If you were to have asked me in 1995 what "Emergence" was, I'm sure you would have watched me struggle and squirm: I was still finding for the words for what back then was mostly something I understood only intuitively. Then, at a workshop led by John Lee, I heard John talk about how his work, then called PEER work, could not really be put into words either. I mention this because John's comments had a really powerful effect on me. Hearing them made me ask myself, "what if I can not find the words for what I do either?" Thus, I began to try to write a book describing what I do; emergence.
Very simply put, I failed to write this book. In fact, I failed in my attempts to write this book over and over for years, this despite the fact that I made many new beginnings, wrote for many, many hours, and made many new and better starts. In the end, then, I began, and attempted to write, this book six times before giving up. So what happened?
I guess you could say the Universe taught me a pretty tough lesson in humility, a lesson I'm sure many others have known for a long, long time: It's not easy to put intuitive things into words no matter how intuitive you are. In fact, I feel a great compassion right now for all those who have known there was something better out there but had no way to put this knowing into words.
It's 2003 and much about how we talk about emergence has changed. And still, there is no book. But in its place, we have thousands of pages which describe emergence, some of which have helped people to better their lives. More important, though, we have, in the last year or so, moved away from looking for "the words to describe emergence" and into an attempt to build a bridge between emergence and what has been, between what has been believed and what we hope will be believed.
What is this bridge? The theory of personality we call, the "Layers of Aloneness."
Why another theory of personality when we already have so many? For one thing, within this theory, we focus entirely on making visible what "disconnects" us all from each other rather than on arguing about whose theory is right. In other words, our whole goal and purpose in the Layers of Aloneness is help people to overcome what is in essence, a natural human tendency; the tendency people have to disconnect from each other whenever they can not agree. Oddly, this occurs mostly in those times wherein we are trying to connect to each other. Said in other words, we have the hardest time connecting when we can not find the words.
Here, then, is one of the more important things this theory addresses. The Layers of Aloneness is a theory of personality in which people are encouraged to make connecting to each other more important than understanding each other. Practicing this idea alone could do a whole heck of a lot to help us to learn to love each other.
On a more nuts and bolts level though, the Layers of Aloneness describes in a comprehensive and empirical way what I have been looking to put into words for the past eight years; a description of emergence. Equally important, it does this without negating the value in anyone else's theories of personality. In fact, you could say the Layers of Aloneness is a way to see how all theories of personality, and all of us really, connect to each other.
How does it do this?
The Layers of Aloneness hypothesizes we each have within us, a theoretical organization, a system of sorts into which we arrange everything we think, feel, say, and do. This structure roughly organizes these experiences into ten "layers," or ten successive categories of experience.
These categories then range from the most personal layer, wherein you find the "I see the Grand Canyon and know I am not alone" kinds of spiritual experiences, to the least personal layer, wherein you find the "I'm just a grain of sand on the beach" experiences. In other words, it arranges our nature as human beings into a continuum of inner and outer experiences ranging from the experience of feeling profoundly connected to all that there is to feeling profoundly separate and alone.
What else does this theory do?
It allows us to see how each and every idea on this site connects to each and every idea ever conceived; a somewhat outrageous claim to be sure. And if you are now reacting to this admittedly immodest claim, please do your best to reserve judgment until after you have invested some time exploring this claim. Obviously, if this claim is true, no one could be expected to grasp it having read only a few paragraphs. More so, we Emergence Practitioners have spent some eight years exploring these ideas now and are only lately grasping the tiniest sense of what we have been exploring. Thus, please give this process an honest and whole effort.
How about some of the specifics?
For one thing, the Layers of Aloneness discloses how "BLocks" and "Keys," the two main concepts in Emergence as a Therapy, connect to what most of the therapeutic world calls our "wounds." Seeing these connections allows us to better understand how we get wounded and how we heal, and why some things heal us and some do not.
For another thing, the Layers of Aloneness reveals how philosophies meant to teach us to better understand and manage our lives often only create more misunderstandings between us. Oddly, most who have pictured and even painted the old philosophers have seen them as people joyfully and passionately discussing the ins and outs of the world. In truth, though, most people who discuss philosophy are more likely to argue and fight during these discussions than to feel joyful and passionate.
The Layers of Aloneness offers a way for people to become more like the old philosophers than warring enemies.
Yet another area it addresses is relationships. Here, it shows how, by age four, people have been imprinted with a sort of life filter, a way people sort and organize who they are and to whom they can connect. We call this filter, a person's "character type," and we have found four general types.
More important, learning to recognize these four types and how they help or prevent us from fitting together reveals how the underlying mechanism of human attraction works; the actual character trait which determines whom we become attracted to, both romantically and non-romantically. More remarkably, though, by doing this, it also helps us to stop blaming each other and ourselves for whom we get attracted to while at the same time, making sense out of what has seemed to be just "woundedness."
Our attractions are not just us acting out on our woundedness or our childhoods. Nor are they simply the way the Universe teaches us lessons. However, in order to see past these mistaken ideas, we need to see our character types. The Layers of Aloneness reveals them.
Yet another area addressed is formal religion. Here, it shows what underlies the judgments and hatreds people who practice formal religions sometimes feel for "nonbelievers," judgments and hatreds which I'm sure would profoundly sadden the founders of these religions. Separating the formal "religions" from their founders allows us to more fully enjoy and benefit from the wisdom these religions contain.
The most important area of all, though, is the way it addresses "connecting" in general. Thus, the Layers of Aloneness has the potential to become a bridge which we can all use to talk to each other in peace, a way we can share with each other our ideas and beliefs without judging each other for our differences. In other words, we hope people will use the Layers of Aloneness to create a better way to understand human beings and how we work, a way in which we as people can explore our pain and suffering without blaming this suffering on anything or anyone, including on themselves.
Imagine this idea for a moment. Imagine there is a way for us to talk to each other which neither avoids talking about our suffering nor blames this suffering on anyone. Imagine this.
We do. Every day.
We hope you'll come and join us.
One final note. Like much else on this site, what we've written so far about "the Layers of Aloneness" is incomplete and in fact, is actually in its earliest stages. Another unfinished book? Perhaps. None the less, we've taken the view that it is better to offer a typo-filled, meandering draft than to wait until we have it all together, something I doubt we'll ever have. After all, like you, we are still discovering and growing and learning from life.
We invite you to come connect and grow with us. Imagine what we can discover together.
P. S. Some might now ask me if I ever came to find a simple way to describe "emergence," I have. And if you were to now ask me today what it is, I would simply say: "Emergence" is "a nonjudgmental way to explore human nature where we have a single focus; discovering new and more loving ways for us all to connect."