Co creation is more fundamental than you think! It is the process underlying reality.
Rather then some new-fangled commercial process for innovation, it goes much deeper than that. Here’s how.
In these times we see ourselves as individuals – independent units – and we hardly notice how those same selves are continually co-created in response to our physical surroundings and the people around us. In other words, rather than a unitary, independent, fixed self, our ‘selves’ are constantly shaped by the influences from both the people inside us and those outside. Even the bag of skin that holds that ‘self’ together, is constantly changing!
This is demonstrably true and provable at any moment of your life. A mindful inquiry where you observe the content of your mind, thoughts and feelings as accurately as you can, without judgment, will quickly reveal what a composite of other people we are!
When you do this you will ‘hear’ the voice in your head as well as sights & sounds from the outside world. This voice is continuous, never-ending and only partly relies on evidence from outside to drive its content. We call it the Background Voice.
Indeed, in a dissociated state which you’ll experience many times in each day, you may be completely oblivious of the events & scenery in the outside world altogether. You may momentarily forget where you are, how you got there or where you’re going, but you will still hear the voice in your head. These states occur on the tube, in cars, in the lift, in a queue, walking to a known destination, during a conversation and in many other situations. They are particularly prominent when you’ve ‘something on your mind’. Having something on your mind in SE terms simply describes a prominent, insistent conversation from your Background Voice.
Where does this Background Voice come from & what does it do? As far as I can tell, its main job is twofold: it is there both to keep you safe (and therefore must monitor not only physical circumstances but also the expressions, gestures & intentions of others) and to spot opportunities (and to do this it must be in contact with your needs and intentions). It is quite normal for these two roles of the Background voice to struggle for ascendancy – be in conflict if you like – resulting in one being drowned out by the other.
Looked at in this way, the voice confirms and at the same time evidences, the importance and accuracy of Buddhism’s Five Aggregates. The five contain all elements of our experience (elsewhere styled ‘subjective experience’ or SE), and one is external – Material Form – while the other four are all elements of Mind: Perceptions, Feelings, Mental Formations and Consciousness.
This Mindtalk is made up from all the voices, including your own, piled up over years in your experiences – and includes those introjected from key figures in your life, mum, dad, teachers, priests, doctors, experts, friends and peers. It is in some respects a crazy amalgam of all these, sort of chopped up and rearranged. That’s why we have the experience of hearing the words of other people inside our heads…mixed with our own.
Every moment, to keep you safe, this voice will direct your senses to the outside world to watch out for the intentions of others around you. Are they worthy allies, potential threats or irrelevant to you? Your voice will have two key questions that it constantly uses to frame your experience: “What do I think/feel about what h/she just said or did?” The second will be “What will they think of me if I say/do that?” These are the filters that monitor every moment in a group. They are in my view the biggest System 1 heuristic.
Everyone in a group is responding to the others and the voices inside their own head in exactly this fashion. Thus the group is ‘reading and evaluating’ itself as it goes and the overall ambiance will be a sum of the Background Voices present.
This means that when we are working with a group or community, it is perfectly reasonable to ask ourselves: ‘what is the atmosphere in the group right now? What is the group feeling and saying? What are its intentions? Its obstacles? Its permissions and its barriers? As if the group was a single person, a culmination of all the individuals present.
That is the way to take the group seriously. Mark Earls was quite right to point our attention to the effects of others, they shape us from moment to moment.