5 min readThe Lemniscate Process: Creating a New World by Being Fully Human

The world was aflame with the revolutionary ideas and demonstrations of the different social movements in the 1960s. These changed the landscape of world history. However these efforts were not enough to sustain the momentum of these radical changes longing for another world.

Thus, in the 1970s, social thinkers and activists turned inwards to search for the answers for profound and lasting social change. They realize that societal structures are only as good as the people that operated them.

So the consciousness movements were born, in an attempt to find deep purpose and meaning in the various paths to enlightenment. But they in turn had their limitations. And with outstanding exceptions, they were too much into navel-gazing and were mostly withdrawn from what was happening in the world.

The societal movements were too outer-directed. And the consciousness movements were too inner-directed. Is there a possibility of a holistic and integral approach that would bring these two powerful movements to harmonize with and build upon each other?

Out of an actual existential struggle with these questions, one of the co-founders of I-RISE invented the Lemniscate Process in the late 1990s. This process has been prototyped and mainstreamed in over 100 workshops in over 15 countries in the world. It resonates with the actual existential questions that individuals in business, government, and civil society, have. It is the core process of I-RISE in its striving to help individuals find their true identity and, having done so, become constructive citizens of the world.

The Lemniscate Process has four stages: the Call, the Trial, the Enlightenment, and the Return.

lemniscate
The Lemniscate Process

The possibility to start the lemniscate journey begins when the individual truly encounters the world. Undemocratic governance, predatory globalization, and clashing civilizations have taken over the planet with disastrous consequences. Within this world of the new imperialisms, humanity is being or will be deconstructed and reconstructed physically (cyborg humanity); psychologically (to be comfortable and numb in the face of ever new heights of outrageous behavior of the new imperialism); and spiritually (to surrender the fire). Plus the threat of Artificial Super Intelligence also threatens humanity with extinction.

This planetary nightmare is forcing us—is forcing humanity—to answer fundamental questions about the nature and meaning of human existence, about societies and civilizations, and about the intrinsic value of Nature and humanity’s relationship with it. In short, we are being forced to answer the question of what it means to be alive today and what is the end goal and purpose of our human existence.

We can call this jarring part of the journey, the CALL. The Call is triggered by a question or a series of questions. The question then begins the quest or the journey. The mechanization of humans, societies and nature triggers profound questions within us. If we have the inner courage to look for the answers to these questions, then we have answered the Call.

Those who want to answer these burning questions have to undertake an often painful inner journey of discovery to reconnect with their living Spirit. There is no other way. Formulaic answers from the past or answers that come from a materialistic consciousness will not suffice. The journey has now entered into the TRIAL Phase.

The Trial initially consists of a kind of “homelessness.” We are no longer comfortable nor secure with perspectives and values that have been our “home,” our comfort zone. Separation from these habits of thought, feelings and behavior produces many different kinds of pain, including the pain arising from a lack of meaning, lack of direction, not being understood by others and so on.

But ultimately the whole point of the Trial is to purify us from those aspects in ourselves—including and especially our egotism—that are increasingly becoming dysfunctional in a world that is rapidly changing and morphing towards the decline and decimation of the human spirit.

A successful encounter with one’s Spirit ends the Trial phase and results in Illumination or ENLIGHTENMENT. In the language of the social sciences, we can also call this stage of enlightenment as the “reframe”. Reframing is the key central creative act of civil society. This is the third stage in the journey in the Lemniscate.

Deep understanding develops and the direction for strategic action becomes clear. One also has an insight into aspects of one’s self and motives, an encounter that is critical in creating a more sustainable world. One also uncovers new capacities to engage and transform the world.

In the final stage of the journey, the RETURN, the newly awakened individual, now armed with a deeper self-knowledge, more profound understanding of the world, as well as new creative and relational skills, joins with others to remake the outer world. Through the Return, sustainable society initiatives begin to be born in the world and start to flourish.

I-RISE chose the Lemniscate as its symbol for the process of self and societal transformation. The lemniscate is the mathematical symbol for infinity. The process of awakening one’s true nature is endless. It goes deeper and deeper. It corresponds to the Greek notion of “Truth” as captured in the Greek word for truth which is aletheia, meaning “unveiling”.

Truth is not just something that one can capture in a box. Its multifaceted reality can only be appreciated as it unveils ever deeper meanings of reality.

And so is it with one’s true nature. It is deep and profound. And the journey continues to unfold, evolving one’s self and in the process creating new possibilities for society.

Ultimately, the Lemniscate is about how to undergo a process, a journey, that can make one more fully human. This is a journey that has to be undertaken by humanity if it is to survive the scientific and technological challenges of the 21st century.

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