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Deep Humanity Living / Dying workshops

Stop Reset Go is developing a new experiential paradigm for whole life (and death) education.

Photo of James (Gien) Wong
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Deep Humanity (DH) is a new kind of experiential life workshop that Stop Reset Go is developing and aspiring to introduce to everyone sometime this year. It is a method of co-journeying, a collective process designed to give people deeper meaning to their personal experience of life (and death) in the era of the anthropocene, a time of great upheaval in which people are experiencing growing anxiety of the possibility of Near Term Human Extinction. We make the connection that the collective anxiety of the anthropocene has its subconscious and deeper roots in the unresolved personal anxiety of our own death. For our personal death is also an extinction event of epic proportion in each our own lives. When each of us dies, we undergo a kind of extinction in which all the memories of our experiences of this life are lost, as the physical body dissolves and returns back to the earth.

There are still some indigenous cultures that have preserved their rich practices of weaving death so that they are an integral thread of our everyday life, and of honoring death as a sacred event. Such cultures have much to teach those steeped in the Western paradigm where our fear and misunderstanding of death leaves us woefully unprepared for our own physical death. They teach us that we are empowered when we don't collectively ignore the elephant in the room, but rather fully acknowledge that which is the most important problem of every human life.  Human beings have an unresolved tension that has accompanied us since we were young children and became conscious of our own mortality. The tension stems from the unresolved paradox of the co-existence of our survival instinct alongside an awareness of the inescapability of our own death.

Death avoidance is prevalent in modern western industrialized culture as was pointed out by cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker in his Pulitzer-prize winning book, The Denial of Death. Becker argued that we have two selves, a physical self and a symbolic one and characterized or inability to deal with the inescapability of death of the physical self by shifting our focus to eternalizing the symbolic self.

"Becker argues that the arbitrariness of human-invented immortality projects makes them naturally prone to conflict. When one immortality project conflicts with another, it is essentially an accusation of 'wrongness of life', and so sets the context for both aggressive and defensive behavior. Both parties will want to "prove" their belief-system is superior, a better way of life. Thus these immortality projects are considered a fundamental driver of human conflict, such as in wars, bigotry, genocide, and racism."

It is no accident that human civilization has arrived at this point of extreme separation, one that now threatens its own stability. Our collective millenium-long journey since the dawn of toolmaking, has brought us to this point of being extremely out of touch with each other and with nature. It is this separation that has allowed conflicts to emerge and for the environment to degrade to dangerous levels. The separate between fellow humans and nature disconnects feedback mechanisms that would have ensured a healthy future. But at the same time, there is no enemy to blame. Corporations are not the enemy, people of a specific skin color or belief are not the enemy. This has all been a collective journey of the natural unfolding of our most fundamental human qualities - our rational mind, ability to model the world and toolmaking abilities.

Deep Humanity is a process of unpacking our human journey, both as a culture and as an individual human being to see how we arrived here and why it is intimately related to our deepest unresolved question of our own mortality. DH is academically framed as an extension of Sohail Inayatullah's Causal Layered Analysis, adding one more layer beyond the myth layer. The fifth layer is the analysis of myth-making itself, the power of storytelling and it's inherently recursive looping nature, the subject of Douglas Hofstadter's I am a Strange Loop.  The fifth layer process is one of growing conviction that there is merit in simply being, simply observing, and refraining from analyzing. It is the discovery of the value of BEING in Human BEing. It gives us insight into our addiction of Human DOing and insights dissolve our ignorance much as turning on the light instantly dispells darkness. Such insight releases us to authentically live up to our role as a human BEing. DH is therefore a practice open to anyone who is a human being and depends only on those characteristics that are the common denominator of every human being born into existence. It is, by definition then, a naturally unifying practice.

DH is envisioned to bring humanity back to the roots it seeks to remind us of the inherent sacredness and wonder of being alive as a living, human BEing. It is premised on reminding ourselves and remembering the wonder we all had when we first entered into this life outside the womb. DH seeks to invoke a living and vibrant sense of wonder of being alive. Such a living sense of wonder dissolves the conceptual boundaries which are the root cause of conflict and alienation in the world. By returning to a life of wonder, we can stop the damaging process of obstructing the flow of our own creativity, hence allowing it to flow out of us spontaneously.  By creating a culture that sees life as life/death and accepting full responsibility of our life and death, we are able to fully live life and to fully die in peace and joy of having been blessed with the opportunity to have been brought into human BEing.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

We have the potential, right now, to awaken and become a fully conscious human BEing and to invoke a living sense of wonder and gratitude to be our default worldview.

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Hi James, thanks for the post! It'd be great to add an image with this. Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

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Great to have you onboard! We noticed your post is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. We're looking forward to seeing your contribution in this challenge.