Is it possible we can do deep code for truck drivers?
Jordan: We could try.
Euvie: Explain like I’m five.
Jordan: It’s funny because there’s [00:02:00] a certain… Let’s put it this way, one of the groups who might be most viscerally familiar with some of the propositions of deep code are, in fact, truck drivers because, as we know, the self-driving care disruption is going to be hitting trucks relatively soon. Truck drivers are going to find themselves on the other side of a major disruption wave. Part of the deep code proposition might be, well, A, this is happening, and maybe B, why it’s happening, and C, what it means [00:02:30] for you, how you might be able to respond to is. I’ll try to see if I can do it very simply. I’ll begin with something that actually may be too simple.
What I’d like to first propose is that we can think about a particular thing that we humans do called civilization as a game. In a very strong sense, humans are very simple. At a basic level we don’t have that many distinct kinds of needs, maybe on the order 20 or 30 distinct needs. We need to be able to eat, we need to be able to have water, we need to have safe [00:03:00] shelter, we need to be able to find mates. We have more than, say, dogs, because we need also to have access to creative expression and a sense of connection to something that is greater than ourselves – or so the social psychologists who study these things tell us. Nonetheless, it’s not that long a list.
We can notice that what we try to do is we try to go about and build different kinds of institutions, say, [00:03:30] like fast food restaurants and grocery stores, or collective gatherings where people cook for each other, pot lucks, that are ways that we go about getting our needs met. There, of course, are many, many. We could describe a given culture as a collection of a whole lot of different kinds of institutions and practices that collectively try to get our needs met. I’m going to say that we can think about that as something as a game, [00:04:00] meaning there are roles that people play, there are ways of sensing or measuring whether or not it is actually being done well. If you throw a dinner party, it’s not necessarily the same as, say, poker or basketball but, nonetheless, there’s a sense of, “Did it come together well or not?”
Certainly, if nobody ate food, you could say that it was a failure. By contrast, if everybody decided to come back again, you could say maybe it was a success. Most importantly, it’s invented. [00:04:30] We have a very large amount of inheritances from evolution that we humans didn’t play any meaningful role in doing ourselves. We have our biology, in large portion of our developmental path, is received that the specific cultural artefacts within our choices that we’ve made – either right now, we’re choosing to communicate right now, or somebody in the past made certain choices, like somebody at the Zoom [00:05:00] corporation made the choice to create this particular kind of software, so now this exists as a thing that we can access.
Within the context of culture as being a game, meaning that it’s the thing that is constructed by humans and is held together by humans continuing to choose to interact in that game, what deep code has done is take a look at the current set of cultures – we call the total civilization framework, the total set of [00:05:30] cultures that currently exist in the world and all the different kinds of institutions and practices that they have access to. In the context of the world as it currently exists and as it is likely to become as it goes forward. What we’ve noticed is that our current civilization framework not only isn’t adequate [00:06:00] to the set of challenges that humanity is facing but that, in fact, its own design. The way that it works on its own terms is always going to collapse under its own weight.
It’s a phrase that Daniel uses is that it is inexorably self-terminating, which is not an ELI five but it’s something along the lines of if you light a candle the way that a candle works is that it consumes its fuel. You can know for sure that, at some point, the candle is going to go out. Our current [00:06:30] civilization model has a lot of characteristics like that, meaning that we can actually take a very, very close look at the underlying, deep structural elements of how it actually operates. You can say, “I see. It will always play out in a certain way.” As a consequence, it will actually collapse in some time. It’s not clear how long but in some time it will collapse. As a bit of an aside, it also has an unfortunate characteristic, which is that [00:07:00] the longer you wait for it to collapse, the more significant the collapse will ultimately be.
There’s a point where you can identify that it’s over ripe and it’s time to begin moving on and changing things. Oftentimes, we don’t actually choose to elegantly innovate new approaches, we actually choose to stick very strongly to old approaches that are failing. What ends up happening, as a result, is that we get a [00:07:30] short-term burst of what may feel like success, but what’s actually happening is that we’re eating our seed corn, to use that idiom. What ends up happening is that when we hit rock bottom, we hit rock bottom hard. That’s why it ends up being a collapse, things fall apart. There’s a lot that goes into that. There’s a whole bunch in that level of analysis and deep code spends a substantial amount of time looking at those kinds of things and trying to get deeper and deeper clarity to understand why would this be the case and also, where are we [00:08:00] on that trajectory.
Then, of course, you can use those two ideas to make predictions about what might happen over the next 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years. The second major piece has been trying to use this set of frameworks to design a new civilization, we’ll have to be able to do three things. It has to be able to deal with the kinds of problems that we will be facing in the 21st century. [00:08:30] It has to be able to do so in the context of being in relationships with the old civilization and it has to be able to navigate that transition. That ends up being what you might call the design criteria of a viable future civilization.
Then the third piece what deep code has been doing is then endeavouring to activate or actuate on those design [00:09:00] characteristics. Okay, given this map of what’s happening and of what’s likely to happen, given this sense of what things are necessary and possibly sufficient for viable solution, what must we do – and, by the way, what is urgent that we do now. Then what are the actual projects we can engage in, now that we’ll move things with the most leverage forward. I feel like that was pretty large syllables [00:09:30] but maybe that’s ELI 22.
Mike: Where does the term deep code come from?
Jordan: Actually, the gentleman named Jim Rut, who was collaborating with seven years ago, simply coined it. He just named it. As it turns out, it actually had a sense of being a very apt name, because what we’re looking at is the… You know the old, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats forever.” The relationship between giving and teaching is [00:10:00] a relation of depth. If I give you the teaching, I’m giving you something that is deeper than giving you the consequence of the practice. If I teach you how to fish, I’m doing something that is deeper than merely giving you a fish.
You can go deeper still. What I could do is I could potentially teach you how to invent fishing. I can go deeper still. The recognition is that when you’re dealing with the kind of problem that we’re dealing with, [00:10:30] you have to get very good at being able to go deep. You’re always going to be operating on the basis of something. Something is going to be the basis of how you’re making sense of what’s going on and how you’re making choices in that context. If you’re not able to be conscious of that basis – i.e. you’re not able to be aware of that depth and then you’re not able to enter into that depth enough skilfulness to be able to actually modify and operate at that depth. [00:11:00] What you’ll end up doing is you’ll end up operating a little, frankly, unconsciously to be operating with blind spots. You’ll be making assumptions that you don’t even necessarily know that you’re making. In this case, we’re actually talking about civilization itself.
What I mean by that is effectively everything that human beings have been doing, as humans as opposed to as primates since pre-agriculture for 15,000 years, possibly even farther back, [00:11:30] has to actually be examined deeply. A lot of the details about particular things that were laid down, choices that were made possibly 75,000 years ago, have to actually be made, brought to life, examined closely as to what those choices actually imply, then maybe unwound. Maybe things designed to be laid down at that level of depth, or possibly brushed off and clarified and put back into fabric that then becomes the basis of [00:12:00] the kind of culture and civilization that we need.
Mike: Can you give us an example?
Jordan: Let’s take physics. What we typically do when we’re trying to do something useful is we go deep enough to have created a foundation upon which we can do the thing that we’re trying to do. Then we try to lead that foundation untouched, unless it’s not working. This is the entire essence of what Thomas Kuhn was exploring when he was looking at the structure of [00:12:30] scientific revolutions. This is the guy who coined the concepts of scientific paradigms, is that a scientific paradigm is a whole bunch of different kinds of fundamental assumptions. Many of which ultimately become unconscious, meaning that we don’t even know that we’ve made them, and are the basis upon which we then go about doing science.
If you assume, for example, that space and time are [00:13:00] real and objective, independent of the things that are in them. This is the Newtonian model has an assumption that you can talk about something called space and you can talk about something called time, even if there’s nothing else in the universe there is still space and time. What happens is is that when you put something in the universe, the classic thing is you imagine a sphere, like a billiard ball. You imagine a sphere appearing [00:13:30] and it appears in a space that is somehow already pre-existing. It appears in a time that is already pre-existing, then this billiard ball operates in that environment. Newtonian physics had that as an assumption.
When we take a look at what general relativity did, it didn’t operate in the context of those set of assumptions. What it did is it examined those assumptions themselves. When Einstein thought, “What the hell actually is time? What actually is space?” [00:14:00] He brought into consciousness, he brought into conscious contemplation the nature of the assumptions of the foundations of the physics he was operating in. He then redesigned, he reconsidered those assumptions into a new concept, which is now the space time manifold. Where you can’t actually face space and time without also already including mass. Again, this is way outside the context of five year olds, but the idea is that we’re always operating on the basis [00:14:30] of a whole set of unconscious assumptions that give us the tools that we need to have to then think and do at the higher level.
What deep code has done is deep code has said, “Let’s notice that, quite often, a lot of things that are challenging now are challenging because of the assumptions of the frameworks and the unconscious expectations that we’re operating under. Let’s go deeper. Let’s just keep going deeper until we get to something that is, in fact, deep enough for constructing [00:15:00] an actual comprehensive civilization.
Euvie: It’s like there are layers on, let’s say, a sphere and as the sphere rolls down it collects more layers, as this realization progresses, as evolution progresses it collects more stuff and then whatever’s on the surface is what we’re aware of is the layer that we function in. Then there are all these other foundational layers before it that [00:15:30] we don’t understand, that we take for granted or that we assume that the top layer is all there is. What you’re saying is that we have to dig down deeper to understand what all the stuff rests on, because the stuff that is on the outside right now is no longer sustainable for itself, it’s going to collapse onto itself.
Mike: You’ve got me thinking about a few things here that are really interesting. I’ve never thought of the concept of what is space and time [00:16:00] without matter in it. What is an empty grid? I’ve never thought of that. The other thing that really was interesting is the analogy that you started with – teach a man to fish, or give a man a fish, teach a man to fish, teach a man to invent fishing and you said it goes deeper than that. Using that same analogy, it’d be really interesting to figure out what the next layer is that you’re talking about that fits into that analogy.
Jordan: Well, as it turns out, there’s an answer to that. This is not… I thought it odd because when you get down to these lowest levels, it [00:16:30] actually gets very simple by definition because most of complicatedness is all the stuff. When you get very low, it gets very simple. Almost at the bottom, not quite at the bottom. When you get to the very bottom, it actually isn’t… It’s not extremely simple but it’s very difficult to communicate, but almost at the bottom we actually can identify a handful of basic capacities. I’m going to see if I can walk you through these basic capacities. One is what I’m going to call discernment. Do either of you recall [00:17:00] the effort as a kid of trying to learn how to raise one eyebrow without raising the other eyebrow.
Mike: I can’t even do that now.
Jordan: Good, now’s a good time. Can you Euvie?
Euvie: Or wiggle your toes independently. Yeah.
Jordan: Yeah, good.
Mike: You’re not doing. Yeah, you’re doing it.
Jordan: This is a very simple thing, you can also do it, by the way, with, say, juggling. When you’re trying to learn how to juggle. You’re entering into a space [00:17:30] where you don’t have any idea what it would mean to be doing the right thing. You’re first trying to learn how to raise one eyebrow and not another eyebrow, you’ll find that you’ll do all kinds of weird stuff. Your face will be screwed up, you’ll be making all kinds of weird faces, you’ll raise both eyebrows, you’ll squeeze your nose. You don’t actually have a path that knows how to do that. You have a sense of what it is you want to do – you want to raise one eyebrow, which is nice – but you don’t actually know how at all. You enter into a complete space [00:18:00] of uncertainty. Discernment is a particular capacity of being able to sense that which is more in the direction from that which is less in the direction.
Jordan: I can’t actually go any deeper than that. It’s the ability to sense, very subtly, at first, very, very subtly, that which is more in the direction and that which is less. If you use juggling as the example – if you’ve ever tried to learn how to juggle – there’s a notion where you’re just beginning the process, [00:18:30] you’re throwing the ball, then maybe you begin to get, “There it is,” a little tiny bit. It’s very vague, it can’t be named or described, it’s more in the sense of building a feeling and constructing a whole set of deep feeling that have a way of orienting. The second capacity is something like attunement, but to do attunement I have to do the third, which is coherence. Coherence is the degree to which [00:19:00] you begin to be able to bring together a set of different kinds of senses and actions that belong together.
Back to the notion of raising one eyebrow and not another eyebrow, there’s a whole bunch of different kinds of things that all have to happen simultaneously. In coherence, you’re beginning to be able to grasp them as a whole, you’re beginning to be able to relate to them as a single, coherent [00:19:30] phenomenon. To bring them into relationship with each other, where they’re beginning to actually operate as a smooth whole… You can imagine, if you were to imagine, say, for example, a fish bowl that has a whole bunch of [inaudible [0:19:44] and you’re trying to get light to shine through it to a degree to which you can go in and just very precisely move all of the dirt out of the water at once. Actually being able to separate dirt from water is a sense of discernment that which is [00:20:00] more than that which it’s not.
The degree to which you’re actually being able to pull all of it out and you’re bringing the fish bowl into coherence for having present precisely all that is necessary, and precisely none that is not necessary, and you bring it all into a kind of relationship that causes it to come together as a whole. Now think about the fluidity of juggling, where there’s a whole bunch of distinct motions. You have to be able to grab a ball, you have to be able to throw a ball, you have to be able to see it and have the hand eye coordination [00:20:30] to be able to move and catch it. You can’t do these discrete steps, you have to actually move into a stage where they’re all happening as a single unit that is all in very tight relationship to each other. Attunement now is then the relationship between discernment and coherence, where you’re able to increasingly become capable of using discernment in the context of a given coherence to be able to achieve coherence.
An interesting metaphor that a lot of people are familiar with if they’re old enough is [00:21:00] when you’re tunning a radio – if you have an old FM or AM radio – where, let’s say, the signal’s being broadcast at 90 FM and your radio is right now at 88.5. You just get noise, it’s just static. Then 88.7, 88.9, somewhere around 88.9, suddenly, you can start hearing music, but it’s still a lot of noise. When you get to 90, in this case it would be 90.1 because I’m going up by 2s, it just snaps [00:21:30] into clarity. You can hear the music and almost all the noise drops away. You’re attuning, you’re actually making the antenna more discerning in the context of the electromagnetic frequency, where it’s now coherent – the antenna is coherent, the antenna is tunned to their frequency of 90.1. The signal is being broadcasted through frequency of 90.1.
The whole now is the relationship between these two things and, suddenly, the music jumps out. Think about the way that a child learns how to stand. It has just begun the process [00:22:00] of being able to move its legs – it can crawl but it can’t quite stand. Standing requires things like being able to control your leg muscles. It also requires things like being able to have really sensitive awareness of which direction your body is falling. It’s not easy to be standing up on two feet, it’s a lot of complexity. Think about how hard it’s been to build a robot that can stand on two feet. It’s a lot of sensing that needs to be done and then micro-adjustments of those muscles. You have to have a certain capacity [00:22:30] in having the muscles respond – not too much, not too strong lurching back and forth – but also a sensitive feedback loop between your sensors of where you’re falling and your actuators of controlling your balance, so that suddenly you’re now standing up.
That’s an example of moving into a coherent motion of being able to actually stand up, the process of having these sensitive relationships between sensing and acting that become trained with each other until they have the space of coherence that now has an enormous amount of clarity. [00:23:00] That’s the next step, which is clarity. Remember we talked about how the radio signal goes from static to suddenly you can hear the music very easily. When a system enters into coherence, it also enters into this state of clarity, which means that whatever signals try to come through can come through with a very large amount of signal, with a very small amount of noise even if it has not much energy. That’s a formal definition.
Back to our radio station, the radio antenna was broadcasting at the same [00:23:30] level of energy, the amount of electricity driving the radio signal has been the same all along. You can’t hear it, you can’t hear it, you can’t hear it. You enter into clarity and bam, you can hear it perfectly. The same thing happens in literally any kind of learning environment. Once you achieve coherence, then what happens is, as you move into clarity, the thing that is endeavouring to be learned – the skill of raising your eyebrow, the skill of juggling, the skill of fishing – suddenly becomes capable of being received [00:24:00] without a whole lot of effort. The signal of what is going on in the world is suddenly you’ve become an instrument that can receive that signal, all of its nuance and complexity and be able to bring it in and perceive it.
The last is embodiment, which is now that you can actually receive that signal, you now begin to process of turning it into something that you can easily access over and over again, with less and less effort. You begin to hardwire or [00:24:30] construct a set of habits around the set of skills that you’ve now carefully turned into a coherent whole, so that you’re able to achieve a level of coherence quickly. Now you can juggle. To juggle is no longer a struggle, to juggle is no a capacity that you have developed. You’ve now learned to fish, now fishing is something that you can do. By the way, you can do it with less and less and less energy. Then in relationship to other kinds of things, it becomes the basis for doing a whole [00:25:00] new set of things. Now it becomes a skill or a capacity that you can plug into another cycle up.
If you imagine the development of a child, first, has to be able to differentiate in its visual field, it has to build a certain level of discernment to separate the blooming, buzzing confusion of all the shit that happens to be in the world that, as a new born infant, literally there’s no way of knowing. Then it has to be able to separate, say, a pea – a small round sphere – from the background of a plate, while separately, at the same time, it’s learning how [00:25:30] to be able to notice that it has hands, that it’s being able to notice how to actually do things with it’s fingers, to get it’s fingers to close with enough control that it can actually grasp something with those little fingers.
Now it’s got two separate capacity that has built its habits. It’s got the ability to see something, judge its distance from where it is. It’s got the ability to grasp something. Now it’s going to struggle and work on the deeper skillset of being able to see something and reach out and grab it. I don’t know if you’ve ever raised a child but that’s a very interesting thing to watch. [00:26:00] Then, of course, once it has the ability to see something and reach out and grab it, then it’s going to work on doing something with it – bring it to it’s mouth. You see the cycle.
Each cycle participates in exactly the same dynamics: discernment, attunement, coherence, clarity, insight – insight is that process of being able to actually have that signal come all the way through and then layering it into embodiment. Then that becomes available for the next layer up. That cycle is the deepest basis of any kind of [00:26:30] capacity building in any possible domain. Whether you are trying to learn how to create fire, or you’re trying to learn how to do physics, or you’re trying to learn how to be in relationship with another person, or you’re trying to learn how to parent, or you’re trying to learn how to pee. It doesn’t matter. Those are the fundamental basis of any ability to go from where you are to a higher level of capacity. That was the one that takes you from giving a man a fish to teaching to fish, to teaching how to learn how to fish, [00:27:00] to the deep basis of all possible kinds of learning in any possible domain.
Mike: Right. Can you repeat the cycle again?
Jordan: Yeah, sure. It’s discernment, attunement, coherence, clarity, insight, embodiment.
Mike: I’d imagine this has been written about extensively and there are books people could look up to learn. What is the subject that this is encapsulated inside of? How to learn?
Jordan: Philosophy of education and developmental psychology.
Mike: Coming back to [00:27:30] round this off and bring it back to what’s practical for the truck driver again. What problems does this solve for the truck driver? How does this supply for someone in their day to day lives?
Jordan: Okay, there’s going to be a couple of distinct things. The first is that because this is so deep, it turns out to be relevant regardless of what’s going on. To the degree to which you’ve actually developed a significant degree of embodied capacity in [00:28:00] these raw capacities. Remember, this is the deep basis of learning itself. You now actually have the ability to learn in any context. For example, in a world where things are moving and changing rapidly, where maybe the path of learning how to be a plumber suddenly just evaporates because we made those into robots and the path of learning how to be a physicist evaporates because AI is doing that well.
As things are changing rapidly, [00:28:30] you actually need to be able to have a deeper basis for relationship with the environment that you’re operating in, because that basis is less subject to the [inaudible [0:28:39] of superficial change. These particular characteristics, because they are, in fact, the deepest basis of learning, are invariant. Meaning that if you build masterful skilfulness in this cycle, meaning you build mastery of discernment, mastery of attunement, mastery of coherence, mastery of clarity, master of insight, and mastery of embodiment, [00:29:00] then you are fully prepared to respond to any possible set of circumstances in your environment.
Meaning that if you find yourself suddenly on Mars and everybody’s gone and you have no idea what to do and you’re by yourself, you have the raw toolkit from which to build the tools to respond to what is happening. It’s the strongest basis, the strongest you can be, the most adaptive you can possibly be. [00:29:30] As a truck driver, you’re going to find yourself very soon in a circumstance with a set of skills that you’ve built are increasingly obsolete. This is true, by the way, of course, of almost everybody. For a very long period of time, several centuries at least, we’ve operated on an education structure where we give people knowledge and we give them very specific skills.
We do not give them the basis of learning, so that they can be robots ultimately. [00:30:00] You can add two plus two in your head, but you don’t have any idea what it means to have actually invented arithmetic. You can’t actually understand why two plus two equals four, you could just do it. That was the phase of human civilization where creating a very large number of robots was useful and important. I don’t mean that disparagingly, I mean it in the very specific sense that people have been trained to have certain kinds of knowledge in certain ROTE skills that [00:30:30] are hard to do and require a lot of skilfulness to execute on, but have not been trained in the deep basis that would allow them to self-teach anything. Now, of course, we’re entering into the phase where those kinds of abilities, your skills – and, in particular, your knowledge – aren’t particularly interesting anymore.
You can imagine that being able to add and multiply large numbers – remember the idea of a calculator literally used to be a person, an actual human being who is trained [00:31:00] in doing calculation quickly and with precision. We invented a tool that could do that more quickly and with more precision. To be a calculator no longer was a valuable way of contributing to the culture. This is happening everywhere and it’s going to be happening at an accelerating pace. What you think you’re going to respond to that is you’re going to leap from one sinking island to another sinking island. “I’ll stop being a truck driver and now I’m going to be a software [00:31:30] programmer.” You may have bought yourself a little bit of time but, guess what, software programming is going to go underwater, too.
So is a doctor, so is fill in the blank. I picked software programmer on purpose, because it’s obviously going to be one of the taller islands. Unless you happen to be really, really good at it, the portion that you’re doing is going to be automated by the people who are above you on that stack, because that’s where a lot of the automation is happening.
Mike: Interestingly, if I can just interject here, [00:32:00] we’ve been playing a lot of music lately and I’ve downloaded a few new applications. I’ve been outside of the music production scene for a long time. Suddenly, I’m back into it and I see all these new software applications that allow for automatic arpeggiation of scales and chords, and very complicated, very advanced chord structures that can be arranged for you automatically. Even these very high level artistic creative structures are now just being… [00:32:30] You can have an improvised lead that is automatically beautiful and in some sort of very complex jazz structure. You can have that generated for you with a push of a button.
That’s one of those things I would have thought would be last to go is the artistic expression, but it’s actually easier to make that go than I would imagine, like you say, software programming.
Jordan: Right. That’s it. What ends up happening is that things that are the deepest are the things that are going to last. If you’re trying to figure out where [00:33:00] to go, go there. I can invert it. The things that are the deepest are also the things that are the highest. If the flood is coming and you’re seeking high ground, this is the highest ground. What I can say, also, is that it is not just the highest ground that we’ve found, it actually is the highest ground. There is nothing, there is no way to go any higher to be more safe. It is the actual basis upon which everything else derives. That’s one piece. Another piece which is very interesting, is because it is so foundational it also is related to more kinds of things. [00:33:30] We’ve just been talking about it in the context of, let’s call it, useful skills or ways of providing value.
Moving from being a truck driver to being a software programmer or a chef. These things are at the bottom of everything. How to be able to be in relationship with yourself, how to be able to be a good friend, how to be able to be a good parent, how to make choices about what to eat. All possible choice making in all possible contexts [00:34:00] are founded on these kinds of capacities. Not only are these kinds of capacities primordially useful in the context of how to do stuff in the economic domain, they’re actually primordially useful in all domains. They are the most useful things to have at the basis of your fundamental portfolio of things that you’re good at. Let me just add the last, just to make sure we have the right context. A deep insight [00:34:30] that is not very well shared is that pace of change matters.
If things are changing slowly, it’s actually okay to just have to surface level adaptive skills or capacities associated with the place that you’re at. If being able to… Let me think of a simple example… If being able to grow yams [00:35:00] is adequate to feed you and your family and the place that you’re at is going to have the same essential characteristics for yam growing for a million years, then it’s actually okay to just have the rituals of yam growing passed down from person to person without having to build a deeper basis that would allow you to also be able to grow wheat, or to be able to fish.
If things are changing, [00:35:30] you have to go deeper. The faster they’re changing, the deeper you have to go. Because we’re in a space where accelerating change is a primary characteristic, we’re also in a space where depth is a primary characteristic.
Euvie: Like you said, this relates to all domains. For example, both of us have done a lot of mediation and it’s the same process. At a certain point, you can’t really be taught, you just have to figure out how to [00:36:00] deconstruct your own mind and to keep deconstructing it until there’s nothing left to deconstruct. The whole process that you’re talking about relates to everything, including things that are very experiential and very subjective.
Jordan: Yes. You just brought into my mind, I’m not sure how, maybe the next major move. We’ve now been talking about all of this from the point of view from a single person, but everything that we’ve been talking about [00:36:30] is perfectly, exactly relevant in the context of groups of people. In fact, going down, also, your cells and organs relate to each other in this way to make you. There’s a continuity going from quantum phenomena all the way up to the universe. In the particular case, you as an individual have relations of coherence with regard to certain capacities to render them into embodiment. Let’s say, for example, the two of you, as a group, [00:37:00] as a couple, as a partnership, also have this loop.
It’s at the level of the relationship. The relationship itself has a certain kind of agency, it has a certain kind of discernment that neither of you hold completely. There’s a wholeness to it that is equivalent to the wholeness of, for example, the relationships of your muscles that enable you to juggle. There’s something about the way the relationship builds its own capacities to do [00:37:30] things as a relationship. A jazz band is the classic example. There’s something about the jazz band this is synergistic, it is emergent, it is more than just the actual players. There’s something about the coming togetherness and a form of coherence that allows the jazz band, as a band, to do something that is not available in any of the distinct individuals. You have to play together, you have to actually build discernment as a whole.
You have to build attunement [00:38:00] as a whole, you have to build coherence as a whole. Then, of course, you have built embodiment as a whole, which allows you to go out and do something while you play jazz well. That’s another deep important thing, because these plug together. In order for me to most fully enter into a relationship with you, to the degree to which I’ve built mastery of discernment in myself, I can then use that mastery of discernment in myself in the process of building [00:38:30] skilfulness in discernment as us.
Euvie: This relates to what you were talking about when we spoke the first time I think, where you talked about how sovereignty is fractal in a way, that you can have sovereignty as an individual, then there’s also a level of sovereignty in a small group, then in a larger group, then in a society, in a nation, civilization.
Jordan: Yup, that’s right. What we’re describing can be described as the [00:39:00] characteristics of sovereignty.
Euvie: Would you describe sovereignty as a mastery of all these different levels of discernment, attunement, etcetera, or is this a separate aspect of it?
Jordan: It’s actually a little bit oblique. What I would say is that in order to achieve sovereignty, one must use these particular capacities in the domain that you’re considering. Sovereignty is a measure [00:39:30] of the relationship between one’s capacity and the conditions that one is in. For example, when I have learned how to juggle you might say that I have sovereignty within a particular context of juggling. Let’s say, for example, I’m trying it juggle while riding a unicycle, I may not yet have sovereignty in that domain. Sovereignty has to do with a longitudinal ability of your current state to respond to a set of challenges such that you’re continuing ability [00:40:00] to respond to those challenges is on some level of steady state or up gradient. Which is to say that I can keep doing it without losing my ability to keep doing it. These two pieces fit together, they’re not reduceable to each other.
Euvie: Would you say that sovereignty and mastery are the same thing or not really?
Jordan: Now we’re in the subtle state of discernment. I’ll actually apply it. I feel like there’s a distinction, but I feel like the distinction is subtle. They are close, [00:40:30] which is to say that for most purposes you can probably use them interchangeably, but there is a distinction. It’s important not to think that they are, in fact, actually interchangeable. If I can get a little bit of better hint as to where that distinction lies. I said that these two stories are oblique, meaning that they’re related to a different set of things. Mastery relates to an arch of skilfulness. I’m going to give that in more detail. When you enter [00:41:00] into a particular practice, a particular relationship to reality – juggling.
In the beginning, you have no skilfulness. You’re really just at the basis of raw, uncertain discernment. As your discernment increases and your attunement increases and you begin to enter into coherence, what happens is your skilfulness increases, your ability to move energy through your instrument to get signal is higher. As your skilfulness increases, I’m going to describe a particular [00:41:30] transformation, I’m going to call it artfulness. The movement from skilfulness to artfulness has to do with that transition into embodiment. Meaning that you’ve reached an adequate level of discernment, attunement, coherence, and clarity, that it’s actually becoming… Your ability to access this level of insight has moved into a space of being easy and being enduring under larger and larger challenges.
What I can say now is that your sovereignty at artfulness, your [00:42:00] sovereignty in this particular domain has actually expanded. Your ability to do has expanded. Then mastery is when you’re actually now able to use this capacity to build further capacity under duress, under harder domains. The artful skilfulness to artfulness to mastery really very much lives on this learning loop. Sovereignty comes at it obliquely, it comes at it from the point of view of [00:42:30] in a given circumstance, in a given moment what is the relationship between your capacity and the environment that you’re in. If you have achieved mastery, then also you will be sovereign at the level of your mastery. Let’s go back to juggling. If I have to achieve mastery of juggling and what I’m doing is juggling, then I have sovereignty in the domain of juggling. If I’ve achieved mastery of juggling but what I’m doing now is trying to juggle [00:43:00] while riding unicycle, my sovereignty in this moment is actually quite low.
I have not achieved mastery of the new domain, I’ve only achieved mastery of the sub-domain of juggling. Maybe juggling and riding a unicycle. There’s a relationship between the two. The sovereignty has to do with the ability to maintain my ability to respond to my environment in the context that I’m in on an ongoing basis and it will use my mastery, my skilfulness, of which [00:43:30] there’s many dimensions in that process.
Euvie: Right. To simplify it, it seems like mastery is more about skilfulness and understanding of a certain domain. Whereas, sovereignty is more about your ability to make choices in response to whatever’s happening.
Jordan: Yes, that’s very nice.
Euvie: Practically, as our world evolves faster, as we have more information, more powerful technologies, and the resources of our planet are not increasing in response to all those things happening, we have to understand the deeper structures that we’re functioning on, so that we can deconstruct how we’re doing things and reconstruct something new. Which [00:02:00] I’m sure you are familiar with the concept of Solve et Coagula from alchemy. For those who don’t know, it’s Latin for deconstruct and reconstitute. The idea is that everything is made up of certain components and layers, and that you can go down the layers and deconstruct or destroy the upper layers and then rebuild them.
For me, that comes up a lot recently, because it seems that that’s what we have to do on many levels [00:02:30] in society, in how we see ourselves, how we see ourselves in relationship to our earth, etcetera, etcetera.
Mike: I was going to say I see what you’re saying in terms of, to quote Daniel, he keeps talking about generator functions. It seems like this is one of those things that’s a generator function of having a catalyst for change in the world. People who both enjoy and know how to self-teach and continue learning and depict domains that are of value to them and to the world, then to go deep into [00:03:00] those domains. That’s something I’ve believed and has been very important to me is the love of learning and the ability to learn at the maximum rate that you can learn, that’s been super important. I like that that’s kind of what you’ve latched onto in this conversation.
Jordan: Yeah, there’s a couple of things that I want to bring up. One is remember I used the metaphor of the radio antenna going from noise to signal? The point there is if you’re trying to hear [00:03:30] the music and you’re at I think it was 89.9, you’re going to have to try really, really hard to hear a very small amount of music. If you just tuned the radio ever so slightly more, literally one notch up, it becomes effortless to hear all of the music. That’s a characteristic of reality. Reality has this characteristic, that there is a relationship between [00:04:00] the degree to which you’ve constructed an instrument that is deeply attuned to the thing that you’re trying to deal with. Here comes an ethical rule of thumb. If you have a choice between tuning your instrument or trying to use your instrument harder, tune your instrument.
Mike: Sharpen the saw.
Jordan: Yes. This notion of attunement is a really good [inaudible [0:04:25], that when in doubt, [00:04:30] become more capable of attuning your instrument in relationship to the thing that is being considered, because that possibility of getting massive return and signal is often, not always, often available. To make it very concrete, let’s talk about a subject that I imagine is present to the mind of many people. That is the problem of fake news, or the context of a generalized breakdown of our collective sense making systems. [00:05:00] You find yourself on Facebook and you find yourself on a flow of information from people.
What you’re noticing is that it’s very difficult to be able to make sense of what’s going on, or it’s dysfunctionally easy to do so. What I mean by that latter part is you can, of course, choose to have a very simple sense making framework and then smash all of reality into that sense making framework, a very binary us versus them [00:05:30] mentality and say, “Everything that comes from Fox News is true. Everything that comes from CNN is true. Everything that comes from the opposite is false.” What’s that called… Not externalize but grant your sense making authority to some other third party who’s doing sense making. In the event that you actually want to obtain your own agency and make sense of what’s going on, what I would recommend is to consider these concepts of discernment, for example, to become sovereign in the domain of sense [00:06:00] making.
When you think about discernment in this domain, what you’ll notice is there’s a number of different things to consider. Remember, just like juggling and moving your eyebrows, at first, it may not be obvious what the complex of things is that have to enter into a relationship as a whole. One aspect is very internal. This is an important level of mastery to gather in general, which is how are you responding to the communications and the information that’s coming at you. To what degree are you having [00:06:30] a strong emotional response. I think we actually talked about this in our first call. Are you triggered? Are you able to realize when you’re triggered and, therefore, have strategies in how to respond, how your sovereignty changes when you’re triggered?
Do you notice that you have a tendency to look for ways to stay right, rather than to listen to what’s being said? These are deep, subtle and, oftentimes, very challenging, [00:07:00] because they’re coming from inside at an extinctual level. Building an amount of discernment around your internal cognitive and emotional responsiveness is one piece of being able to become more sovereign in the domain of fake news, the domain of sense making. It’s a very, very big piece and it’s very much based upon discernment, because your more superficial mechanisms of making sense of yourself can’t be trusted. You have to actually go deeper. [00:07:30] You have to go deep, deep into yourself, build up a higher degree of discernment, so that you can just notice that maybe the instrument is out of tune.
You don’t necessarily know where yet, but you know that it’s out of tune. You know as a habit, as an embodied habit, that when the instrument is out of tune, first, bring it back into tune. I just encountered something from somebody that, first and foremost, I noticed has moved me out of sovereignty, it’s moved me out of tune. I cannot listen fully because something has changed. Let’s look at my skilfulness [00:08:00] of bringing myself into attunement in this domain of listening. What does that mean to be coherent with listening? How do I get the fullness of my capacity to listen, [inaudible [0:08:11], so now I have clarity in the domain of listening? I can actually hear what is being expressed.
This maybe very not obvious. Someone is expressing something. When somebody is saying something, the totality of the expression is vastly more complex than the simple semantic interpretation of [00:08:30] the [inaudible [0:08:30] series of words. There’s a context, there’s a tone, there’s a facial expression. All these things are a part of it and then, of course, there’s you. What are you hearing? What are you bringing into this relationship that is already enclosing itself on what is being shared in the expression? How much can you become clear in yourself, so as to more fully receive that which is endeavouring to be expressed? How well can you become masterful at listening? Then you have the other side, which is becoming discerning in the, let’s call it, the more social context.[00:09:00] Becoming discerning to what is being expressed, as opposed to your listening. Also, not becoming discerning to what is the context and the construct, the content of what is being expressed. It’s a noticing and sensing that which is trying to express itself. This is the other side of listening. One is to become capable of listening in yourself, to have your instrument for receiving very well tuned, and the other is now being able to become what’s called… Not really empathic but something which uses empathy as a tool [00:09:30] in being able to sense, but also has a lot of cognitive skills. The ability to listen closely, the ability to notice where distinctions are being made, the ability to be aware of when particular… Are you guys familiar with the concept of Russell conjugation?
Jordan: Once you’ve embodied capacity to notice Russell conjugation, you can now use this in a higher level of discernment. Russell conjugation was coined by Bertrand Russell, who was a philosopher and mathematician, brought into public consciousness by Eric Weinstein [00:10:00] to describe one of the more common rhetorical techniques, which is to carefully select from a bunch of ostensible synonyms the particular word that has a connotative characteristic that immediately biases the sense of a particular expression. For example, “Come here,” she said. “Come here,” she growled. “Come here,” she sneered. In each case, the she X, the description, can be considered synonyms, [00:10:30] they’re all descriptions of the fact that she expressed something. They carry very distinct connotations.
If you’re aware of the fact that that is extremely powerful, that the connotative framing that is associated with the selection of the particular terms that describe a phenomenon carries I’ll call it 80 percent of the actual content of what is being expressed. As humans, that’s mostly what we’re doing is trying to engage in social signalling, what’s our relationship to the people not what’s the content that is being sent. Then, [00:11:00] once you’ve embodied that you can actually have a high degree of discernment and say, “I see, what’s really happening here is I’m being told that what is being said is bad, or I’m being told that the speaker is not part of my group,” for example.
Once you have that level of discernment then, flipping back to your internal, you’re no longer being jerked around by the basis hominid need to know whether or not this is an ingroup or an outgroup expression, whether or not this is somebody who’s part of my tribe or an enemy of my tribe, [00:11:30] whether or it’s disgusting or it’s sacred. Now you can be conscious of it and you can then be conscious of how your body responds to the signals, and now you’re becoming increasingly clear. You can actually be able to perceive what’s going on. Then we can flip it, we can do the same thing at the mode of expression. I just did the mode of perception of listening.
If I also build my discernment and my clarity and expression, I can endeavour to become capable of expressing in a fashion that becomes possible of being heard, with higher and higher degrees of clarity on [00:12:00] the part of the listener. Now, of course, I have the third order, which is now creating a relationship. Right now, we’re in a process where we’re both using our capacities to hear and to say, and we’re also building a relationship as a collaboration that has the capacity to do things like discern what is the most meaningful thing to add to this conversation, which is a totally separate thing. Notice how distinct that is from being in a relationship with fake news, [00:12:30] that, as we build skilfulness to notice when a collaboration is forming, then you can respond.
If somebody that you’re interacting with is actually interacting in a way that is conducive to collaboration, they’re evidencing a willingness and ability to listen and a skilfulness and expression that gives rise to the possibility of actually collaborating. Now you’re in something that’s real and can-do things. Whereas, if you’re in a relationship with somebody who either is reckless in their expression or [00:13:00] not clear in their listening, then there’s only so much you can actually do. Then you know. It’s like if you’re parenting a child if the child is in the process of throwing a tantrum, there’s a lot of things you can’t do.
You can’t begin to try to explain to them the reasons why things aren’t working, you just have to deal with the fact that they’re in a tantrum. That level of discernment at parenting is an example of how you can use this capacity for internal, expressive, and relational discernment in the context of communication, [00:13:30] the context of sense making as a group.
Mike: This is such an important thing that you’re touching on here that I’m not sure everyone’s going to see it, but when I look at the news now and I see all this conversation on left versus right, and offense and social justice warrior, this kind of stuff. We’ve had Jordan Peterson on before and I imagine him giving these talks all over the world to certain mixed audiences and having people asking themselves the exact question that you asked is, “Is this person a member of [00:14:00] my tribe or not?” Just looking for those kind of key commands that it seemed like he’s on one side or the other, instead of actually listening to what he’s saying. This is such an important thing in our culture and our generation that I think people are overlooking. To learn how to listen properly and discern for yourself whether something is true or false.
Jordan: Sure. Yes, absolutely. It is, in some sense, absurdly needful. Let’s go back to this concept of accelerating change and just think about the context of listening. [00:14:30] For effectively the totality of human history, which is to say, from the beginning of humans being humans until about 15,000 years ago. Every single being was born and raised among a group of other beings who are both genetically related to them and were also born and raised among a group of beings who were genetically related to them, the tribe. Think about what that means, what it means to have every single human being you literally have ever met is of the same tribe and they [00:15:00] have only met people who are of the same tribe, more or less.
You literally never once sit down at a dinner table with people who you did not grow up with and who did not grow up with each other. The level of what that means in terms of your underlying biological expectations of engaging in a conversation in comparison to now. Today, let’s fast forward, if you have history you can just do the fast forward of a cosmopolitanism. Today, we’re in a situation where, [00:15:30] first, in all likelihood, you’ve never actually even physically met the people you’re interacting with and that the heterogenous basis of their experiences is, well, at the maximum that it’s even maybe possible to be. You may not even share the same… Well, it’s quite likely you do not share even vaguely the same culture. Right now, I’m in a conversation with… Euvie, where are you actually from?
Euvie: I’m from Russia originally. Mike is from Canada.
Jordan: Canada and Russia are actually pretty good examples [00:16:00] As a Russian who speaks English very well, we actually can have a nice relationship of knowing at an intuitive level that there is going to be a cultural divide between us. Although, by the way, I think it’s not as well understood how distant my particular culture lineage is from yours. The Russian culture is actually further away from American culture than is I think conventionally grasped.
Jordan: Its origins are deeper and further. Then in the Canadian case, [00:16:30] we actually have the opposite problem, which is hilarious. If I walk into China, there’s a really neat category that exists called the obvious stranger, where most of the expectations of cultural norms are put into the category of stranger, where nobody has an expectation that I actually know how to respond appropriately to all the various subtle signals that are going on.
Mike: It’s funny you use this example because it’s exactly our experience from the last seven years. This is our lives now is being the stranger in an environment like that. We’ve talked about this quite [00:17:00] a few times, what it’s like to meet someone that you know is from the same culture just because of their skin colour, or that you know has a set of similar experiences just because of the way they look. It’s not racist, it’s not assumptive, it’s not a lot of things. It’s just everyone else is Asian here except for that one other person I can spot out of the crowd.
Jordan: Yeah, what’s interesting is that it’s actually easier to be in relationship with somebody who is distinctly other than it is to be in relationship with somebody who is superficially [00:17:30] close. One of the experiences that particularly Americans have in going into Canada is that there’s a bit of confusion when a Canadian is communicating with you initially if they don’t know that you’re American. If they think you’re Canadian, they’re sending signals that are Canadian signals that you don’t have a receiver for, so you’re not responding. They’re interpreting your nonresponse as some kind of actual response, usually in the direction of being an asshole. Given the fact that you’re American, you might also be an asshole but we’re going to skip over that part.[00:18:00] Once they recognize that you’re an American, they switch and say, “Oh.” You can’t run it cognitively. At a physical level you’re actually able to know that, “Okay, that actually explains certain things and now you’re going to move into a more formal dialogue, where you’re going to say things a little bit more slowly, you’re going to have lower expectations of how fluid the communication can happen and we are communicating with somebody who is quite distinctly distinct. You’re already in that formal dialogue. They may do something which, in your culture, would immediately be a sign of nastiness but you’re not going to necessarily [00:18:30] jump to that conclusion because you’re familiar with that gap.
We’re in a situation right now where we’re trying to build an artfulness of communication. Absent embodied channels, meaning absent physical relationships… I can’t read your body language, my body cannot read your body language. I can see your facial expressions but even that’s not very effective. I’ll call it 98 percent of the actual signal in human relationships for almost the totality of human existence [00:19:00] across the totality of cultural differentiation that has occurred. In an arbitrary moment, I might be in conversation with people from 17 distinct cultures in social media. Obviously, that’s going to break down. Why would we expect otherwise? Why would we expect that we’d have any ability to communicate in those circumstances?
Yes, to the degree to which we want to be able to use this medium at all in anything other than to create conflict, it is most needful that we [00:19:30] rather substantially upgrade our capacity for communication. We can return back to the primary point. The deep basis for upgrading capacity is the cycle that I just described and it has the characteristic of being [inaudible [0:19:42], meaning that, okay, if I want to build my skilfulness in communicating with somebody from Vietnam, I could just go do a deep immersion in Vietnam and build a bespoke one-time channel that is able to take into consideration what Vietnamese people are like. Okay, that works, that can happen.
If I want to do it where I’m [00:20:00] actually adaptive responsively to an arbitrarily large number of interlocutors. Over an arbitrary large number of potential conversations who may themselves be changing rapidly, because they’re actually changing in relationship to who they’re engaging with. That process doesn’t work at all. I have to actually go deeper. I have to build this sensibility of various subtle discernment. Then what happens is everything snaps to a meta level. Have you heard the phrase find the others? The meta level is when you begin to recognize individuals who actually developed a level of discernment of this kind. [00:20:30] What you’re now actually signalling is, “We can actually engage in a conversation at the level of collaboration.”
It’s almost like the way that a modem, an old fashion modem, protocol works. In the beginning, what happens is you’re actually sending signals that are ultimately really just about establishing what level of communication and collaboration is actually available in this relationship. When you find it’s a consequence of those signals that you can enter into a truly collaborative relationship, a truly collaborative conversation [00:21:00] that’s of a completely different kind. It’s its own attractor that sits over here. It’s not the same as what happens when you’re engaging in trying to navigate the blooming, buzzing confusion of social media. It’s actually now a completely different space that can happen because the underlying capacities have been built among all the different participants.
You can actually enter into a new space, which we could just call the space of collaboration, which can be invariant [00:21:30] to all possible media of communication because everybody has taken responsibility for listening, a responsibility for expressing – we call this Rolo Mega, by the way – for thinking, for considering, for noticing. For noticing things, for example, like your own sovereignty, “Does it sound like this makes sense to me? I’m out of my element and I’m getting a little bit confused.” Or, “I’m physically tired and I can’t actually hold what’s being presented here.” Or, “That particular concept of phrase doesn’t make sense to me, can we slow down?” [00:22:00] These kinds of things. You can say, “That’s alright, I’m going to have to see if I can put something together,” which is really nice.
Euvie: Let’s go back to the practical applications of this way of thinking. What does it mean for the future and how can we become better at communicating and building relationships?
Jordan: All the way back in the beginning, we were talking to our hypothetical truck driver about the fact that we had a game and that game had a certain way of being played. That game was coming to an end. It doesn’t work anymore in the world that we live in. [00:22:30] In point of fact, if you look at it closely, it had to come to an end because of the kind of game that it was. The good news is there’s a new kind of game. It’s still a game in the sense that we’re all choosing to play it, but it’s a very different kind of game. There’s a way for you to be able to notice when you’re playing this new game and when you found people who are themselves trying to play this new game and are building skilfulness and playing this new game.
Of course, these become the people that you can actually [00:23:00] begin to play with and collectively and collaboratively begin to build more skilfulness in playing this new game. One of the aspects shows up as the difference between communication, journalism, social media, in the old game – which is in the process of breaking down. It doesn’t work and it can’t work. There’s nothing about that way of being that can be resolved, that we cannot try to retool that. We can’t patch it, we can’t temporarily put a spare tyre on and get to the next stop. [00:23:30] It’s breaking down. It is done. In this new game, there’s a way of communicating, a way of being in relationship that is completely able to resolve all the problems of the old game.
It doesn’t have the same kinds of problems. It doesn’t involve things like how to deal with people who are using language to confuse. We’ve actually filtered out that entire set of challenges. Once you’ve done that, [00:24:00] you now have this… Well, it actually looks like a graph or a mesh of people who are committed to a skilfulness of communication that has both the ability to benefit from all of their unique experiences and perceptions of what is going on in the world. It’s the ability to form the basis of real relationships between among them, so they can actually make choices together. [00:24:30] There’s almost something there.
Actually, it’s an awful lot like what happened with the difference between personal computers and the internet. You can say that we’re beginning to figure out how to extend this concept of the internet. What happens when you take things like computers and you connect them, so that they can communicate. Then you make it so that they have protocols for communication, so that they can all communicate with each other and share information in a way that has a certain fidelity to it. This has to do, [00:25:00] what I’m talking about here, this process of building a certain skilfulness in communication, listening and expressing and forming relationships of collaboration is the internet for human communication.
It’s the necessary corollary to the internet, the physical internet, that the physical substrate for communication, the medium of decentralized communication… It’s different than the medium of person to person [00:25:30] embodied communication that we grew up in tribally. It’s different than broadcast communication that has been the primary mode of communication for the past millennium. Of course, it requires different kind of skills, completely different, just flat out different. You can’t kluge the old approach, you have to build a new one. You build the new one like the way you built anything new, by starting at this loop from discernment to embodiment. You build those raw capacities to listen and to express, then to enter into a space of collaboration. Then once you’ve done that, [00:26:00] well, a whole lot of very powerful and important things fall out.
Euvie: Are there methods for teaching this to people effectively? I’m sure there are but let’s say somebody hears this show and says, “Okay, I’m really shit at understanding what is being communicated to me, or I’m really shit at communicating what I’m trying to say. Where can I learn how to get better at this?”
Jordan: In point of fact, [00:26:30] building that is one of the things that deep code is working on, because it is one of the things that is most needful. There’s two parts to it. Sorry, there’s three. One is what we’re calling the Uplift Academy – and I’m using this just as an example. There are many, many possible variations of this that many other people who do it, but still I’m going to generalize. The Uplift Academy is a self-directed self-orientation that has the ability to access a curated list of practices that are good. [00:27:00] There’s a lot of practices that are good. Most of them have lots of problems, as well. Let’s take, for example, what’s it called… Landmark. Landmark form is a nice, good, central example. There are aspects of landmark that are very effective in helping an individual become more conscious of the way their own mind constrains the way they can think.
One of the things that you might do is go to landmark, however, landmark as a process grew up in the context of this old game. [00:27:30] There’s a lot of multi-level marketing/jerking people around into spending more money that has also become part of landmark. If you were to engage with that, be mindful of the parts that are good and be mindful of the parts that aren’t. That said, there’s actually a large number of different kinds of schools and practices – meditation is one that you mentioned. If you double click on meditation, you now get this large portfolio. Do you go onto the [inaudible [0:27:58] retreat? [00:28:00] Do you simply download an app and begin endeavouring to do it yourself.
These are all differential practices. The other side is doing this in relationship with other people and embodied space. There’s a lot of stuff here that just can’t be done until you’re actually doing it with other people who are trying to do it, too. It’s hard to practice a relationship on your own. That’s also needful. Finding people that you can actually do this with in physical space around you, [00:28:30] people who are conscious of the project, people who have endeavoured to build certain skilfulness in listening and expressing and entering into a space of collaboration and exploring it. What’s interesting about it is, just like learning how to juggle, the whole point is you don’t have to be good at it. The whole point is that you’re in good faith entering into an exploration of it.
This comes to the last piece, which is use meditation as the example. This is a good one. [00:29:00] In some deep sense, the entire history of Buddhism speaks to the obliqueness that is necessary in trying to convey something which is entirely internal. The [inaudible [0:29:12] is not teaching you how to meditate, the [inaudible [0:29:15] is trying to disrupt that which gets in the way. Same thing here. What I can say is the concepts that were conveyed – discernment… Can you become discerning around discernment? [00:29:30] Can you put yourself in a variety of different kinds of experiences? It doesn’t matter what they are. Anything. Something new is good. Learn how to cook. Learn how to surf. Learn how to ride a bike. Learn how to program.
While you’re doing it, try to see if you can be aware of how you are yourself learning something new. How does discernment how up in you? It’s going to be something that is categorically impossible for me to actually share. Your version is your version, [00:30:00] that’s the whole point. Then try to be conscious of the process whereby you go about using discernment to actually begin to gather together this sense of coherence. Can you notice when you’ve actually gotten better at something? When your skilfulness has increased? Can you generalize that? Can you get a sense of the difference between getting better at dancing and getting better at speaking French? Can you feel those things? Can you go beyond the specific domain to the [00:30:30] general, then all the way around the loop?
It’s an interesting invitation. It’s an invitation to learning new things but principally for the purpose of becoming skilful in building in yourself a conscious awareness of what are the capacities that you use to be able to learn new things. Then you can take this and run it backwards. If I take that third part, which shows up anywhere, and I embed it in the first part, I embed it in practices that are [00:31:00] themselves specifically focused on building these kinds of capacities, now what can happen is I can go into landmark and I can use my discernment to try to separate out that which is helpful and that which is not. I can go into collaboration with people who are themselves endeavouring to learn how to collaborate and I can use my discernment to try to see how well we can come into attunement as a group. You make it a meta conversation. “Are we in coherence?” “I just noticed that I’m dropping out of coherence.” “It seems to me that you may be [00:31:30] dropping out of coherence.” That kind of thing. If you make it the object of consciousness and then you allow the other activities to become the medium of experimentation… In some sense, that’s all there is to it.
Euvie: That seems that it would require a high degree of awareness and skilfulness to begin with. It seems that it’s an advanced practice in a way, or [00:32:00] maybe… I noticed myself in this bias sometimes where, because something is easy for me or because I know how to do it, I assume that it’s that way for everybody else. I discount that an average person maybe hasn’t had the time learning the same skills that I have and, for them, it’s just going to be a huge mountain to climb. This is why I was asking about a [00:32:30] simpler framework or a book, some sort of reference where people can get started without having much prior skill or awareness.
Jordan: Yeah. The answer to that is, it turns out, by definition, no. I can explain why. Let’s start with… I think there’s a funny phrase from the 60s which is, “No matter where you are, there you are.” Everybody is entering into this thing from where they are right now. It may be that where you are right now happens to have a lot of these capacities already well [00:33:00] refined for whatever reason. It may be that where you are right now happens to have these capacities very poorly refined for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because you’re two. Maybe it’s because you’re 73 but your life has been one that hasn’t exposed you to these kinds of things. It doesn’t matter, you’re here now with the capacities that you have now.
The key is a single point and that is the point of making the choice to endeavour to upgradient. That’s it. From where you are now, are you making a choice [00:33:30] to get better at these kinds of things? If you happen to be at a very low level right now, here’s the good news, you’ve actually got the ability to get a lot better relatively quickly, because you’ve got a lot that you haven’t learned yet. Of course, the hard part is it may not be easy to learn, you may not feel like you’re making a lot of progress because you’re moving from a low basis to a slightly less low basis. It’s like the difference between, again, juggling is the metaphor. Do either of you know how to juggle?
Euvie: Very poorly.
Mike: [00:34:00] Really?
Jordan: I also juggle very poorly. I can juggle two balls and I can juggle three balls in the way that one juggles three balls like they’re two balls.
Euvie: Yes, same by me.
Jordan: Learning how to juggle is a thing that you can choose. If you choose, you then begin practicing. You’re going to start with where you are. The only commitment you have to have is to continue to practice and continue to try to look for different ways that [00:34:30] maybe you can get better. Here, from this point, you can say, “Okay, I’m going to look for a book, or a video, or a teacher, or a community, or a club.” Of course, that’s going to depend on you. You have to actually do that. If I say, “Here’s the book,” and it turns out the book doesn’t work for you, I’ve actually hurt you significantly. I’ve actually overridden your own agency without a deep sense. It may be that as a teacher, if I enter into a relationship with you I can develop a very high degree of insight into you and I can [00:35:00] gently guide you into more effective choices.
Then again, maybe you’re not very good at entering into relationships with teachers. Maybe you have a relationship with authority that would make my recommendations point you in the opposite direction. It’s going to be you. Sorry, everybody has to figure this out for themselves. What we can do is we can try to get out of other people’s way. We can try to make ourselves capable of entering into relationships with other people, that are more likely than not to generate positive effects. [00:35:30] What Spinoza called joyful relations, meaning I’m going to express to you in the way that I can, just ordinary ways, I’m not going to try to be too deliberate. I’m just going to try to be authentically expressing these things. What happens, as a result, is that perhaps you notice something, or you feel something, or something connects for you.
In that relationship, maybe something for you has upgraded. [00:36:00] If I at least am not making noise, if I at least am doing my best to provide as much signal as I can and avoid as much noise as I can, then that generates the right kind of dynamics, that creates the space where you have a better possibility for learning on your own. If we do it in specificity, we can take some stuff down. It’s hard to do this if your body is a mess. There’s low hanging fruit. Stop being addicted to drugs. If you’re [00:36:30] currently a drug addict, stop being addicted to drugs. It’s very, very difficult to do any of these kinds of things if your body is out of whack. Improve the quality of nutrition. If you currently have terrible nutrition, have less terrible nutrition.
That actually ends up being… You can get a lot of ground with that kind of a choice. Many people have terrible nutrition and the distance between those two is actually pretty obvious. Bad relationships. If you’re currently in a toxic relationship, if it’s easy to exit that toxic relationship, [00:37:00] do so. Obviously, it may not be easy. They may be your parent, or your child, or your spouse, in which case that’s something that’s going to be very intense. If it’s, say, for example, a feud with a neighbour who’s garrulous. At the very least, try to stop fuelling the fire on your own part. If you’re in a weird habit of engaging in flame wars online, stop doing that. Those are actually pretty easy.
Euvie: Sleep is a big one, too.
Jordan: Sleep’s a great one.
Mike: Stand up straight, [00:37:30] shoulders back, clean up your room.
Jordan: Yes, this is why Dr Peterson’s not full of shit. It turns out that 98 percent of humanity has most of the basics out of whack, because our social infrastructure has done a very poor job. You can actually gain a huge amount of ground by doing a very small number of things well. Clean your room. This does not mean either just clean your room and do nothing else, or if you have not cleaned your room you can do [00:38:00] nothing else. What it means is there are low hanging fruit and that if you take these low hanging fruit then you get the benefit of having taken them, which vastly improves your ability to do the next step.
And that you have to be able to take responsibility for those next steps. Past a very limited threshold, it’s a very intense direct relationship. This is why, remember, he’s a practicing therapist. He knows how hard it is for a human being to [00:38:30] actually help another human being develop their own sovereignty. I cannot write a book that conveys to you how to build your own sovereignty. Almost certainly, I will do more harm than good. There are certain kinds of books that I can generally prescribe. Have you read Man’s Search for Meaning?
Mike: Yeah, that’s a good one. Really good one.
Jordan: That’s a generally good book, because it basically allows you to have empathy that gives you certain capacities. For me, the one that was the most is humility. Meaning, [00:39:00] no matter how bad I have it, it ain’t even close to being vaguely bad. I can not try to put myself into a pity spiral. If he could make it through Auschwitz, I can probably figure out how to get past my court date. There are other sort of general-purpose good piece of wise literature that help convey a feeling of connectedness to humanness in its raw sense and to the sacred in its most profound sense. [00:39:30] Those are good, no question. Certainly, if you find yourself allocating your attention to garbage, stop doing that. It’s not hard to notice what garbage is, or, for that matter, just stop allocating your attention to anything.
If you feel like you’re actually in trouble right now, things aren’t working out, consider the possibility that you don’t know what to do but you do know what not to do, which is most of the stuff that you’re currently doing. Slow down. Stop doing stuff. Spend more time just sitting in a park doing absolutely fucking nothing. [00:40:00] Your body actually doesn’t suck, it’s actually pretty good. To the degree to which you can enter into a much more compassionate and collaborative relationship with your own body, that’s a pretty powerful tool. In fact, it’s, by definition, the primary tool. Our prefrontal cortex’s capacity to make sense of the world is pretty limited. We’re processing most of reality through the rest of our body. It would be useful to be able to have a good relationship with that instrument.
I can go on forever. Here’s a fun [00:40:30] one. Use it. I’m going to propose that you learn how to play guitar, but I’m going to propose it in a way that is going to be almost completely the opposite of almost everybody’s experience of that. Take a guitar or any other kind of device and do exactly nothing but this. Pluck one string and listen to it. Try to see how carefully you can sense the sound that it makes. [00:41:00] The difference between the strength of the plucking and the strength of the sound, how it becomes quieter over time. Literally just do that. Then maybe, maybe, if you feel up to it, consider plucking another string and seeing if you can notice the difference between the two. That’s discernment.
That is discernment in its rawest, deepest sense. Don’t do anything more than that. That’s humility. Don’t try to rush into something, don’t try to subtly be playing Free Bird [00:41:30] or whatever, Stairway to Heaven. Just learn how to listen to the sound of the single note being plucked and dying. Maybe also, if you can, see if you can relate to that as the story of all lives. That’s the sacred. There you go. It’s actually not that hard. Effectively everybody everywhere has the ability to enter into this journey from where they are right now, with what they have access to right now.
The thing that I would say is the most needful is good friends, but it’s sometimes hard to know [00:42:00] what a good friend is. It’s sometimes hard to find good friends, but being able to do that if you had to focus on the next thing above your own body, being able to be a friend with yourself, would be being able to be friends with other people. If you get a crew of three, five people who have become capable of being friends with themselves and are venturing into entering into friendship with each other, that’s enough. From that basis, you can do anything.
Mike: I think we have to wrap up.
Jordan: Yup. It feels to me it’s wrapping up on its own.
Mike: anything you guys want to close with?
Jordan: [00:42:30] I think the thing that feels to me like it maybe wants to be said is just to remember that we’re all in the same boat, that almost nobody – and myself very much included – has any meaningful skilfulness in this new game. [inaudible [0:42:46], the Dalai Lama, fill in the blanks. By the way, I’m not trying to draw comparison between among us… As I was thinking about it, I was like, “Who somebody might imagine is way, way serious, awesome?” To be sure, the Dalai Lama’s got some [00:43:00] mad skills when it comes to certain things, but this is a big game. We’re kind of all at level one. We’re all just beginning to try to figure out how to do it. I could tell you that I don’t have many friends and I’m not very good at being a friend in the context of what this thing is about. I think that might be a bit heartening is to know that no matter where you are, almost everybody else is more or less in the same place. We’re kind of trying to figure this out.
Mike: I found one of the most interesting stories that we talked about [00:43:30] from the first time we talked was the conversation about your daughter and your observation of your daughter playing Minecraft and having this swarm intelligence with her friends. That has become the most interesting thing for me to ask you about is how these things apply in your context of raising a child. Watching something come from nothing to functioning human being and what it must be like to be a kid of yours [00:44:00] with such a deep understanding of how people learn and deep code and everything. What kind of wisdom you would impart to a child?
Jordan: It’s not going to be very much different from the conversation we just had, which, by the way, is one of the reasons why I have difficulty doing the ELI Five, because I actually tend to communicate with five-year olds like I communicate with everybody else. It turns out, that works out fine.
Mike: I appreciate that. I appreciate when people talk to kids like adults, expect adult behaviour out of children. It’s nice [00:44:30] and they like it, too.
Jordan: Of course they like it, absolutely. What they feel is they feel that you’re actually respecting them and your relationship with them as a person.
Jordan: I would say probably, by the way, that’s the central. The central is to convey in deed, in actual act, that you fully recognize that, as a parent, you are in relationship with a soul that is as sovereign as yours, [00:45:00] that, while you may have a particular relationship of service to steward of body that is in the process of learning how to be in the world. The much more important relationship is the relationship with the soul, and that soul is as fully realized, as profound, and as sovereign as yours. To act on the basis of that understanding. Of course, being able to do that is no joke. [00:45:30] I can assure you that I certainly did not have the level of artfulness and parenting that I would have liked.
Mike: Yeah, your daughter might listen to this and be like, “Dad, you’re full of shit. Why did you ground me the other day then?”
Jordan: Vanessa’s pregnant, so we will be going through this process again. That was actually done intentionally, obviously. Not obviously but, in this case, quite intentionally. We’re [00:46:00] very distinctly having skin in the game in this future world and in this way of being in relationship with each other and with a being who we have a certain kind of responsibility for. Parenting is actually precisely the right metaphor. You could actually say that if you can reduce all of this to parenting. How do you parent yourself? How do you enter into relationships with parenting with other people? And, by the way, how do you enter into [00:46:30] relationships with parenting with the world?
Recognizing that parenting isn’t authoritarianism. If you can really get to the essence of what it means to apply these concepts of discernment, for example, of how to make exquisite choices under duress and when you have amazing, intense uncertainties with the right answer might be like. That’s what parenting really is. Every choice you make as a parent is fundamental to the development of the child. Every choice. [00:47:00] Every expression. Every tone of voice. Deep, deep, deep. The stakes are high, to the degree to which you actually have this internal discernment, this ability to listen to what the moment is calling for and then to be able to make an exquisite choice in response to that is at its most stark, its most intense.
Euvie: I saw a most, somebody who asked the question, “What are the most [00:47:30] unexpected things they learn from being a parent?” One of the things they said was that suddenly everything matters and Nihilism becomes impossible. Every tiniest thing matters. If we relate to the world in a similar way, how would that actually change everything? There’s so much Nihilism today in all of this disconnectedness, in all of these ways that we’re relating to [00:48:00] things or where things are happening so far away from us that we can’t possibly see how it affects anything. It’s easy to be very Nihilistic, but we can’t be because everything is connected in such a deep way and our world is at a point right now where, if we don’t observe all of those connections it might all end. The existential risks are real.
Mike: Don’t you think it all comes back to responsibility? [00:48:30] In the situation of being a parent, you’re forced to have the responsibility but we don’t take that same responsibility when we look at the rest of the world, just in our small, little environment.
Jordan: There’s folks who have made a play on words. They’ve transformed the word responsibility to the ability to respond. If you make that transformation, I think the answer is right. I think if you put parenting in relationship to this notion of taking responsibility for the whole world, it actually provides [00:49:00] a very nice comparison. What I mean is this, parenting is overwhelming. You actually, for sure, cannot take comprehensive responsibility of the level of the responsibility that you have as a parent. No human being has ever been able to actually have that level of capacity to be able to do that. What that means is that you have to be able to do two things simultaneously.
You have to have an enormous amount of humility and self-compassion for your [00:49:30] own inadequacy. Then you have to have a commitment to continuing to do the best you can, to be adequate to the thing that you’re responsible for. Both have to happen simultaneously. The same thing is true in relationship to the world. You have to have an enormous amount of humility and self-compassion in relationship to your own inadequacy in the context of the world for which we are all collectively responsible. Then simultaneously, you have to have [00:50:00] a complete commitment to doing the best you can to becoming adequate to that level of responsibility.
Mike: So well said.
Jordan: Then perhaps we should end here.
In this episode we welcome back Jordan Greenhall of Neurohacker Collective to talk about a concept he calls deep code. Jordan explains what deep code is, and how it works. He describes the basic cycle of learning that can be applied to anything we do, which is crucial for increasing our capacity to navigate today’s world. This episode airs in two parts.
Designing a New Viable Civilization
Jordan describes the given culture as a collection of different kinds of institutions and practices that try to meet our needs. We as humans continue to choose to interact with these institutions, and this is what holds culture together and shapes it over time.
He argues that the current civilization framework we are operating under is no longer adequate for the set of challenges that humanity is facing, and this civilization will ultimately collapse under its own weight.
Looking through the deep code lens, Jordan has been analyzing why is the case and where we are on that trajectory. He and his colleagues have also been trying to design a new viable civilization, and to understand what the actionable steps are for humanity to get to the next stage.
In dealing with the problems that the civilization is currently facing, Jordan explains it is necessary to go deep and find the underlying structure of the process of learning. We have to examine the assumptions our current civilization is operating under, and deconstruct them so that we can reconstruct something anew, a process known as “solve et coagula” in alchemical terms.Relationship builds its own capacities to do things as a relationship. - Jordan Greenhall of @theneurohacker Click To Tweet
The Cycle of Learning
Jordan identifies six basic capacities which constitute learning:
This cycle is the deepest basis of any kind of capacity building in any possible domain.
All choice-making in all possible contexts is founded on these capacities. Once a person masters the skills in this cycle, one is ready to respond to any possible set of circumstances. This is how deep code can be applied in everyday life.
This is particularly important in our rapidly changing world where our skill sets are becoming obsolete at the accelerating pace. The fast pace of change calls for adaptive skills at a much deeper level. Instead of giving people basic skills, we need to give them the basis of learning.If you have a choice between tuning your instrument or trying to use your instrument harder, tune your instrument. - Jordan Greenhall of @theneurohacker Click To Tweet
The Difference Between Mastery and Sovereignty
Jordan defines sovereignty as a measure of the relationship between one’s capacity and the conditions the one is in. The distinction between sovereignty and mastery is actually subtle. While mastery relates to skillfulness in a certain domain, sovereignty is the ability to make choices in response to whatever is happening in one’s environment, and to be able to increase this ability on an ongoing basis.Sovereignty is a measure of the relationship between one’s capacity and the conditions that one is in. - Jordan Greenhall of @theneurohacker Click To Tweet
Collective Sense Making Systems
In order to maintain our sovereignty in the overwhelming flow of information, we should consider the discernment capacity mentioned above, in its three aspects.
The first aspect is building discernment around internal cognitive and emotional responsiveness to information and communication coming to you. It means becoming capable of listening and understanding.
The second aspect is becoming discerning around the context and the content of what you express – building the clarity of expression.
The third aspect is a process where people are both using their capacities to express and listen in order to build a collaborative relationship between the two.Our prefrontal cortex's capacity to make sense of the world is pretty limited. We're processing most of reality through the rest of our body - Jordan Greenhall of @theneurohacker Click To Tweet
Playing the New Game
Today, people are increasingly communicating across different cultures through virtual channels like social media. In order to use this medium adequately, it is necessary to significantly upgrade and become artful in our communication.
When we begin to recognize individuals who have reached a high level of discernment and with whom we can engage in a conversation, we can build a collaborative space where everybody has a responsibility for expressing and listening.
This way of communicating and building relationships is part of the new game we are playing as a civilization, and only through collaboration can we build the skillfulness in this new game.We are all in the same boat and almost nobody has any meaningful skillfulness in this new game. - Jordan Greenhall of @theneurohacker Click To Tweet
Learning How to Learn
The best way to become good at the basic learning capacities is to engage in activities with the purpose of building awareness of our capacity to learn in itself. In this way, different activities become mediums of experimentation. Everybody, everywhere has the ability to enter this journey from where they are now, with what they have access to.
Talking about parenting, Jordan explains that as a parent you have to simultaneously have an enormous amount of humility and compassion for your own inadequacy, and have a commitment to be the best that you can be. The same goes for our relationship to the whole world.You have to have enormous amount of humility and self compassion in relationship to your own inadequacy in the context of the world for which we're all collectively responsible, and then simultaneously you have to have a complete… Click To Tweet
In this episode of Future Thinkers:
- What is deep code, how it works, and why it matters
- Why our civilization is threatening to collapse under its own weight
- The design criteria for a future viable civilization
- Why it’s important to deconstruct and reconstruct all the assumptions society rests on
- The six basic capacities of learning
- How the cycle of learning relates to large groups of people
- How the pace of change affects our ability to respond adequately to our environment
- The distinction between sovereignty and mastery
- How to maintain sovereignty in a world of fake news
- The three aspects of discernment
- Going from communication to conversation, from conversation to collaboration
- Playing “the new game” and how to become skillful at it
- How to have a good relationship with your own body
- Applying deep code to parenting
Mentions and Resources:
- Deep Code blog and Youtube channel by Jordan Greenhall
- Neurohacker Collective
- Jim Rutt, who coined the term “deep code”
- Robert Kegan, Professor of Adult Learning at Harvard
- The Uplift Academy
- Landmark Forum
- The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Khun
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- Charles Sanders Peirce’s books
More from Future Thinkers:
- Jordan Greenhall on Sovereignty in Chaos (FTP048)
- Jordan Greenhall on Collective Intelligence During Global Collapse (FTP047)
- Daniel Schmachtenberger on Mitigating Existential Risks (FTP046)
- Daniel Schmachtenberger on The Global Phaseshift (FTP036)
- Dr. Jordan Peterson on Failed Utopias (FTP038)
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