There is nothing quite as fundamental at identifying who we are inside as our sense of
self - that which we identify with when we say 'I' or 'me'. At the root of the Tao Cycle
philosophy is the ability to see our existence at various levels, from the mechanistic
collection of atoms, to the expression of biological life force within our cells, then to
the highly complex intelligent thinking organisms that we are, on to the social fabric
we are a integral to, and ultimately to the collective super human global intelligence
that we now have the potential to become.
The Tao Cycle framework is like a spiral staircase. At each level of encapsulation, be it
cellular or human, we first have to learn to take care of ourselves, and to attend to our
most critical needs. This is the segment of Studenthood. Survival is the key, and this
segment can be seen as a 'fitness test' in a Darwinian sense. Yet, there is more to life
than staying alive.
Once our individual survival is reasonably assured, we start building up our economic
footprint. Economic capability is much more than the size of our bank balance, the
sophistication of our houses or the number of cars we might own. It is also about the
richness of our social structure, and the value of our extended kinship. But, at a
fundamental level we can think of wealth as any device (social or mechanical),
external to our physical bodies, that could help us achieve our deepest aspirations.
This second segment is that of the Householder as we build up our financial, social and
intellectual assets for later use. The one characteristic it shares with Studenthood is
that the emphasis is still on servicing the needs of our biological organism, and those
closely related to it (our family). The main difference, of course, is that with the added
affluence, our competitive instinct slowly takes a back seat - and we begin to value the
relative peace that would allow us to enjoy our material prosperity.
When we approach middle age, and typically with our children becoming independent
human beings themselves, there comes about a profound change in our outlook - if we
let it happen. We are off the peak of our economic activity, our biological progeny are
well taken care of. At this point we ask, is there more to life than procreation and
material well being? Those of us that answer 'yes' to that question, can embark on a
delightful journey of expanding consciousness. This is the realm of the Service Leader,
and here we allow our identity to expand to encompass wider and wider swathes -
from individual, to families, to community, to nation, to humanity... This is the vector of
Universality, as you can see - the ultimate goal of this consciousness expansion would
be to feel one with the Universe. Our individual competitive instincts, which we were
already learning to keep in check during the Householder phase, now gives way to
social co-existence and cooperation.
There is yet a fourth quadrant in the Tao Cycle, which is the domain of the Spiritualist.
The spiritualist has seen Universality (no small task), and is now engaged with those
matters that have the potential to exist, but do not exist within our current
environment. Visionary scientists can be spiritualists, as can be great artists and
inventors. Religion is actually a small part of spiritualism, and may actually detract
from our ability to discern the best potentiality that might exist around us. Here we
discern not only our own reason for being, but also that of all life and intelligence
around us. Having discerned the visionary potential, the Spiritualists then translate the
ideas into simple language that people can understand, and help them to findthe best
that is in ourselves - individually and collectively.
A civilization that has a strong emphasis on Service Leadership and Spiritualists, is
forever ready to transform and re-invent itself to match the potential as it arises. In
my humble opinion, this is such a time in human history, when mankind must come to
grips with what the transformed 'Global Human' might look like. The next fifty years or
so will set humans in a path to transform ourselves from one more earth based species
to a planetary and then a cosmic presence. The Riddle of The Sphinx explores seven
levels of 'Divinity' that starts with the aspiring human being willing to make the
journey into the final two segments.
Spiritualist (4) Service Leader (3)
Studenthood (1) Householder (2)
Graphical significance of the Tao Cycle
No other symbol quite represents the ebb and flow of opposites like the Taoic (Yin-
Yang) symbol. What the Tao Cycle symbol does is to capture the movement between
two sets of apparent opposites. The first contradictory set is the realm of Potentiality
vs. that of fully realized material Affluence. The second apparent dichotomy is between
rugged Individuality and peaceful synergistic co-existence within an Universal context.
In our lives there seems to be a logical sequence within which these two Taoic
complements ebb and flow. One of the original expressions of this sequence was the
Ashrama system that was practiced in Ancient India - upon which the Tao Cycle is
based. The 'Riddle of The Sphinx', of course, comes from Greek mythology - and the
story about Oedipus who was stopped by a Sphinx at the gates to the city of Thebes -
and asked a riddle about the stages of human existence. With his life at stake, the
perceptive prince succeeded in solving the riddle, and the rest, as they say, is history...
The Tao Cycle spiral staircase also has a deep significance in the space of information
theory. In info theory terms, life is all about evolving and procreating successful
information patterns (DNA sequences). Intelligence is all about grasping the potential
that exists within ourselves and within our environment, and building a bridge to
realize it with all the resources at hand. Each results in more complexity over time. On
earth, the canvas (or domain) within which life evolves is largely our cellular DNA. The
canvas for our evolving human intelligence, is our Cultural DNA. To assemble all the
pieces together into a functional entity, the Global Human, which can realize our
civilizational potential - that is the domain of the Spiritualist, ably assisted by the
Service Leaders of our age.
The development of the perception of the 'self' or the transformation of the lower case
'i', is called an 'i' transition in the Tao Cycle parlance. Why is it a lower case 'i', vs the
more familiar capital 'I' that we use in everyday English. The distinction made is that
the uppercase I is the integral self that eventually merges into Spirituality and Divinity.
The work in progress, 'i' is therefore denoted in lower case. If you look closely, the eye
of the Tao Yin-Yang symbol is replaced by the lower case 'i' in the color of the next
quadrant in the transformation sequence. Thus, when a flow is seen to be at its
strongest, hidden within is the seed of the next stage of the transformation.
One last point - the characteristics of all four segments exists within us as humans, but
we typically express only one or two of the characteristics at a given time (and age).
The visionary energy of the Spiritualists and the organizing power of the Service
Leaders must now be cherished and accepted by the other segments - as this is the
glue that would hold together a budding global human civilization. Without this glue,
mankind might forever continue on our divisive ways from the first two segments, and
the transformational potential that history has placed before us might be totally