. It the private sector this means that the company is the beneficiary of a social licence, which translates in support from its employees, stakeholders and the community where it operates. Includes fair treatment of employees, non-discriminatory policies, flexibility in working hours, fair salary, ethical sources and reinvestment in the community. 

And inclusive culture creates equity, all can access equal opportunities and fair treatment, when in place it obstacles discrimination on the job, increases and improves empathy and the social impact of the company. Inclusion also improves decision-making, as it requires elements of transparency and also leads to actually understanding the unconscious bias and privilege by raising awareness, thus improving fair decisions. It also improves the psychological safety from within the company, enabling risk-taking that can lead to improving the company’s job or its social impact, courage stemming from inclusivity, sense of belonging and community from within the enterprise itself. Another asset is the creation of a safe environment that enable to spot weaknesses and vulnerabilities, that enhances transparency and allows more widespread efforts to face and overcome challenges, which is the foundation of healthy organisational culture. 

An enterprise that wishes to be sustainable, let’s face it, needs a bit of an effort, oftentimes rewarding on the medium-long run, and will be a step by step process. What we can assert is that the very first step happens inside the enterprise, towards its own people, starting with inclusion and diversity, this will immediately impact productivity and efficiency, and can ripe right away benefits also when it comes to decision-making, creating a pleasant and satisfactory environment within the working place to grow and develop. Once this step is accomplished it will be so much easier to enact all the rest, up to the structural changes necessary to bring out of a business a positive impact on itself and profits, on the customers, on the community of belonging and the whole ecosystem. 

Krishna Janmashtami

Happy birthday Lord Krishna, yes celebrating his birthday of countless years, as tonight at midnight he’s born, giving way to a time for fasting and singing. In devotee homes you can find today washed and cleaned statues of Baby Krishna as part of the worship, and once the fasting is broken there comes the festivity of plenty, with food and sweets.  One of the most pompous holidays taking place across India and not only, as the Dahi Handi celebrations took place and rituals take place to welcome Lord Krishna.

In Mathura and Vrindavan, where Krishna was believed to be born and spend childhood with his parents Queen Devaki and her husband, King Vasudeva, until he was discovered to be the 8th reincarnation of the Supreme God Vishnu. Incarnating qualities such as love, compassion and care, but also a prankster, often portrayed as a child. In Mathura and Vrindavan  are the greatest celebrations, and go on for days. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Social Sustainability and The Quality of Life

We are going to start going deeper into social sustainability by looking at the quality of life, concerning communities and population as a whole. Communities are made of environmental, economic and social systems that provide them with meaningful, healthy and productive life for the members of today and tomorrow. Although there are cultural aspects and facets that attribute different values to the quality of life, the basic ones are pretty much the same across the globe, such as; employability, housing, safety and a clean environment. 

Sustainability and quality of life have been evolving as a matter of study and research and being put under a magnifying glass, on the lookout for the connection between the two, and how one can support the other, or how the absence of one can actually become a serious obstacle for the other. Sustainability, as real needs, of  individuals and communities have across the world, and these should be integrated into any process that involves sustainability. Therefore sustainability can, and should, support people’s quality of life, and any developmental model, to be effective needs to integrate two elements. 1) culture, 2) territory, from macro to micro, as, let’s not forget, the goal of sustainability is that of satisfying the basic needs while having a good quality of life, without hampering the same opportunities for future generations. In order to work, sustainable social development, offers its set of values, on which good quality of life is grounded. 

Let’s, first of all, agree that as a whole sustainability is a concept drive by values, having as its core ideals, equity, choice, confidence and quality, which can be tackled from the environmental, economic, social and political perspectives, accompanied by a rather well affirmed truth that it is not an option but a necessity to ensure the survival of our species, planet and life; making of sustainable growth a shared social responsibility. That makes growth and development something that must be compatible with the needs and expectations of the people. 

Sustainable development concerns everything in today’s world and every aspect of life as we know it, and the common thread and connection are interventions in the sphere of culture and territory to positive impact the quality of life adjusted to the means for living of specific communities and their environments. 

Let us first agree on one thing, quality of life is impacted by the internal characteristics of the individual members of the community, and the external community and ecosystem where they life, which means that impacting the external there is an automatic effect on the quality of life, making this understanding not as relative and subjectively vague as one might think. 

Which means that whatever is being carried out in the field of development, be it social, economic, environmental or political, there is a need to be conscious of its positive impact on the quality of life, and to plan it, without leaving it to chance, and that is done by including the elements of culture and territory in any present and future model that will tackle social sustainability; because culture and territory are key factors in determining human behaviour.

The emphasis here is on social sustainable development focused on social and human dimensions, a more inclusive attitude towards ecology, and stronger interconnection with economic and environmental sustainability. 

To that we need to mention what are the four areas of the quality of life : Social, Material, Societal, Personal (self-realisation), which leads us to conclude that improving quality of life is something that needs to occur in education, justice, recreation and participation, as well as encompassing human rights, labour rights, corporate governance, which are now in the centre of debate concerning community and urban sustainability ideas generation. 

The goal of social sustainability is to ensure that future generations should have at least the same, if not greater opportunities and social resources than us, and that the present actions of our generation will not jeopardise theirs.  Quality of life can, and should, be maintained with a long term vision respectful and taking into consideration the social and cultural environment, as this determined how people feel about their lives, and influenced by the present situation as well as the future the community sees for themselves. 

Better Communication and New Thinking Patterns

Interview with psychologist and trainer Heli Aomets

Hi Heli, looks like we are going to set up a nice cooperation with each other in delivering some game-changing trainings, so let’s use this chance to acquaint you with our readers and followers until they will get to work with you in person and get to know you better.

What’s your specialisation?  I am a psychologist, specialising in applied psychology. I want to build bridges between psychology and other fields. All people do is by people and for people, this means that knowing yourself and how you function is extremely important in improving anything about your work and creativity.

Why did you choose this exactly?  The climate is on the brink of disaster and that is because of people’s behaviour. We talk and talk about what should be done, and the big decision-makers often can’t or won’t take responsibility or actions towards real solutions. Once we understand ourselves better, we can also regulate our emotions better and acknowledge the harsh feelings that will accompany those necessary changes. Once we can handle ourselves we will feel the necessity for the big changes the world longs for. We can repeat to ourselves that we’ll survive, we’ll adapt, all will be fine. However, without this deep understanding we’ll just keep driving towards that edge.

Why is this important in today’s world and its priorities? – The climate is on the brink of disaster and that is because of people’s behaviours. We talk and talk about what should be done, and the big decision-makers often can’t or won’t take responsibility or actions towards real solutions. Once we understand ourselves better, we can also regulate our emotions better, then we will feel the necessity for the big changes the world longs for. We can repeat to ourselves that we’ll survive, we’ll adapt, all will be fine. However, Without this deep understanding we’ll just keep driving towards that edge.

What is the purpose of your company Mental Structure? – I started Mental Structure to fulfill my goal. It’s here to help people and companies improve their products and services by learning to understand how the human mind works. Through consulting and training I help apply that knowledge to their operations, problems, and solutions.


What can you say about human development from this perspective? – Considering how the human mind develops through education and competence development, I can confidently state that my customers will find it easier to get their messages across, by developing what we call “Green Communication”.


Can you connect this to sustainability? – anyone attempting to create a sustainable system must understand how human minds really function. Just because we have a mind, doesn’t mean we intuitively understand how it works. Same actually goes for any of our organs. The mind’s functioning is very counter-intuitive and taking the mind’s functioning into consideration when planning those systems needs its own space and time. Intuitive planning is just not enough, and there will be mistakes that can make any attempted system collapse.


What can be the top 3 learnings a professional can gain from learning about your specialisation? – Better communication skills, better self-regulation, new thinking patterns.

Thank you very much for your time Heli, if you want to find out more about her person and practice you visit her website by clicking here. Keep tuned for our upcoming massive online course on Green Communication. Wherever you are, please now take very good care of yourself.

Trending Social Sustainability?

It is a fact that today’s buyers are interested in goods that are sustainable, paying special attention to social sustainability, just look at fair trade, or fashion, a clear example where consumers demanded goods produced taking into consideration labour rights and against exploitation. There is a general demand out there that crops are grown sustainably and farmers rightly compensated, that the process is environment friendly, that chicken laying eggs do not do so in cages and this demand is on the rise, and even becoming affordable as in the past it used to be so costly that only a few could really afford it, and that motivation has two main drives, my planet and my health. 

Nonetheless, the understanding of social sustainability seems something that has been given to a very small niche of city planners and architects and appears to be limited to that, and of course it is a lot more than making physical places for people (perhaps not even always succeeding). Think-tanks, academia and policymakers have been going crazy for the last 30 years trying to find a balance and match economic, environmental and social sustainability. One part claims It could well be that they automatically balance themselves without need of models and further research, especially as time is running out, it is simply time to act and enact. Another part instead claims that they need to be carefully balanced in order to prevent them from harming each other. Martin Christiansen presents the metaphor of three siblings, economy being the older brother, well respected and dominant; environment the outspoken younger sibling, and social is squeezed in between the two of them. 

Although more and more discussions (and projects) are coming to the conclusion that sustainability is not just recycling and renewable energies, nor it concerns exclusively the climate crisis, it is that, and more. The tangible change can be felt in the motto of the UN Sustainable Development Goals “Leave no-one behind”, starting to stress also the importance of the quality of life, gender, contrast inequality, and generally social and individual wellbeing.  

The climate crisis is bringing along plenty of social crisis which need an immediate answer, from migration from now inhospitable and barren lands of the earth, to uncontrolled unplanned urbanisation, to mention a couple, which demand social sustainability solutions, without that, mere interventions on the economy and environment will not be enough, and actually social unrest may well harm badly the other two processes and bring them to a standstill. 

There is a need for a renewed commitment, from communities, civil society, private and public sectors concerning social sustainability toward inclusive and healthy societies where individuals are empowered towards their potential, while keeping in mind future generations. There is a need for policies on equity and equal opportunities, to make a new social contract that includes confidence-building in institutions, and mutuality; grounded on reciprocal respect and social cohesion. From primary schools to workplaces through urban planning, in an ecological fashion, as taking into consideration the personal benefit, that of the community and the biosphere with a long term perspective. The challenges ahead are social equity and justice, social cohesion, social capital, inclusion, quality of life and livability, and what each individual and sector of society is called to do specifically in each of these areas. What new economic indicators can be developed for business that include elements of social sustainability? This has already been extensively studied concerning the ecological footprint and is bringing massive changes to day-to-day business, and more is yet to be done. Imagine an agreed and widespread checklist of indicators showing how a company or an institution respects the social sustainability standards enacting practices of social safety, work-life balance, fair labour etc, sounds like a challenge, a necessary one, which can result in attributing the right attention and resources into it, for a social (and why not financial too)  return beneficial to all on the short, medium and long term. A simple example can be upskilling/reskilling employees, up to providing trade training to disadvantaged social groups otherwise destined to live on the margins of society. Is it economic development that journey to society through social development. 

When talking about social sustainability we are talking about people first, addressing urbanisation, as 60% of the world population now dwells in urban centres, we are talking about  social systems and how they interact with each other, as well as democratic systems where opportunities are available, and so on. Social Sustainability is present, it is a perceived and real need and want and there is an increasing awareness and consciousness about it, a desire to live in sustainable societies. A simple example can be that of a waste-to-energy plant in a European city that generates only steam, and the construction was blocked by angry local citizens concerned about health and pollution which would actually be greatly reduced by the presence of a plant, and that is a classic result of an environmental sustainability physical infrastructure that did not take into account social sustainability in terms of establishing decision-making participatory processes, education and empowerment in order to make informed decisions; and there can be thousands more examples where environmental or even economic sustainable solutions have been disrupted or made inefficient due to a lack of socially sustainable processes enacted in parallel. 

Special gratitude to Martin Christiansen, Line Dybdal, who inspired this article. 

World Humanitarian Day

Before anything else, we invite you all to follow the campaign #RealLifeHeroes, which is a thank you to all the people who made it their mission to help others in need, and they are celebrated today, the real heroes who did and do their best to support and rescue others in the most dire conditions and situations.  On August 19th 2003 a bomb attack in Baghdad killed 22 humanitarian workers, and since then this day was created to commemorate the sacrifice and professionalism of those individuals who choose this life path. Which became mostly visible during the Pandemic crisis as many areas of the world became in dire need of aid and humanitarian assistance in dealing with Covid-19. 

The campaign #RealLifeHeroes, has its focus on the motivation and drive of those individuals dedicated to saving and protecting life, regardless of war, uncertainties, epidemics and other risks, and committing to the wellbeing of our global community. Its focus is in providing stories from humanitarians giving their maximum efforts to offer safety, relief and support to those in need and danger. The Real Life Heroes. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

The Feast of the Assumption

Today Catholics from all over the world celebrate the Assumption, to commemorate the day when Virgin Mary’s body ascended to heaven. And this very important holiday is accompanied by parades, colours, fireworks, processions and blessing of the harvests. 

Although as a festivity and celebration it only started to be officially celebrated only in the early Middle Ages by papal edict, it became one of the most popular Christian festivities, also due to its association to the harvests, summer and the plenty of the season, associated with the blessings from heaven to the land’s fertility. Somehow there are also remnants of older celebrations of this time of the year, as following services we see traditions of beach, lake and river bonfires accompanied by wine and watermelon and ritualistic midnight swim by young people, which from experience, can say is loads of fun. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Your First Steps Towards Social Sustainability

There are 3 pillar to sustainability, environmental, economic and social, otherwise known as Planet, Profit, People; and generally sustainability is the process and goal to meet our needs without jeopardising those of future generations. In order of investment of research and resources environment is the primary one, and economic sustainability has been gaining grounds, however, despite the attempts, those can’t be really taken apart and when investing in sustainability of the environment and of the economy, human wellbeing and welfare needs to have its righteous place in policies, practices and investments, as the three aspects are parts of one and the same. 

Community wellbeing and quality of long lifespan are at the heart of social sustainability, and yet it is not perceived as a priority, as much of the focus today is on environmental and economic sustainability, often forgetting that the three aspects move along the same path and complete one another. Take for example housing, where both policies and investments focus on energy efficiency, low-carbon and environmental behaviour, how can that be done without intervention on communities, or their creation. Communities are made of people and of the places where they dwell and recognise belonging, being both a physical and a social environment; therefore communities have need to be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. A sense of community is something that can’t be engineered by enacting environmentally sustainable procedures on the physical aspect, there is work to be done also on the social environment, which actually reinforces the environmental responsibility of community members once this enters the lifestyle and environmental sustainability becomes a much easier choice, one might even say almost automatic. While physical infrastructures, as could be solar panels, are of course something necessary and to be praised and encouraged, there is a parallel need of social infrastructures that enhances the sense of community and mutual belonging of individual-community-biosphere, physical intervention alone can indeed make this easier, but can also risk to obstacle community formation, if that is not taken into careful consideration. Take for example the Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen which was built to contain inclusive spaces freely available to civil society and youth organisations from the neighbourhood to carry out their activities and meetings, that is a physical and social intervention walking hand in hand. 

Social Sustainability concerns the “how” individuals and communities live with one another and have the objective of acquiring a chosen development model that includes the physical limitations of their place of living and the planet. Practically we are looking at areas such as capacity building and learning all the way to environmental and space inequalities, bridging social policy with equity and health and all that is in between, such as; participation, needs, social capital, economy, environment, happiness, wellbeing and quality of life; and when we talk about quality of life there are many factors to consider, is housing affordable? Is physical and mental medical support available and accessible? What about education and ongoing training opportunities? 

Yes the area of social sustainability, as you can see, is pretty massive affecting pretty much every single area of human actions and interactions. So wide and large that it is more and more considered an independent dimension of sustainable development, and rising its importance as an equal to economic and environmental sustainability, and not yet researched enough. One thing we know and we all agree upon is that social sustainability is community oriented, and communities have to both attract and retain members to their group and places and to be enriched by a diversity of ages, backgrounds and heritage. True, housing, cost, space, quality of the area have a massive impact on individuals wanting to move somewhere, and what retains the person to stay there is the creation of a sense of community. The creation of places that promote wellbeing, understanding the living and working needs of its members, combining physical and social interventions and harmony, with the right social and physical infrastructures in place that support cultural and social life as well as opportunities for engagement and a space for growth and learning. 

Happy New Year!

Awal Muharram, the Muslim New Year’s celebration. Awal means beginning and Muharram is the beginning of the New Year, marked by the Hijra, the journey from Mecca to Medina. 

The Islamic calendar is Lunar rather than solar, which means events and dates are not static and change (according to the Julian and Gregorian calendars) and a year is made 345 days. 

Of course New Year is a major holiday and celebration, recalling the time when the Prophet journeyed to Medina from Mecca on the 1st of Muharram in 622, as somebody wanted to kill him, and travelled away to save his life. This is where this day came also to symbolise life and freedom from suffering, as Pagans tried to kill Prophet Mohammed, which was then followed by the universal declaration of brotherhood among all Muslims. Although the celebration of this day, unlike many New Year’s is a quiet one, as this is a time to reflect on time passing and our own human mortality as we pass into the new cycle. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Yay! International Youth Day

Today is the chance to celebrate and mainstream youth voices, projects, initiatives, actions and recognise the equal, universal and meaningful participation and engagement. As well as importance of peer support and learning, to underline the importance for youth to participate in social, economic and political life and its processes, both local and global. 

In order to stress that youth engagement at any level enriches dialogue, contribution and inspiration to all sectors of society, with a fresh, new and energetic perspective of the masters of the future, and that should be further enhanced, supported and empowered, by the enactment of real and tailored youth policies going from the local communities all the way to our whole planet. A good starting point can be that of a renewed confidence-building effort between youth and public institutions, at local level in the public system, but also in the global governance systems, treaties and organisations if they are to regain global relevance and be legitimate flag bearers for our planet’s community, and that should start with youth. That means creating the infrastructures, locally and globally that enhance participation, active citizenship, enabling competences to oversee improvements in fairness, democracy and sustainability. 

For that purpose Rescogita is among those who is joining the #31DaysOfYOUth, campaign, fostering intergenerational dialogue. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

This day goes by the motto “Remember your origin”, as a reminder that somewhere in our memetic and genetic memory we all were indigenous people who lived by different rules than we do today, another sense of community and relationship to the ecosystem, and some members of our global community still do, as a matter of fact 476 million of them across 90 countries, 6,2% of humanity. Those are the guardians of a very rich diversity of culture, traditions, languages and ways of learning which once upon a time concerned as all and now mostly forgotten, as rooted in an enriching and special relationship with the land, thus developing a different understanding when it comes to development, based on a unique view of the world, with its priorities. 

Most of these communities and self-government and plenty had their autonomy recognised and protected by laws, and yet not all have reached that level of acknowledgement. 

Needless to say that the recent pandemic has brought to the light, and often worsened, the inequalities that exist within society and communities, as well as at global level, increasing the harm to those who already suffered poverty, poor healthcare and discrimination. To this end the UN calls for a new social contract to be created and enacted, to raise awareness and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population, and recognise their contribution and achievements to bring about improvements to the world. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

What is Social Sustainability? 

There are many approaches and branches that stem off the concept of sustainability, one of them is social sustainability, as interestingly enough it is so far the least explored and invested upon. It may be because of the lack of a clear definition, or because this is seen as something more pertinent to the Third Sector who, to some extent, is already working on it for decades. But this is just speculation, the truth remains that compared to economic and environmental sustainability the public debate on social sustainability is somewhat secondary. 

Talking about social sustainability implies taking into consideration, identifying and of course managing the impact business, public sector, policy, social interventions have on people, and the quality of the engagement between the people and those who impact their lives, either positively or negatively. To be more clear we are looking at topics such as human rights, fair labour, quality of life and living conditions, health, safety, wellness, diversity, equity, work-life balance, opportunities, empowerment, community engagement, philanthropy and a lot more. 

Processes of social sustainability aim at combining social design to the material and physical world, for example the establishment or creation of infrastructures that support social and cultural life, systems for citizen participation and both time and spaces for people to gro, learn and evolve, as well as providing to the leisure and amenities needs. When we look at communities and society at large, among the main benefits of social sustainability can be; an improved quality of the environment, reduction of health risks and hazards from pollution and irresponsible use of energy, restoring neighbourhood connections, knowledge transfer and more. What it means at deeper level is the preservation for future generations, recognising that our actions have an impact on our communities and biosphere, therefore the focus of this pillar of sustainability oit to keep and improve social quality, via cohesion, honesty and focusing on relationships among people

In detail whare are looking at?  

  1. Conservation of energy : reduce energy waste, promoting renewable and sustainable clean energy sources, for the quality of air, soil and water and of the biosphere, cut on energy production costs and increase energy accessibility. 
  2. Developing public spaces : Design public spaces and areas that encourage encounter and interaction, reduce the need of transport and petrol vehicles and accessible to all. 
  3. Promoting local food sources : Support the immediate local economy and reduce costs and waste from large distribution networks, encouraging the quality of the food consumed, reduction of preserving chemicals and storage and contact producer-consumer. 
  4. Local business support : Foster local economic development, employment, small-medium enterprises with and for the community
  5. Energy efficient construction : Building materials as well as architecture that fosters energy efficiency, reduction of polluting materials and construction waste, ensuring the habitat’s climate adjustments in different seasons such as thermal isolation. 
  6. Pollution control : The quality of life and health of the community by reducing the hazards posed by pollutants that affect the quality of air, soil and water, impacting public health expenses, and improve the sustainable use of land and waters, otherwise polluted. 
  7. Waste reduction : Foster a culture of circular economy, re-use, reducing the production of waste and garbage, which impacts both the economy, savings, and reduction of pollution. 

These are just a few example of how investing in social sustainability may look like, a very localised process that aims at the quality of life positively impacting biosphere and community. The overall hat to Social Sustainability is based on Seven Dimensions; Social Interaction, Safety and Security, Equity, Participation, Neighbourhood Happiness, Sense of Place, Housing Satisfaction, and in the next articles we will explore each and everyone of them. Thank you for joining us 🙂  

Lughnasadh sona duit

Happy Sun Festival 

In ancient times in the lands of Europe that were dominated by the Celts this day celebrated the very first harvest, which was combined with the celebration of Lugh, the Sun God, as through his blessing the crops grew rich and plentiful. For this reason this was regarded a very festive and fortunate day for markets, matchmaking, fortune telling and many more activities which required the blessing of luck and of the divine.  To this day, the harvest festival of Lughnasadh is celebrated across neo-pagan and Wiccan believers and followers as a celebration meant to bring together the community, through rituals that ensure blessings for the wellbeing of the community in the coming year and upon their offspring. In Ireland this festivity survived its pagan origins by adopting a Christian version known as Reek Sunday, which pretty much involved the same fairs, music and dancing as well as blessing of the crops. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

International Day of Friendship

Friendship was defined as sharing the human spirit, and can’t think of a more beautiful definition, despite the challenges we face by living on this planet with its division and crises such as poverty, violence and abuse which constantly threaten peace and development as obstacles to harmony among the people of the world. How to do that? By going to the very roots and promote and support all forms for human solidarity, the most basic being friendship. 

It is through friendship that we gather strong bonds and ties of trust, and can do our part in giving our positive contribution to the shifts that are needed for long last stability and the safety we all deserve, by using the driving force of that passion and apply it to improving our world together for our good and that of our friends. 

And this is so important that the UN General Assembly dedicated a day to that, celebrating friendship in its broader meaning, from individuals to countries all the way to the biosphere as an inspiration for bridge-building, and the accent here goes on youth, the future community leaders, promoting mutual understanding and respect for diversity. This is way it is encouraged to promote this day as time for dialogue between civilisations, solidarity, reconciliation and understanding. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Feast of the Sacrifice

One day, God, to test Abraham’s resolve and obedience asked him to sacrifice his only son Ismail, and Abraham obeyed carrying his son to the altar and ready to sacrifice him to the Almighty, however in the last moment Ismail was replaced by a mutton who was instead sacrificed. This recurrence is celebrated in Islam as Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice. This is a public holiday that involves prayer, family gatherings and visits, exchange of food and gifts and sacrifice of an animal, typically a mutton or goat, to remind of the sacrifice Abraham was ready to make. The sacrifice, Qurbani, meat is divided then into three equal portions, one third is for you and your family, one third is for friends and loved ones and one third is donated to those in need. 

And by the way, the word sacrifice comes from Latin, meaning the action of making something sacred. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

The Saddest Day of the Year

On the Jewish calendar, this is the saddest day of the year, marked by fasting, deprivation and prayer, culminating 3 weeks period to commemorate the destruction of the temple, as well as other tragedies faced by the Jewish people throughout their history. Jews wandering in the desert for 40 years, Holy Temples in Jerusalem destroyed by Babylonians and then Romans, the revolt for the liberation against the Roman yoke ended on defeat, the killing of Jews of Betar on Av, Temple Mount plowed, expulsion from England and from Spain, all seemed to have occurred around these days, and the strife is commemorated on this day. 

The commemoration includes, no eating or drinking, wearing leather, bathe or wash, apply creams, no intimacy, sit on a normal height chair, study those Torah passages that do not recall sad events, no sending gifts, nor greeting one another, no pleasurable activities or wearing festive clothes, until sundown when the laws of Tisha B’av come into place, and services are held in the synagogue on dim lights as the faithful chant lamentations. The focus is mourning and repentance. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Journey of a Lifetime

On these days millions of Muslims will endeavour in the journey of a lifetime, a demanding journey to get the chance to clear past sins and refresh their souls, as the pilgrims travel to Mecca to accomplish the Hajj, one of the pillars of Islam, a pilgrimage that a devout Muslim needs to carry out at least once in their lifetime, and the time is now as millions travel to Mecca. 

Which will include tasks like, circulating the Kaaba Seven times, pray all day on Mount Arafat, Stay overnight in Muzdalifah, Stoning the devil, Run seven times between Al-Safa and Al-Marwa. 

It is a ritual that celebrates the fraternity among all believers, peace and humility as keys towards renewing the covenant with Allah, cleanse and purify the soul and restore the centrality of faith’s place in daily life. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

World Youth Skills Day

Is a global UN celebration to raise awareness on how important it is to give young people the necessary skills for employment, quality work and entrepreneurship. And since it has been an opportunity of dialogue between youth, vocational education and training institutions, firms, employers, unions, and policymakers. 

The pandemic has disrupted a lot of these processes, especially those concerned with learning and empowerment, as schools all the way to TVET have halted, slowed down and entered an unfamiliar territory, as in parallel the digitalisation of learning is still on its experimental phase and for sure does not allow equal access to all; as well as the job market at entry level, major life-cycle transitions are made difficult when not impossible. With rising youth unemployment and increase of NEETs (not in employment, education or training) since 2020 on a steady growth, 273 million in 2021 alone. This is a stern and important reminder also to companies like ours, when it comes to design and deliver our educational and empowerment offer, and to take into consideration the competences needed by youth to contribute to their well-being as well as this planet’s. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

World Population Day

“Rights and choices are the answer: Whether baby boom or bust, the solution to shifting fertility rates lies in prioritizing the reproductive health and rights of all people” UN 

On the one hand, it took us hundreds of thousands of years to grow up to one billion, and a mere 200 to grow seven times more, expecting to hit 11 billion by 2100. This is due to survival at the reproductive age, increasing urbanisation, migrations amd changes in fertility rates. 

Since the 1970s fertility rates dropped globally to 2.5 children per woman, while life expectancy increased to 72.6 years. Moreover, urbanisations appears to be one of the factors combined with migration, today 66% of humanity lives in cities. When unmanaged these trends have strong implications that impact development, employment, the economy, income distribution, social protection, education, healthcare etc. So there is a need for policymakers to understand this data, in order to design interventions and adaptation that strive towards social sustainability towards a positive impact on the quality of life. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

The Martyrdom of Bab

It was in the morning of July the 9th in Tabriz, today Iran, when the merchant named Bab was accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Bab was the founder of the Baha’i faith. 

The faithful believe in the miracle but upon being shot by the firing squad, when the smoke cleared he was nowhere to be found, and was seen in his prison cell dictating to his secretary. Bahai faithful community commemorate the Martyrdom of the Báb with prayers and scripture. Especially the Tablets of Visitation. This scripture signifies the passing of an important figure.

May my spirit be a sacrifice to the wrongs Thou didst suffer, and my soul be a ransom for the adversities Thou didst sustain. I beseech God, by Thee and by them whose faces have been illumined with the splendors of the light of Thy countenance, and who, for love of Thee, have observed all whereunto they were bidden, to remove the veils that have come in between Thee and Thy creatures, and to supply me with the good of this world and the world to come. Thou art, in truth, the Almighty, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Compassionate.”

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Advancing of the Desert

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Since 1995 the global community has set this day to remind our struggle to contrast desertification and drought which is an ongoing, at time worsening, threat to our ecosystems, livelihoods, environment and economy, and to this day too little has be done about it. 1.5 billion people depend on land that is gradually degrading, and yearly 75 billion tons of fertile land are lost because of this, amounting to 12 million hectares of land every year lost to desertification and drought, destroying the environment and reducing the production of essential food. 

So what needs to be done? 

  1. Policy accompanied by management practice of the land and ecosystems as a joint operation, locally and globally involving every sector of society, and raise awareness of the general public.
  2. Social and political actions to counter desertification in national action plans and programmes implemented in areas where desertification is just at its starting level, by requalifying degraded areas, and showcase also the economic benefit.

It is rightfully one of the millennium development goals, also because, for now, this cataclysm affects mostly developing countries ill-equipped to afford and possess the know-how to counter desertification, and the drylands in the world host about half of the human population living in poverty, negatively impacting in a downward spiral the quality of life, contributing to social and economical decline. Countering desertification will impact human well-being, ecosystem safeguard and protection, the biosphere as a whole, and struggle to eradicate poverty. Action is now! 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Responsible Wishing

By Eleni Michail

What are you wishing for your life? What would you invite to come? We always wish for something more in our life, especially around the beginning of a new year. We may be satisfied and thankful with the “place” we are right now, but we definitely wish for something new or something more; a loving partner, a fulfilling job, a beautiful family, a healthier body, a safe home, a liberating change, a deeper meaning, a moment of silence… I am not referring to the mindless consumption here. I am talking about the true self-actualization desires. These are completely legitimate things. Our never-ending thirst for growth is what helped us evolve over time, create the arts and sciences.

However, many times, we fall in the trap of grumbling about the things we long for. Perhaps unconsciously we choose to stay in the comfort of complaining or whining. It sounds odd but it is more comfortable to complain and whine about things than actually take the responsibility for pursuing them.

But there’s a trick here. The process of complaining and whining, wishing but avoiding, takes in the end far more time and effort, than taking the responsibility of acting upon them. The process of grumbling unconsciously makes us think that we are small and unable to reach them. Eventually it does not bring us closer to the things we wish for, but further.

So let’s rethink of that. Let’s tune into our responsible part and act upon the things we long for. Maybe it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and start walking towards them. Sometimes this journey begins and ends only by setting an intention, or voicing our wish in a responsible and committed manner.

Would you be up for tuning into responsible wishing?

Living Timelessly

By Eleni Michail

Do you remember when we were children and our perception of time was different? Do you recall the age when time was unmeasurable and sometimes 10 seconds felt like 1 hour or 1 hour felt like 10 seconds? These were moment we really delved into the present moment. Living with mindfulness our experiences. Now, time is measured. Strictly measured and scarce.

Our whole life is time-bounded. We are forcefully given a plan with what needs to be done at a certain age; from schooling to retirement. Our role is to execute this plan faithfully. “Oh dear, don’t you dare to miss, skip or delay any of the predefined activities!” a voice would say with a hidden promise of punishment. Then, each day has its own plan of tasks and our role is to race through them. At the end of the day, we secretly wish for 2 more hours to rest or play at ease with our child, spend more time with our loved ones, exercise, cook, breathe.

It looks like we do not own the time any more or that time is our evil foe. It feels there is no time to live. But there is. If we choose to be in the moment, to experience fully what is happening now, the time strangely unfolds and expands. There, lays a space to breathe and live. When we choose to be mindful, our lives become timeless. Would you say yes for a timeless life? Give me a ❤️ if your answer is yes!

Demise of the Community Organiser

Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib

Today the Sikh followers recall the Martyrdom of Guru Arjjan Dev Sahib, the first Sikh martyr, who was tortured and executed in 1606 in Lahore after refusing to abandon his faith disobeying the orders of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Guru Arjan’s legacy was the first Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth that lives through this day and onwards and adopting and formalizing the Gurmukhi alphabet. His deeds include organising a charity system to support the needed in a more long term and sustainable way also to support soup kitchens, a system for resolving litigations and disputes and indeed a community organisers in the very sense of the word and for that worshipped to his day, as his sacrifice and martyrdom lives on to inspire present and future generations. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

What Is Buried Is Not Dead

By Eleni Michail, 

I do not believe in superficial celebrations. I believe in honouring the value of things and beings. And today, being the international day of women, I wish to honour the value of the feminine traits in us, traits in both women and men, traits which were suppressed, silenced, wounded, buried…

On a hot day, we began a journey to find the old monastery. The dirt road was bumpy and the sun was burning. The landscape was lunar; a vast area of empty hills, dead grass, scarce bushes. In the distance you could see a hugely wide, stony dry riverbed. One would say life almost abandoned this place.

The more we approached the monastery, the more I felt something vibrating. “I need to get down here” I said with a sudden voice that surprised even me. The car stopped and we got down. The conditions were not inviting – it was too hot, too stony, too thorny- yet something was moving me, inside and out. I began to walk energetically. This place seemed dead but it felt so alive. This place seemed new but it felt so familiar. This place seemed dry, but fluid emotions were overflowing me. Sacred life was somewhere hidden here.

I opened my mouth and let the voice to come out. I was surely in a duet. Something from the depth was singing and I was responding repeatedly. In the midst of this song, I softened my heart and surrendered my body to the motion and the emotion.

Few minutes later, in between the stones on the walls of the monastery, we found the tangible proof. A symbol of an ancient Aphrodite’s temple stuck in between the other stones. A sign that here, a temple of the Goddess was once standing with pride, reminding humans of their feminine capacity to bring life, to love deeply, to savor pleasure, to put boundaries, to be wild, to hold the others, to listen from the heart, to express, to see the unseen, to heal. Now the old temple is silenced, disassembled and buried under the Monastery.

But here’s the truth; What is buried is not dead. It is not dead, even if it is buried for a thousand years. Instead, it is fully alive and it is awaiting for us. The feminine traits of us, whether they are suppressed, silenced, wounded, or buried, they are not dead. They are calling us from the depth, to unearth them and reclaim them.

Today I am honouring the feminine traits in us, women and men. What are you honoring?

Child Labour is a Crime

It is shocking that so far into the XXI century we still need a day to keep in mind that we still did not eradicate the problem of child labour, although progress was registered across the planet, this still remains a major challenge, upon reading that today 152 million children are victims of child labour and 73 million of them carry out dangerous jobs in mines, working with chemicals or operating heavy machinery. Child Labour is not only ethically wrong, to deprive a child of its basic right to actually have a childhood, we are also looking at safekeeping the mental and physical health that is threatened by this harmful practice of employing children. Children are unskilled, low-cost labour, removed from education in order to support and provide for their poor households and families by contributing with the little wage they receive, and facing more hazards than their adult co-workers. Moreover, without a proper education they will remain unskilled labourers with small chances if at all to have a better future. It is a practice and culture that needs to be eradicated, for the present and future children at risk of being exploited by investing in education and improving working conditions and salaries for the adults in order to make it unnecessary for a child to leave school and remove childhood for the sake of hard labour and salaries. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Seeds of Change

Youth Growth through positive environmental engagement

Today we are going to start a new series of articles, this time honouring the work and practice of our colleague and friend  eco-trainer and coach Eleni Michail from Cyprus, who offers us a hands-on practical approach to linking youth development to nature’s processes and the More-Than-Human world. 

Our first article is an introduction to the free handbook and toolkit Eleni developed jointly with Ognian Gadoularov and Bogdan Romanica, called “Seeds of Chain” which contains theories on growth through nature’s approaches and positive approaches, and most of all non-formal education tools, and it is free an accessible to all. 

Seeds of Change is a toolkit that can be used to enhance the impact of Youth work on the social

integration of disadvantaged youth – their personal, social and professional development. It is also a tool for acknowledging and highlighting the importance of Youth work and for increasing its quality. The creation of the manual “Seeds of Change – cultivating of authentic growth of youth” is a result of the EU supported project “Moving Beyond – innovative learning tools for personal and professional development of youth”. One of the outcomes of the project was creation of an adapted approach based on Ecocentric development (ECD), Positive Psychology (PP) and nature based learning (NBL) to be used in the context of social integration and work with disadvantaged youth. The manual offers a theoretical part and a set of practical methods for direct implementation when working with young people. The content is based on data from scientific literature on the topic and analysis of practical experiments and experience conducted during the project. This manual opens new opportunities for the youth sector, offering innovative methodologies that could be easily incorporated in various formats of Youth work . You can download the full manual here.

World Ocean’s Day

The 30×30 Campaign 

Since 1992 this day was proclaimed World Oceans Day, it is both a celebration of this wondrous shared ecosystem and a call to action, a moment for individuals, communities and others to celebrate that natural element after which our Earth is called the Blue Planet. We have a duty, and that is to restore the oceans and protect its ecosystem for our own well-being, by healing at least 30% of these waters by 2030, a necessary action to solve the climate crisis and safeguard biodiversity, for this purpose the campaign 30×30 was born. 

World leaders in every sector of society need to hear from us that today’s actions impact the Blue Planet and the wellbeing of future generations. Join the action today, tomorrow and onwards, and here is how: 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Reimagine, Recreate, Restore – the time is now

Join us in celebrating the World Environment Day

World Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that there is at least going to be 1 billion hectares of land degraded in the next year, that is the size of Europe. Today 3.2 billion people are affected by land degradation, affecting both quality and quality of food and water, healing of our planet and of ourselves needs to start now. Beginning by growing trees, rewilding gardens, cleaning the water and healthier diets, this can be the point in history where humanity has made peace with the-more-than-human world. Yes, lets grieve the loss of ecosystems, habitats and species, and let’s also express joy in the knowledge that this can change, has to change from now on. Time to be bold, at Rescogita we are joining #GenerationRestoration , what about you? 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

THE RESOLUTION (THE END?) (Pat 12)

This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”, the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

As the end of the year approaches, so does the conclusion of my series on the Hero’s Journey. This post is dedicated to the very reason why all journeys start: to end.

We are now at the real conclusion of our story. Anything that could have happened, has happened. Forge new friendships and test them, check. Encounter enemies and defeat them, check. Get the treasure and experience, check. Now it’s time to go back to where it all started.

Each character approaches the end of their story arc. Facing their respective challenges, they underwent the personal transformations that will define their individual Journeys.

At this point the characters have become fully conscious of their role as “heroes”, of all its implications, as well as of the true nature of their journeys.

During the Road of Trials, in the Dark Cave or during the climactic (from climax, not in the sense of the weather conditions) Death and Rebirth phase, the protagonists have understood what was the deeper meaning of their Call to Adventure.

At the beginning they might have thought to go on a quest for personal gain, success, wealth or glory; but now, after the Rewards have been claimed, it’s the time when the Hero(es) realise that their quest must be dedicated to a purpose higher than their own personal fulfillment.

There are several ways in which this can happen. Whether it be to go back to their community with the treasure, found a new city, start a family, or simply to become a better person – it remains to be seen. But a few elements must be there. Let’s have a look at them.

inception

“Inception” (2010) provides a very good example of open ending for a movie that might be just the perfect resolution for the story… or not?

In the best storyelling, for a Journey to be complete, three “heroic” dimensions have to be met: – the personal, material world, in which the Heroes realise their limits (first of all, physical: for example through acknowledging their own’s mortality), develop new abilities, and understand in which direction they have to focus their efforts to reach their goals. This is to become aware of each own’s potential and explore the sense of Self. It can be compared to the transition from childhood to adolescence. For the first time, the individual forms a sense of its own separate and specific identity. This also means having to make a few choices that separate us from our original roots;

– the social, collective sphere: which focuses on issues like belonging, legacy, family, community; and in which the Heroes have to answer questions like “to whom do you belong?”, “where do you come from?” and “who is your tribe?”. Here, in other words, Heroes become aware of their place in a world that is larger then their Selves. It can be compared to stepping into adulthood: understanding that we are social animals, and no-one can live a really fulfilling life without developing social connections. This stage can be challenging, especially for people coming from dysfunctional backgrounds: and that’s exactly the reason why a new awareness in this area can be a powerful therapeutic tool. What if I don’t have a tribe (or community, or family, or country…) to go back to? Then you can always create your own – and maybe that’s the reason why you left on your Journey;

– the spiritual, transcendent world. This is to become aware that life is much more than we can see and touch. It’s the dimension that gives purpose and direction to all the rest, “that binds the Galaxy together“. It’s the place of Self-less-ness, where the Ego is abandoned and dissolves: so that complete inspiration, enlightenment and release can be experienced. This process can be compared to the new awareness that comes at the end of each major life cycle (maybe call it “midlife crisis” in our society), and with every major awareness step we may take in our life.

These three dimensions can be interpreted in different ways: in a sense, it’s a journey into the Personal – Collective – Transcendent awareness. In another, it’s the transition between Adolescence – Adulthood – Elderhood. Or, again, symbolised Body – Mind – Soul. This tryad element is common in every human culture since prehistoric times: maybe a sign that it’s deeply embedded in us.

Newgrange_Entrance_Stone

The Triskele or “triple spiral” adorns the entrance stone in Newgrange, Ireland. It’s a symbol of perpetual change, with three spirals flowing into each other.

In conclusion, The Resolution in the Hero’s Journey is the accomplishment of all parables of personal development and growth. It’s the moment when all the plot lines come together, and no question is left unanswered.

*

Only at the end of all this process the Journey can be considered complete.

In most stories, this happens in a relatively compact space and time, with well defined phases of beginning, development and resolution. This depends also on the medium, the way the story is told: “the narrative arc” needs some tension to work well. In other cases, the classical structure is modified – like in the examples offered by the Odyssey or in The Lord of the Rings, which we have already discussed in this other post. A similar pattern can also be found in the Major Arcana of the Tarots tradition, as Tarot divination is mainly storytelling. The similarities between the models are amazing, and certainly not a simple coincidence: the journey starts with a situation of un-awareness, naivety (The Fool, number zero)

220px-RWS_Tarot_00_Fool

and, after a long journey in which we get to meet several archetypal characters, human qualities and natural elements, the journey ends in the total harmony and global understanding that is represented by The World (number 21). It’s a very interesting story. I have the feeling I will analyze this in more detail in a future post.

RWS_Tarot_21_World

In other words – for a story to have a good, satisfying ending, it’s not necessary that everything ends well. The “Happy ending” is a concept introduced by Hollywood “golden age” storytellers, who were more concerned to give their American audience a reassuring experience, to encourage them to come back to cinema and to spread optimism. The “and they lived happily thereafter” doesn’t really belong to the European tradition, from the Classic stories of the Celtic, Norse and Greek-Roman myths, up until the medieval and later fairy tales. And the same is true if we look at folk lore and legends from all around the world.

Sure, a surprise plot twist help, because it’s exciting and leaves a long lasting impression on us. But in general, we don’t need to be reassured or consoled, in order to enjoy a story. We need to learn from it: we need to feel that we joined an universal experience, and that all plot lines were serving a purpose, and have reached it.  This is the “resolution” (from the latin “resolvo“, loosen, or reducing things into simpler forms), and is possible only if a storyteller is capable (and brave) enough to dive deep in all of the three mentioned dimensions, and do some digging.

The-Usual-Suspects-Verbal-Kint-IS-Keyser-Soze

“The Usual Suspects” (1995) is by many considered the best movie ending all of times. And certainly it is NO happy ending.

Easy? Certainly not. Scary? Of course yes. And maybe that’s why this can be a crucial self development experience. It is connected to some of the most basic questions we all face during the course of our lives. Does it make sense? Let’s test it through the philter of a famous blockbuster movie. However imperfect the plot might be (I am not denying this), let’s use Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar (2014) to test what we are saying.

WARNING: spoilers about the movie below the line!

The main character, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), leaves on his quest to save the Earth or at least Humankind. When he leaves, he leaves behind unsettled conflicts with his family, especially his wife who died prematurely, and his daughter Murph.

Left to right: Mackenzie Foy and Matthew McConaughey in INTERSTELLAR, from Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures.

Left to right: Mackenzie Foy (Murph) and Matthew McConaughey (Cooper).

He joins a desperate, emergency mission set up by what is left of NASA to save the Earth. All his personal and family issues of course leave with him. Are they solved before the end of the story? When is the moment for their “resolutions”?

The first crisis happens on the water planet, where waves are so massive to appear like mountains in the distance. Here the crew meets for the first time the harsh reality of their mission, the possibility of failure, physical harm and death. It’s also the moment to test the loyalty or frailties of friends. This is translated into storytelling terms with the solution of letting one of the crew members die. Coop also gains a renewed trust in his own skills at this stage. Before leaving in fact, he couldn’t cope with the sense of failure left from the last space mission he took part to. This time, his decisions and ability save the day. In the first challenge, he gains new awareness on himself and his crew mates.  What next? The unsolved conflict with his daugther stays unsolved, and of course it doesn’t help that interstellar communication can only happen through an intergalactic distance, and one-way only. Cooper is forced to face the consequences his life choice have on other people around him. The people he loves, and possibly also others: if his mission fails, the whole human species will face suffering and extinction. This dimension reaches its peak on the frozen planet discovered by Dr. Mann (played by Matt Damon). The situation and dialogues here are all centred on the macro-topic of the social dimension of the protagonist. Is one individual able to distinguish between his own personal interest, his family’s, and the broader good of our species?

Dr. Mann: Your father had to find another way to save the human race from extinction. Plan B. A colony. 

Brand: But why not tell people? Why keep building those damn stations? 

Dr. Mann: Because he knew how hard it would be to get people to work together to save the species instead of themselves. 

Cooper: Bullshit. 

Dr. Mann: You never would have come here unless you believed you were going to save them. Evolution has yet to transcend that simple barrier. We can care deeply – selflessly – about those we know, but that empathy rarely extends beyond our line of sight. 

Brand: But the lie… that monstrous lie… 

Dr. Mann: Unforgivable. And he knew that. He was prepared to destroy his own humanity in order to save the species. He made an incredible sacrifice… 

Cooper: No. No, the incredible sacrifice is being made by the people on Earth who are gonna die! Because in his fucking arrogance he declared their case hopeless. 

Dr. Mann: I’m sorry Cooper. Their case… is hopeless. 

Cooper: No… no. 

Dr. Mann: We are the future. 

…[after Mann breaks Cooper’s helmet and leaves him for dead] 

Dr. Mann: I’m sorry. I can’t watch you go through this. I’m sorry. I thought I could, but I can’t. I’m here. I’m here for you. Just listen to my voice, Cooper. I’m right here. You’re not alone. 

Dr. Mann: [looking back] Do you see your children? It’s okay, they’re right there with you. 

Only after successfully facing these challenges, and having found his personal answers, Cooper will be able to move forward in his quest. Into the next dimension: the Transcendent. When he faces the Black Hole – what better symbol for what we don’t understand? Literally, we don’t know what is on the other side. We don’t even know if there is another side! – he is ready for his final sacrifice. His individual missions accomplished, and he is ready to do whatever it takes, in order to give humankind a chance of survival. It’s a moment of powerful, cathartic release: “Netwton’s third law: we gonna leave something behind”, he says, while he prepares himself to jump into the Big Unknown. I will not discuss the movie ending here (in my opinion, the only disappointing part of this otherwise magnificent movie). But I believe that “Interstellar” serves our case nicely: with its different challenges, which take place on different planets, it presents a very clear representation and helps illustrate the three dimensions of Cooper’s Hero’s Journey. The personal sphere is entered when Coop faces the first, water planet. Hard decision have to be taken, with hard and irrevocable consequences; The social / collective side of the quest is explored on the frozen-cold planet where he meets the stranded Doctor Mann (who also symbolises very effectively some parts of the collective consciousness of humankind: selfishness, survival instinct, manipulation) and faces questions related to his family and even the destiny of the human species; The final mystery, represented by the encounter with the Black Hole. It’s a final moment of truth, but having now reached the end of his story, Cooper is ready to sacrifice everything he has, even his life, to give Humankind a hope of survival.

THE END… or not?

And so this is also my own Resolution. The decision I took, six months ago, to write an ambitious series of posts describing in the detail each stage of the Hero’s Journey, is now complete. It’s also very fitting that it happens now, at the end of the year (I started writing in June 2015 and it is now December 26th), and I believe many aspects of this incredibly complex topic have been, at least marginally, touched. I will write more on the topic and on its several spin offs, but in the meantime I will just say this: I you have been able to follow me until now, here is my biggest THANK YOU. And if you haven’t… well, maybe you will!

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

Pentecost

The 50th Day

Pentecost comes from Greek, meaning 50th day, and it is one of the main Christian celebrations, commemorating the time when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and disciples after Christ ascends to Heaven, beginning thus Christian’s mission to spread Christianity throughout the world of a new Covenant, this time between God and all of humanity. I On this day priests wear ritual clothes decorated with cloth resembling flames, as the flame that descended from the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and Disciples which gifted them with divine wisdom and the knowledge of the languages of the World in order to spread the Christian message, marking this as a time of renewal, as some Christian communities renovate their baptism in the timespan between Easter and Pentecost, and to uphold Christian values and lifestyle. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

DEATH AND REBIRTH (Part 11)

By Carmine Rodi Falanga

This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”, the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

 I know, the title of this post may sound a little exaggerated, maybe even scary. But it describes effectively the stage that comes next in the structure of the Hero’s Journey.

Let’s try to remember all that happened so far: a Challenge has been set (and initially, naturally, Rejected); a Journey started; Teaching happened all over along the way, together with strange, exotic and sometimes dangerous Encounters; a Big Danger has been faced; a fabled Reward was claimed. Along the way, a lot of Experienced happened. Our hero (who finally accepts he/she is a Hero) has packed again, crossed another Threshold, is ready to go back home. It couldn’t get any better. It’s done, right?

hunger

Yeah. Katniss seems to think that her Journey isn’t quite over yet, even after she won “The Hunger Games” (2012).

Not quite. It’s exactly at this point that a new, even more important challenge must take place. Because it’s not enough for our Heroes, to be aware of their new conditions and experience. Now it’s time to show that they are really worthy of it. The Journey back home has many challenges. Reluctantly, the protagonists might even have persuaded themselves that going back home might be the right thing to do. Even if the Extraordinary World feels so good, deep inside they know that the Treasure they found cannot be for their own benefit only. Instead, it needs to be taken back home and shared with the community. But to know it is not enough: now they must learn why.

And this is the essence of this Stage of the Journey. In writing or screenplays, it’s the Climax (from the Greek for “stairway”) that awaits now. The peak, the highest challenge met so far by the Hero, the real and final test.

aliens3

“Climax” is quite the word that comes to mind when Ripley has to battle the Mother Alien at the end of “Aliens” (1986). Just when all troubles seemed over. James Cameron knows the tricks in successful storytelling, apparently.

In stories from all traditions, this is such a strong narrative moment, one that can involve somebody’s death, departure, or some other form of permanent loss: a connection, a possession, a body part. Powerful symbols are used here to deliver the meaning that in order for the transition to a New Stage of Existance to be effective, a price has to be paid. And sometimes it’s a high price. There are several forms in which this can manifest. We will try to examine a few.  The loss of the divine lover: maybe no story teaches this lesson more strongly (and painfully) than the Classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. As you could remember, we have already encountered it in a previous post. The brave Orpheus, son of Apollo, went all the way down to the Underworld to bring back to life his beloved young wife, Eurydice, who died prematurely.

After a true Ordeal, he strikes a deal with the King of the Dead, Hades. He could take back his wife, but in order to do so, he would have to walk back leading the way. Eurydice would follow him, just a few steps behind. With one condition: Orpheus had to trust the agreement blindly. He would never, under any circumstance, turn back his head in doubt. He would never look back to check if his loved one was still following him. He had to have faith, until they were safely in the open again.

The brave man accepts the deal. What else could he do? He didn’t get all the way down to the Realm of the Dead for nothing after all. So the couple starts their journey back to the surface, soon to realise that it would be the hardest part of their adventure yet. Monsters and demons lurked in the dark at every corner; strange and fearful noises echoed in the shadows at every step. But after a while, Orpheus couldn’t hear his love’s footsteps anymore. Or so he thought? His faith started to falter. Was she still there? What if something terrible happened just then? If he turned his head just once, for a quick glance, would anyone ever notice?

Consumed by self-doubt, the young man couldn’t resist, and turned his head. Just once, just to quickly check if everything was fine… and yes, Eurydice was there, following him! But so was Hades, inflexible, still honouring his part of the deal. While Orpheus didn’t: and to his greatest horror, the young poet could do nothing but witness as his wife, the love of his life, vanished into darkness again. This time, for good, and nothing could ever restore her to her previous mortal form.

The tragic ending of Orpheus and Eurydice’s story, portrayed by Elsie Russel.

EurydiceOrpheusRussell

Firm but fair. Not exactly your perfect happy ending, eh? But so were often the classic stories from the past – before (mainly) Hollywood sweetened them more and more to reassure and please audiences worldwide. As tough as it may be, the story offers some strong universal teachings for us to learn. This particular myth is so rich and deep you can choose your own moral(s): never give in to self-doubt. Or – death and loss are inevitable and we must learn to deal with them. Or maybe, nobody can cheat the Gods and get away with it. Orpheus learns in the hardest possible way, with the loss of his beloved half, that if he wants to go on with life he needs to leave something behind.

*

The Fallen Angel parable. Many other myths or tales choose more reassuring symbolisms to express the concept of necessary change. This can be the moment when the Villain, having completed his cycle, meets his fate (we have discussed the very important role of Villains in a story here). And mind you: it’s not only to say “ah, see, the bad guy gets what he deserves!”. There is a much deeper meaning that is conveyed here. The Villain is expression of an unbalance, a twisted plot – another Journey – that has its roots in the past, where the Hero fell victim to their own weaknesses or passions.

At this point of the story, it’s time for this to be solved. That particular aspect of the past has been dealt with, and it’s time to turn page, move on. This is symbolised with the demise of the Bad Guy, and the closure of its narrative arc. This is described very well in The Lion King (1994) for example:

scar

Scar, the evil brother, eventually falls victim of his own selfish ego (portrayed by the hyenas).

Or, and it couldn’t be otherwise, see the role of Darth Vader in Star Wars – who redeems himself before he can be seen for the first time by his son:


Anakinredeemed

“The Return of the Jedi” (1983). “Just for once let me look on you with my own eyes”.

Or, in some other cases, it’s the Hero that has to go through his own personal ritual of Transformation. Sometimes metaphorically, sometimes quite literally. Let’s see a few examples:

Luke Skywalker in “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) loses a hand in a lighsaber duel, after he learns who is his real father. He has to build a new identiy: symbolised here by the loss of a limb.Indiana Jones has to face the possible death of his father in “The Last Crusade” (1989), before he can choose what are the most important values in his life in the movie that ends the saga. I said, ends the saga. 


trinity

And in the most iconic – if a bit cheesy – scene in “The Matrix”, Neo is dead and brought back to life by Trinity and her love. His cycle (remember how he started the journey?) is complete.

The Hero faces his own death, and is brought back to life by the teachings he got (as in Star Wars) or his Allies (Neo in The Matrix he has learned to love – Indiana Jones heals the relationship with his father and decides that ambition is not the primary value of his life), maybe with a scar that will be a constant reminder of the Journey, representing change.

The Martyrdom. In more drastic cases, the hero dies. Think of course about the parable and life story of Jesus Christ. In these cases it becomes even more important that the story survives, so future generations will learn and prosper from it. In this way, the sacrifice wouldn’t be in vain – and this explains why in many traditional cultures storytellers were highly respected, almost “holy” members of the community. Nowadays they are mostly starving, while a privileged few get a villa in California. Let’s see a few cases:

maxresdefaultEven the visual representation of Leonida’s death scene in “300” (2006) is a strong reference to the Crucifixion. It’s martyrdom in the essence.

terminator-2-thumbs-up

The bad-turned-good cyborg meets his fate at the end of “Terminator 2” (1991), but the audience feels alright. He cannot speak from the bottom of the melted steel pool, but you can almost hear him saying I WILL BE BACK. I guess it all makes sense by now. What is the meaning for us, then?

Once again, each of us can choose our own interpretation of such an ancient and powerful element of storytelling. But in short, this stage teaches us that just when we believe we have reached a new, safe destination, it’s time to prove (once more) that we are worthy of it. And this usually comes in the form of a very demanding test, which will require a price to pay. Every passage of state is demanding – and must be so. In a way, it’s again a Threshold to cross, and it follows the same rules. It’s really that simple. If we want to move on, we have to leave something behind. This concept can also help in dealing with grief or loss. It’s inevitable, it’s the supreme mystery of life, and maybe it’s exactly the reason why we all embarked in this Journey in this world? It’s hard, to let go.  But some “old” needs to die, in order for “new” to emerge. The hero must learn this hard lesson, before his Journey is complete.

Tears_In_Rain

“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain. Time to die”. The unforgettable final monologue of Roy in Blade Runner (1982). His arc is complete. Almost makes you wonder who is the hero here.

It may sound easy in principle, of course, but it’s not as comfortable when we are called to face such situations in our life. Ok, we get it: change is necessary. But our new comfort zone feels just so cosy, do we have to leave it so soon? We worked so hard to get our reward, do we really have to leave it all behind and start again? Yes, but not all. There is also good news: this is also a very important moment to affirm our power of choice. The Extraordinary World can be tempting, so reassuring after we have mastered its ways, defeated the bad guys, and claimed its rewards. But here is the deeper meaning: to really incorporate the change in us, we must choose what to take with us – and what not – and make space for it. Something must stay behind, for some other things to make it through and become part of us, in the next parts of our Journey and life. But the elements that will come with us, will stay with us forever. 

The Spaniard’s story in “The Gladiator” (2000) is another clear example of Martyrdom. At the end of his arc, he welcomes death as a transition. Not an end, but a beginning. I myself find this particular teaching very useful every time I am involved in coaching or training with a group, and the end of an intense residential experience is approaching. 

There is that feeling of “oh but why do I have to go back to real life?” that is hard to overcome, sometimes.

The Hero’s Journey metaphors really can help there. Because in the end, there is no “real” and “imaginary” life. Life is one and it’s a whole. What happens in our fantasy is real enough, if we remember how powerful our imagination can be. And what happens in our everyday life can be as fantastic as a fairy tale, if we use our newly-acquired magic abilities and – for example – appreciate all the privileges we have, the people we meet and share our adventures with, see our challenges (big and small) as heroic quests, and are not afraid to claim the treasures that wait in the Dark Cave. If, in other words, we are not afraid to turn our lives into “Heroic Tales”. That is the magic, healing power of storytelling.

image-never-ending-story1

In “The Neverending Story” Bastian manages to merge his own real (a bit boring) world, with Fantasia. And he is a hero!

After his(her) Resurrection, the Hero knows this: reality is fantastic, and fantasy is real. And the Hero will be known henceforth as the Master of the Two Worlds: able to get the best from both dimensions, travel between them at will, and appreciate them both in their differences.

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

International Day for Biological Diversity

If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem

UN declared the 22nd of may International Day for Biological Diversity, the aim is to raise awareness, as well as increasing the understanding of biodiversity issues, since 1993, th day of the Convention on Biological Diversity , the times are dire today and require immediate and urgent action and that is why this day’s purpose is call for a renewed convention, calling not only for governments but also for civil society, individuals and every sector of society to make their voices loud and clear expressing the with for a strong global biodiversity framework and invert the trend of biodiversity loss for our planet. That is why this year’s theme is “We are part of the solution”, which is a continuation of last year’s “Our solutions are in nature” reminding us that biodiversity is the answer to many sustainable development challenges, nature-based solution to climate, health, food and water security, and where biodiversity is the foundation where to build back better. https://www.cbd.int/biodiversity-day 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

Years ago I came across two researchers, one of them was studying cultural and historical traditions concerning some specific foods which were considered as ‘traditional’ and which played a strong role in defining the local and national identity, and the other researcher was set on a quest to find the origins of a song which many cultures, even distant, consider it to be part of their folklore and tradition. Regardless what a fascinating journey this was in terms of findings both researchers had to give up, failing at finding which culture, nation or people first came up with that recipe and that song. Even more fascinating was the discovery of evidence of cross ‘pollination’ among human cultures and the similar ways how we adopt and adapt each others’ customs and traditions in very similar ways. This is what should be told to those cultural dimension based conflicts that make up for ¾ of the conflicts occurring in the world according to the UN, and bridging that gap is essential, urgent even, to accomplish peace, stability and development.  The day provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to advance the four goals of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted on 20 October 2005: Time to start, right?  Find out more here : https://www.un.org/en/observances/cultural-diversity-day 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

World Bee Day

The UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on 20 December 2017 declaring 20 May World Bee Day.

The aim is to focus on the importance to preserve bees and other pollinators for humanity and the whole world, and a call to action for initiatives and activities that can help preserve the legacy and essential biosphere contribution of these creatures. It all started back in 2014 as a grassroot initiative of Slovenian Beekeepers Association and slowly turned into a global event that resonates across the whole world. The purpose of this day, campaign and movement is to raise awareness among the public and to lobby among policymakers from local to global to carry out legislation aimed at protecting all bees and pollinators and safeguard their existence in grave danger today because of human activities harming the environment.  Join the campaign https://www.worldbeeday.org/ 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Shavuot – The Feast of Weeks

7 weeks after Pesach (Passover) comes the Feast of Weeks, also sometimes mentioned as Pentecost, its roots are likely to be found in a grain harvest festival. Although its religious significance is connected to the Exodus of the Jewish people from the Egyptian captivity, and marking the date when Moses was handed the Torah on Mount Sinai, marking also the birth of Jewish consciousness, entering a covenant and pact with God. It is a time of rejoice where God and Israel enter a symbolic marriage. This day is celebrated in synagogues, and special reading such as the Piyyutim and the Book of Ruth followed by an all night study session of the holy texts. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

The Night of Power

Laylat al-Qadr

Tonight is the holiest night in Islam, as this is the night when the Holy Quran was told to the Prophet Muhammad by Jibrail, the Angel, and occurs on the final 10 days of Ramadan. 

A single good deed done on this night, bring the blessing of one thousand months, while dedicating to worship and increase the Taqwa and recite the Holy Book, while giving to those in need and accomplishing one of the Five Pillars of Islam, giving charity. 

It is a long and sleepless night to pray and reflect, and inspire the good deeds that can be done onto others, and a time for mutual forgiveness. Praying 

“We have indeed revealed this in the ‘Night of Power’. And what will explain to you what the night of power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down The Angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand. “Peace!…This until the rise of Morn!”

-Surah Al-Qadr

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach

The UN General Assembly, issued resolution 72/130 declaring 16th of may as International Day of Living Together in Peace, to remind and mark the need for the international community to act to foster peace, tolerance, inclusion and solidarity, to live together united in our differences and diversity and a build a sustainable world of peace, solidarity and harmony. Which also means to put that extra effort on reconciliation and encourage forgiveness and compassion among people and individuals. So lets join the campaign and reminder at www.16may.org 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

International Day of Light

On may 16th 1960 Theodore Maiman carried out the very first successful laser operation, and since 2015, to mark this historic day UNESCO has promoted the International Day of Light, to celebrate scientific advancement and the benefit it brings to us. 

This is a global celebration to focus on appreciating light and its role in science, culture, art, education, sustainable development and regeneration in every possible field. Its initial name was International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies, issued by the UN back in 2015 to recognise the achievements of light science. Want to find out more and join the campaign? https://www.lightday.org/ 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

THE JOURNEY BACK HOME (Part 10)

By Carmine Rodi Falanga

This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”, the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

After the Reward, the mission might seem complete. The enemy has been defeated, the treasure is taken, the (prince / princess / frog) has been kissed. The Journey is over. But is it really?

Hell, no of course! It’s time to go back home.

And that is true for two reasons: first, all the experience and the amazing revelations obtained in the adventure don’t happen for their own sake. The hero learns some very important lessons out there, but this wisdom must be brought forth, in order to produce some real heroic results (we will come to that later).

The second reason is not “secondary” at all: a basic element of storytelling is that, well, there must be somebody able to tell the story! This necessarily implies that someone must make it back home alive. Or at least, the story must – by the means of some form of communication, that is the same thing.

Many great stories actually are all about going back to where it all started. The Odyssey, for example. Ulysses had just spent 10 years fighting the war of Troy (a journey that didn’t start particularly well for him, to start with), he even had the clever idea to make the war end – in a massacre, but war is war and never changes – so one could say that his job was over there, right? No it wasn’t: the gods were not pleased yet, and Ulysses’ learning process wasn’t complete.

He needed to travel another 10 years across all the known world, meeting wonders and dangers beyond count; he needed to get lost for good, before he could find himself. And learn his final lesson about himself, love, faith and legacy.

ulysses-1954

Kirk Douglas played Ulysses in the 1954 movie.

It’s a story very similar to Dorothy’s ordeal in “The Wizard of Oz“. After a long and dangerous journey, the little girl from Kansas needs to go back home, before she can learn her lesson and say it loud:

“Oh, Aunt Em, there is no place like home!”

dorothy

This ending is quite controversial for contemporary audiences. So the point of all adventures is really, just to go back home and never want to leave again? The Wizard of Oz has been criticised by more modern commentators, and rightly so. I don’t believe that was the original meaning of that ending. But we will come to that towards the end of this post.

In “The Matrix” (1999) a different scenario is described. Neo did it: he defeated the Agents, he knows beyond doubt that he is The One. He can bend the physical laws at will! It will hardly get any cooler than that, right?

So why didn’t he just stay in the Matrix, and become the King of Everything? Live-Happily-Thereafter kind of thing? Exactly because he is a Hero, and he knows better than that. He knows that whatever he learned during his Ordeal will have to be taken back into the Ordinary World – even if it will not be easy at all:

“I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid. You’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone, and then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you, a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you.”

This really is a fundamental part of the narrative of the Hero’s Journey.

Whatever treasure, wealth or knowledge is found in the Journey, it must be brought back home. Doesn’t matter how. The Hero’s Journey is not a quest for selfishness, wealth, glory, or conquest – although in many cases, it can start like that. Instead, it is an adventure based on compassion, empowerment and generosity.

The Hero learns that whatever discovery or gain he has obtained, this needs to be shared. Because for him (her) ever to become a hero, it took in the first place a family, a community, friends, Mentor(s), even enemies. The Hero grows and comes to realise all this, and the way to honour this legacy is to share whatever rewards he earned.

This really is all-important. If it doesn’t happen, the Hero will become another archetype: The Fallen Angel. From Lucifer to Voldemort, from Gollum to Dracula, our collective wisdom from classic tales to contemporary pop culture is so rich with examples of heroes who get blinded with their own power (or luck), and decide to keep it for themselves.

“It is better to reign in Hell, then to serve in the Heavens” – so says Lucifer according to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, 1667. Agree?

Satan is thrown down from Heaven

Well, in real life, happy endings sometimes are hard to notice, at least in a short term perspective. But in stories, what happens is very clear: if arrogance or selfishness is the only driving force behind a Journey, the higher you rise, the deeper you will fall. And, mind you: the Journey Back Home can be in many cases a Hero’s Journey on itself. There will be thresholds to be crossed, new tests to be faced, friends and enemies… possibly even another Dark Cave (but more on this, in a later post). Probably there will be a whole cycle again. Just to underline the importance of this stage of the story. Because the decision to go back home can be hard, and as such, must be tested and tested again. At the same time, there is some good news: the Hero doesn’t have to do it all alone. Sometimes it happens that the original Hero is not the one who gets back home. See “300” for example: king Leonidas obviously dies – otherwise the story would be called “299”, I guess, and that wouldn’t sound as cool – and it is Aristodemus who will tell the story to his fellows in Sparta. Or… take “Terminator 2“: Schwarzenegger’s cyborg dies in the iconic scene with the melted steel, and it will be Sarah and the young John Connor who will live and bring the legacy forward. Maybe even too much, since it’s hard to find a sequel that is up to the standard… but that’s another story.

Being a hero is hard work and, as it happens, sometimes it requires the highest sacrifice of all. That’s how hard it gets. But what is our role in that, then? First of all, and it’s perfectly alright: to witness the events. To watch and learn. But also to carry the teachings forward. Possibly to bring it to our communities, so that they will be shared, and the next generations of heroes will know how to face those challenges and maybe, will not have to pay such a high price to complete their quests. So, in conclusion. Does “coming back home” really have to mean that the Hero goes back to the Ordinary World, and business goes back as usual? Of course not. Stories are as diverse in this, as many outcomes we can have in living the human experience. “The Lord of the Rings” provide two perfect cases to conclude our analysis: Sam and Frodo both return to the Shire, after they complete their incredible quest to deliver the One Ring to mount Doom. Film and book differ quite a bit in how this happens (mainly, in what happened in the Shire while the hobbits were gone), but one thing they get exactly in the same way: how the Journey ends for the two protagonists. Samvise‘s journey gave him self confidence and bravery beyond normal. He was able to overcome his limits so many times during his adventure, that once he is back home he knows what is left to do. He goes and proposes to the girl he loves, and they happily get married. He literally brings forward his legacy by creating a family, the wisdom he acquired will live on in his children and benefit the community.

sam

And what about Frodo, then? His story couldn’t be more different. He is also back, and he sure enjoys being back at the Shire. He goes out with his buddies at the pub, he enjoys a little bit of well earned rest.

back

But his journey was a different one. He went on to explore his family’s history, to meet mistery and wonders, and after he is back, he knows things will never be the same again. His journey has changed him for good.  And – in a true hero’s way – he doesn’t blame anybody or anything for this. Things are  just different now.

It is a familiar feeling, isn’t it? After a deep transformative experience, sometimes coming back home just doesn’t feel – homey – anymore.  When that happens, we must face it. So does our Frodo. It is not without tears that he bids farewell to his friends at the Grey Heavens, when he decides to leave with Gandalf and go beyond the sea. New adventures will await for him there, possibly danger too, but that is what Frodo decides to do, after he knows that his life at the Shire will never be as before. He doesn’t know where is his place. But he knows it’s not there anymore.

Departure at the Grey Havens, by Ted Nasmith

Departure at the Grey Havens, by Ted Nasmith

And that concludes this part of the story. Going back home is a fundamental part of any story, because it’s there that the experience is transformed into learning, and can be transmitted. This is how human culture developed. There are many possible ways how this can happen; the story can be told by the same Hero in person, or by someone (or something) else. Immediately after, or in some other time. This doesn’t matter. What matters is that the story will be shared. Because, and that really is at the foundation of any storytelling: a story is not a story, until it’s told.

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

Eid-Al-Fitr, Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak! To all Muslim believers, as Ramadan comes to an end for this year, Allah’s revelation of the Quran was duly celebrated, and the fasting period ends. Time now to celebrate to meet beloved friends and families and thank Allah for the reflections and learnings of the past month, gratitude for what we have and to share ith those in need by making the Zakat-al-Fitr a symbolic tax obligatory donation to give to charity, as it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and besides this many volunteer in shelters, soup kitchens or personally hand out charity to the less fortunate ones. Following this principle Eid-Al-Fitr is also a day for presents, children get eidia gift such as money and sweets, which are also exchanged between neighbours, friends and why not perfect strangers too. This night will be lit with fireworks, laughter and a celebratory mood across the Islamic world, and so we say onto you, Eid Mubarak! 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Mother’s Day

“Thank you!” is a very good sentence to start this day, actually the most appropriate one to honour the strongest of the generative and caring archetype, that of the mother, the giver of life, the nurturing being thanks to whom we exist in this world and universe. 

A celebration of that inborn nature that increase the capacity of love, selflessness and care that knows no equals in human feelings, honoured since the dawn of time when referring to earth or nature as a mother, of goddesses, until our days associating this word with all that embeds unbound and generative love. We are habitual creatures, and tend often to take for granted the good things that happen in our lives until we stop noticing them. Let this day be the one that reminds us of that borderless love that shone light onto our hearts. 

“There is nothing as powerful as mother’s love, and nothing as healing as a child’s soul.”

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

THE REWARD (Part 9)

By Carmine Rodi Falanga

This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”, the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

It is done! We faced our deepest fear, entered the Cave, killed the dragon. We didn’t even think it was possible but – here we are. We almost cannot believe it ourselves, but we did it! While we catch our breath and review the experience, we take a moment to consider all the steps that were necessary for us to get to this point. How was it even possible? Do we remember how different we were, when we started the journey?

And maybe even most importantly, one question arises – now what?

If the “Challenge” (The Dark Cave) is a crucial moment in every story, what follows is probably even more meaningful for the audience. It’s time to take a moment and rest. Talk to our companions about what just happened. Remember and honour what has been lost. And reap the fruit of our efforts. It is a moment of relief, of celebration, and very meaningfully – of reflection and learning.

LukeLeiaDS1

In “Star Wars: A new Hope” (1977) Luke really gets the full package. Gets new powers, escapes with his friends to tell the story, and even kisses the princess. Except, she is his sister.

In Star Wars, Luke saves the proverbial princess and all the company safely escapes from the Death Star. Mission accomplished, now it’s time to relax! Not for everybody: while Han Solo takes his reward and leaves (only to come back later and save the day), Luke understands his victory is actually only a beginning. They have no time to rest, and in the rebel base they assemble to prepare the final battle plan to take down the Death Star. The lesson he learned from Obi-Wan will be crucial for him, in his most desperate moment. Similarly, in “The Matrix” the first victory of Neo opens a whole new world of opportunities for him. He starts to believe that yes, he could be “The Chosen One”. To know for sure, he sets to meet the Oracle (which is another important stage of the Journey: more on that, later).

“Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth. There is no spoon”. “The Matrix” (1999) is really much more than just a successful sci-fi movie.

the_matrix_spoon

Games also make of this part, a crucial element. The reward mechanism is an essential component in the experience of every good game. And this has nothing to do with age: when we play, we all love the thrill and the excitement that come from it (a very common criticism towards games and gaming is that “they are for children, adults don’t play games”. Well, who says that has clearly never been to Las Vegas!)

Why is that? Science provides very useful explanations, although some are still more in the field of hypothesis. When we feel a sense of achievement, several receptors in our brain and in other areas of our organism are stimulated and produce dopamine. This substance seems to be very important for us: it brings excitement, motivates us to action, improves motor skills, has effects even on our immune system. It creates sexual arousement (and also, by the way, makes us pee more). Doesn’t seem to make us happy (researchers still don’t agree on this), but it surely seems to make us feel proud. And this is interesting: the more unexpected a reward is, the more dopamine we produce. We get a stronger kick by a success when we didn’t see it coming. And also importantly: when we don’t get what we deserve, our dopamine drops below standard level.

indiana-jones-ark-of-the-covenant

And we might have to go a long way to find the treasure we seek. But it’s necessary, as some things just belong in a museum and cannot just fall in the wrong hands. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981).

What can we make of all this? Rewards are, apparently, very important for our wellbeing. Evolutionary mechanisms wanted us to be hard-wired to them. We need to achieve something, in order to feel good. And that’s not enough, we always need to achieve greater and greater things. Our whole organism call for it, and since dopamine impacts on our reproduction, we can conclude that the reward mechanism has an effect on our whole species. But… what if games become an addiction? And they will completely take over, so that our life will completely be organised and run by them? It’s worth reflecting on this dystopian possibilities, as “Black Mirror” does oh-so-well. Yes, it is that important.

It’s only natural then that such a crucial part of our life experience finds its way into the stories of all cultures, from the most ancient in traditions, to the contemporary ones. Good stories warn us, and there are two main teachings we can take from them:

1 – after achievement, there must be celebration. We fought for it, we deserve it, we have to have it. Without it, our whole experience would feel empty and depress us, instead of inspire us to more and greater actions. Our society is certainly messing with this aspect so much: there are a lot of achievements around that don’t get the reward they would deserve; and at the same time there is a lot of celebration happening, without a reason! These two elements together contribute to a general feeling of lack of direction and depression, at a society level. And again, games are so good at this. Videogames, even better, because they can provide very powerful and multi sensorial stimuli. In a good game, for every single achievement you obtain, you unlock some kind of rewards. From smaller, trivial ones (such as little pop-up balloons, stars, little but so gratifying +1 icons…) – to really EPIC ones, like new worlds unlocked, level ups, treasure and so on. Heh. Have you ever played Farmville or a similar browser game? Do you find them really addictive? Here is why.

level-up-590x344

Scott Pilgrim vs the world” (2010) is a marvel. A comic book-turned movie which is all the time referring to videogame in the structure of its storytelling. Here, Scott has just levelled up.

2 – The second learning we can get from The Reward is that celebration can be as wild as it gets – but it has to include somehow a moment of learning, growth, the understanding that we have somehow reached a higher state. Otherwise it’s just partying for the sake of it, of course not a bad thing – but it doesn’t lead us anywhere, if not in bed with a terrible hangover the next day. Learning, vision, growth, motivation, physical reward (yes, also sexual – we will come to that later in our Journey) must be the real rewards. And how do we make them more meaningful? They have to be recognised by the others. Especially the elders, or the leaders. In other words, it’s not just enough that I achieve the victory or kill the dragon. It’s important that everybody sees it. That’s why the social aspect is also fundamental. A party, why not. Invite everybody to acknowledge that you made it.

bilbo

Say what you will, but Bilbo Baggins knows how to throw a party. (“The Fellowship of the Ring“, 2001)

Again, this is one aspect that games manage to catch particularly well. Games are social experiences by definition. And if you believe that videogames are for loners, think again: modern games are more and more centred around communities, that live and thrive on their own virtual “canteens” like forums, wikis, social media etc where they gather to share stories, help each other, banter, have the occasional bar fight. They may not meet in person (although sometimes they do), but the feeling of community is definitely there.

In conclusion: are we giving the right importance to this element of our own (and our people’s) personal stories? Do we celebrate, when we earn the right to do it? Do we share the rewards with other people, so the meaning is recognised as it deserves? Do we assist other people so their victories, their achievements, feel as important, and epic, as they should? I believe these are central questions for our society. More and more, as traditional ways of marking growth and life stages (such as rites of passage) are being erased from our cultures. As leaders, parents, teachers, educators, or maybe just as self-aware members of our communities, our role is to bring this superb element of storytelling and games, back where it belongs: in our everyday life.

excalibur

The iconic claiming of Excalibur, from Disney’s “The Sword in the stone” (1963)

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

World Migratory Bird Day:

Sing, fly, soar – like a bird

“Sing, Fly, Soar – Like a Bird!” is this year’s theme of the World Migratory Bird Day 2021, to celebrate the glory, resilience and importance of avian life and their seasonal migrations across the world, and who are endangered by humanity’ negative impact on the environment. Specifically the topic will be Bird Song and Bird Flight, aiming at bringing our communities to join, celebrate and renew the effort of protecting our flying friends and especially their habitats. Migratory birds are living connections between different places and habitats across the planet. Coming and leaving from our cities, wetlands, shores and hills. Interesting enough the current pandemic period already has a scientific name, the “anthropause”, otherwise the shut down of human activity and positive health benefits of the global shut down. So we invite you to find events near you and discover more by visiting https://www.worldmigratorybirdday.org/ and join the campaign!

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Happy Easter to all Orthodox Christians

Happy Easter to all Orthodox Christians out there, as a month ago we already explored the meaning of Easter for Christianity, which of course remains unchanged, today we are gong to explore Easter traditions popular among Slavic cultures, specifically Russia, as this was the most resilient celebration that managed to continue even through Soviet state atheism, marking once more its value and importance on the Christian calendar. 

The day before Easter is also the last day of Lent foresees a day-long fasting while cooking the delicacies that will be served on Easter day for the enjoyment of the whole family, and colouring boiled eggs. Once that is accomplished and the house is thoroughly clean , churches host night services and at midnight the priest announces the resurrection saying the formula that is a popular greeting on this day “Christ has Risen” to which the faithful reply “He truly has risen”. It actually is considered a must, if someone says to you “Christ has RIsen” to reply “He truly has risen” and then kiss three times. The first week after Easter is considered holy, during this period church services are held with their holy doors open—symbolizing Christ opening the kingdom of heaven to all people. In fact, the 40-day period between Easter and Ascension Day is referred to as paschal.  

Once again, Happy Easter!

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

THE DARK CAVE (Part 8)

By Carmine Rodi Falanga

This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”, the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

This is it. It’s the darkest hour. The scariest of our fears. It’s when the danger becomes real.

In the narrative of “The Hero’s Journey“, there is a moment when all the testing and training is over, and things become serious, very serious. This stage was also called by Joseph Campbell “The Ordeal“, an old English term that etymologically means “judgement”, or “that which is dealt out” (by the gods, or fate).

That’s because this is the first time when the characters encounter real danger, including the possibility of physical harm or death, and only by proving their worth they can progress in their journey. For the first time here, real failure is a possibility. Once the cave is entered, there is no turning back. But that’s exactly the point, because without fear, there is no challenge. And without it, there will be no real learning experience.

That’s the main philosophy behind this stage of the Journey.

BcOfcGjCMAAYyvF

It is a very complex stage, dealing with our deepest fears, weaknesses, with our demons – and possibly with having to look into our most intimate soul. It’s a moment of truth, when all the preparation and the training is defined by success – or not – in a decisive test. It’s also the situation in which the Hero, probably for the first time, starts believing in him / herself. And all this would not be possible without the fear and the self-doubt of the approaching phase. Because ultimately, in the Dark Cave we don’t really defeat a dragon or some ghost, but we defeat our own limits – to overcome them, and open to a new stage of existence. In the stories, this moment is usually represented as a real “cave”. A dark, mysterious, hostile place. Probably inhabited by strange and dangerous creatures.

Star Wars will be again our first example. When he is captured by the Death Star, the young Luke Skywalker has just begun his training as a Jedi and is not ready to face Darth Vader in a duel. That part will be taken by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Instead, he and his companions sneak through a maze of corridors, looking for the cell where the Princess Leia Organa is held captive. Using a combination of deceit, wits and fighting skills, they manage to find her, only to face a bigger problem: how to escape?

And that’s how they end up in a “garbage compactor“. That’s literally our Dark Cave. A small, claustrophobic room full with litter, stinky, and probably populated by some other creature?

Trash

Luke: “There’s something alive in here!”

When the walls start to move to terminally compress the garbage (and our heroes), Luke for the first time faces the possibility of a premature and very definitive end for his quest. It will be only with the help of his droid friends, who hack the base computers, that he will be able to make it out alive. And later in the saga, Luke is completing his training as a Jedi with Master Yoda and has only one test to pass: to enter a “dark cave” (really? really!) on planet Dagobah. He claims that he is not afraid, but the wise master knows better, and warns him: As Luke will have to find out, the scariest enemy to defeat in the cave is not the Dark Knight, but… only himself.

720x405-Lukes_vision

Skywalker’s face into Darth Vader’s mask. Quite the prophetic sight.

Meet The Dragons.

In many mythologies, the Ordeal is represented by a Dragon (which may or may not live in a… cave).

It’s easy to understand why: a monstrous creature, giant reptile (commonly associated to greed, deceipt, poison), able of great destruction. Their skin is protected by tough scales, hard to penetrate (symbolising the difficulty of the challenge). It’s able to inspire fear, and can (according to different traditions) kill with just one poisonous bite, or with its fiery breath.

It’s interesting how this archetype is present in so many different cultures. It’s probably an element of proto Indo-European religion, from which it spread to Greece and Caucasus (and later, Europe including Scandinavia and Britain) and to China. A snake tempted Adam and Eve, causing their fall from Eden. Poor reptiles, such a bad reputation.

In the German / Norse tradition, one famous dragon is Fafnir. Originally a powerful and proud Dwarf (or Giant), son of gods himself, Fafnir was corrupted by his greed for treasure, and turned into a poisonous giant dragon.  The hero Sigurd will kill him using a combination of might and intelligence, and following the advice of the god Odin. We will discuss extensively The Reward in the next chapter of our story; however, after slaying the dragon, Sigurd will drink his blood and become able to understand the language of the birds; will recover the legendary Ring of Nibelungs; and will also meet Brunhild (after crossing a fire wall, another universal symbol for a challenge), but that’s another story, and we will tell it another time.

fafner

Fafnir or Fafner is the dragon in Wagner’s “The ring of Nibelungs”

It is clear how this story is mirrored in “The Hobbit“, by J.R.R. Tolkien – and the following cinematographic version by Peter Jackson: once again we have a Dragon guarding a fabulous treasure, a powerful magic Ring, and an unlikely hero who manages to do it all, even if with just a little bit of supernatural help.Not only the Dragon, but also Gollum have many traits in common with the original Fafnir from Nordic legends.

In modern popular culture, Fafnir has had a very long life, and he far from being forgotten. 

FAFNIR will strike soon! Who can save us? But of course…

Of course Odin will send his son Thor to defeat him! Thor and Fafnir didn’t have an opportunity to meet, according to the original tradition. It’s interesting that “WARUM” in Germans means: “Why?”

And the same story continues to live through all the media: in “Django Unchained” (2012) the dentist / mentor / bounty hunter Doctor Schultz tells the story of how Siegfried rescued his Brunhilde, killing the dragon. A very attentive Django listens to him, while they are sitting around the fire.

django-unchained-story

The reference is actually made obvious by same Tarantino, when he makes Doctor Schultz say: “When a German meets a real-life Siegfried, it’s kind of a big deal”.

His beloved girls is (coincidence, coincidence!) called Broomhilda and (coincidence, coincidence!) can speak German. And to save her, blood will be shed – well… being a Tarantino movie, this shouldn’t

In the Japanese mythology, Yamata no Orochi is the legendary dragon with 8 heads and 8 tails that is defeated by Susanoo, the god of thunder.

YamataNoOrochi

Yamata defeated by Susanoo – God of thunder, just like Thor? Mmmmm now this cannot be a coincidence, can it? He is described as “an eight-forked head and an eight-forked tail; its eyes were red, like the winter-cherry; and on its back firs and cypresses were growing. As it crawled it extended over a space of eight hills and eight valleysAfter killing him”. That’s as big as it gets. Yes, the seed was planted for the later Godzilla.

However, by killing the dragon, from the spike of the 4th tail the legendary sword Kusanagi was forged. The legendary sword is still revered as one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan. A mirror, for Wisdom. A jewel, for Benevolence. A sword, for Valor. Their current location or existance is unknown.

And a famous dragon is also found in an early Christian tradition. Such a monster was terrorising the city of Silene in Lybia, when the valorous Cappadocian knight George rode by. He decided to take the quest to kill the beast. And so he did, breaking his own lance against the creature’s hard scales, and ultimately finishing it off with a blow of his magic sword Ascalon. He also rescued a princess, but the Christian chronicles don’t say much about what happened between them – George was destined to become a Saint, after all.

Another version of the story reports that St. George only tamed the Dragon, without killing it. He brought it back to the city, where people were (rightfully) terrified by its approach. The valiant George called out to them, saying that if they consented to become Christians and be baptised, he would slay the dragon before them. The king and the people of Silene accepted: 15 thousand people were converted, George became saint, and the dragon was finally slain. Ahem… quite controversial, talking about the use of weapons of mass destruction to spread religion. But anyway.

St George kills the Dragon, by Paolo Uccello.

1280px-Paolo_Uccello_047

The story has had a tremendous impact and continues to echo on Western culture. It originated from the early Christian kingdoms of the area of Caucasus, but it spread to Europe and became one of the most popular traditions in the Age of Chivalry, helped by the spread of Christianity due to the Crusades (and the strong need for good propaganda stories that came with them). Many artists gave their interpretation of the story, including Raphael and Dalì.Salvador Dalì’s vision of the legend (1971) Saint George is still nowadays the national hero and Saint of Georgia, which goes by his name (the one in Caucasus, not America), and also bears the emblem of the battle in its national coat of arms,

Greater_coat_of_arms_of_Georgia.svg

Georgia’s national emblem.

Saint George’s cross (red cross on white field) is also the symbol on the English flag, and Winston Churchill wanted to name Ascalon his personal airplane during world war II.

The model Avro 685 York remained in active service until 1957.

Saint George’s Day (23rd of April) is celebrated as Christian religious holiday in many countries in the world, including Russia, Canada, England, Spain. So – what is the importance of entering the dark cave, and if necessary, finding and killing the beast that lurks within?

Clearly, it’s an universal story of challenging our own limits and fears, and by doing it, getting stronger and wiser. All the stories include – after overcoming the Ordeal – a Reward of some kind. This is the fundamental lesson to be learnt by this stage: without challenge, without fear (even), there can be no gain. Experience comes when we stretch our comfort zone, often to the point where it starts to hurt. We are naturally afraid of what we don’t know, of what seems beyond our capacities. The stories of so many legendary heroes and gods are there to tell us exactly this: to be afraid of a test is not cowardice: it’s basically human. But what makes us better, close to Gods, is when we find the necessary inspiration and defeat our “enemies”. The “Enthusiasm” that comes after an achievement? From Greek, “enthusiasm” means literally “to receive God inside”. We get closer to Divinity when we do our best, and we deserve to celebrate.

In conclusion: two are the main elements to remember from “The Dark Cave”.

  1.  a Cave must be dark, dangerous and mysterious. Without these elements, there is no challenge, and therefore there can be no real learning or achievement. It’s a central question for all those who are involved in education: tests must be real, to be effective. Challenges must be hard, and include the possibility of real failure. By making them softer, by turning our tests into hyper-protected, standard and empty rituals done just for statistics, tests become useless, and we don’t pay homage to the glorious tradition of heroes who inspire us with their great accomplishments.
  2. Celebration after Achievement. Entering a Dark Cave and slaying the dragon (or the Minotaur, see before) there is hard work, that deserves celebration and recognition by society. Earning a diploma just to hear people say “and so what?” can destroy one’s motivation, maybe forever. It is indeed one of the reasons why traditional education shows more and more its limits, and drop-out increases rapidly in many countries. Goals must be fair but hard, and when reached, they must bring with them prize and glory. Yes, possibly even a Charming Prince or Princess.
  3.  

If this is not happening – we are defeating the purpose of education, again. And this might explain why so many (young) people, not finding their own life and career satisfying enough, start looking for rewards in the wrong places: alcohol, binging, gambling, drug abuse, etc. In other words, a society based on Achievements without (the deserved) Celebrations brings as a consequence a lot of empty Celebration, without any particular Achievement to give it a meaning.

maxresdefault

Thank you for being with us! Next chapter will be all dedicated to Celebration and Rewards! Stay with us!

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

Labour Day – Working Towards Our Species’ Future

From slavery to serfdom we have made gigantic steps in terms of worker’s rights, up to including the right to a dignifying work into the Charter of Human Rights, we indeed took our time, and the struggles undertaken by our ancestors and still occurring in many corners of the world as still a current issue, lets not deny it, as well, lets understand that just like democracy workers’ rights are something to constantly safeguard and keep an eye on, in order not to step back into a past with more uncertainties, exploitation and poverty for many. So on the one hand we need to protect the rights we gained and on the other look forward towards what is the next step, what do we wish to gain more, what do we, in our present global and interconnected culture need? And how do we do so in a regenerative and sustainable way, so that our labour would benefit us, our communities and the non-human world as a whole? Just to mention two of the main trends on our planet today:

Work life balance – quoting an old proverb “Do we work to live or live to work?” one of the first union slogans used to be 888, 8 hours of work, 8 of sleep, 8 for leisure, in order to have a balanced life not centred only on work, therefore the right to have a meaningful life also outside the professional sphere. 

Meaning-Making – The millennial generation seems unhappy with a job that merely provides the material means to get through life such as a salary. There is a wish of a meaning that goes beyond the monthly money, a meaningful and engaging profession. How many jobs exist today which are completely meaningless and actually have no real meaning or purpose? You’d be surprised by the answer. 

Our offer is that of focusing on social sustainability as the next step of worker’s rights, meaning a profession that provides material means to live a fulfilling life, that is also an opportunity for community building, that shares a feeling, as well as tangible practices, that the work that is carried out is meaningful and impactful for the workers, the community and the biosphere, fostering economic, social and technological development for all. Utopia, or worth giving it a shot?

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Beltane – Life is a celebration

Beltane is a very ancient festival, likely lost somewhere in the mist of times among North-West European peoples and cultures and to this day celebrated in the Gaelic lands as a Spring festival and much revived by Wiccan believers. Beltaine translates as Bright-Fire or as the Good Fire. Large brights fires are lit on this night to honour the sun and cast away the night’s darkness, calling for the sun to warm, protect and shield the community and its crops. The brighter and taller the fire the greater the community honour the sun, a single and bright bonfire to shine through the night, while the community jumped across the fire to purify and couples jumped hand i hand to bless their union, animals were carried across the dense smoke for fertility and diseases protection, and then the ashes of the great bonfire were divided among the worshippers as a talisman for the rest of the year. 

This is a spring festival, halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, mostly across the Celtic heritage people of the British isles, now spread worldwide , celebrated on the 1st of May, as the official start of summer, with rituals like we mentioned above to protect fields, cattle and humans as the pastoral season begins. The keyword to this day’s celebration is optimism, and an optimistic look towards the future. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Lag B’Omer

Today is an important Jewish holiday, just in between Passover and Shavuot and a break from mourning of the Omer. A propitious day for weddings (the only day during the Omer when they are allowed)  light bonfires and getting haircuts. Just a little preamble, Omer is a time of mourning and grief, in remembrance of a time in the past when a plague killed most of Rabbi Akiva’s students as divine punishment for lacking respect.  This was a time when Rabbi Aiva led a rebellion and yet unsuccessful rebellion against the Roman yoke leaving thousands of casualties, therefore, it could be that the “Plague” was the Roman occupation that left so many youths lying cold on the battlefield. 

The survivors went into hiding, prayer and contemplation and it is believe that this was the time the resplendent Zohar was written and created as grounds for the mystic Kabbalah. 

The tradition on this day is to go outdoors, plant trees, light bonfires in remembrance of the light Simeon Bar Yohai brought to the world, and is also a very popular date for weddings. Although perhaps not one of the most important celebrations in Judaism is it indeed a noteworthy one to feel the pulse of community and communion with earth, resonating ancient traditions and with a foothold adapting to the present. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Holy Friday

As we explored in our previous article on Good Friday, it holds the same meaning across the whole of Christianity regardless if Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, therefore today in wishing well to all Orthodox Christians, we want to stress Holy Friday traditions and customs across Orthodox Christian believers.  For this reason we shall travel to Greece today. As in all Christianity Good Friday, or Holy Friday is a day of mourning and a national holiday, the Divine Liturgy is not read, and everywhere flags and hung in mourning, and throughout the day the church bells ring in a sad low tones as they do at funerals. The strongest believers and followers will fast during the day, and those who don’t will have a very austere and simple meals. Women and children carry flowers to  the churches to begin decorating the Epitaphio which symbolises the sepulchre and priests perform the mourning service of lamentation to cry the death of Christ. The images, once decorated with flowers are taken in procession through the streets and pass through the cemetery as the community follows in silence carrying candles. Thus begins the spiritual preparation for Easter. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

We are proud to join and support the global campaign for safety and health at work. As well as to take a minute, especially this year, to honour and remember all the workers victims of occupational accidents and diseases, both due to accidental tragedies but also due to negligence which could and should have been prevented. Our thoughts here go to all the essential workers, starting from hospitals all the way to supermarkets and distribution who duly kept coming to their workplace while the rest of us endured lockdowns and quarantines, often putting themselves at risk, willingly or not, and still exposing themselves to the dangers of contagion to keep up some elements of normality, up to the food supply chain and rescue of the sick. Having said that, besides expressing gratitude and sorrow for the lost and ruined lives, we would like to stress the need and desire for better quality labour measures across the world, giant leaps have been made already, so why stop now? That is why we proudly join the choir of voices around the International Labour Organisation in promoting a safety and health culture at work places and proactively help bringing to life strategies to strengthen national occupational safety and health, grounded on crisis anticipation rather than management.  

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Mahavir Jayanti

Best wishes to all Jain followers and believers celebrating today The Birth Of The 24th Tirthankar – Mahavir Jayanti. 

There was a time when the world was a really unfair place, made of few rich and starving masses, and Mahavira, set up a mission to end injustice and inequality and on this day he was born. On the day of his birth Jain faithful and followers believe that all the area around turned into a lush garden and all people could feel was serenity and peace, that even the Gods descended from Heaven to bless the child and revere him, while bathing the newborn naming him Mahavira and Vardhaman. 

Upon leaving his home he meditated under a tree for 12 years reaching enlightenment and then set off to travel across India to rid it of false believes, and replace them with ethics, morality and honesty, preaching non-violence, and acquiring virtue through meditation and fasting. 

Today is a major celebration for all Jains, to be reminded of Mahavir’s teachings and guidance, and one of the most beautiful aspects is that this day is marked with charitable deeds to gain the blessings of liberation and feed the needy. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach.

Happy Birthday Hanuman

Hanuman Jayanti celebrates the birth of Hindu God Hanuman, although there is not really a fixed date that celebrates Hanuman the divinity that oversees victory against evil and protection, today is one of those days. Regardless all Hindu believers celebrate his birth. The purpose of this celebration is to ask Hanuman for protection and blessings by gathering at temples and making offerings, n turn receiving sweets, flowers, fruits, holy ash and holy water from the priests. While at home and communities the day is crowned with prayers and hymns and readings from the Ramayana and Mahabharata . This date is indeed one of the most important in the Hindu calendar, as this month also sees the largest festival in honour of Lord Rama, and the bond between Rama and Hanuman is one of the strongest, the latter could even turn into a weapon for Rama’s use, capable to mov mountains and seize clouds. So, lets all wish him happy birthday at sunrise today.  

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

FRIENDS AND FOES AND THOSE IN BETWEEN (Part 7)

By Carmine Rodi Falanga

This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”, the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

Often, the most exciting part of a story is when the “company of heroes” is formed. Many of such names are so iconic that have become symbols in their own right, so that just mentioning one of those legendary groups carries meaning beyond the simple sound of the words: “The Fellowship of the Ring“, “The Argonauts“, “The Fantastic Four“, “The Avengers“, and so on. There is something indeed legendary about a group of different characters who come together, by choice or fate, and accomplish a collective heroic task. This post is dedicated to them. In some cases it is clear that one of the characters has a prominent role and is the main Protagonist of the story. “Jason and the Argonauts”, “Robin Hood and the Merrymen”, are good examples of such type. Other stories are more centred on a collective of characters as such (“Ghostbusters”, “The X-Men”), where different stories take place and coexist, composing a mosaic of personalities which contribute all together to a main, wider storyline.

ghostbusters1

“Ghostbusters”, 1984. Second-best movie of ’84 according to Rotten Tomatoes.  Initially the concept for the movie included also John Belushi and Eddie Murphy in leading roles. It would have been a very different story.

This element does not correspond to a particular stage of the Journey. It’s rather distributed across several of them. It probably belongs to the “Road of Trials“, and that’s why I decided to discuss it now, although in the majority of cases the Hero starts meeting the other characters of the story since the very beginning, and this will go on until the end. The common element that emerges, however, is that “no-one can do it alone”. Whatever the task or the quest, a fundamental part of the learning path represented by the Hero’s Journey consists in learning that we are never really alone, and one of the learning dimensions that the Hero must face in order to achieve success in their quest will be related to his/her social environment. There can be several layers or meaning in this: is the Quest related to the social sphere of the Protagonist? Than maybe the main learning points will be related to his/her relationships with other people, and this aspect of the Journey will actually be greatly emphasised.

“The Wizard of Oz”, 1939. Dorothy’s daughter (Liza Minnelli) will marry the Tin Man’s son (Jack Haley’s jr), in 1974. He did have a heart, after all.

twoo10

A Christmas Carol“, the classic novel by Charles Dickens, describes such a story. Ebenezer Scrooge is a solitary, old and dry man, who doesn’t expect much from life anymore. But he unexpectedly takes a path of learning and growing that will bring him to face several challenges, all connected to his social sphere and to the people he is in connection with. He will have to re-invent his relationships to life, work, family and values, in order to complete is transformation arc.

Another good example of this is “Mary Poppins” (1964), which is not really a story about the famous, super cool if a bit edgy Nanny or the lovely kids; more deeply, it describes the learning and experiential process that both parents have to go through, to re-establish harmony in their family (as it’s made very explicit in “Saving Mr. Banks“, 2013).

4372c

the Banks family in “Mary Poppins”, 1964. Mr Banks works… in a bank. Wouldn’t you know.

There are many other cases in which this may be less obvious, but possibly even more powerful. In “Forrest Gump” (1994) the main character, played by Tom Hanks, is often considered “stupid” or “odd” by the people he meets. But through interacting with him, they will experience a transformational arc that will make it possible for them to develop a more healthy relationship with the social sphere, and even with themselves. The two most spectacular cases are probably the Lieutenant Dan, played by Gary Sinise who by meeting Forrest will be able to heal the broken connection to his family heritage, society in general and with his own identity, until he experiences a proper “Death and Rebirth” (which will be discussed in a future post). See also the story of Jenny, played by Robin Wright (who more recently went on living in a much more ambitious house), but in 1994 looked like this: 

“Sometimes there aren’t enough rocks”

Screen-Shot-2013-04-11-at-01.15.42

Jenny also starts her own journey with a dysfunctional relationship to her father and family and lives all her life engaged in border line relationships and behaviours, until she – allowing herself to enter in a more authentic connection with Forrest – finally finds her own full redemption and the love she always missed. Family, community, personal identity. By meeting different characters during the Journey, the Hero has the opportunity to explore this elements of his (her) own personal story. The counterparts act in truth as “mirrors”, and as such allow the Protagonist to see more clearly reflected some aspects of their own existence. In many cases this can also be represented by a natural element, such as an Animal. In this case

cheshire-cat-10

“Alice in Wonderland”, 1951. The movie became very popular in the 70s because of the… psychedelic nature of the story, and was re-released in 1974. Alice needs to re-establish a connection with her less rational side, and get rid of some of the pressure imposed by the rigid Victorian English society of the time.

This is why many of the most successful couples hero-companion in all times are composed by a person, and an animal (or mythical creature). We are not talking of a coincidence. Many stories are indeed about the universal topic of “discovering our own nature” and getting more in touch with it: Shrek and Donkey, from “Shrek”, 2001Hercules first meets Pegasus in “Hercules”, 1997 Bastian finally meets Falkor in “The Neverending Story”, 1984

So, as said before in this chapter we try to analyse the different cathegories or archetypes  of characters that the main Hero can meet in the Journey. The list will never be fully exhaustive but I will try anyway. We have already discussed the Messenger  and the Mentor in previous posts of this blog.

The Friend / Ally

This is probably the most traditional, the one we all would expect. Nobody can do it all alone, and the Hero must first find some allies to proceed in the Quest.

Frodo and Sam from the “Lord of the rings” trilogy (2001-2003). It has been included in the “Top 10 Movie Bromances” by TIME Magazine. It’s a sign of the times.

Frodo-Sam-image-frodo-and-sam-36091393-1920-796

Of course there can be endless variation on this universal topic. From the true, unconditioned and loyal friendship of Sam and Frodo the Hobbits, to more subtle examples that contain substories, like the “Friend in Need

who will need to receive some assistance before he / she can develop their full potential. In this sense their stories crosses with the “Crossing the Threshold” phase, in that a test must be passed, before the Ally can reveal as such. Remember in fact that in the same story multiple thresholds can be crossed, each connected to different stages of the Journey and probably with different levels of reward and disclosure. To help a friend in need is often not a problem. For some of us, giving is honestly receiving. There is a high level of self-fulfillment in helping out someone, and it makes us feel… like the hero of the day. We know that. But then, what about asking for help? For many of us, asking is much harder. So maybe this is the lesson to learn at this stage. There is nothing wrong in asking for help to our friends, when we feel we are facing a problem that is too big for us. And it will happen, sooner or later, to all of us. Even when we think we are completely alone, there might be someone for us, just where we are not looking.It happens to all our favourite heroes, from time to time. Batman would have been lost in many occasions without Robin, Oracle, or even the human, very human Commissioner Gordon. And he is the Lonely Knight. So why should we feel any less?

The Romantic Interest

Superman-Breaks-Up-with-Lois-Lane-in-Rebooted-Comics-2

Superman needs all his super powers to win the romantic challenge with Lois Lane

Now, this is one of those cases in which Hollywood movies don’t always make a great service to the art of storytelling. This can be a very important part of any story. Aren’t love and relationships great growing processes for all of us? There can be nothing more challenging, indeed, than opening ourselves to another individual, and letting him or her under our guard, exposing ourselves totally. And be ready to do the some for the Relevant Other. To love unconditionally, without judgement, with our full self.It can be – and in fact, often is – the main challenge of the whole plot. Romantic comedies movies are all revolving about two people looking for each other, getting closer, then losing each other, than finally meeting in the final climax. We will discuss in more detail the importance of this element when discussing “Meeting the Divinity”, also. In fact, to meet another person and feel that he/she is our “soulmate” is an experience that can be nothing short of divine. And many legends are there to remind us that our soul misses a piece, and that life is indeed about looking for our missing half. The most ancient in western civilization is from Plato’s “The Symposium“. Well, believe what you will, but there is a lot to learn from this. I will just leave it at that

The joker / trickster

Now this is a good one. Even in the dirtiest, testosterone-full macho action movies from the 80s, the Hero had to have a good sidekick.

“Conan the Barbarian” from 1982 is a real masterpiece. Nothing to do with the unfortunate reboot from 2011 with the big guy from Game of Thrones Jason Momoa.

1127604821665541442

A joker along the main character is important for comic relief, which is also a basic narrative mechanism: the audience cannot hold their breath for longer than that, and everybody appreciates a laughter even in the most dramatic stories. However, this presence actually pays tribute to a much, much nobler and ancient wisdom. Originally, the “Trickster” is a very important archetype, present in almost every myth and culture. It was truly worshipped as a God: Hermes/Mercury for Greeks and Romans, Loki for the Norse, Anansi in the West African / Caribbean, the Coyote spirit in Navajo and other native American nations, Set for the Egyptians.

kwaku-anansi-7

Anansi is a man-spider, prototype of all tricksters. What? He indeed appears as an alternate Spider Man in the Marvel Earth-7082.

Because that is one quality in human nature that we, after all, admire and respect. The use of wits, ingenuity, skills and common sense to overcome the problems. It is one element that surely led the human species to be at the peak of their evolution. Yes, everybody likes and respects the powerful warriors and the wise leaders. But from time to time, we need to deploy other talents, too, if we want to win our most important battles. the Trojan Horse used in “Troy”, 2004. Nowadays they would probably use it in Brussels. And so, important traces of this archetype remain also in contemporary and popular storytelling. There is an important lesson to learn from this, too: that sometimes it’s really OK to let things go out of our control. We believe and act as if all our world should always be in order, under tight control. We pretend, because in fact, it’s not. The healing, liberating power of the trickster is just there: with a paradox, to show everybody that the king is naked, and that the reality can really, just be just a joke sometimes.

3947392-the-comedian

The Comedian is in fact one of the most dramatic characters in “Watchmen”.

And what a relief, to allow ourselves to laugh and breath, sometimes! To remind ourselves the innocent pleasure of fun and games. Of being free from responsibilities, childish and free like children at play. Yes, it can be a destructive power sometimes (see Arlequin, Loki, Set: often this figure was also associated with fire and with the power of chaos), but nevertheless is one important aspect of the human nature, and one we need to learn to deal with, in the course of our heroic quest.

The Shapeshifter

Often connected to the Trickster, but not exactly the same, I want to dedicate a short paragraph also to this figure.

Things are not always what they seem. And so are people – and so are we.

We can be honest and insincere; courageous and fearful; generous and selfish; responsible and coward. We can act as adults and children. Wise and fools. Men and women. Good and evil. The opposites can exist together, and indeed exist together, in each of us.

This takes shape into the… shapeshifter, exactly. It’s a character that literally transforms into something else

Werewolf_HD

for example a human who turns into a beast

“Beast”, or Henry Mc Coy, as appears in the “X-Men” movies. Here played by Kelsey Grammer.

and is able to use the best abilities of both forms – only, sometimes he is not and can lose control.

and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in “The Origins: Wolverine”, 2009. Which is not the worst Marvel movie ever, thanks to both Thor and Captain America.

xmenorigins-wolverine

Or it’s simply a person who is never what it seems, always ready to swing from one side to another, change faction, change opinion, even in open betrayal Jennifer Lawrence plays Mystique in “X-Men: First Class”, 2011, just before changing again and becoming Katniss Everdeen in “Hunger Games”. sometimes his / her motives are more clear and understandable, sometimes they are not for us to see and it leaves us confused, guessing (does it ever happen in real life? Really?). This can also be, for example, a lover who cheats or leaves us or is constantly unfaithful


Casanova-heath-ledger-751181_960_540

“Casanova”, 2005. Here portrayed by Heath Ledger, who had a preference for shape shifting, ambiguous roles.

What is there to learn for the Hero, and for us, in all this? Well – that not all is what it seems, for example. Or that apparently opposite qualities can exist together at the same time, in the same person.

Capitain Jack Sparrow (from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series). Wise, fool, or a bit of both? Probably a bit of both. To make more obvious his nature of shape shifter, Captain Sparrows actually shows that he can change his own physical shape if he wants!

And also, we can learn not to be too hard on ourselves. Because we, too, are full of paradoxes and contradictions. We are just human, after all In us very different energies coexist and we might want to acknowledge them, learn to respect them, if we want to embrace them as parts of ourselves. This can be very liberating, too. Instead of fighting and resisting all these forces, learn to give a name to each of them, and welcome them. Ok, in some cases this can be too much, it’s true if you start hearing voices like this in your head – mmm you might actually start worrying. But maybe we don’t need to go that far, and we can put our pieces together actually before our personality breaks into pieces, no?

The Villain

Last but not least, of course. There can be no story if the Protagonist doesn’t meet a worthy opponent. The main rival, the Antagonist. Through confronting with this, the Hero really achieves greatness, so the greatest the enemy, the greatest the value of the Quest. So what happens in some stories? The Hero works hard, collects a bunch of buddies, gets the magic sword, and defeats the Bad Guy. Right?

detail.d700f068

there is a reason why we say “a James Bond Villain” when we want to indicate a stereotypical bad guy.

Wrong.

This is also where cheap, superficial storytelling doesn’t really make a good service to its cause.

The Villain is there for a reason.

Their motivations and background stories must be, if possible, known and understood. Respected, even. Because there is a great deal of learning that we can collect from this. In fact, it’s precisely here that lies the importance of the Enemy in the story.

the-hobbit-dragon-revealed-on-new-zealand-airline

“There is something about you. Something you carry, something made of gold… but far more PRECIOUS…” says Smaug the Dragon in “The Desolation of Smaug”, 2013. It is really cool. Too bad the rest of the movie is so not.

Experience comes not by killing the dragon, but by understanding how the dragon became what it is. Because the Villain is, really, the Hero in its own story. Or maybe – it was once, and fell victim of greed, ambition, hunger for power, selfishness – and became the Fallen Angel: see Lucifer, Darth Vader, Voldemort. the relationship between a young Tom Riddle (later to become Voldemort) and Albus Dumbledore is described in detail in the “Harry Potter” saga. And here is the key. The Hero’s Journey is not, must not be, a quest for personal power, gain or wealth. If that’s all what happens, the Hero will soon fall out of grace, and become the Dragon (see again the Minotaur in this other post), that somebody else will have one day to face and defeat. The Journey can instead be a journey of understanding, of self and the universe. An experience of empathy, compassion and generosity. Where the Protagonist realises that all the experience and rewards that he / she collects, will serve a higher purpose. Maybe which one, is not clear yet at this stage. And that’s fine. But the Villain must be here to show what is the price of defeat. Anakin’s fall is complete – his rebirth as a Sith will begin. From “The Revenge of the Sith”, 2005.

Last notes.

Sure, this has been a brief overview. We are trying to cover all of the human experience in a bunch of rather stereotyped characters. But bear with me still for a couple of minutes there.

The beauty of storytelling from all ages is that it’s possible to play with the elements we have seen, and combine them in infinite ways. This creates some of the most interesting, sophisticated and… realistic characters. Because we are like that, aren’t we? We are not all good or bad, teachers or students, leaders or followers, parents or children, lovers or loved ones.

And so we tend to fall for characters that are tri-dimensional, that are able to pop out of the written page or the big screen, and talk directly to us: because they are like us.

So let’s just have a look at a few famous crossovers between the types. Ah, yes, spoiler alert. Following here are some revelations on stories like Star Wars, major Batman characters, The Godfather, Lord of the Rings. If you are not familiar with these stories already, how come are you on the internet?

But enough. Let’s start our little quiz!

What happens when a Hero becomes a Villain, but at the same time stays always a Mentor, at the end to become a Friend again – and even a Wise Father who saves the Galaxy?

darth-vader

And what about a scoundrel, a trickster and criminal, who acts as messenger and helps the Hero to cross the first threshold, not without a price? And then seems to be too selfish to really care, but in the end comes back to save the day?Let’s change story. Who is always a trickster and a shapeshifter, but sometimes a teacher for us and possibly, even a friend? And what about an enemy who becomes a friend, to become an enemy again, a potential (sometimes very real – always veeeery sexy) love interest, but always ready to go their own way? And what if our elder brother, nonetheless, turns his back to us and is ready to betray us switching to the side of our worst enemy? Does he love us less? and finally – a Friend and Ally who is consumed by greed and cannot resist his own weakness, tries to change side and betrays us, but in the end redeems himself with a final heroic deed?And still in “The Lord of the Rings”: how many roles does this little guy have?

isn’t it so cuuuuuute?

426842_1372171887_large

Guide, Trickster, Friend, Villain, Mentor… and more? Ok, you got it. It could be an interesting game to play, in your favourite story, to try and identify to what “roles” or archetypes the different characters belong, and if they keep their roles through the story. And if, as it happens in the best narrative, each character, even the apparently minor ones, have their own narrative arcs outlined, so that it’s possible for us to follow their evolution, understand their motivation and feelings, perceive their different layers, and in other world identify a part of ourselves in each of them, so to have a richer and gratifying experience when living through the story.

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

Palm Sunday

Jesus Christ makes a triumphant entry in Jerusalem on this day, day before Jewish Passover, and is welcomed by the city’s people waving throngs as he rides in on a donkey, clothes and alive branches are set on his path as blessing, following the spreading news that he had just resurrected Lazarus from the dead. And in Orthodox Christianity the Troparion recites “By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion, You did confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with the palms of victory, We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death; Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!” It is a day crowned with joy, and today it is celebrated by the Christian Orthodox communities across the world, the joy shadowed by the upcoming sad events to come known as The Passion, Jesus’ arrest, torture and crucifixion. Also in some Orthodox tradition, Palm Sunday allows a few exceptions to the strict Lent rules, like eating foods like fish, otherwise forbidden, since this is a joyful day. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Lazarus Saturday

Today Orthodox Christians celebrate Lazarus of Bethany, the man resurrected by Jesus Christ, a day of joy and celebration amidst the austerity and penance of Lent fasting, within the sorrowful week that precedes the death and resurrection of the Son of God.  

Also, traditionally, this was the day when some of the holiest and most respected and worshipped people in Christianity, hermits, would end their isolation into the wild and make way to their monasteries for the Holy Week services.

We can witness on this day some powerful symbolic traditions and rituals, as the Russian Orthodox churches decorate their entrances with green drapes to symbolise the return of life. In the Hellenic world the day foresees making elaborate crosses out of palm leafs, and generally services and prayers are offered on this day, prior to Christ’s resurrection, as life-death-life cycle is being celebrated, from a mortal’s resurrection to that of Jesus Christ. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

World Earth Day

This year’s Earth Day will be very special, as it will be honoured by a global climate summit hosted by the United States, a further acknowledgement and recognition for the need of immediate action. Earth Day was a movement that started in 1970, and was honoured by the Paris Agreement assigning the 22nd of April as World Earth Day. Besides the international summit, there will also be initiatives across the world to honour this day, initiatives aiming at raising awareness as well as identifying solutions to the problems the Earth is facing today and necessary restoration. So we invite you to browse this map , to find and support events happening around you, and if you feel like it, why not organise one yourself. Any action is welcome, large or small, as long as we raise our voice concerning the needs of our planet. We too in Rescogita have our own plans for today and hope you will join us. 

The EarthDay movement reminds us that topics can well be climate and environmental literacy, climate restoration technologies, reforestation efforts, regenerative agriculture, equity and environmental justice, citizen science, cleanups, and beyond. World climate leaders, grassroots activists, nonprofit innovators, thought leaders, industry leaders, artists, musicians, influencers, and more will be involved. And actions include clean-up days (if pandemic measures allow) debates, hackathons, live events, flashmobs, take your pick. 🙂  

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Ram Navami

It marks the culmination of the spring festival of Vasanta Navratri (Chaitra Navratri) which begins on Ugadi. Completing the celebrations of Lord Rama’s birth. 

As Rama, the 7th incarnation of Vishnu, is the main hero of the sanskrit epic Ramayana, the day culminates with reading the saga’s final chapters and highlights across temples.

Households are thoroughly cleaned and the family shrines host symbolic representations of Rama surrounded by colourful offerings and fresh fruits, and prayers recited following a ritual bath. Ram Navami foresees fasting or just abstinence from  garlic, onions and wheat. The day is associated with good fortune auspices, a fun tradition is to place a pot full of money atop a tree and youth need to compete on catching the pot, however the tree is covered in slippery mud and the pot itself greased, while others throw buckets of water on them as they try to climb just to make thing easier, a guarantee of fun and a true challenge to accomplish. Wishing all a very good and fun Ram Navami.

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

World Creativity and Innovation Day

Indeed creativity and innovation do need to be celebrated, acknowledged and fostered, today more than ever, because this is exactly what we need the most today. Humanity’s at a turning point, where the solutions of the past have become the problems of the present. Economic and social systems that allowed progress in every field at unprecedented scale like never before and that we should be grateful for to our ancestors and foreparents. Yet today’s world is not facing the problems of yesterday but those of today, and is not equipped to deal with them, would be like having medieval surgery tools in a modern day  high-tech hospital. Nowadays we are facing challenges and problems that are more global, though with strong local effects, which need a worldwide approach and response, and for that today’s governance, economic, political and social tools have become obsolete and inefficient in tackling the climate crisis, pollution, mass migration and even the pandemic has showed us the need of a global effort. We are now looking at young people, and with pressure to let out those ideas, to be creative, to lead innovation and come up with new models, systems and pave the way to keep up human economic, political, cultural and social progress to the next level. It is a lot of pressure, it is necessary, it is possible. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

THE ROAD OF TRIALS (Part 6)

By Carmine Rodi Falanga

This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”, the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

Or, nobody is born a hero. This chapter is dedicated to all the efforts necessary to get out of a limited conditions, and achieve greatness. It was 1939. Social and economic tensions in Europe and Asia were soon to bring the whole world in a catastrophic conflict. Life had to seem rather grim to our predecessors of that time. So we can probably imagine what was the reaction of audiences, first in the U.S. and then worldwide, when for the first time they could see colours on a movie screen. Their amazement was probably not very different from Dorothy’s once she realises she is not in Kansas anymore: By the way, the reference “Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore” is ranked number 4 in the American Film Institute top 100 movie quotes.  This sentence from the movie has become an icon of popular culture. And it introduces us perfectly to the next stage of the Hero’s Journey: the “Road of Trials”.

Our character has crossed the threshold, probably facing the first challenge in the process, but what waits now is the real thing. Everything is different in the Extraordinary world: rules, people, sometimes even the natural laws. Stories differ a lot in their details but they all make sure to invest a good deal of time and information in letting us perceive how different the world feels on the other side.

Alice has to learn that in the Wonderland things are not always what they seem, and she will have to test the boundaries of her own curiosity and abilities while experimenting with different food and meeting various characters.

alice-on-mushroom-2

If you see mushrooms that come with vague instruction leaflets, don’t eat them. That’s a lesson that cannot be understated.

Shogun“, the 1975 novel by James Clavell that inspired the tv series with Richard Chamberlain (and later Tom Cruise’s “The Last Samurai“, 2003 ) describes in great detail the long and painful process of cultural shock and adaptation that the main character (John Blackthorne) has to go through, once he finds himself shipwrecked in feudal Japan.Richard Chamberlain in the “Shogun” tv series (1980)and Tom Cruise from “The Last Samurai” (2003). Wait, but they look exactly the same!

In Avatar (2010), Colonel Quaritch makes it very clear that the new environment will be wonderful, but terrible. Pandora is a planet where: Col. Quaritch is the almost archetypal mentor-villain played by Stephen Lang in “Avatar” (2009)

avatarpandorarules

YOU’RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE. YOU’RE ON PANDORA. RESPECT THAT FACT EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY. IF THERE IS A HELL, YOU MIGHT WANT TO GO THERE FOR SOME R & R AFTER A TOUR ON PANDORA. OUT THERE BEYOND THAT FENCE EVERY LIVING THING THAT CRAWLS, FLIES, OR SQUATS IN THE MUD WANTS TO KILL YOU AND EAT YOUR EYES FOR JUJUBES.
WE HAVE AN INDIGENOUS POPULATION OF HUMANOIDS CALLED THE NA’VI. THEY’RE FOND OF ARROWS DIPPED IN A NEUROTOXIN THAT WILL STOP YOUR HEART IN ONE MINUTE — AND THEY HAVE BONES REINFORCED WITH NATURALLY OCCURRING CARBON FIBER. THEY ARE VERY HARD TO KILL.
AS HEAD OF SECURITY, IT IS MY JOB TO KEEP YOU ALIVE. I WILL NOT SUCCEED. NOT WITH ALL OF YOU. IF YOU WISH TO SURVIVE, YOU NEED TO CULTIVATE A STRONG, MENTAL ATTITUDE. YOU GOT TO OBEY THE RULES: PANDORA RULES!

Ok, I admit it’s a bit over-emphatic, but it’s effective as a description of what lies before the marines, just arrived to the new planet. Unimaginably rich rewards will come (to the investors’ pockets of course), but very hard, deadly challenges must be overcome first (by the working class marines. Mmm… do I detect a hint of exposure of social injustice here?).   This concept is so popular and familiar that comes almost natural to us, right? When we enter a new environment, we have to work hard to learn how to play by its rules. This new world can be a physical place, a new geographical area, like in “Wizard of Oz“, “Alice in Wonderland“, or so many stories that include travel and the adaptation that comes after:

Anna-and-the-King-anna-and-the-king-8227074-1280-800

“Anna and the King” (1999). Jodie Foster will have a hard time learning to live in 19th century’s Siam with her son, Draco Malfoy Louis

or a new social setting, like a new group or a job environment that presents itself as particularly hostile until we adapt and learn how to navigate in it,

mgid-uma-image-mtv

“You have no style or fashion sense”. “I think that depends on…” “No, no, that wasn’t a question”. (“The Devil Wears Prada”, 2006)

or, often, a combination of both: a different space where also uses and customs are different and demand a good deal of effort from us before we can consider part of it.

John Dumbar shares his ways with the Sioux in “Dances with Wolves” (1990)

41294_au

As an alternative, the change can be from a life stage, to another. In this case, too, we will have to face completely new challenges that will test our limits. At first it will seem impossible to overcome them (“I will never pass this exam”, or “I will never be able to sleep anymore”), but with enough training, effort, discipline, we will eventually make it.
GrowingUp2

growing up sure is fun in “The Lion King” (1994)…… but it can lead to unexpected challenges!

Or, the story can use elaborate metaphores to “transfer” a meaning from another domain. For example, to describe a spiritual change, we refer to a “magical”, sci-fi or fantasy world where even the laws of nature as we know them can be bent, if we only learn how. Very strong analogies can of course be found in the mythologies. In the Greek myth, Hercules has to sustain 12 labours before he could atone his horrible sins – he killed his wife and sons – and achieve immortality. Some of them were “heroic” as we intend it, some were meant to teach him other virtues, such as humility.

The fifth labour was to clean the stables of King Augeas. The livestock there were divinely healthy (and immortal) and therefore produced an enormous quantity of poo. The Augean Stables had not been cleaned in over 30 years, and over 1,000 cattle lived there.800px-Mosaico_Trabajos_Hércules_(M.A.N._Madrid)_05

that must have been a lot of shit a hard task to accomplish!

Moving to another culture, the Irish Celtic hero Cuchulain fell in love with Emer and asked her to marry him. She insisted that he must first prove his valor by undergoing a series of trials and sent him to the war goddess Scatha to be trained in warfare. On his journey to Scatha, Cuchulain had to pass through the plain of Ill Luck, where sharp grasses cut travelers’ feet, and through the Perilous Glen, where dangerous animals roamed (that’s still pretty common if you go on a hike in Ireland, see for example). Then Cuchulain had to cross the Bridge of the Cliff, which raised itself vertically when someone tried to cross it.

Then, Cuchulain fought Aife, the strongest woman in the world. He defeated Aife, made peace with her, and she bore him a son, Cornila (the peace agreement must have been really intense). While returning home to claim his bride, Cuchulain rescued a princess and visited the underworld.

That’s a “road of trials” indeed. Cuchulain is a central character in the Celtic myth, which has mostly been transmitted orally and never been written down until modern times. That’s why many different sources of the same story can exist and really contradict each other.

To testify the character’s greatness however, he even made it to the Marvel comic universe, appearing in one side story of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” series.

Back to the shores of the Mediterranean. One thousand years before Christ, the Greek free cities were suffering the domination of Crete, back then the strongest power in the region, which was ruled by the all-ambitious king Minos. As a sign of their dominant position, Crete was periodically asking a heavy human sacrifice to Athens: that the seven most valiant boys, and the seven most beautiful girls, were shipped to Crete, never to be seen again.

The horrible truth was that these young people were given to the Minotaur, a monstrous creature half man-half bull that Minos kept imprisoned in the centre of a Labyrinth, and who needed to feed on human flesh.

Minotaur

Theseus and the Minotaur. 6th century, black figure pottery

The Minotaur was actually part of Minos’ not-so-traditional family, being the son of his queen Pasifae, who had been cursed in turn by the God Poseidon as a consequence of Minos’ excessive ambition. But this is, once again, another story, and shall be told another time.

Anyway, after three rounds of such sacrifices, Athens decided it was enough, and sent its prince Theseus disguised as a prisoner to Crete. Theseus was really full of resources. He first found some local ally who provided him with valuable know-how, entered the Labyrinth, got to the centre and faced the Minotaur, slaying him. To get out, he used the famous “red thread” he got from Ariadne before the mission.

Ariadne_px4

Ariadne, played by Ellen Page in “Inception”, is the Architect who helps Cobbs (Di Caprio) to get to the centre of the dream world labyrinth — and back

This is a very long and elaborate story, that we summarised really in short. There can be no more powerful myth than this tale, which contains all the classic elements of a story and of course of the Hero’s Journey. The Labyrinth symbolises at the same time a big material challenge, to be faced using intellect and other resources (see again the iconic “red thread” he receives from Ariadne: she acts as Mentor but at the same time also as romantic interest). To enter a Labyrinth also means proceeding turn after turn into the “center” of something. It can be seen as a descending journey into own’s awareness, a spiral of growth or revelation that necessarily will lead to a “crisis” (= the centre), and then to change.And in the essence this is what happens in “The road of trials”. After the initial shock and for the first time confronted with original problems, situations or characters, the main character will realise that:

  • he or she is not anymore in their comfort zone, and that new rules have to be learned;
  • challenges and even dangers are there and are real, and they can only be overcome by using skills or developing new ones;
  • learning, development and self-trust are really the only key to success.lab

an archetypal Labyrinth, quite full of challenges, is also to be faced by the young Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) in “Labyrinth” (1986).

In social sciences, this finds an accurate mirror in what happens in phenomena like “cultural shock” and “cultural adaptation”. 

We know how strong our reaction can be when we face a new environment: new languages, codes, people, behaviour, weather, laws, currency, customs… so much new information to manage! Our brain, evolved through thousands of years when we were living in much more homogeneous, closed and stable societies, knows well how to process rather large bricks of information at one single time. This is why we developed the mechanisms of stereotypes, to take fast and hard decisions with a safe margin of error. We can learn how to “thin slice“, and actually become very good at it, but it’s not our first automatic response when we are facing a new problem.

The Process of Culture Shock and Cultural Adjustment

Confronted with the original challenge of having to read the small letters, for example of intercultural understanding, we can actually black out and freeze. We perceive “different” as “challenging”, “dangerous”, and we react as a consequence.

This explains why culture shock can even produce physical (exhaustion, illnesses, allergic reactions), or psychological consequences (such as phobias, tics, neurotic traits or behaviours, burn out). We react to it as we normally would to a big threat.

But no worries: as we have seen, this is absolutely normal, and it actually can be expected! Modern science reassures us by providing the hard evidence our intellectual mind craves for; but ancient wisdom has always been there, and even in contemporary storytelling we keep telling exactly the same story.

If Harry Potter had to work so hard to pass his first year, why shouldn’t I?Harry_Potter-young

“The wand chooses the wizard… it’s not always clear why”.

Is it really that strange, this new culture I am getting to know? Or is it only my natural reaction to it, and with time I will learn to deal with it?

the Na’vi people, again from “Avatar” (2009)

So, just as the heroes of legends develop new skills to overcome the challenges that at first seemed too hard to beat – or master some inner, forgotten potential they didn’t even suspect to have before; so do we, everytime we face a test of some kind. We react just like them, first with shock or fear then we somehow start to come to terms with the problem we collect our resources and develop new skills and we finally get the hang of it! So what is the universal, healing lesson that we can take from this part of the Journey? Even if at first the odds seem so much greater than us, there is nothing we can’t possibly achieve. We can learn to be part of another social group, solve a particular problem that bothers us, defeat the illness that has just been diagnosed to a close person, or master the challenges of the new life stage we are facing.

navi0001

No matter how big the challenge seems: by working hard, we can make it. And even if we don’t – how to deal constructively with failure? These is a deep wisdom to be learned about this too, that will be covered in future parts of the Journey.

Another important element of this process is that the Hero(ine) discovers that he/she cannot do it alone. The people we meet along our Journey make all difference for us between defeat or success. And so is for us. But this is another story, and we will tell it another time… in the next post, “Friends, Foes and All Those in Between“.

Good luck with your challenges! Welcome them as opportunities to learn new skills and expand your horizons. Celebrate achievement, and failure… celebrate that, too!  Because there is no other way if we want to get to see what is on the other side.  Dare to enter.

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

The Most Great Festival

Today the Baha’i believers remember the Bahà u’llah declaration that he was a manifestation of God. Starts tonight at sunset and will continue for twelve days, also known as the Most Great Festival. Back in 1863 Baháʼu’lláh was in Ridvan (translates as Paradise) near Baghdad and there he made his declaration after spending 12 days there. On these days celebrations of Baha’i communities around the world are going to echo joy and community, celebrating the foundational spiritual teachings marked by peace and end of all violence. Bahais these days celebrate, vote for the spiritual councils  and the Universal House of Justice dispenses its messages to all believes across the world stressing that “humanity’s ultimate well-being is dependent upon its differences being transcended and its unity firmly established” to foster local and global community building.

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

World Art Day

Remember reading somewhere that Earth without Art is just Eh, and that really resonated, and so true this is. Art nurtures creativity, innovation and cultural diversity for all peoples across the globe and plays an important role in sharing knowledge and encouraging curiosity and dialogue. These are qualities that art has always had, and will always have if we continue to support environments where artists and artistic freedom are promoted and protected. In this way, furthering the development of art also furthers our means to achieve a free and peaceful world. Tells us UNESCO. Therefore today our kudos go to all the artists out there, who pursued their passion and creativity, who make their contribution for a more beautiful planet and humanity, who manage to pull the strings of our heart, mind and soul and move them towards higher states. By the way, we are also going to dare that there are artists and forms of us in each and everyone of us, it is there though not everybody nurture it, and perhaps that is fine. However, every soul has a creative gateway that allows it to express its true self, and that we can find in museum and galleries, on an apartment’s wall, in a basement, in a box stored away with other sweet memories or sometimes only in our imagination. Thank you to all the artists out there. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Solar Year….now it starts!

Wishing all a happy Baisakhi Day, marking the beginning of the solar year for both Hindus and Sikh, though this festivity appears to be more heartfelt by the latter. As Sikhs begin this day by attending service at the Gurdwara before attending a street procession called Nagar Kirtan along the streets, accompanied by singing, chanting and plenty of colours, and once over families and friends gather together to share a good meal in great company. 

This is also the festival of the Spring’s Harvest in many parts of India as the first crops are gathered following the late Winter planting. That is why the day also includes for farmers expressing gratitude to the Divinity for the crops, prosperity and abundant harvest. The significance is the commemoration of how the Khalsa Panth (a community that considers Sikhism as its faith, as well as a special group of initiated Sikhs)  was formed under the guidance of Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. 

For Hindus the period marks the descent of Goddess Ganga on Earth, and to honour her worshippers take a ritual bath along the Ganga river. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Ramayana

From today until the 21st of April we will celebrate Rama Navami, the birth of Lord Rama, as it culminates the Spring Fest of Vasanta Navratri. Indeed one of the main festivals enjoyed by all Hindu believers. In this time of the year you can hear everywhere readings and recitations of the beautiful Ramayana holy scripture, visit the temples to bathe and cloth idols of Lord Ram,  and spend time with family and friends. The festivity concludes with a day and night long fasting while reading narrations of the Ramayana, or witnessing the ceremonial wedding between Lord Rama and Goddess Sita, sometimes attended in a public procession.  

The Ramayana is an epic centred on human values, an epic read that translates as the March of Rama, as in his quest to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana, Lord Rama travels and explores human nature, values and principles that equip him to struggle against the evil kidnapper, and must add in very beautiful and poetic verses. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Hindi New Year

Happy New Year to all Hindi believers and followers. As springtime’s return to life also marks the beginning of the new annual cycle, nature comes to life and so does the world as it awakens after the winter’s sleep. It is a time marked with sweets, gifts, greeting of goodwill, and also to wear something new to symbolically mark the new beginning. Homes are thoroughly cleaned up and decorated with many colours and symbols of good fortune, before going on to visit the temples and receive the blessings of the Gods. Especially Latkshmi and Ganesha are the favoured ones for prayer. In some cases elders give money to youth for good luck in the coming year, and overall it is a family time crowned with large feasts, extended relatives and lush meals. Another interesting tradition of this day is listening to the interpretation of the positions of the stars and to interpret them as signs for the future to come, as astrology plays a big part in daily life, usually a task assigned to an astrologer tasked with reading the family’s fortune, or a family elder, and this is a massive event. All in all, once again, happy new year! 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Ramadan

Happy wishes, Ramadan Kareen, as we enter the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, and literally translates as “burning/scorching heat’” which per se does not sound too promising but makes sense, that month was when the Quran  was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad by Allah.

Typically what most people know is that fasting marks this month celebration during daylight hours, abstinence from food and water, interrupted between sundown and sunrise. As a matter of fact fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, meaning obligatory in the life of observant Muslims, along with faith, prayer, charity and Hadj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). By the way, fasting is not just food, its about drinking, bad habits, sex, swearing, gossiping and any other sins, as food and water are consumed heartily before dawn and after sunset. 

Fasting allows believers to express their  faith through prayers, expressing gratitude, seeking forgiveness and helping the needy. Concerning this last part would like to share a personal experience of observing Ramadan as an outsider travelling through Eastern Turkey in this period, and that was witnessing massive pavilions and tents set up outside the Mosques which were alit with colourful lights right after sunset and volunteers set long tables with all kinds of delicious food worthy of a king offered freely to any passerby, even to non-Muslims. So I was invited to join and looking around saw businesspeople in smart suits and dresses sharing the meal with homeless, workers, elders and youth in a time marked with joy and sense of community. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

CROSSING THE THRESHOLD (Part 5)

By Carmine Rodi Falanga

This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”, the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

We are finally ready. Or at least, as ready as we can. It’s time to pack and step into the Big Unknown! Usually alone, or following the Messengeror our Mentor, it is time now to get out of the familiar, ordinary world and enter in an Extra-Ordinary space. Just think about it: how many times did it happen to you? Travelling to an unfamiliar place. Entering a new work environment. Having to adopt a new culture. Kicking off a new project. Starting a new year at school… This is the story of new beginnings. There is a very old and rich tradition celebrating this phase, stepping into the Big Out There. And all the challenges that come with it. In the Hero’s Journey metaphor, all the journeys start at the same way. As J. R. R. Tolkien writes in “The Lord of the Rings”:  Every journey begins with a single step.

Bilbo decides to follow Gandalf and the Dwarves in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (2012).

the-hobbit-unexpected-journey-quote-4

How true! In all our adventures, the hardest step to make is usually… the first one. Having to get out of our comfort zone. Quite the effort, isn’t it? It certainly is. As we discussed before (here and here for example), leaving home costs us in terms of energy, at both the physical and mental level. When our species was living in caves, our progenitors were forced to leave the security of our “home” to face unknown risks and predators on the outside. This is how the human species has survived and thrived. We probably store that genetic memory somewhere in our collective mind, and this is why everytime we are faced with a new challenge, we feel an initial resistance to change. It’s even physical, isn’t it? Goosebumps, that tingling in the hair behind our neck, butterflies in the stomach. Our organism seems to revolt and warn us against going out there.

And yet, as we know, that is where the fun part begins. In stories, this stage is usually represented with a a real journey of some kind. Entering a hole in the ground. Opening a door. Leving home, crossing the ocean, jumping in the hyperspace.where-the-magic-happens-your-comfort-zone

Neo enters the mirror (a reference to “Alice through the looking glass”) in “The Matrix”

Neo enters the mirror (a reference to
what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas in

(1999)what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas in “The Hangover” (2009)

The element of physical movement helps us to realise that change is happening. Of course this whole stage can also happen only at a metaphorical level. Changing job; enrolling in a new school; getting to retirement age; giving birth to a child — these are all perfect examples of “entering an extraordinary world”, seen as entering a new stage of our life. This is the reason why, traditionally, all societies have developed even very elaborated “Rites of Passage” to mark ceremonially the passage from each of our life stages to another. Think of a wedding. Or initiation to adulthood. Or a graduation celebration. In traditional societies, a formal ritual performed by elders or leaders and witnessed by the community, was necessary to seal the end of a life stage, and the beginning of a new one. And all ceremonies, according to Arnold Van Gennep, have 3 distinct stages: separation (leaving something behind), initiation (the core experience itself), integration (into the future life, bringing it all back home). The passage from one life stage to another must be made explicit, so that we and our community can learn from it and get to the next phase. Before you enter, beware. This is the meaning of “The Threshold”. See this, for a great example of a collective Rite of Passage:

Steve Job’s most famous speech (the “Commencement speech” he held at Stanford, in 2005) has all the elements of the Rite of Passage. There is the recognition by the “elders” (himself, an inspiring figure for everybody who wants to start a company, plus all the professors sitting behind). The community element is very present, with all the students, elders and their families attending the event together. And Jobs – an amazing speaker – draws a clear separation between the “before” and “after” in the students’ life, by creating powerful images and sharing stories from his own life on universal topics such as life, family, career, death.

4f08d78a-fd5e-41c1-92ec-7622d7819928_16x9_600x338

Typically, thresholds were defended by Guardians.

5a3369859025e1fa8f92557cdf5bb531

trying to cross the Wall unprepared could lead to an unpleasant surprise in “Stardust” (2007)

The Guardians are there to make our life a little harder, and more interesting. But they are also there to give more value to the challenge (after all… no pain, no gain, remember?). What’s more interesting: we don’t necessarily need to fight the Guardians. Some are simply there to check our value in other, more subtle ways. A riddle, maybe? A test for some skills of ours?Orpheus was the finest poet of his times. His young, wonderful wife died tragically from a snake bite. Disaster! But instead of falling to desperation, he decided to try the impossible: to go all the way to Hades, the Greek Underworld, to claim back his Eurydice to the realm of the living.

Easier said than done. The gates of Hell were guarded by Cerberus, the feared three-headed dog.

 Hercules was able to defeat it in the twelfth of his labours, but Orpheus was no warrior. What to do then? Desperate, he decided to use the only talent he got: his poetry. He started to play his lyre, and so beautiful his music was, so touching the melody – the hell dog cuddled up, rolled on his back, and fell asleep. Letting our hero pass through. (Yes! By the way, just like in Harry Potter and the The Philosopher’s Stone (2001)!)Edward_Poynter_-_Orpheus_and_Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice, Edward Poynter, 1862

So: changes are never easy – and they shouldn’t be. In order for us to understand the deep value of the important transformations in our life, some kind of price must be paid. A sacrifice: “sacri-fice”, from Latin: to make something sacred: not at all a bad thing according to our ancestors!This concept is deeply encoded in our culture. If you want to enter a new place, get ready to face the consequences. A very powerful symbol for this could be found in the ancient Greek and Roman culture: at a funeral, two coins were placed on the dead person’s closed eyelids. The person would need the money to pay the ferryman to get to the other side of the River of souls. The tradition has been only slightly changed and adopted by George R. R. Martin in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga (and in the uber-popular HBO tv series).

somebody important just died in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” season 4

main-qimg-c7685a0c41ae5e5f9ebe04b2e2349776

Or… think of a bridge. Nowadays we get away with paying just some toll. but what happened in the tradition? Trolls used to live under bridges, monstrous creatures ready to devour the unwise travellers, unless they managed to solve a riddle, leave a tribute or show otherwise their worthiness.
meet the bridge troll in

Geralt meets a proper bridge troll in “The Witcher 2” This is why it’s probably never a good idea to go for a free ride. There is a Spirit somewhere that gets angry, every time we cross a threshold without respect. Keep that in mind, next time it manifests in our material world, maybe in the form of a Public Transport authority or a Tax Agency officer.  It hurts… but there is a lesson to learn there. 

Well – do you see the bigger picture?If you want to get somewhere, are you willing to pay the price?

Cooper, the heroic space explorer played by Matthew Mc Conaughey in “Interstellar” (2014), has to face this harsh realisation in his conversation with Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway).

Coop – “Ranger 2, prepare to detach” ”

Brand – “What? No, Cooper, what are you doing?!”

Coop – “Newton’s third law, gotta leave something behind.”

Brand – “You told me there were enough resources for the both of us.”

Coop – “Remember we agreed? Ninety percent. Detach.”

Which is in my opinion brings forth a very interesting reflection. No matter if you look at the issue from the purely logical-scientific point of view, or from a spiritual one: the conclusion is the same. When you leave your comfort zone, if you ever want to achieve something, you have to be ready to leave something behind.

So, to recap. A few tips for heroes in their journeys:

  • a change of state (of any kind) is usually marked by powerful symbols. Our work is to recognise them, and honour them for what they are. Not obstacles there just to bother us, but noble, ancient Guardians that are there to test our powers;
  • Thresholds, Gates, Bridges… all wonderful examples of thresholds. When crossing them, especially the most important of our lives, we should do it respectfully and ceremonially;
  • Metaphorical thresholds are maybe even more important than material ones. Exams. Ending a relationship. Starting a new job. Giving birth. A period of disease. A change in life stages should always be celebrated and recognised by community. It takes courage to face change: this should always be honoured;
  • Don’t linger on a threshold: once you are on it, close your eyes, smile, jump. There is no point in prolonging the “panic” feeling any longer. Acknowledge it, welcome it, let it flow through you… and then jump, ready to see what’s next.

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

Yom HaShoah

Let’s light a candle on “Yom HaShoah Ve-Hagevurah” Day of remembrance of the Holocaust and the Heroism. One of darkest and most insane pages of human history, where our overrational-industrial age mentality was applied to human destruction and death, making it an efficient system just like a factory chain, including anyone who who felt, thought, looked different, even when those differences were subjectively and aptly created and otherwise do not exist. It is a day to light a candle in remembrance of the fallen, of the survivors as well as the perpetrators, each in their own way victims of an age that devalued individual life, fostered violence under every possible mean and tool and brought to the surface our scariest ghosts. 

And yet, whenever this day occurs my memory brings back the last years of high school when, as a compulsory text we had to read “If This is a Man” by Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi, and two things struck me of that book, the first was the total absence of hatred in his words chapter after chapter, simple descriptions emotionless and no hard word or even judgement towards his torturers. The second when he described his coping strategy against a system that aimed to nullify your identity and personality by replacing your name with a number, and that was to maintain routines, something as simple as taking off his shirt, putting it around his neck as a towel and go to wash his face, a simple daily gesture that reminded him of his humanity, identity and name and got him through hell until the camp was liberated. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

World Health Day

Since 1950, the world today celebrates the World Health Day. The COVID-19 pandemic has undercut recent health gains, pushed more people into poverty and food insecurity, and amplified gender, social and health inequities. Therefore regardless if we were directly hit by the contagion, or our closed one, or not all, we have to acknowledge that each one of us has suffered from this pandemic and its necessary preventive and management measures, and paid a high toll, either in terms of job and income loss, end of relationships, solitude and loneliness and an uncertain outlook towards a brighter future that may seem distant. In some strange way we got, in recent decades, the habit to treating the symptoms and focusing on removing them rather than going at the very root of what causes the ailment in the first place. Everytime a headache comes here come the pills that remove the pain and we are fine with it, but what about the reason that caused the headache in the first place? On the one hand we need, and must rely and invest in scientific progress and research to deal with illnesses and disease, and its annoying and harmful symptoms, yet, this needs to go hand in hand with working on what caused that illness in the first place, what is at the root. 

What medicine do we need? Our community? The biosphere? 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach.

Sports for Development and Peace

It was many years ago during a work trip to Denmark, that I came across some physical education instructors from public schools, sharing stories about education and practices they shared that in Denmark P.E. classes removed all elements of competition from the sports they practiced, and rather took sports class as an opportunity for team building and focusing on social skills and enjoyment, rather than fostering a sense where pupils need to excel over one another. At first I admit I was quite skeptical about this whole approach until they shared a statistic that compared to other parts of Europe the majority of Danes continue doing and practicing sports also when they finish school, because most retain a positive, fun and connecting memory to doing sports, rather than bitter defeats, shaming performances, that create a negative anchor and distance youth from sports once it is not compulsory anymore. Indeed that can well be the key and purpose of sports in today’s society and in shaping present and future generations. Fortunately, not only Rescogita thinks so, today is the International Day for Sport for Development and Peace, sports as a tool and means to reach the Millenium Development Goals. Specifically looking at the universal popularity of sports, it crosses and eliminates cultural, social, economic and political borders. It provides enjoyment or all and has a capacity of being a powerful global communication platform reaching millions, and most of all it has the power to empower, motivate and inspire, bringing out individual and community strengths. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Good Friday it is

Many Christians today celebrate Good Friday, the culmination of Jesus Christ’s humanity, as on this day the Son of God, chooses to accept his faith and be crucified suffering excruciating and very human pain on the Calvary before resurrecting on Easter Day and defeating death. 

It is a day when Christians empathise with the suffering Jesus had to endure on behalf of humanity’s sins and for our redemption, accompanied by fasting, prayer and abstinence, embracing the natural human condition of suffering and death, before Easter Sunday when the resurrection of the Christ is celebrated, therefore Life! 

One can even say that this is likely the most important day in Christian celebration, and this is day that marks what was to become the symbol of Christianity, the Cross, and something that was inconceivable, a God sacrificing himself out of love for the mortal humans to cleanse them of their sins, and forgiving humans for killing him. 

The meaning of this day is that humanity first has to understand the “bad news” which is the condition of sin and looming condemnation looming over humans as sinful creatures, which is followed by the good deliverance, that is understood and embraced only once we see how our ways, materialism and sins enslaved and chained us to our earthly ways. “Righteousness and Peace will kiss each other, the cross of Jesus is where that occurred, when God’s demands…coincided with His mercy, and peace…” Psalms 85:10

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

International Day of Conscience

“”disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of humankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.”  And “”all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Art.1 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

This is a recent UN celebration that aims to become a tool to mobilise the efforts of the international community to promote peace, tolerance, inclusion, understanding and solidarity. To remind people to self-reflect, follow their conscience, and do the right things, demonstrating deep faith and believe in humanity’s capacity of deep inside knowing and feeling what actions, decisions and feelings are the necessary and right ones for our sake and wellbeing. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

Easter’s Upon Us

Following the sorrowful days in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross comes what is considered the most important Christian Festivity, Easter, when the Son of God resurrected and thus defeated death, showing the way of human redemption and the way to eternal life. More simply Easter is the celebration of life, forty days have passed fasting, praying, abstaining from earthly pleasures and all of a sudden life can return to be fully lived at its fullest together with the warm and good feelings Spring brings along. 

No wonder popular folklore assigns as symbols to this day eggs, rabbits and doves, in other words cycle of life, procreation and creation of life, along with the symbol of peace and peaceful life.  Therefore we would like to wish to all Western Rite Christians a very happy Easter and celebration of life and of being alive in this great world of ours. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

MEETING THE MENTOR (Part 4)

By Carmine Rodi Falanga

This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

Odysseus, the reluctant hero, is about to leave for the War of Troy. He knows the war will not be an easy one: dangerous, uncertain, long. His heart is heavy: he is leaving behind his beloved island Ithaca and his family, his wife Penelope and his newborn son Telemachus.

He is especially worried about the boy. How will he cope without his father? Where will he go, if he needs guidance and advice? With these questions in his mind, Odysseus pays a visit to an old friend. “My wise, dear friend. Can I trust you with my boy’s future?” he asked. “In case of need, will you be there as his teacher, tutor and guide?”. The older friend accepted, and took the role of guardian for Odysseus’ young son. He was so good in his role that even a few years later, Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, took his form as a human when she needed to send a message to Telemachus. Mentor and Telemachus in the Odyssey. 

The name of the man was Mentor. Wow, really? That sounds familiar… Since then, the word “Mentor” has become a synonym for counselor, teacher, and wise person. We all have met our Mentors in our life. And in turn, are called to take that role for students, friends, children. It is an extremely important figure, and it has a central place in the Hero’s Journey.

We all, in the course of our life, meet such extraordinary people. When it happens, it’s a memorable experience, that will shape our future life and personality, maybe forever. Meeting the right teacher, role model or guide, even if only for a short time, can indeed be one of the most meaningful moments of our life.

Robin Williams unforgettable in “The Dead Poets Society” (1989)

Don’t we all remember that special teacher, who had that special gift to communicate his knowledge in such an inspiring way? Or that great sport coach, whose motivation was totally contagious, and always managed to push us to overcome our limits?

Or that special, wise person in our family, to whom we always went when we needed support or advice and always knew the right words for us? As human beings, we need to give a meaning to our identity. For that we need a context, to place ourselves in space and time. We need to feel connected as part of a community, and to be recognised by our peers and maybe most importantly, by our elders. This process develops in the early years of our life, but is affirmed in the adolescence, when we pass from the earlier stage of our life (childhood) into maturity (adulthood: adolescence in Latin means “to grow into an adult”).

the relationship between the young Olive and her granddad in “Little Miss Sunshine” is adorable.

Don’t we all remember that special teacher, who had that special gift to communicate his knowledge in such an inspiring way? Or that great sport coach, whose motivation was totally contagious, and always managed to push us to overcome our limits?

And this is precisely the importance of “The Mentor” stage of the Hero’s Journey. A “Mentor” is a powerful archetype for a wise person, typically older than us, that we meet before we cross the threshold out from our everyday, ordinary world (or slightly after: stories can vary quite a bit here). The meaning is clear: we all need good teachers, to feel connected to our ancestors, their knowledge and wisdom, and to receive their blessing before we go on to face our challenges in life, in a sort of implicit rite of passage. It’s the way humans have developed through ages and centuries, from one generation to the following, and so on. It feels natural to us, and so it must be.

Michael Caine in “Inception”

That is why in every, every story that is worth being told, at one point or another in the earlier chapter the hero meets this powerful, charismatic figure. Just think about it: Luke Skywalker has his Obi-Wan Kenobi, Harry Potter meets Dumbledore, Frodo learns from Gandalf about the One Ring. See how the characters resemble each other? That’s because they are in fact different incarnations of exactly the same figure! And more. Forrest Gump becomes friend with the Lieutenant Dan when he goes to Vietnam. They will learn from each other while they live their transformative arcs. Jason assembles his team of super heroes, the Argonauts, after meeting an Oracle. The Ninja Turtles are trained by Splinter, who in fact is a very large rat but they don’t seem to mind being not so picky about talking animals themselves. Dorothy has just arrived to the Land of Oz when she meets the Good Witch of the North, very beautiful because “only evil witches are ugly” of course.

Glinda from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

The Mentor as a figure can be masculine, feminine, or more abstract: from the animal world Aslan the Lion in “The Chronicles of Narnia” (2005) or an entity, a spirit, a supernatural force.

 in “The Neverending Story” (1984) Atreyu (and later Bastian) meet Falkor a friendly, reassu ring character or a challenging, menacing one. Bill is at the same time the villain and the Mentor in “Kill Bill Vol. 2” (2004) or maybe a bit of both?

La-storia-infinita-04

Mmmmh can we really trust this guy? the iconic Cheshire Cat from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” (1951) is actually there to give directions… in his own peculiar way Which usually is a story in its own. We learn from many different experiences, good and bad ones, and especially from energies that are radically different from ours (masculine/feminine, young/old, modern/classic, natural/technological, spiritual/material).

Cheshire-cat-4

This, for the Hero, can actually be the first very important lesson to learn. A strong, masculine figure recalls probably a father figure and the importance of authority, leadership, responsibility; a caring, compassionate female can be related to motherhood, nourishing, acceptance. The Mentor can also be a love partner (there is indeed a lot of “initiation” happening through our love and sex life!), and in that case the story takes another very definite direction.

prettywoman

in “Pretty Woman” (1990) who is learning from whom?

In every story, the final purpose of the Mentor is the transmission of something. Their role is to help the protagonist with a legacy. This is usually represented by an object or a teaching of particular importance that has to be delivered to the Hero. A weapon, a tool, an object that can be mysterious at the beginning, but will become essential at a later stage in the journey. What would Luke do without his lightsaber? Or Frodo without the light of Earendil, that he receives from Galadriel? Every James Bond movie has a moment with “Q”, who shows him the new technology and tools he will bring in his new mission. This is from “Goldfinger” (1964): And we as the audience rejoyce so much when, later in the story, 007 finds the way to use each gadget in the most appropriate way!This subtle mechanism is very powerful and effective, because it reflects our need for guidance, learning, transmission of knowledge. And it’s a cycle: in turn, we assume the roles of disciples and teachers, in our life we are called to have from time all these roles: learner, initiate, student, teacher, guide, guru, master.

This reflects the bond between generations that helps us to feel connected and keeps society together, and holds the profound teaching that every encounter of our life bears a potential opportunity for learning. It is our responsibility to acknowledge it, and to treasure the most from our experiences.

Ok, so we get it. Meeting a Mentor is cool. But – what if we are not that lucky? What if our education system or community is not exactly so privileged, or we just grow up in the wrong neighbourhood? We might never get to meet that special person?

Then again, the teaching is simple: go out and find it! At the end of the day, learning is our own responsibility. Yes, we can blame a number of actors for our own misfortune (and we do: the government, the system, the school…), but in the end the Call to Adventure is a challenge to become the protagonists of our own story. To live our life, not to suffer it. And many stories are told about a Hero who goes out on a difficult quest, just to meet the right teacher.

kill-bill

sometimes it takes a good mentor to defeat an evil one. Exactly the Bride’s mission in “Kill Bill” (2003)

When this is completed successfully, the disciple has actually earned the right to learn. Yes, that’s right: what if we saw learning and development as a prize to earn, rather than a right? Would we treat it more sensibly, maybe seeing it as an honour and an opportunity, rather than some boring duty? And at the same time, shouldn’t we see our teachers as highly respectable people, who grant us one of the biggest gifts ever imaginable? In the most memorable stories, learning and experience are always valued and well-deserved rewards. Do we treat the topic with the same respect in our everyday life in the “material world”?

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

World Autism Awareness Day

Last year’s theme was “Transition to Adulthood – by becoming a full and equal participant in the social, economic and political life of the community.”  And we would like to stress that even more today, as this year was very demanding on everyone, with uncertainties, a looming pandemic and crisis, there has been a rise in mental distress situation among young people, and worsening of conditions of those who already before lived with mental challenges an discomforts. 

As life slowly may be returning to “normality” soon, it is important that life events restart, and as we promised ourselves in these months “let’s get a better humanity out of this traumatic experience” and how can we do that? By thinking about inclusion and diversity, which starts by removing stigmas and unintentional discrimination towards people on the spectrum, a pitying and charitable attitude is of no help at all, on the contrary can stress and mark out the differences (as well as creating more distance) nor the fear of not knowing how to handle the situation when people on the spectrum attend learning and social events. 

Just keep in mind that ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is really broad, and can include social skills challenges, repetitive behaviours, affect speech or nonverbal communication, and very often people on the spectrum and their families tend to avoid social and community events, not to create excitement that triggers the “unusual” behaviour, or caused by extra stress of trying to cope with the social situation, and many rather avoid such occasions not to have to explain or for fear of being misunderstood. 

Loud sounds and voices, large unfamiliar crowds, flashing lights can be quite challenging for people of any age who are on the spectrum, who tend to have a preference for predictability and routines, which often is the comfortable and preferred environment. A search engine search will help you to identify plenty of useful advice and tips on how to make your community, social and learning events more inclusive towards autism and everyone else. “Let’s get a better humanity out of this!we did promise that. 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach. 

April’s Fish

We at Rescogita thought of starting this day with a prank, instead decide to give you some fun and trivia of why the 1st day of April is dedicated to fool, jokes and pranks, and hope you do enjoy. 

It believed that this tradition goes all the way back to ancient Egypt, thought to be honest the initial meaning is pretty much lost, the first official recount talks about a festival called Hilaria in ancient Rome (yep that was the actual name believe it or not) while celebrating Goddess Cybele masked people were allowed to mock and prank anyone, even the nobility. 

Another claim is that it started in France when in the XVIth century they changed calendars, from celebrating new year on the 1st of April to the 1st of January, and those who forgot and celebrated still in April were called fools and had  paper cut fish stuck to their back. 

Really there are a lot stories on the origins of April’s fool, some absurd some less, and the conclusion is that if someone tells us there is a fool’s day where we can hoax, prank, joke and make fun, as a species we’ll probably take it, as any excuse to have fun. By the way, why a fish? 

Rescogita is a startup that focuses on education through training, coaching, capacity building and consulting, grounded on the principles of ecopsychology, meaning in identifying practical solutions to affect the wellbeing of the individual, the community and the biosphere in a single approach.

Colourful Love

The Hindu Holi Festival of Spring is about to start

Ever heard of the Hindu festivity called Holi? What if we called it the Festival of Spring or Festival of Love? Still nothing? How about Festival of colours? Aha now it starts ringing a bell of crowded colourful streets and people chucking colours in the air and at each other. That is today! And the celebration is good vanquished evil!  

Spring has arrived, and with spring comes life, evil winter is behind and it is a reason to celebrate allowing both the natural world and love to fully blossom, come together with neighbourhoods, towns and communities and celebrate the joy of life, play like a child, laugh as loud as you can, wrongdoings are forgotten and forgiven and disputes resolved at last. 

It lasts a whole day and a whole night, beginning in the full moon day of Pumima at sunset and ending the day after, with the ritual burning of the demon Holika. 

Possibly not so coincidental this day happens to take place exactly at the time of the first harvest of the year, and the plenty of food it brings after a winter of hardships. 

Across Hindu follower communities we see bonfires lighting the night and religious rituals, as prayer and services aim at the destruction of internal evil, reminiscing the end of evil Holika. Then comes one of the most loved parts of this festivity, the morning, you can run the streets and squares and smear people with colours and throw buckets of water at each other and simply play and have fun, regardless of social class, stranger, relative, elders. The colour “fight” gives no quarter, and no street, temple,  park, square is a safe haven you can’t escape getting drenched and become very colourful. All of this accompanied by singers and dancers celebrating life, once that is out of the system, it is possible to clean up and in the evening pay a visit to loved and dear ones and renew the emotional bonds. 

Happy Holi everyone! 

The Passover Celebration – Pesach

Between the 27th of March and 4th of April, from sunset to sunset is the Passover celebration, known as Pesach. This festivity celebrates the freedom from slavery and Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, once again free. 

This day is celebrated by enjoying a seder, which is a traditional dinner consumed tonight in Jewish households, made of ritual food such as bread without yeast, bitter herb, and a mixture of sweet fruits, nuts and wine called the Haroset. Although different traditions can be found concerning food to be consumed on this day, mostly it is about having a simple and poor diet in remembrance of what the Israelites endured under Egyptian slavery. And it is not only about food, on this night the Hallel psalms are recited and sang from morning to evening. 

This day also marks the beginning of Omer, which is a forty-nine day period to recall the count between the offerings that were brought to the Ancient temple in Jerusalem, following the 49 days comes the Shavuot, celebrating the time when on Sinai the Torah was received. 

Pesach resembles very much Christian Easter and many other celebrations coming from the lunar calendar around this time of the year, between the 3d and 4th full moon, and each of these festivities celebrate life, resurrection, freedom, and survival, and that is only natural that the time of Spring’s rebirth is celebrated by the people of the Norther Hemisphere regardless of their ethnic, cultural and faith background. Likely to be among the first festivity to be celebrated across the very first human communities, where liberation, journeys, return to the original land of the foreparents, being alive and having survived strife and hardships is something that needs to be recalled, and celebrated by mind, body, heart and soul, as a sign of belonging to the self, the community and the world as a whole. Happy Passover to everyone.

THE REFUSAL OF THE CALL (Part 3)

By Carmine Rodi Falanga

 This article was originally published on “To Say Nothing of the Cat”, the author’s personal blog where he explores the connections between storytelling and contemporary culture

What happens when we are faced with a challenge, a crisis or an invitation to change something from our everyday life? What is our most common reaction to a new situation, or to an important decision to take? The second stage of the Hero’s Journey deals with it. The last time you have been confronted with the possibility of a life change (big or small: quitting your job, moving home, ending an important relationship, having to start a diet…) what was your answer? Let’s face it, unless the change was really welcome, or you are a true adventure lover, probably the answer was something like this

Tobey Maguire as Spider Man became a great subject for memes.Or maybe “Not now, please. Can I wait a little longer?”. Or even “I am perfectly fine as I am, I don’t want to change!”. And so on. To be honest, it’s an absolutely natural reaction to have. We all love a little bit of stability in our life, leaving our comfort zone sometimes is really not that easy, and we feel protected an safe in our “Ordinary World“. It is, as said, a healthy and common instinct that keeps us confined to our familiar territory.

Maybe the reason is that if we go back to the time when humans were living in caves, going out was really a dangerous business. Inside, there was the protection of the community and a warm fire that kept many dangers away. Outside, we would be without shelter or company, and the environment was extremely hostile, full of predators and potential threats. There are many different studies (here just one, for example) to support the idea that we fear change because at the end of the day it’s a lot of hard work. That’s why even when we are rationally convinced about a particular solution, there comes something subconscious, a tingling in our spine, or maybe goosebumps, telling us “mmmh are you really sure?”. Maybe it’s better to check all the small letters, first.

Bilbo is maybe the only one who reads all the “terms and conditions” before signing for something.This human, very human reaction is of course reflected in the Hero’s Journey. It comes right after the Call to Adventure and is closely connected with the Guardians of the Threshold, of whom we will talk later. It’s a series of actions that stop the hero from starting the journey.

Maybe it could be somebody trying to stop him (or her). Or a condition, an event, material obstacles of some kind. Or simply, very commonly, just self doubt? Stories, excuses, the little voices in our head telling us that we are not ready, not brave, strong, old, young, qualified enough? (and if you are thinking “I don’t hear such voices in my head” right now… it’s exactly of them, I am talking about!) We have already seen the reaction of Odysseus when the messenger came to call him to take part to the war of Troy. He would rather pretend to be mad, instead of leaving his beloved wife and his newborn baby boy. He didn’t want to go to adventure – maybe he was feeling that his Journey would be a particularly challenging one?

Odysseus has himself tied to the mast, to resist the the mermaids songs.

Our tradition is very rich with stories when the main character is stopped, or stops him/herself, from answering the call. This is to reflect this familiar, very natural instinct we all have. To make us feel free from judgement and make it easier for us to identify with the main characters of the tale.

 As we said, change is always hard work, and the road of our Hero’s Journey can indeed be full of challenges. If Heroes such as Odysseus, Kate Winslet’s Rose from “Titanic“, even Superman were waivering with self doubt before accepting their fate and jumping into action, why can’t we?

“If you jump, I jump”. This is the important teaching of this phase. Self doubt, fear and anxiety are normal before a test, natural reactions we all have, possibly with reasons well rooted in our evolution as human beings. It’s really OK to feel inadequate.

What matters the most is what comes next. What do all legendary heroes do at this point? What happens when we are hit by the moment of self doubt and uncertainty?

There is no question here. Once the Call to Adventure has been heard, it’s only a matter of time before the Journey starts. Actually – it has already started! Because remember, The “Refusal of the Call” is part of the story, not of some foreword. So this is the lesson to learn: when facing these nasty self-sabotaging, paralyzing actions or judgements, don’t fight them: accept them. Embrace the voices as part of yourself – maybe they are even familiar voices? Can you associate real faces, to them? Try to wonder why. But avoid judgement. Don’t feel guilty, don’t victimise yourself. It’s all part of a story, and deep inside you know it. You are in good company: you are just the last of a long, long series of heroic characters who all exitated in their moment of challenge. And then, gathered their resources and went on to adventure.

“I can’t do this”. That’s why I especially like this phase of the Journey. It’s about letting go of self doubts and all the unnecessary burden that we carry with us all the time. It reminds us that when a challenge comes, our first instinct is to close our eyes, or run away from it.

And that it’s absolutely normal. We are all the same in this: heroes and ordinary people, fictional semi-gods and regular guys. It can be really beneficial to learn how to recognise this pattern when it emerges, so we identify it, welcome it… and STOP IT.

A classic from Bob Newhart.

Modern psychoanalysis identifies neurosis, or even psychosis, that can manifest here. They are semi-conscious, subconscious or even inconscious behaviours that are activated when we feel under stress.

And change is always stressful. Actions of self sabotage that are triggered to stop us from going to adventure, and oh boy, they can be nasty, much more real than some voices in our head!

A bad sore throat, or a rash on your face just the day before a job interview. Somebody in our family who has something unexpected happening to them. A flat tire. A twisted ankle before a decisive football match. The feeling of not remembering anything at all just before an important school test. Do these stories sound familiar? I bet they do. It’s because they are part of our story. And it’s all been written and told before, countless times. Remember, you are not alone. Just like Frodo is tempted to give the One Ring back to Gandalf, the moment he realises all that it will bring into his life, his beloved County, the people he loves. He really doesn’t want to become the hero of such a big, big story. But can he turn down the challenge? Even if change can be scary and we might feel not ready for it, from it we depend. Our life is about constant change; every single cell of our body changes (even if not exactly every 7 years); and we simply need new inputs and novelty in our life, to thrive. In other words, once the Call has been heard, the story is spinning already, and there is no stopping it.

Please note! Rescogita doesn’t own the pictures used in this article. They are shared under fair use for educational purposes. All rights belong to the respective owners.

Magha Puja, Community Building

The 2nd most important Buddhist celebration of the year is now, Magha Puja, in memory of a gathering between 1250 disciples and Buddha 10 months after his enlightenment. The day is dedicated to community, by honouring this very first ideal community (Sangha) created by Buddha and his followers, which is often understood as a monastic community. This day celebrates community, all community builders and organisers and their legacy of bringing into organised communities resilience, unity and harmony according to the precepts of Buddhism. 

How else can community day be celebrated if not by gathering together, meditating, listening to teaching, giving onto others and just being together and performing as a community. 

Traditionally this celebration is held on a full moon day, on the 3d month of the traditional lunar calendar and named after the star that appears closest to the full moon in this time of the year. And on this day Buddha taught his enlightened disciples about the pillar principles that summarise Buddhism, an continued to do so for 20 years : 

  1. Patience, restraint  and austerity delivering no harm or injury
  2. Strive for wholeness, do no evil and purify the mind 
  3. Self discipline and moderation in lifestyle 

As human life, culture and faith moves along with the rhythm of the planet, in South East Asia Magha Puja also marks the beginning of the agricultural year following the first harvest. 

How is it celebrated?  By meditation, prayer and actions that bring about self-improvement, processions, lighting of fires and attending prayers and making offerings at the temples. In some areas celebration envisages setting animals free.