by V Kartikeyan
I have read and re-read both Gagandeep Singh’s blog “Process Work Spaces : Triggering the magic within” and subsequently Ashok Malhotra’s post “Decoding the magic of Process Work”. I have been intrigued by the word “magic” making itself visible this year in relation to the forthcoming summer program of Sumedhas in many ways – apart from the two blogs, I also recall S.V.Nathan referring to “magic” in his video and Bhavana Issar mentioning the same word in her video. I also recall feeling disturbed when I first heard this word applied to the Sumedhas labs because a part of me was not wanting people to see Sumedhas as just an esoteric land …
But these several inputs and triggers have helped me revisit my idea of magic when it comes to Sumedhas labs and also offer what to me is one very potent aspect of the magic that happens. Gagandeep talks of the magic as that which happens when a stranger groups sits together, engages, shares and dialogs on the lens that each person in the group brings with themselves. He also talks of it as an energy that cannot be evoked by one individual, insights that cannot be monopolized by one individual, and an intense sense of love and companionship that cannot be offered by one or the other. Ashok talks of the magic of lab spaces as a dramatic shift in the perspective with which we engage with reality. Ashok also goes on the explicate how this magic unfolds in a lab space. To add to all this, I have also been moved by reading Raghu Ananthanarayanan’s article “Life Space Exploration – a perspective derived from Yoga and Sankhya” – and I refer to some relevant triggers here below.
My thoughts and ruminations lead me to offer two other resonant views on this magic in Sumedhas lab spaces.
- Magic happens when that which is hidden in the “Unconscious” of a person or the group gets released into the “Conscious”. It suddenly bursts into view, and with a numinosity that holds the paradoxical idea of a compelling invitation. This can happen through many processes or a combination of many processes. In a sense in Sumedhas space, the scene is set for the magic to unfold right from the time the participant enters the inaugural plenary event, it then emerges at various times for various people through various events and processes – be it intense sharing in the small groups spaces or in the rituals or in the community events or even in “addas” that happen from time to time in informal spaces. This process is the letting go of the “Avidyaa”. A participant experiences it as magic as their patterned responses and response capabilities (their Upaadaana Kaarana) get jolted / challenged and new grounds, new responses become apparent. Gagandeep’s anguished getting in touch with his over crystallised “minority identity” location and learning to let go of it is an example of such a shift in the Upaadaana. All this magic is not entertainment because it is not a view of something happening out there. It is often gut-wrenching yet immensely enlivening as it is happening to oneself.
- In learning spaces in corporate systems, I often narrate to people a view of how learning happens when the system moves from “Unconscious Incompetence” to “Conscious Incompetence” to “Conscious Competence” to “Unconscious Competence”. The magic in lab spaces would seem to happen thus –
- Starting out not knowing about the depth and potential of the “Unconscious” in oneself and maybe even holding it in disdain / ambivalence i.e. a state that can be loosely called “Incompetent Unconscious” and
- simultaneous over engagement with what one already knows and believes to be true about oneself – i.e. one’s “Competent Conscious” to
- realising in the lab spaces that this over engagement may in fact be the problem – i.e. touching an element of “Incompetent Conscious” to finally
- getting in touch with the multiplicities of possibilities, frames, action choices that lie deep within and owning / acting them – embodying them – and thus learning to treat the Unconscious as an ally – a space of “Competent (Immensely Valuable) Unconscious”
This unfolding process often also appears magical because a lot of the Sumedhian work is in working with symbols, metaphors, myths, rituals, and essentially associative logic rather than linear logic – all of which create a sense of enchantment and magic.
One aspect of magic I wish to focus on is in “who comes for your lab” – as in, who are your labmates and your facilitators. For this, I lean on Carl Jung’s postulate of synchronicity.
To Jung, synchronicity was a phenomenon that holds the idea of “meaningful coincidences” – where seemingly random events occur with no linear / causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related. I advocate the view that who comes for your lab is a synchronicitous magical event. You have no conscious control over who your lab-mates and facilitators are, yet one of the magical stage-settings is that you (and everyone else in the lab / event) get the lab-mates and facilitators that are perhaps the most important voices that you need to engage with in your current life context. As the lab unfolds, through the sharing and voices of others in the shared space you hear the statements that you are most meant to hear and the pattern of resonances then set in motion for you a new reflexivity.
For a participant oriented to reflexivity in a lab, getting in touch with the magic of “who comes for your lab” can be a very meaningful and substantive experience. Sanctifying the view that who you find around you are in fact the symbols that would be the most meaningful for you to engage with now, and the voices you hear around you in the lab are simultaneously the echoes of your over-crystallized patterns AND beckoning for new beginnings – can be a deeply impactful starting point for one’s explorations.
Back to the emergence of “magic” in this year’s pre SP language … in a way the magic of the Summer Program has already emerged ….
V Kartikeyan is a Fellow of Sumedhas, an OD & Leadership Consultant and is the Ex-Head of HR (India) for Motorola and Texas Instruments