Growing The Self-Authored Mind
Imagine you are part of the ocean. You are part of one gigantic force – but you cannot see the extent of yourself, how far or wide you stretch. You can only see your section of the ocean, and so in your eyes, that is all that exists, and it is also all of you.
But as you move you begin to head towards land
And as you see yourself change position in relation to the land, you begin to notice that you are not everything you see. You suspect that you are the ocean, and that everything else is separate from you.
Then you become a river
You head in land and separate from the big body of water you have always known. Now your understanding of yourself has changed dramatically – you no longer look at yourself as this massive span of water. You are a smaller body of water, flowing in one direction.
But then the river is broken down into streams, and your understanding of the world is shattered now more than ever. You have been separated once from all the things you see into the ocean, and from the ocean to the river, and now a third time from the river to the stream.
You appreciate now that you are a small independent part. You appreciate now that you might not even be the whole stream – but what you do not question yet is your direction. You still believe you must head in the direction that everything else in the stream flows in.
The stream heads through dark ravines and caves – after it goes many places you do not enjoy or wish to go, you slowly become less dependent on the direction of the stream. You decide that you do not like where it is going, and so you start to head in a different direction.
And now you realise just how small you really are.
You are a drop of water, then a droplet, and then a single particle.
As you look down at the stream, you see all your family and friends who continue in the same direction, never realising they too are a particle. They go on thinking that they have understood the truth about their existence.
As a single particle, you can move in whichever direction you want. And once you realise this and separate yourself from the stream, you become so light that you evaporate – turning into vapor. Detached from all around you, you rise up to the sky.
You look at things from above and then when you gather together again, you are dropped back down into the ocean as rain.
Robert Kegan proposed that we move through life in stages of consciousness. These phases mirror that of the water particle as it slowly realises what it is.
Whilst you cannot explain to the ocean that it is a single particle, you can ease it into a river, then a stream, and then into finer particles. But it must go on this journey.
Not every particle and particle of water realises how independent it is, and how it can go anywhere. Most, in the duration of their lifetime, do not realise this.
One of the crucial junctions in Kegan’s stages is the transition from the Socialised Mind to the Self-Authored Mind. In the Socialised Mind, we depend on the group whilst believing we are independent, in the same way a particle which mistakes itself as part of a stream thinks it is aware because it has defined itself distinctly from the sky, the ocean and the river. But really, particles of water in the stream still flow where the stream flows, and do not realise more insightful levels of consciousness.
But, they mistakenly feel they are fully enlightened.
In my framework of Without-The-Box Thinking, this is referred to as ‘thinking outside-the-box’ – which refers to the thought that we are independent whilst still clinging tightly to old ideas. We change only slightly the cultural norm, still clinging to the identity we are familiar with and feels safe.
The Self-Authored Mind stops relying on the group, defining by the group, and understands that the group is just part of existence. This Mind can think ‘Without-The-Box’ and choose the direction it goes.