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FLOW, GLOW,

AND ZERO
Introducing
a Vision of
Peak Performance
for the
New Millennium

Stephen Randall, PhD


Copyright March, 2011 by Stephen Randall.
All rights reserved.

Email comments, questions, and requests to steve@manage-time.com

Blog: http://stevrandal.wordpress.com

2 March, 2011
Preface
The need for a new vision
In this millennium people around the world could benefit from a vision of peak performance
and self-actualization that can serve as a secular, cross-cultural meeting ground for personal
achievement, spiritual and religious progress, ethics and morality, psychological growth, and
organizational results--all at the same time. Such a vision is already available, and holds the
potential for a level of change far deeper and broader than anything possible with science,
technology, government, law, business, or economics. This book endeavors to introduce some
facets of such a vision.

Why do we need a new vision? Whats the problem?

A widespread breakdown of structure

Time seems to be relentlessly breaking down all types of structures, theories, customs, and
beliefs that we have relied on. While the world is becoming effectively 'closer knit', more
accessible and interdependent in various ways, we are shedding our former reliance on
structures of authority, status, and law and regulation based on precedent, sovereignty of
governments, separate states, and the global presence of huge corporations. International
disagreement abounds; competition is rampant in political, economic, social, and military fields.

With globalization and modern communication breaking down long-standing temporal and
spatial barriers, were now quickly affected even by distant cultural and religious conflict,
conflict between religion and atheism, differences between public-benefit and private
business, business and religion, science and religion, religion and spiritual disciplines, religion
and education and psychology, economic and environmental problems, and political and
governmental ideologies.

A deeper, natural set of values?

How can we handle these problems? Faith in the ability of the previous 'sacred cow' of science
and technology to solve our problems has waned. Some problems just can't be solved by
technological knowledge, and applied technology often has unintended side effects such as
pollution and global warming.

Decades ago, Mahatma Gandhi suggested what was then, and still is, a revolutionary
approach: As human beings our greatness lies not so much in remaking the world which is
the myth of atomic age as in being able to remake ourselves. (p. 10, Rao, 2010)

Its likely that the breakup of our prior dependence on national, racial, religious, scientific,

3 March, 2011
business, and even family institutions goes hand in hand with times call for new ways of
viewing our circumstances. "Peter Berger, an American sociologist . . . argues that the key
feature of the 20th Century has been growing acceptance that self realization of the individual is
a greater goal than loyalty to any group like the family, religion, race, ruling dynasty or nation."
(p. 174, Rao, 2010) Im not sure exactly what Berger meant by self realization. But in any
case, now, in the apparently increasing momentum of the 21st Century, we might propose
something radical: rather than leaving the self-structure at the center of consciousness (a la
Descartes, who helped start the scientific revolution hundreds of years ago) as the cause of all,
what if we challenge this so-called normal consciousness structure too?

What if, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, we make a grand hypothesis, look for an all-
encompassing view that takes not just personal, psychological perspectives, but all appearance
into account? And what if we aim for something that has got not just predictive, technological
usefulness for solving our prior problems, but also relevance for the quality of our future lives?

In earlier decades, systems of psychology presumed that all of us had certain desires and
needs for food, sex, approval, and esteem. Motivation techniques pivoted around 'satisfying'
these lower 'needs', a never-ending project; lower level needs are never satisfied for long.
With wider vision, we may now find that most of these 'needs' do not persist at higher levels of
development.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow said that of our needs, only the need for self-actualization
persistently and consistently motivates us (pp. 163-4, Grove, 1983). Maslow's work on peak
experience studied highly functioning people, shook up the support for the theories and
practices of traditional psychologies, and helped introduce new disciplines of humanistic and
transpersonal psychology.

About the same time, spiritual disciplines 'imported' from the East helped shift Western attention
from external preoccupation toward an inner internal. Apparently the Buddha said, "It is wrong
to think that misfortunes come from the East or from the West. They originate within from one's
own mind. Therefore, it is foolish to guard against misfortunes from the external world and leave
the inner mind uncontrolled." (p. 18, Rao, 2010)

In this 21st century, there is growing acceptance that by developing ourselves we will not
only avoid misfortunes from the external world, but also facilitate our inner growth and realize
material and bottom-line goals. According to SF Hotel CEO Chip Conley: "I came to realize
that creating peak experiences for our employees, customers, and investors fostered peak
performance for our company." (p. 13, Conley, 2007) We might call this movement and
approach managing by values, as is now done in segments of the business world. Time seems
to be strongly challenging us as individuals to recognize our limitations, to see through them,
and to discover new levels of inner involvement, moving toward a zone of peak performance.

Not only is there growing acceptance that realization is our greatest goal--some say that the
optimal way to develop ourselves, our organizations, and societies, and to progress toward

4 March, 2011
other, material and bottom-line goals is to focus on facilitating values development and
realization rather than the bottom line, best practices, or any other place. This proposition is
presented in Chapters Three and Four.

But what values can serve as the basis for a new stage in human development? As stated
earlier, time seems to be relentlessly breaking down all types of structures, theories, customs,
and beliefs that we have relied on. Maslow wrote, We can no longer rely on tradition, on
consensus, on cultural habit, on unanimity of belief to give us our values. (p. 9, Maslow, 1970)

Australian yoga teacher Maiida Palmer asked whether something different might be introduced
to our cultures, whether any practice could go beyond traditional beliefs and values: Is it
possible to introduce a system of values based on knowledge of the nature of the human
person one that each individual can understand to be natural and effective, and not just a
system that is believed, or seems to be true? The Dalai Lama saw the value in developing a
secular morality: In the West, religions have lost their dominance. . . . I believe deeply that
we must find . . . a new spirituality. . . . This new concept ought to be elaborated alongside the
religions . . . . We need a new concept, a lay spirituality. . . . It could lead us to set up what we
are all looking for, a secular morality. . . . (p. 16, p. 104, Dalai Lama, 1994)

Can we now go beyond the traditional and sectarian? Beyond attachments to different groups'
beliefs, principles, injunctions, traditions, and practices? Bill Clinton once said, "As we become
ever more diverse, we must work harder to unite our common values and our common
humanity." (p. 147, Rao, 2010) Can we find sufficiently deep values that will naturally unite
us? Is there an overall picture and approach? A comprehensive vision of our potential, and an
effective method for progress?

Chapter One begins with a search for peak performance qualities or 'values' that can be
empirically derived from the literature of most cultures and times. This furthers the development
of a secular, phenomenology-based morality that can serve as a meeting ground for tolerance
of others and their values, and perhaps go even further, and be seen as a genuine shared set
of values that arise directly and naturally from human being, that are not supernatural or other-
worldly, not attributed to some external or other source or cause.

This research presents a detailed description of such a natural meeting ground, the cross-
cultural core zone of peak performance and realization, as well as two other main levels of
experience, providing a broad spectrum of human consciousness and functioning within which
different value systems, principles, and methods can be compared. Building on Maslows and
others work, these valued facets of enlightened experience are described with detail and
precision that is far more granular and operationally useful than typical one-word descriptions
such as honesty and integrity.

A forum for interdisciplinary studies

Different fields of knowledge and transformative disciplines further the health, well-being,

5 March, 2011
and productivity of humanity in countless ways. Much more could be done, but their ideas
and approaches often seem to conflict. Frequently this happens because their domains of
application, underlying principles, assumptions, and worldviews are unclear, or even unknown.
What if we had, and took, a larger view? Could a more comprehensive view of human
consciousness help to resolve some of these conflicts? What if we clarify the assumptions,
beliefs, and experiential structures in force with different ways or systems of knowing and
being?

I propose that we create a forum to enable interdisciplinary research and cooperation of


representatives from different fields. To coordinate and facilitate the work of these disciplines,
it would be useful to provide a common ground of language, principles, and methods through
which these fields and disciplines can clarify issues across all levels of consciousness and
fields of application and to further each others pursuits. Researchers and practitioners should
be able to determine the presumptions and limitations of their disciplines and make use of
what is valuable in other approaches. Many differences among disciplines are due only to a
lack of understanding of others jargon or meanings. Other conflicts are due to differences in
the disciplines range of investigation or applicationthey are simply not addressing the same
dimensions of reality or consciousness.

Take one example, using common ground to explore and appreciate differing moral systems.
People all over the world lead their lives in different ways, trying to follow varied moral or
ethical systems. Ironically, history has witnessed how differences between these systems
have lead to conflict, aggression, and even war. A forum could explore what different types
of systems there are, how such systems arise, which levels of consciousness they apply to,
and whether something, some dynamic, might explain how they all arise. We might come to
appreciate and understand relationships between such systems rather than simply rejecting
some as wrong or misguided.

Establishing common ground should help resolve many of these confusing issues, help
investigators focus on whats important, and add precision rather than heat to their explorations.
Instead of insoluble conflict among many different fields, we might find complementary
approaches, and see that different ways of knowing simply make different assumptions and use
different methods to accommodate different learning styles, personalities, cultural customs, and
even very different levels of consciousness or human development. Hopefully this book will help
develop this common ground.

6 March, 2011
Part One -- Views and Perspectives

Whats the view where were going?

"It is characteristic of a first-level understanding to ignore the significance of perspective . . . ."


(p. 107, Tarthang Tulku, 1990)

We seem to be relatively unaware of what Peter Senge calls "the subtlest aspect of the learning
organizationthe new way individuals perceive themselves and their world." (p. 12, Senge,
1990)

From two fortune cookies: The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next.

7 March, 2011
8 March, 2011
Introduction to Chapter One

A commercial for the American military says, Be all you can be. But what can we humans
be, what is our potential? This was an important question for American psychologist Abraham
Maslow, who conducted extensive research on what he called peak experience, self-
actualization, and the farther reaches of human nature. (Maslow, 1962, 1970, 1971) He
wanted to learn what truly healthy people were like, and what the characteristics of peak
experience might be.

Most of my life I have also been very interested in, even driven, to find out what I could be and
do. Around 1970, when in the US Air Force and stationed in Washington, D.C., I attended some
Gestalt therapy workshops, and was fascinated to discover an enormous, vital psychological
world that had been almost invisible to me. Though my education and conditioning helped me
get good grades and develop analytic and problem-solving intelligence, at the same time my
conditioning also led to a lack of what is now called emotional intelligence. After the Air Force
transferred me to Alabama in 1971, I enrolled in evening courses in psychology and counseling.
Then I read Maslows writings on peak experience, and supplemented those with This Is It by
Alan Watts, as well as Be Here Now, by Richard Alpert (Ram Das). All these helped open my
eyes to what was possible for us to realize and accomplish.

In The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, Maslow wrote about his research findings: When
I asked my subjects, after they had described their peak experiences, how the world looked
different to them during these times, I received answers which also could be schematized
and generalized. . . . My own boiling-down and condensation of this multitude of words, and
these many descriptions of the way the way the world looks to them, . . . during and after peak
experiences would be: truth, beauty, wholeness, dichotomy-transcendence, aliveness-process,
uniqueness, perfection, necessity, completion, justice, order, simplicity, richness, effortlessness,
playfulness, and self-sufficiency. (pp. 101-102, Maslow, 1971) I found this fascinating,
indicative of what was possible, yet hard to understand and relate to my own experience.

Maslow suggested that for those who were drawn to conducting similar research, Anyone can
use the same procedure that I have used . . . It is stable and reliable in the sense that when I
repeat the operation I get approximately the same results. (p. 104, Maslow, 1971)

I had no desire to do such research then, in the early 1970s. But I was sufficiently interested in
learning more about psychology, counseling and spirituality to leave the Air Force in 1972 and
move to California, where most of the action in these fields seemed to be. I met and in 1973
married Sylvia Wittkower, a psychologist in Menlo Park. I didnt know it then, but we lived just
blocks from the Saga Corporation, where Maslow had worked before his death in 1970.

Sylvia and I co-led psychotherapy groups, and as my interest in psychology grew, my work

9 March, 2011
programming computers and teaching gymnastics grew less satisfying. At the suggestion of
Dr. Tony Sutich, a psychologist colleague of Maslow who was instrumental in developing the
fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, I enrolled in a novel program in Integral
Counseling Psychology at the California Institute of Asian Studies in San Francisco (CIAS). In
1975 I completed the Masters degree.

Then, at Nyingma Institute in Berkeley, I participated in a full-time six-week program, a Human


Development Training Program, conducted by Tarthang Tulku, a meditation master in the
Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Fifty of us Western therapists, counselors, ministers, and educators
were introduced to an amazing variety of meditation practices by this highly accomplished and
compassionate teacher. Then, for years while working on a doctorate in East-West psychology
at CIAS, I took more meditation courses at Nyingma Institute.

In 1977, after three years of preparation, Tarthang Tulku published a book named Time, Space,
and Knowledge: A New Vision of Reality (TSK). I was lucky to get to read the manuscript
before publication, and was astonished at this illuminating, and apparently comprehensive
vision for complete human development. I cannot say I really understood it, yet it did seem
comprehensive and deeply transformative. Unlike Buddhism and many other spiritual paths
that for decades now have been strongly influencing the West, it was documented originally
in English and in terms of Western cultural views. For many people TSK has been particularly
valuable and accessible because it is a secular vision of peak performance and spiritual
realization, not expressed in scientific, or traditional religious or philosophical terms.

In 1978-9 I attended a new Nyingma Institute nine-month program in Time, Space, and
Knowledge, for which we practiced the TSK exercisesthere are 35 in this first TSK book--two
hours per day. Going far beyond my psychological training, this concentrated practice shifted
habitual ways of thinking and perceiving, allowing for more flexibility, creativity, and fulfillment
in everything I did. Now, in 2011, after 34 years of TSK study, I still find exploring this text and
doing the exercises amazingly stimulating and transformative.

Unlike psychology, which is based on a sense of self presumed to be at the center of all actions
and mental processes, this vision suggested that We can develop a mode of 'seeing' which is
not limited to a particular position or 'point of view' at all. (p. 27, Tarthang Tulku, 1977) There
is no longer a 'looker', but instead, only a 'knowingness' which can see more broadly, from all
sides and points of view at once. More precisely, the 'knowing' clarity does not radiate from
a center, but is rather in everything, and everything is in it. There is neither an 'outside' nor
an 'inside' in the ordinary sense, but rather a pervasive and intimate 'in' or 'within' as an open-
ended knowingness. (p. 282, Tarthang Tulku, 1977)

If we assume this is an accurate depiction of what is possible, psychology, as well as many


other fields and disciplines, limitsometimes implicitly--their investigations to normal and
abnormal levels of consciousness and functioning. As a result of this limited scope, most
people have lost sight of opportunities for optimizing the human condition. But in certain books--
including Maslows works, In the Zone by Murphy and White, and Flow by Csikszentmihalyi--this

10 March, 2011
way of seeing without a lookeras one example of a significant difference between normal
and peak performanceis shown to be common in anecdotes about peak experiences.

I was getting interested in replicating some of Maslow's research on peak experience. I


thought that, in the interest of determining all that we can be, making the full spectrum of
human possibilities more widely known, and of developing common ground among different
disciplines and fields, it would be helpful to try to further characterize peak performance based
on common peak experiential qualities reported by people from numerous cultures, times,
and environments. Precisely what is the zone that modern peak performers talk about?
Considerable efforts to identify optimal personality traits, skills, environments, organizational
structures, or best practices have been made, but this has sometimes just distracted us from
whats essential. Csikszentmihalyi's work defined peak experience very loosely, characterizing
it as flow, even though many peak experiences do not have a strong character of energy flow or
movement. Maslows work was and still is very helpful, yet it was incomplete and quite general
rather than phenomenologically specific.

Thus in order to further explore the character of the zone of peak performance, in Chapter
One a number of anecdotes of peak experiences are included along with quotes from TSK.
Induction based on these anecdotes then finds that, besides our 'normal' frame of reference-
-involving the subject-object, knower-known, or observer-observed stricture--numerous other
strictures, or somewhat stable structural features of experience, are found to be missing from
these zone experiences. Zone experiences are also characterized by a remarkable absence
of these strictures: felt size, world, felt distance, here-there, substance, constant time flow,
linear time, before-after, now-then, duration, effort/self-control, self or identity, inside-outside,
felt distance, and here-there. This is remarkable because few peoplesave developmental
psychologists, philosophers, and meditatorsare even aware of, let alone pay much attention
to these foundational complexesthey seem built in, a kind of background or basis essential to
all experience, but they arent typically felt during peak performance.

Concluding that strictures are 'absent' from the zone is not to say that peak experience
somehow excludes or alters conventional concepts and measurements such as physical size,
physical distance, clock time, clock time duration, appearance-order sequence, and social
identity and personality. It's not that such ordinary things and events that we experience are
notin an ordinary sense--included in peak experiences. The point is that it's the way that we
experience these same ordinary things, or the way that our experience is not structured, that is
different.

In Chapter One we go a step farther and conjecture that zone experiences are not characterized
in the least by the presence or absence of particular ordinary objects, qualities, processes,
or events. This point is important, yet I dont recall seeing it elsewhere in peak performance
research. In fact, these ordinary things and processes are often mistaken for core-level
characteristics of peak performance.

TSK acknowledges the usefulness of ordinary, practical, conventional designation and

11 March, 2011
communication within all levels of human development, yet is primarily devoted to facilitating
personal transformation from one level to another. As part of this facilitation, TSK clarifies
the difference between conventional and transformative language and communication. For
example, speaking of the witness, our usual frame of reference, which as we will see is absent
from peak experience, Tarthang Tulku says, The claims of the witness are [nevertheless] by
no means false on a conventional or 'local' level. They conform to the world as we experience it
and make it possible for us to act in that world. The world that the witness claims to authenticate
[including the existence of the witness itself] may not be 'true' or 'real', but it is also not false or
illusory and does not have to be rejected. (p. 110, Tarthang Tulku, 1994)

As already stated, in Chapter One we induce that zone experiences are characterized by a
remarkable absence of certain strictures. But also, on the basis of statements analyzed in
Chapter One, plus additional statements from highly enlightened masters, we can extrapolate
that the zone is characterized by the absence of all persistent experiential structures. As
Maslow said, this freedom from normally presumed and persistent restrictions is likely what
makes peak experiences "so valuable that they make life worth while by their occasional
occurrence." (p. 80, Maslow, 1962)

Going a bit farther, I want to propose this hypothesis for further research: the absence of
complexes and strictures during peak performance suggests that the most direct path to the
zone may be the use of methods that focus on opening or breaking up these strictures, all of
which seem to obstruct recurrent or even persistent realization of the zone. If this is true, a
little-known, yet very clear compass is available for conducting our path to transformation. Is
it sufficient, or even the most direct approach, to focus on dissolving habits, complexes, and
strictures? Is clearing away these obstructions enough to attain illumination, self-actualization,
or realization? I believe so.

We also find that zone experiences can be characterized affirmatively. We might say, as a
shorthand expression, that essential zone experiences can be characterized by the words flow,
glow, and zero. These terms could be equated to time, knowledge, and space, respectively, as
they are used in the TSK books (in these books the common meanings are extended to cover
other levels of consciousness). In peak experience we find (1) qualities of unobstructed flow, (2)
luminous presence and positionless knowing, and (3) pervasive, nonextended, and undivided
openness, with varying proportions of these three attributes in different experiences. Since the
investigation here includes all peak experience, including peak performance during all kinds of
activities, we can conclude that all activities are best done in flow, glow, and zero.

Note that the commonsense meaning of the word flow is closely related to the momentum and
energy. However, it is not closely related in common understanding to simple peak experiences
of openness (zero) or presence (glow), the other two of the three facets above. In other words,
flow is only one of the three major facets of the zone. For this reason, use of the word flow
to characterize peak experiences in general--as in Csikszentmihalyi's book Flow--can be
misleading.

12 March, 2011
Thus being in the zone optimizes personal as well as organizational progress, which, after
all, is accomplished entirely by individuals. Thus we have in the zone an important, natural
meeting ground of the individual employee's concern with fulfillment and optimal well-being
with the organization's concern with optimizing productivity and quality of product and service.
Keeping one's goals in mind while taking every opportunity to move one's experience toward
the zone is probably the best way to drive all kinds of progress, both inner and outer (see
Chapter Four). If management supports this means of driving progress, which is the same as
supporting the employees' self-actualization drive, it can alleviate the distrust that employees
often have of management, as well as relieve the need to constantly use lower-level, carrot-
and-stick motivational approaches. This would foster development of a learning organization,
an environment in which employee and employer alike could thrive.

13 March, 2011
14 March, 2011
Chapter One

What is the 'Zone' of Peak Experience and Performance?

Main points:

In peak experience the frequent absence of our 'typical' self, or identity stricture is
usually accompanied by a remarkable sense of freedom from the habits, personality
complexes, and relationship issues that are built 'on top of' the self stricture.
Zone experiences can often be characterized by the word glow: a multidimensional
luminosity that accompanies perceiving, thinking, and knowing. Instead of apprehending
particular content from a single 'point of view', awareness is felt to be nonlocated, not
bound to a center, observer, or owner.
Zone experiences can often be characterized by the word flow: a dynamic , most
often timeless, sense of frictionless energy or unobstructed movement. Things feel as
though they do not require effort against some friction, pressure, or resistance. This is
in contrast to the 'normal', lower-level sense of time flowing in ways that seem to require
effort, strain, or struggle on our part.
Zone experiences can often be characterized by the word zero: dimensionless or
multidimensional, nonextended surfaces and forms pervaded by an undivided openness
that reflects deep relaxation.
Zone experiences are not characterized in the least by the presence or absence of
particular ordinary objects, processes, or events.
Zone experiences are characterized by a remarkable absence of strictures (recurring
structural features of experience), including size, world, felt distance, here-there, and
substance, constant time flow, linear time, before-after, now-then, duration, effort/self-
control, self or identity, inside-outside, felt distance, here-there, and knower-known.
The ultimate or deepest zone experiences--perhaps of those who are called self-
actualized or enlightened--would be devoid of all traces of all strictures.
Zone experiences can be characterized by the words flow, glow, and zero: qualities
of unobstructed flow (time dimension), luminous presence and positionless knowing
(identity/knowing dimension), and pervasive, nonextended, and undivided openness
(space dimension), with varying proportions of these attributes in different experiences.
Any activity is optimized during absorption in the zone of Flow, Glow, and Zero.
The zone is an important, natural meeting ground of the individual worker's concern
with fulfillment and optimal well-being with the organization's concern with optimizing
productivity and quality of product and service.

15 March, 2011
The zone defined

When people talk about being in the zone they're talking about peak performance, an
exceptionally rewarding or successful way of doing something, such as sports or work. Being in
the zone is an example of peak experience, which Maslow defined as "a generalization for the
best moments of the human being."

Maslow used the term peak experience as a kind of generalized concept because
he "discovered that all of these ecstatic experiences had some characteristics in common." (p.
101, Maslow, 1971) "The person in the peak-experiences usually feels himself to be at the peak
of his powers, using all his capacities at the best and fullest. . . . He feels more intelligent, more
perceptive, wittier, stronger, or more graceful than at other times. He is at his best . . . . This is
not only felt subjectively but can be seen by the observer." (pp. 105-6, Maslow, 1962) About
such experiences weightlifter Yuri Vlasov said, "There is no more precious moment in life than
this . . . and you will work very hard for years just to taste it again." (p. 119, Murphy and White,
1995) "Numerous writers on aesthetics, religion, creativeness and love uniformly describe these
experiences not only as valuable intrinsically, but also as so valuable that they make life worth
while by their occasional occurrence." (p. 80, Maslow, 1962)

But we still don't know what the zone is

Although these statements provide useful descriptions of peak experience, they are basically
just a restatement of the definition of peak experience as "the best moments of the human
being." From these generalizations it's not clear what these people's states are, nor how they
differ from ordinary experience.

Because of this lack of understanding, for most of us, the zone is a nearly magical state of
supernormal performance that, at best, we might 'fall into', almost accidentally. Precisely what
this state is, and how we might foster its more regular appearance, is largely a mystery. This
is an unfortunate and sad state of affairs, since the term zone represents the most fulfilling
and productive human experiences. How can we hope for more 'super' moments--during work,
education, sports, spiritual pursuits, etc.--when we know so little about the zone?

Difficulties in examining anecdotes about the zone

Despite some possible or even likely confusion, to get more clarity, suppose we pick some
of the statements people have made about the zone, and try to compare them to our 'normal'
Western experience. What might we discover? What is the nature of the zone? How can we
characterize it? Is there anything in common to all zone experiences? What if there are several
very different kinds of zone experiences? Anything we can learn will probably be helpful in
finding the zone ourselves, or at least in avoiding any dead-ends 'on the way' to the zone.
Wouldn't it be great if we can get a better sense of direction in improving fulfillment, happiness,
realization, and insight?

16 March, 2011
We can start with a statement from the same weightlifter quoted above, Yuri Vlasov, who
said, "Everything seems clearer and whiter than ever before, as if great spotlights had been
turned on." (p. 119, Murphy and White, 1995) What does this mean? Is he talking about visible
light, awareness, or what?

Right away we run into another issue, the use of language. Very few languages (except
Sanskrit, e.g., which apparently has dozens of words denoting types of consciousness) have a
vocabulary sufficiently rich to describe subtle states of mind. And even if we had an adequate
vocabulary, few of us are familiar with the different states people try to describe. Most of us
are usually preoccupied with conventional communication, focusing on thoughts and labels
about concrete things, events, and what particular activity were doing: planting, driving, writing,
talking, hitting a ball. We talk and think about what is happening, but typically aren't concerned
much about how we do these things, about the different mental perspectives, states, or focal
settings 'in play' while we do these things. Meditation teacher Tarthang Tulku says, "It is
characteristic . . . to ignore the significance of perspective . . . ." (p. 107, Tarthang Tulku, 1990)
In Western cultures, business, science, and education attend primarily to events and physical
things, to what's 'real', public, and verifiable. Western communication largely ignores any deeper
frame of mind, worldview, or larger-than-personal perspective--which as we'll soon discover, is
exactly what we find in the zone. No wonder the zone is so difficult to recognize! Peter Senge
says that the way individuals perceive themselves and their world is the subtlest aspect of the
learning organization (p. 12, Senge, 1990)

Discovering absence of the identity, here-there, and distance strictures

Let's put these issues aside and examine some anecdotes about changes in the sense of
identity during zone experiences. When in the zone, what was people's experience of identity
like? How was it compared to that during 'normal' experiences? Did people feel identified,
united, or even merged with another, their work, a religious or spiritual object, some aspect of
nature? Or did they feel independent, individual, separate, or even isolated? How did they relate
to their usual personality? Was consciousness or awareness different?

Here's a report from a Japanese swordsman: When the identity is realized, I as swordsman
see no opponent confronting me . . . . I seem to transform myself into the opponent, and
every movement he makes as well as every thought he conceives are felt as if they were all
my own . . . . (p. 130, Murphy and White, 1995) This swordsman in the zone feels identified
with his opponent, losing his ordinary identity. With my normal sense of myself, I feel like an
independent individual who is separate from other people, rather than identified in some way;
and an opponent usually seems even more separate, more different from 'me'. Perhaps even
more remarkable, the swordsman seems aware of the others experience,--which usually is
private, internal, or unknown--as if his own.

A judo teaching manual has a similar statement about changes in our normal identity: When
judo is practiced properly, there will be no curtain to separate you from your opponent. You will
become one with him. You and your opponent will no longer be two bodies separated physically

17 March, 2011
from each other but a single entity . . . . (p. 32, Murphy and White, 1995) Maslow reported that
during peak experience, a person "is more able to fuse with the world, with what was formerly
not-self, e.g., the lovers come closer to forming a unit rather than two people, . . . The creator
becomes one with his work being created, . . . The appreciator becomes the music . . . ." (p.
105, Maslow, 1962) In the zone there is a kind of merging or fusion or unity.

From these statements we see that several strictures, or somewhat stable structural features of
experience are not part of these zone experiences: the feeling of being a continuously existing
individual separate and distinct from other individuals (this stricture is often called self, or
identity), the sense of being here rather than there (the here-there duality), the feeling of having
a private inside realm of experience contrasted with a public area where we coexist (inside-
outside), and the feeling of distance or separation between physically separate bodies (felt
distance). In the latter stricture, were not talking about physical distance or separation, but the
feeling of separation, which can change considerably, leading us to say we feel closer or more
distant from another.

Since in 'normal' experience our problems feel 'everpresent', it's worth highlighting that in peak
experience the frequent absence of our 'typical' self, or identity stricture is usually accompanied
by a remarkable sense of freedom from the habits, personality complexes, and relationship
issues that are 'normally' dependent on, or built 'on top of' the self stricture. It's almost as if
the foundational self 'rug' is pulled out from under more superficial psychological problems.
As an example, Charles Lindbergh said that for a while during his flight, he felt "free from the
gravitation that binds men to heavy human problems of the world." (p. 65, Murphy and White,
1995)

Now we can return to the statement by weightlifter Yuri Vlasov: "Everything seems clearer and
whiter than ever before, as if great spotlights had been turned on." (p. 119, Murphy and White,
1995) Let's compare this to Tarthang Tulku's description of what happened with his 'knowledge'
as he discovered a new vision of reality: "The conventional limitation that confines observation
to a single 'point of view' situated in space and time had less hold. Knowledge itself seemed
to be opening, like a light that had previously been obscured by now was radiating from
all directions. This knowledge was . . . Less a possession to be obtained than a luminous,
transparent 'attribute' of experience and mental activity." (p. xlv, Tarthang Tulku, 1987) The
latter statement contrasts our usual way of knowing and observing things from a single point-
of-view (the 'knower' pole of the knower-known stricture), with a more open way of knowing
or being aware involving a multidimensional or equivalently, nondimensional luminosity. This
luminosity or unpositioned knowing could be what weightlifter Vlasov said was "clearer and
whiter than ever before.

Glow: multidimensional, pervasive, centerless luminosity

Having considered various aspects of experience related to identity and knowledge, we might
say, as a shorthand expression, that zone experiences can often be characterized by the word
glow: a multidimensional luminosity that accompanies perceiving, thinking, and knowing.

18 March, 2011
Instead of apprehending particular content from a single 'point of view', awareness is felt to
be nonlocated, not bound to a center, observer, or owner. Peak experience lacks the 'normal'
strictures of self or identity, inside-outside, felt distance, here-there, and knower-known. This
might seem farfetched if these strictures are thoroughly ingrained in your experience.

Dissolving common time strictures

Next let's examine a few anecdotes discussing time, movement, and energy flow. In the zone,
what was people's experience of time like? How did time feel to them? Did it move fast, slow,
or did it change speed? How did their zone experience compare to 'normal' experience? Was it
timeless, did the flow of events seem 'greased', without friction or effort? Or was it friction-filled,
or rushed?

Here's one report: "There is a common experience in Tai Chi . . . . Awareness of the passage of
time completely stops." (p. 47, Murphy and White, 1995) Here's another, by football player John
Brodie: "Time seems to slow way down . . . . It seems as if I had all the time in the world . . .
and yet I know the defensive line is coming at me just as fast as ever." (p. 42, Murphy and
White, 1995) Normally, in Western cultures at least, adults experience a very constant, even
relentless flow of time among past, present, and future. We might call this stricture constant time
flow. However, in these statements we see alternative experiences, time slowing way down, or
even stopping. As with distance and separation discussed above, we're not talking here about
physical time, but the feeling of time flowing, which may be independent of physical time.

Another stricture in our normal experience of time is what we might call before-after, wherein
one or more events are felt to occur in a series rather than simultaneously. This stricture seems
almost constantly present in experience. Nevertheless, there are other possibilities. Baseball
player Tom Seaver reported: "As Rod Gaspars front foot stretched out and touched home
plate, in the fraction of a second before I leaped out of the dugout . . . my whole baseball life
flashed in front of me . . . ." (p. 47, Murphy and White, 1995) Apparently we can experience
many 'normally' sequential events or memories all at once. Meditation master Tarthang Tulku
confirms this. "The boundaries distinguishing five minutes from one second are unreal in a
certain sense, and so any amount of experience constituting five minutes could also be had in
one second. The 'small' interval is not really smaller, nor is the 'larger' one really larger." (pp. 41-
2, Moon and Randall, eds., 1980)

Now, considering movement and energy flow during peak experience, we find a report about
football player Red Grange: "[he] runs . . . with almost no effort. . . . There is only the effortless,
ghostlike, weave and glide upon effortless legs." (p. 86, Murphy and White, 1995) From golfer
Bobby Jones: "I was conscious of swinging the club easily . . . . I had to make no special
effort to do anything." (p. 86, Murphy and White, 1995) Normally, whatever we do takes a
degree of effort and involves a feeling of control during the activity, what we might call the
stricture of effort/self-control. This stricture can be absent during peak experience, as Maslow
reported: "[An] aspect of fully-functioning is effortlessness and ease of functioning when one is
at one's best. What takes effort, straining and struggling at other times is now done without any

19 March, 2011
sense of striving, of working or laboring, but 'comes of itself.' Allied to this often is the feeling
of grace and the look of grace that comes with smooth, easy, effortless fully-functioning, when
everything 'clicks,' or 'is in the groove,' or is 'in over-drive.'" (p. 106, Maslow, 1962)

Flow: frictionless or unobstructed energy and movement

Having considered various aspects of experience related to energy flow and time, we might
say, as a shorthand expression, that zone experiences can often be characterized by the word
flow: a dynamic , most often timeless, sense of frictionless energy or unobstructed movement.
At the level of the zone, things feel as though they do not require effort against some friction,
pressure, or resistance. This is in contrast to the 'normal', lower-level sense of time flowing
in ways that seem to require effort, strain, or struggle on our part. Peak experience lacks
the 'normal' strictures, or repetitively recurring structural features of experience, of constant time
flow, linear time, before-after, now-then, duration, and effort/self-control. But this might seem
farfetched if these strictures are thoroughly ingrained in your experience.

Dissolving common space strictures

Having explored the zone experience of time, energy flow, identity, and knowledge a bit, now
lets consider the zone experience of space. What was people's sense of space compared to
that of 'normal' experiences? Did space seem like just an empty container that separated things,
or did space itself have some particular qualities? Did people feel more distant from or closer to
other people and things? Did they feel more connected or separated than usual? Was the usual
feeling of size of things and regions altered somehow?

From his extensive research, Maslow wrote that in peak experience "The astronomer
is out there with the stars (rather than a separateness peering across an abyss at another
separateness through a telescopic-keyhole)." (p. 105, Maslow, 1962) Thus again, as in the
swordsman's statement above, we see an absence of felt distance, as well as the here-there
stricture. Our 'normal' frame of reference is absent, involving the subject-object stricture, a
sense of an observer or subject or perceiver separate and distinct from what's observed or
perceived or experienced.

Another aspect of our typical experience of space is the size stricture, whereby we feel
magnitude of linear dimensions, objects, and areas--again, this is in contrast to actual physical
measurement. Golfer Jack Fleck said: "I cant exactly describe it, but as I looked at the putt,
the hole looked as big as a wash tub." (p. 38, Murphy and White, 1995) Size--both as physical
measurement, and as subtle feeling--is usually presumed to be constant, but as this statement
indicates, our experience or feeling of size is not constant. The 'normally' limiting stricture was
absent. From Maslow's research on peak experience: "One small part of the world is perceived
as if it were for the moment all of the world." (p. 88, Maslow, 1962) The size and typical frame
of reference strictures are not there. Also, the world stricture, whereby we have a very subtle
feeling of being within a large world or universe--another feeling that is taken for granted,
considered 'normal'--is not there. According to auto racer Jochen Rindt, "You forget about the

20 March, 2011
whole world and you just . . . are part of the car and the track." (p. 23, Murphy and White, 1995)

Also related to space, we can consider the typical feeling (a substance stricture) that things
seem to have a kind of substance or reality rather than being something akin to images in
a dream, fantasies, illusions, or hallucinations. In contrast to the 'normal' sense of living in a
substantial world, long-distance runner Bill Emmerton said, "I felt as though I was going through
space, treading on clouds." (p. 17, Murphy and White, 1995) And another runner, Ian Jackson
said, "My body seemed insubstantial like some ethereal vehicle of awareness." (p. 135, Murphy
and White, 1995) Pilot Charles Lindbergh wrote, "All sense of substance leaves. Theres no
longer weight to my body, no longer hardness to the stick. The feeling of flesh is gone." (p.
116, Murphy and White, 1995) Albert Einstein claimed that "Everything is made of emptiness
and form is condensed emptiness." (Einstein) Though normal, the perception of substance
may be an unnecessary limitation. Tarthang Tulku suggests that the sense of emptiness or
transparency depends on our level of relaxation: "Surfaces can appear as such and still be
more transparent, becausein a sensethey 'reflect' the degree of our own relaxation." (p. 16,
Tarthang Tulku, 1977)

Zero: nonextended and undivided openness

Having considered various aspects of experience related to space, we might say, as a


shorthand expression, that zone experiences can often be characterized by the word zero:
dimensionless or multidimensional, nonextended surfaces and forms pervaded by an undivided
openness that reflects deep relaxation. Peak experience typically lacks the 'normal' strictures, or
repetitively recurring structural features of experience, of size, world, felt distance, here-there,
and substance. This might seem farfetched if these strictures are thoroughly ingrained in your
experience.

What can we conclude? What's the zone like?

Now let's return to questions we brought up earlier: How can we describe the zone? Is there
anything in common to all zone experiences? Anything that is missing from all of them? Are
there several different kinds of zone experiences?

The zone is not characterized by any ordinary or tangible thing, pattern, situation,
or event

First, it's important to note that essential zone experiences are not characterized in the least by
the presence or absence of particular ordinary objects, processes, or events. Indeed, this fact is
congruent with the saying that "the best things in life arent things." They're intangibles, invisible.
The anecdotes mention, yet do not isolate or focus on conventionally designated things or
events--which of course are precisely what we ordinarily do focus on in 'normal' experience. No
wonder the zone is so difficult to recognize, or even to adequately describe!

Put differently, it seems that in one sense, forms, events, and appearances 'don't in themselves

21 March, 2011
look different' as one becomes enlightened. It's not that the ordinary things and events that we
experience are different, it's the way that we experience these same things, or the way that our
experience is not structured, that is different, as we will now discuss.

The zone lacks persistent structural features of experience

Second, these experiences are characterized by a remarkable absence of strictures (recurring


structural features of experience). Instead of our 'normal' frame of reference stricture--the sense
of an observer or subject or perceiver separate and distinct from what's observed or perceived
or experienced--zone experience shows a kind of merging or fusion or unity of what 'normally'
feels separate or independent. Very often absent is our 'typical' self, or identity stricture, by
which we feel we are continuously existing individuals separate and distinct from each other;
instead there's a sense of freedom from the 'usual' constraints of self, including the absence of
complexes and personality and relationship issues 'normally' built 'on top of' the self stricture.
There can be a multidimensional luminosity that accompanies knowing instead of the 'usual'
preoccupation with particular content from a single 'point of view'. There can be a sense of
timelessness, or of time slowing down or stopping instead of the typical sense of time flowing
at a constant and unchangeable rate. We might experience many memories simultaneously
instead of one at a time. Things may seem effortless in the zone, rather than requiring the effort,
strain, or struggle of other times. There can be an absence of felt distance, along with a lack of
the sense of here contrasted with there. 'Normal' feelings related to size and the world may not
be present.

So, based on the anecdotes above, we see that peak experiences usually lack at least these
strictures: size, world, felt distance, here-there, and substance, constant time flow, linear time,
before-after, now-then, duration, effort/self-control, self or identity, inside-outside, felt distance,
here-there, and knower-known. These are common fundamental, stable, and restrictive
strictures 'normally' inculcated by Western cultures, and possibly other cultures as well.
This freedom from 'normally presumed and persistent' restrictions is likely what makes zone
experiences "so valuable that they make life worth while by their occasional occurrence." (p. 80,
Maslow, 1962)

The zone is probably devoid of all strictures; clearing away structures may be
sufficient to expose the zone

We can extrapolate from the absence of the above list of strictures reported in peak
experiences. Although only the anecdotes above do not justify drawing this conclusion, given
that there is a great deal of additional evidence, we might reasonably speculate that the ultimate
or deepest zone experiences--perhaps of those who are called self-actualized or enlightened--
would be devoid of all traces of all strictures, not just those discussed here.

This hypothesis is confirmed by these statements:

"We may have had glimpses of a higher destiny, but to shape our lives in accord with that

22 March, 2011
vision, we must learn quite specifically how to activate an inquiry that can cut through the
structures of our present knowing." (p. 71, Tarthang Tulku, 1993)

"The whole idea is that we must drop all reference points, all concepts of what is or what
should be. . . . Movement happens within vast space." (pp. 14-15, Trungpa, 1976)

"In itself, the exhibition is simple . . . . There are no fixed points and no fixed identity, but quality
and character remain." (KTS, p. 242, Tarthang Tulku, 1990)

"A different kind of 'space' . . . accommodates the presenting of all 'things' and undermines all
sense of locatedness and directedness." (p. 271, Tarthang Tulku, 1977)

Knowledge unfolds without heading in a specific direction; instead, it challenges the reference
points that establish directionality. (p. 63, Tarthang Tulku, 1993)

"Since everything reverts to a state of evenness . . . there is no identifiable frame of


reference. . . . There is no reference point . . . ." (Longchenpa)

So the essential human experiences apparently lack all structures of experience, all persistent
and apparently substantial frameworks upon which ordinary experience is built. And conversely,
seeing through the realness, the substantiality of these structures may be sufficient to
remove all the obstructions to realizing the depth of magic and mystery available: Once
we let go of the substantial, we are left with the magic of manifestation. . . . We can invite a
knowledge that condenses and enriches the mystery that is living reality. . . . only the structures
of consciousness insist on covering over the mystery with the familiarity of the previously
recorded. (italics mine, pp. 158-9, Tarthang Tulku, 1994) If this is true, we have a very direct
path to the zone of peak performance and realization.

Flow, glow, and zero--features of peak performance

Zone experiences can also be characterized affirmatively. Having considered various aspects
of experience related to time, energy flow, identity, knowledge, and space we might say, as
a shorthand expression, that essential zone experiences can be characterized by the words
flow, glow, and zero: qualities of unobstructed flow (time dimension), luminous presence
and positionless knowing (identity/knowing dimension), and pervasive, nonextended, and
undivided openness (space dimension), with varying proportions of these attributes in different
experiences.

flow: a dynamic , most often timeless, sense of frictionless energy or unobstructed


movement. In the zone, things feel as though they do not require effort against some
friction, pressure, or resistance. Peak experience lacks the 'normal' strictures, or
repetitively recurring structural features of experience, of constant time flow, linear time,
before-after, now-then, duration, and effort/self-control.

23 March, 2011
glow: a multidimensional luminosity that accompanies perceiving, thinking, and
knowing. Instead of apprehending particular content from a single 'point of view',
awareness is felt to be nonlocated, not bound to a center, observer, or owner. Peak
experience lacks the 'normal' strictures of self or identity, inside-outside, felt distance,
here-there, and knower-known.

zero: dimensionless or multidimensional, nonextended surfaces and forms pervaded by


an undivided openness that reflects deep relaxation. Peak experience lacks the 'normal'
strictures, or repetitively recurring structural features of experience, of size, world, felt
distance, here-there, and substance.

Clearly all of these can be present in a given zone experience, as exemplified by Charles
Lindbergh's statement: [For a while during my flight across the Atlantic it was] " as though I were
an awareness [positionless knowing] spreading out through space . . . [complete openness],
unhampered by time [unobstructed flow] or substance, free from the gravitation that binds men
to heavy human problems [positionless knowing or awareness without personality complexes] of
the world." (p. 65, Murphy and White, 1995)

Any activity is optimized during absorption in the zone of flow, glow, and zero

Since our investigation here includes all peak experience, including peak performance during all
kinds of activities, we can conclude that all activities are best done in flow, glow, and zero.

Thus we have discovered in the zone a natural meeting ground of the individual employee's
concern with optimal well-being and the organization's concern with optimizing productivity
and quality of product and service. This is what employee and employer alike are looking for.
It is natural and unimposed because it doesn't require any 'alignment' of personal desires,
values, aspirations, motivational effort, or goals with organizational mission, purpose, values,
etc. Being in the zone simply optimizes personal as well as organizational progress. As hotelier
Chris Conley said, I came to realize that creating peak experiences for our employees,
customers, and investors fostered peak performance for my company. . . . Its all about where
you put your attention. (Conley, Peak, p. 13) "The person in the peak-experiences usually
feels himself to be at the peak of his powers, using all his capacities at the best and fullest. . . .
He is at his best . . . . This is not only felt subjectively but can be seen by the observer." (pp.
105-6, Maslow, 1962) "What's wonderful about . . . being in the timeless now is that the action
becomes the reward," says futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard. (p. 82, Hunt and Hait, 1990) When
we keep our eyes on consistently operating our business by aligning with our core values, the
scoreboard does in fact take care of itself! . . . When people are in the zone, all of their attention
is on what theyre doing . . . . results just seem to flow from this focus of energy . . . . companies
seem to watch only their scoreboardthe bottom line. . . . That gets them out of the zone and
invites long-term disaster. (p. 49, Blanchard, 1997) When we . . . are totally absorbed by the
activity at hand, we become our most positive and productive selves. . . . Engrossed in the now,
we slip effortlessly into a no-boundary place in time and space, a timeless dimension where
energy abounds and time is irrelevant. (p. 66, Hunt and Hait, 1990)

24 March, 2011
Introduction to Chapter Two

Besides examining the literature on peak performance, as we did in Chapter One, we can also
investigate our own peak experiences, as is suggested in Chapter Two. In past workshops I
conducted with thousands of people, the responses to questions about peak performance were
remarkably similar: there was a sense of timelessness, merging, and intrinsic fulfillment.

But what was the essence of your peak experiences? Not the things, activities, particular
circumstances or events, but what were the essential characteristics or qualities?

I started leading TSK study and practice groups in 1980. To be helpful to myself and other
participants in these groups, I thought it best to become thoroughly familiar with all the focal
settings, perspectives, or worldviews possible, along with the transitions from one perspective to
another.

In some ways, life seems similar to the game of chutes and ladders that children around the
world have played. The gameboard has rows and columns of squares that the players must
traverse from bottom to top. Each different state of consciousness or worldview possible for
a human is supposedly depicted as one of these squares. For quick movements across the
gameboard people can use ladders and chutes. Ladders take a player from a lower square to
a higher one, and chutes do the reverse. In life also, occasionally we can take a wrong turn
and quickly end up in a worse condition. Or we might have the good fortune to quickly rise to a
higher level by means of something like a ladder.

Instead of a square gameboard, we can use a circle to illustrate moves in the game of life.
In Chapter Two I use a circular diagram called the experiential field. As with the chutes and
ladders gameboard, all the different states of consciousness, focal settings (see pp. 4-6,
Tarthang Tulku, 1977), or worldviews possible for a person are depicted as different points on
the circle. Thus the circle is meant to be comprehensive, a complete depiction of the states
possible for a human. The distance of any one of these points from the center of the circle is a
measure of the depth of the experience or breadth of the view or focal setting, with the deepest,
highest, or most nearly enlightened focal settings nearest the center. So the outer parts of the
circle represent our normal Western views or focal settings, and the central parts represent a
self-actualized or enlightened state.

Three broad views or levels of functioning are described in the TSK writings (see Figure 2-1),
with level 1 corresponding to the outer part of the circle; level 2--a second level, an intermediate
state that occurs during our development from the first to the third level--appearing between
levels 1 and level 3; and level 3 corresponding to the zone at the center of the circle. Central
values or focal settings of the circle describe how, best ways, to experience and act, not what to
do. At the center are deeply shared values, our most essential human qualities. As we become

25 March, 2011
masters in life, our experience changes from the states or perspectives on the periphery to
those at the center of circle. Chapter Two includes a summary description of these three levels,
drawn from the six books of the TSK series.

Figure 2-1: Three levels of the experiential field

Besides these three rings representing three main levels of functioning, we can depict what
happens as one makes a transition from one level to another. In Chapter Two we have two
ways of doing this. In the first we consider the example of experiencing a feeling in three
different ways, with three different perspectives corresponding to the three levels of TSK.

In the second depiction of making transitions from one level to another we can use radii on the
circle of views to represent various important aspects or dimensions of experience such as
control, creativity, accomplishment, the sense of space, identity, desire, fulfillment, the feeling of
time, and the feeling of reality.

I employed just this kind of radial depiction to summarize research I did to gather descriptions
of time, space, and knowledge from the TSK writings. Around 1992 I received a phone call from
Jack Petranker, then (and now, in 2011) the primary editor of the TSK books. Tarthang Tulku
had asked for a collection of descriptions of time, space, and knowledge from the books. Jack
was apparently very busy with other projects at that time and asked whether I might be able to
help. I agreed to do what I could, and found the process very rewarding.

As I recall now, twenty years later, I gathered hundreds of quotations describing time, space,
and knowledge at three different levels of understanding. Besides falling into three levels, these

26 March, 2011
descriptions also fell quite naturally into twelve other categories or dimensions of common
human experience, as varying ways to respond to twelve questions:

1. What happens to personal will, effort, and control as one develops?


2. Whats the source or cause of things? How does experience arise? How do answers to
these questions change as one changes?
3. How does the experience of accomplishing things change as we excel?
4. How does the experience of space, boundaries, objects, and the world change as we
grow?
5. How do personal space and mind change?
6. How does identity change?
7. Where does knowing happen?
8. What happens to the content of knowing?
9. What happens to our typical fragmentation of being? How do health and wholeness
arise?
10. What happens to desire, need, and fulfillment as we come to live life to the fullest?
11. How does the experience of time change?
12. How does reality seem to change as one matures?

Although other dimensions could certainly be used to represent other questions, these twelve
dimensions stood out for me at that time.

Besides these twelve dimension-questions, Chapter Two includes twelve sets of guiding
principles, guiding questions, paradoxical statements, and quotes from various sources about
the third-level, or zone qualities. The guiding principles attempt to summarize changes that
occur as we move from the periphery of the circle toward the qualities at the center. The
guiding questions may be helpful during actual work situations to identify situations that can
be optimized. Twelve sets of paradoxical statements contrast conventional features with
experiential features.

All of thisthe experiential field, the rings representing three main levels of functioning,
three ways of experiencing a feeling, and the twelve dimensions--summarizes forty years
of exploration of the spectrum of human developmentincluding graduate studies, my own
meditation experience, experience with my counseling clients and meditation students, findings
from a pilot study on involvement and performance done with others where I worked, and
hundreds of classes and workshops led over thirty years.

So far, the only candidate Ive seen for a clear description of the full range of experience, as
well as the dynamics of human development is Tarthang Tulkus books on the Time, Space, and
Knowledge vision. The experiential field, based on the three levels of TSK and supplemented
by the twelve dimensions, can serve as part of a 'common ground' of terms, principles, and
methods by which researchers in various fields can collaborate. Such an interdisciplinary forum
has great potential to resolve differences and further the work of primary fields of knowledge
and transformative disciplines. By means of this common ground, comparison of various ideas,

27 March, 2011
techniques, and principles used in different fields and disciplines can be made. Consider, for
example, positive thinking and inquiry. When is each technique useful and effective? When
does each lose its effectiveness? (See pp. 159-160, Light of Knowledge.) The domain of focal
settings or stages of development for which each commonly used principle and method is
effective can be mapped onto the Circle. Many apparent disagreements among disciplines will
likely be seen to result from a misunderstanding of others meanings and jargon.

Clearly, the range of human functioning and development is enormous. Most people are
unfamiliar with large segments of this range. Of course, this has to do with societys role of
inculcating 'normal' standards for perception, cognition, and action. As individuals in our culture
we learn, then are somewhat locked into, a 'normal', yet habitual way of functioning. For similar
reasons, academic, business, and spiritual disciplines usually limit their investigations to a
small subset of the range of human experience. Often a discipline's assumptions and domain of
research or application are implicit, not specified, or even unknown by its practitioners.
Establishing and employing language, terms, and principles of a ground forum should help
resolve many of these confusing issues, help investigators to focus on whats important, and to
add precision rather than heat to their explorations. The potential of such a forum is clear from
the numerous articles already published in a number of volumes of the Perspectives on TSK
series: Dimensions of Thought (1980), Mastery of Mind (1993), Visions of Knowledge (1993),
Light of Knowledge (1997), A New Kind of Knowledge (2004), and A New Way of Being (2004).

28 March, 2011
Chapter Two

The Zone Within the Full Spectrum of Experience

To do our best, it seems it would be helpful to have a comprehensive vision of how we do


things moment-by-moment during peak performance. Is there really a balanced, general vision
of peak performance? Can it be described in terms of some micro-level of essential facets
of experience? If its general, applicable to any person, environment, and task, it cannot be
defined in terms of specific things, processes, structures, traits, or styles. This would align with
the proposition that The best things in life arent things. Defining such a general vision seems
elusive and difficult, probably because rather than the usual emphasis on things and processes,
it focuses on what Peter Senge calls the subtlest aspect of the learning organizationthe new
way individuals perceive themselves and their world. (p. 12, Senge, 1990)

But if a general vision doesnt tell us specifically what to do, perhaps it would tell us how to work
best. Perhaps perspectives, views, and qualities of experience can define the zone. In fact,
these qualities are what stand out in descriptions of peak experiences by geniuses, mystics, and
peak performers of all kinds.

Further personal exploration

What if we do something almost unheard of, something almost never donelook closely
at our own peak experiences to see what was essential? Lets explore all our past peak
experiences a bit and see what we can learn from them. What were some peak experiences
you had? Perhaps the best athletic experiences, or spiritual experiences, or work or relationship
experiences.

Take half an hour to recall a number of them, and make some notes about them. This will
probably be a very pleasurable half hour. Note the essential qualities of peak experiences
that you recall. Not just the specific events, what you were doing, but the essence of the
experiences. What made them your best? . . .

Can you draw any conclusions? Do any of your peak experiences have some of the same
qualities? Do they have the same qualities but different proportions of the same qualities? Do
some experiences have different qualities?

An experiential field representing the full range of human experience

In some ways, life seems similar to the game of chutes and ladders that children around the
world have played. The gameboard has rows and columns of squares that the players must

29 March, 2011
traverse from bottom to top. Each different state of consciousness or worldview possible for
a human is supposedly depicted as one of these squares. For quick movements across the
gameboard people can use ladders and chutes. Ladders take a player from a lower square to a
higher one, and chutes do the reverse. In life also, occasionally we can take a wrong turn and
quickly end up in worse condition. Or we might have the good fortune to quickly rise to a higher
level by means of something like a ladder.

Instead of a square gameboard, we can use a circle to illustrate moves in the game of life.
I use a circular diagram that I call the experiential field (see Figure 2-1). As with the chutes
and ladders gameboard, all the different states of consciousness, focal settings (see pp. 4-6,
Tarthang Tulku, 1977), or worldviews possible for a person are depicted as different points
rather than squares--on the circle. Thus the circle is meant to be comprehensive, a complete
depiction of the states possible for a human. Its important to note that views, perspectives, or
focal settings of the circle describe how, best ways, to experience and act, and not what specific
actions to do.

Figure 2-1: Three levels of the experiential field

The distance of any one of these view points from the center of the circle is a measure of the
depth of the experience or breadth of the view or focal setting, with the deepest, highest, or
most enlightened focal settings nearest the center. So the outer parts of the circle, here called
level 1, represent our normal Western views or focal settings, and the central parts, here called
level 3, represent a self-actualized or enlightened state with deeply shared values, our most
essential human qualities. As we become masters in life, our experience changes from the
states or perspectives on the periphery to those at the center of the circle.

30 March, 2011
Continuous improvement is a concept that is sometimes used in a business context. It can
be defined as increasing inner involvement, moving from experience at the periphery toward
experience at the center whenever possible. By fostering this type of continuous improvement,
we have an effective implementation of managing by values, whereby the values are the boss,
our principal guideline. We have a means for continuous improvement through a commitment
to act on our expressed values. (p. 68, Blanchard, 1997)

Most often continuous improvement is defined in terms of results, external processes, or


external behavior. But as I argue in Chapter Three, the optimal driver is to focus on improving
inner involvement, which drives productivity, quality, and well-being all at once. Blanchard
says, When we keep our eyes on consistently operating our business by aligning with our
core values, the scoreboard does in fact take care of itself! . . . When people are in the zone,
all of their attention is on what theyre doing . . . . results just seem to flow from this focus of
energy . . . . companies seem to watch only their scoreboardthe bottom line. . . . That gets
them out of the zone and invites long-term disaster. (p. 49, Blanchard, 1997)

What are the views?

Now that we have this circle, what are the views represented by the points in the circle? How
can these be described? If there is a common-language depiction of the spectrum of possible
views, we would have a great resource for interdisciplinary studies.

So far, the only candidate Ive seen for a clear English description of the full range of human
developmentwith its incredibly varied views and focal settings--is Tarthang Tulkus series of
books on the Time, Space, and Knowledge (TSK) vision. These books are expressed in terms
of dimensions of time, space, and knowledgebut the books thoroughly challenge common
ways of viewing time, space, and knowledge, and in the process, the common meanings for
these terms are extended to include additional but deeper levels of understanding.

The books characterize three levels of human functioning: As an organizing principle for an
inquiry into time, space, and knowledge, it can help to think in terms of three different levels.
The first level (shown in Figure 2-1 on the periphery of the experiential field) starts from our
common, everyday views of how these facets of our being operate. (p. xxix, SDTS) The third
level, at the center of the experiential field in Figure 2-1, is a self-actualized, or enlightened
state that we might call the zone. A second level, an intermediate state that occurs during
our development from the first to the third level, is also described in the books. Following is
a summary of these three levels, drawn from the six books of the TSK series. These books
are: Time, Space, and Knowledge (1977), Love of Knowledge (1987), Knowledge of Time and
Space (1990), Visions of Knowledge (1993), Dynamics of Time and Space (1994), and Sacred
Dimensions of Time and Space (1997).

Summary of level one

31 March, 2011
Time is divided into moments and seems to flow linearly and out of our control, from past to
future, at a constant rate. Within this flow we are limited to occupying a kind of moving spot that
we call the present. We seem to have time, yet sometimes feel like were running out of time,
and cant stop the relentless flow that causes us anxiety, friction, overwhelm, and pressure. We
cannot see how experience arises nor stop the indensification process (by which experience
becomes heavy, seemingly pointing to substantial realities) that leads to increasing stress.

Space is seen as an indefinitely extended 'nothing'. Yet our experience of space can feel
restrictive, disconnected or even isolated, blocked, pressured, tight, fearful, and closed in or
even claustrophobic, rather than open and free. Things occupy space, have size, volume,
edges, an inside and outside, and feel substantial and persistent, rather than ephemeral
or weightless. They can seem fixed, impenetrable, and opaque and can limit or block, rather
than being transparent to awareness. Different objects are felt to be distant, separately
located, not occupying the same space at once. Things and events can feel distant from or
even inaccessible by our knowing. We have a kind of apparently permanent private mental,
or personal space, but this is less real than physical space. This personal space seems
independent of others and other things, and yet seems to change somewhat, depending on our
feelings and connections with others.

Our knowing or 'seeing' is limited to a particular observer or thinker position or 'point of view',
and involves a felt separation or 'distance' between knower and known. A knowing act takes
some time, and involves a persistently felt central and local (here) position or point of view
which directs knowing toward distant objects and events and accumulates knowledge. We
collect experience and information by acts of knowing, and build up models, systems, and
theories. Knowing and knowledge are located primarily (perhaps excluding certain sensations)
inside our heads and minds. Very often our knowing and perceiving is inaccurate and biased,
depending on our accumulated experience, unresolved emotional difficulties, and current
desires and fears.

Summary of level two

Timing' occurs as a succession of experiences in the same 'spot' or field, rather than
establishing an extended `world out there'. Things, places, and processes become appreciated
as being very fluid. Subject and object alike are seen as projections of the underlying energy of
second-level time.

The 'quantity' of second-level 'space' is indeterminate. While objects and the observer are
distinct and independent, they are also known as interdependent and co-referring. Theres an
increase in personal freedom, less psychological pressure, and greater physical relaxation. All
going from place to place which validates the picture of a spread out world, actually occurs as a
succession of 'timed out' experiences in the same 'spot'.

Knowing is not so much a possession, but a luminous, transparent `attribute' of experience


and mental activity through which 'existence' and 'non-existence' jointly emerge together with

32 March, 2011
dichotomies such as 'subject' and 'object', 'observer' and 'observed'.

Summary of level three

Different times are not linked, in a way that irrevocably separates them, by their respective
positions in an infinitely extended temporal series. The 'series' is a fiction. There is no 'going'
and no separate places. It is as though all the friction in the world were removed.

While all familiar things are separate and distributed over ordinary space, delineated partly
by differences in position, they are all intimately connected insofar as their Great Space
dimension is considered. Space is not contrasted to objects, and `distance between' becomes
meaningless. All existence and experience is like an apparition.

We develop a mode of 'seeing' which is not limited to a particular position or 'point of view' at
all, dissolves the 'distance' between knower and known, is not a meaning but is unlearned or
nonlearned learnedness, and which is beyond the concern for 'getting', approaching, or defining.

Three ways of experiencing a feeling

Besides these three rings representing three main levels of functioning, we can depict what
happens as one makes a transition from one level to another. In this chapter we present two
ways of doing this. In the first we consider the example of experiencing a feeling like tiredness,
or any common emotion, in three different ways, with three different perspectives or focal
settings approximately corresponding to the three levels of TSK.

Although any feeling could be used in this example, suppose you are feeling tiredness or
heaviness. In the following we examine possible ways of experiencing this feeling at three
levels. The feeling itself is presumed to be the same in the descriptions of the experience of all
three levels--it is the way the feeling is experienced, or the overall view including the feeling,
that is different.

One: At level one, our usual way of experiencing, the heaviness or tiredness is usually labeled,
often as something negative, and is experienced as located in particular places in the body,
perhaps in this case in the arms or shoulders. Also, the experience is one that you have, that
is owned by the self at the center of experience. That is, you, the knower or observer of the
feeling, are not merged with the feeling; your sense of self as the knower seems outside the
feeling, which you have. Your experience of time is linear, flowing relentlessly in one direction.
Space is experienced as extending in three dimensions.

Two: At level two, there is no labeling of the heaviness or tiredness, which then feels more
immediate, not separated from oneself by a label or thought. The feeling is not experienced
as so clearly locatable as in the first way of experiencing. Of course, the feeling is in the same
physical location, but one experiences the boundaries of the feeling to be more open or less
definite. There may be a shifting back and forth from sensing the feeling as negative or positive,

33 March, 2011
to relating to it as simply neutral energy. One also senses the surrounding space differently
more open, less separated and less container-like; not so extended, but more open here.
Similarly, the sense of oneself as the observer of the feeling is more spacious. Rather than
an intellectual way of relating to the feeling, for example, there may be a simple, nonverbal
observation or sensing of it. One may also experience a slowing down of time passing.

Three: At level three, there is simply the pure spacious energy of the feeling, with no labeling,
and no identification of location in the body. There is no feeling of oneself as an observer
separate from the feeling. Of course youre still physically present, yet awareness is one with
the feeling, which has no apparent source, nor anything perceived outside it. There is no sense
of time passing, and no experience of space as a container for things and events. Space is
simply nonextended openness that accompanies and permeates the feeling.

Twelve dimensions of the circle

As previously stated, besides three rings representing three main levels of functioning as shown
in Figure 2-1, we can depict what happens as one makes a transition from one level to another.
We just considered how a feeling can be experienced differently at three different levels. Now
we examine what happens to twelve important aspects or dimensions of experience as we
negotiate the transitions of our lives.

Around 1992 I gathered hundreds of quotations describing time, space, and knowledge at
three different levels of understanding. Besides falling into three levels, these descriptions also
fell fairly naturally into twelve other categories or dimensions of common human experience,
corresponding to twelve questions:

1. What happens to personal will, effort, and control as one develops?


2. Whats the source or cause of things? How does experience arise? How do answers to
these questions change as one changes?
3. How does the experience of accomplishing things change as we excel?
4. How does the experience of space, boundaries, objects, and the world change as we
grow?
5. How do personal space and mind change?
6. How does identity change?
7. Where does knowing happen?
8. What happens to the content of knowing?
9. What happens to our typical fragmentation of being? How do health and wholeness
arise?
10. What happens to desire, need, and fulfillment as we come to live life to the fullest?
11. How does the experience of time change?
12. How does reality seem to change as one matures?

Other dimensions could certainly be used to represent other questions, but at that time these
twelve dimensions stood out in my research.

34 March, 2011
The diagram in Figure 2-2 is the experiential field with these twelve dimensions. Each
dimension has a name and number, plus a shorthand label for TSK levels 1 and 3.

Figure 2-2: Twelve dimensions of the experiential field

The twelve dimensions

Now we turn to a detailed description of the twelve dimensions of the circle. Each radius or

35 March, 2011
dimension of the Circle of Views has a number from 1 to 12. Looking at the part of radius #1
near the periphery, you can see that self-effort and controlling are aspects of our typical, level
1 cultural view. And near the center, on dimension #1, unobstructed flow and no controlling
represent parts of an enlightened, level 3 view.

On dimension #1, the central quality unobstructed flow is something like an answer to
question #1. The answers at the center are what seem to be central to living all of life to the
fullestwhat you might call optimal living. And all these central, level 3 features taken together
could be called a vision for living masterfully. Most peak experiences can be characterized by
the central qualities, although the qualities seem to appear in varying proportions in different
experiences.

As stated previously, the circle shows different facets of focal settings, or perspectives. Given
any conventional activity, that activity can be done with many different perspectives or in
different ways. For example, you can walk in a way thats timeless, or you can race against
time while walking. The timeless facet is at the core of dimension #11, while racing against time
is part of linear time, a feature near the periphery. This circle depicts how we do things, and not
what we do. Anything can be done with lots of different focal settings, whose values or features
are presented on the circle.

The following pages

Corresponding to the twelve dimensions of the circle, the material on the following pages
contains the above twelve questions, guiding principles, guiding questions, paradoxical
statements, and quotes from various sources (see the bibliography) describing the central
qualities.

The guiding principles attempt to summarize changes that occur as we move from the periphery
(level 1) of the circle toward the qualities at the center (level 3). The guiding questions may be
helpful during actual work situations to clarify directions for optimizing situations.

Paradoxes

The word paradox is often taken to mean a seemingly contradictory statement that may
nonetheless be true. The following paradoxes have two parts: the first part refers to a
conventional or practical interpretation, and the second part refers to another interpretation that
might be called experiential, or as felt or perceived.

Dimension 1: Flow

36 March, 2011
Question:
What happens to personal will, effort, and control as one develops?

Guiding Principles:
As time and energy are fragmented less and less into the volition of a self set in contrast
to the energy of nature and physical process, or into a potent doer dominating a passive
experiential surrounding, the flow of events becomes more and more powerful and
effortless; eventually action and movement do not exhibit any friction.

More simply: The less willful imposition and resistance, the more powerful and effortless
the flow of energy.

Guiding Question:
Are you applying effort or control to something that feels separate from you, or is your
activity flowing effortlessly by itself?

Paradoxes
There can be tension and resistance without effort by a self.

There can be coordination and order with complete spontaneity, and without control by a
self.

There can be dancing without a sense of a dancer, or doer of the dancing.

There can be a particular person doing something while there is complete spontaneity,
with no doer.

There can be attribution of causation without experiencing a causative entity or event


separate from an effect.

Quotes for Dimension 1: Flow

I discovered the middle path of stillness within speed, calmness within fear. (Murphy,
1995, p. 11)
Its a giddying rush thats free of any effort on my part. (Murphy, 1995, p. 19)
You do not let go the bow string, it just happens. (Murphy, 1995, p. 25)
[football player Red Grange] runs . . . with almost no effort. . . . There is only the

37 March, 2011
effortless, ghostlike, weave and glide upon effortless legs. (Murphy, 1995, p. 86)
[golfer Bobby Jones:] I was conscious of swinging the club easily . . . . I had to make no
special effort to do anything. (Murphy, 1995, p. 86)
He is no longer wasting effort fighting and restraining himself; muscles are no longer
fighting muscles. In the normal situation, part of our capacities are used for action, and
part are wasted on restraining these same capacities. Now there is no waste; the totality
of the capacities can be used for action. He becomes like a river without dams. (Maslow,
1962, pp. 105-6)
[An] aspect of fully-functioning is effortlessness and ease of functioning when one is at
one's best. What takes effort, straining and struggling at other times is now done without
any sense of striving, of working or laboring, but 'comes of itself.' Allied to this often is
the feeling of grace and the look of grace that comes with smooth, easy, effortless fully-
functioning, when everything 'clicks,' or 'is in the groove,' or is 'in over-drive.' (Maslow,
1962, p. 106)
Experience is typically described as involving a sense of controlor, more precisely,
as lacking the sense of worry about losing control that is typical in many situations of
normal life. (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990, p. 59)
. . . a unified flowing from one moment to the next, in which he is in control of his actions,
and in which there is little distinction between self and environment, between stimulus
and response, or between past, present, and future. (Ackerman, 1998, pp. 125-6)
When fully appreciated, Great Time is seen to be a kind of perfectly liquid, lubricious
dimensionit is quintessentially 'slippery'. . . . It is as though all the friction in the world
were removed. (Tulku, 1977, p. 162)
Our speech and gestures become totally irrepressible and spontaneous, welling up
from 'time', the dynamic center of our being. (Tulku, 1977, p. 191)
We have complete control in the special sense that we do not need to control anything.
(Tulku, 1977, p. 254)
Discipline and a willingness to relax the usual temporal structures can be gateways to
this pointless time, but ultimately such measures do not go to the essential 'point'. When
we adopt particular attitudes or release specific energies, we proceed from point to point.
Now there is no point to such a procession and no place to arrive at. Without special
effortfor no effort is neededthe whole of experience is already transformed. (Tulku,
1994, p. 302)
Instead of objects presenting themselves to awareness, subject, objects, awareness,
and experience are all given 'by' time. A steady flow presents itself without leading on to
identity and substance, comment and construct. (Tulku, 1994, p. 311)

Dimension 2: Creativity

Questions:
Whats the source or cause of things? How does experience arise? How are things
created? How do answers to these questions change as one changes?

38 March, 2011
Guiding Principles:
The less the cause or source of experience and events is seen to be the self, the mind,
some event in the distant past, the familiar here or present, or any other agent within
a scenario, the more spontaneous and comprehensive the creative process becomes,
ultimately leaving nothing outside its scope.

More simply: The less the cause of things is seen to be a particular agent outside of
or within a scenario, the more spontaneous and comprehensive the creative process
becomes.

Guiding Question:
Do things feel familiar, somewhat predictable, or even habitual, or does each new
moment, along with all that appears in the momentary scenario, seem spontaneous and
fresh?

Paradoxes
Appearance and events can have identifiable causes and sources within the world, and
yet things can feel as though they come out of nowhere, with no source or cause.

The same objects, people, and world can be recognized repeatedly over time, and yet be
seen as fresh, original appearances each time.

People and things can be assigned a historical identity while felt to be discontinuous or to
be recreated moment by moment.

Quotes for Dimension 2: Creativity

The source and resting point of all existence appears to be space. (Tulku, 1977, p. 10)
The source of experience is not the self, the mind, some psycho-physiological
apparatus, or any other item within the ordinary world view. (Tulku, 1977, p. 49)
Great Space is not a separate thing or cause; it is not 'elsewhere', nor is its 'creative act'
to be located in the time of the remote past. (Tulku, 1977, p. 74)
We live in a very fantastic, magical world. There is no 'doer' or performer of the magic.
(Tulku, 1977, p. 107)
All drab items, facts, and trends can become alive, inspiring symbols....They are no
longer seen as produced byand tied toa 'horizontal' temporal series. So they, in
their givenness with us, can point in what seems at first like a different, more vertical and
liberating direction. (Tulku, 1977, p. 145)

39 March, 2011
There is no fixed world order that stands outside and around us, ensuring that our
experience stays within proper limits. (Tulku, 1977, p. 253)
We are not creatures, products of Space and Time. Nor were we caused at some time in
the past and then left on our own. We are all being newly born within Space and Time,
second by second.... (Tulku, 1977, p. 300)
The less we insist, the closer we draw to the invisible energy of the Body of Time: the
creative impulse through which appearance itself manifests. Allied with this creative
force, we approach each challenge with new resources. Nothing is strictly impossible, for
nothing is firmly established. (Tulku, 1994, pp. 165-66)
Everythingwhether past, present, or futureis seen to be unoriginated,
because 'knowledge' perceives that, in point of fact, there is no moving time. (Tulku,
1980, p. 54)

Dimension 3: Accomplishment

Question:
How does the experience of accomplishing things change as we excel?

Guiding Principles:
The less effortful our operations on separate existents or events embedded in a temporal
grid, the more balanced and the greater productivity is, with events and products
appearing to be nonexistent, uncaused, and unoriginated, while in another sense
remaining measurable and attributable to particular individuals.

More simply: The less distinction between ourselves, our work process, the things were
working on, and time, the greater the productivity.

Guiding Question:
Are you efforting or looking forward to getting things done, or are you currently completely
satisfied within your work-in-progress?

Paradox
While we can attribute production and service to a particular individual, that person can
experience the work as an activity that flowed by itself, with no effort.

40 March, 2011
Quotes for Dimension 3: Accomplishment

The person in the peak-experiences usually feels himself to be at the peak of his
powers, using all his capacities at the best and fullest. . . . He is at his best . . . . This is
not only felt subjectively but can be seen by the observer. (Maslow, 1962, pp. 105-6)
His behavior and experience becomes . . . self-validating, end-behavior, and end-
experience, rather than means-behavior or means-experience. (Maslow, 1962, p. 110)
[My self-actualizing subjects were] uniformly more capable of effective action. (Maslow,
1962, p. 124)
In . . . healthy [self-actualizing] people we find duty and pleasure to be the same thing,
as is also work and play, self-interest and altruism . . . . (Maslow, 1962, p. 163)
To the extent that we try to master the environment . . . to that extent do we cut the
possibility of full . . . non-interfering cognition. . . . To cite psychotherapeutic experience,
the more eager we are to make a diagnosis and a plan of action, the less helpful do
we become. The more eager we are to cure, the longer it takes. Every psychiatric
researcher has to learn not to try to cure, not to be impatient. In this and in many other
situations, to give in is to overcome, to be humble is to succeed. (Maslow, 1962, p. 184)
The purpose of Zen archery is not to hit the target, but rather the concentration . . . .
When the archer does hit the center of the target in such a state of mental calm, it is
proof that his spiritual discipline is successful. (Murphy, 1995, p. 11)
Chains of events even within our ordinary space are seen to be nothing other than a
kind of 'space' projecting 'space' into 'space'. Yet...such an orientation...may seem to
conflict with ordinary categories and distinctions unless we are sensitive to its purpose
and range of application. (Tulku, 1977, p. 7-8)
We', our position, goal-orientedness, and experience . . . are . . . nonoccurring and
nonlocated. (Tulku, 1977, pp. 100-101)

Dimension 4: Objective Space

Question:
How does the experience of space, boundaries, objects, and the world change as we
become more virtuous?

Guiding Principles:
The less we try to establish ourselves as autonomous beings confronting reality as a
contrasting world of entities that are separated from each other by space, the more we
see how we and all familiar things, while distributed over ordinary space, are nevertheless
unseparated and even intimately connected within and as a higher-order, dimensionless
space.

41 March, 2011
More simply: The less things and beings seem separated by ordinary space, the more
they are interconnected as dimensionless space.

Guiding Question:
Do objects and events take up space and appear to be separate and dispersed, or are do
they seem intimately connected in and even as one space?

Paradoxes
Familiar things, while separate and distributed over ordinary space, are nevertheless
unseparated and even intimately connected within and as a higher-order, dimensionless
space.

While the physical world may be a referent for any activity, no world order seems fixed
outside and around us.

Objects may have an inside and outside, yet they need not have any perceived depth.

While there may be measurable lengths, there is no felt distance.

Although objects have volume, they arent experienced as extending in space, or


exclusively occupying space.

Geographical coordinates and points, and here and there can mark positions; however,
there are no felt spatial divisions or extensioneverything is the same space, here.

Quotes for Dimension 4: Objective Space

[long-distance runner Bill Emmerton:] I felt as though I was going through space,
treading on clouds. (Murphy, 1995, p. 17)
[golfer Jack Fleck:] I cant exactly describe it, but as I looked at the putt, the hole looked
as big as a wash tub. (Murphy, 1995, p. 38)
[Charles Lindbergh:] . . . as though I were an awareness spreading out through space,
over the earth and into the heavens, unhampered by time or substance, free from the
gravitation that binds men to heavy human problems of the world. (Murphy, 1995, p. 65)
Everything is made of emptiness and form is condensed emptiness. (Einstein)
One small part of the world is perceived as if it were for the moment all of the world.
(Maslow, 1962, p. 88)
The astronomer is out there with the stars (rather than a separateness peering across

42 March, 2011
an abyss at another separateness through a telescopic-keyhole). (Maslow, 1962, p. 105)
A truly comprehensive 'space' . . . is not set in contrast to solid, opaque 'things'. (Tulku,
1977, p. xi)
When a single feather and a thousand worlds are equally this space, who can say which
contains which? (Tulku, 1977, p. xli)
Dichotomies like 'existence' and 'nonexistence', 'object' and 'space', become resolved in
the light of different and more accurate conceptions. (Tulku, 1977, p. 14)
Surfaces can appear as such and still be more transparent, becausein a sense
they 'reflect' the degree of our own relaxation. (Tulku, 1977, p. 16)
Although...structures...are finite in size, the...'space' dimension may be those structures
without thereby being finite. (Tulku, 1977, p. 39)
The Great Space dimension reveals an all-inclusive unity that, rather paradoxically, is
not spread out over any region. (Tulku, 1977, p. 62)
Great Space . . . has no extensive dimension. (Tulku, 1977, p. 112)
While all familiar things are...distributed over ordinary space . . . , they are all intimately
connected insofar as their Great Space dimension is considered. (Tulku, 1977, p. 112)
Each finite . . . region of our realm is virtually infinite in its Great Space aspect. (Tulku,
1977, p. 112)
All existence and experience is like an apparition, a surface with no substantial core, no
dimensions to it, no wider and founding environment. (Tulku, 1977, p. 199)

Dimension 5: Mental Space

Question:
How do personal space and mind change?

Guiding Principles:
The less the sense of separation between 'our private world' and the 'world of others', the
mind and physical reality, the more inside and outside are deactivated, and it becomes
clear that the self, the ordinary mind, personal space, and objective space all derive
from a higher space; eventually an overall understandingwhich is itself a kind of
spaceexpresses and is all presentations.

More simply: The less separated 'our private world' and the 'world of others', the more
inside and outside are seen as the same undivided space.

Guiding Question:
Is there a private space or personal world that feels separate from everything outside, or
do inner and outer, subjective and objective appear to be inseparable facets of the same
undivided space?

43 March, 2011
Paradoxes
I can have a mind without needing to feel that its separate from others minds.

I can have a mind without feeling that its stable, continuously existing, or independent
of the outside.

I can have a personal space or position without having to feel separate from anything/
anyone else.

Quotes for Dimension 5: Mental Space

He is more able to fuse with the world, with what was formerly not-self, e.g., the lovers
come closer to forming a unit rather than two people, . . . the creator becomes one with
his work being created, . . . the appreciator becomes the music . . . . (Maslow, 1962, p.
105)
Lower space is like a walled enclosure. If these walls can be somehow rendered
transparent without thereby setting up new walls and points of view, the notion of inside
and outside is thus deactivated . . . . (Tulku, 1977, p. 15)
We, our space, our awareness are all deriving from a higher space and understanding.
(Tulku, 1977, p. 42)
The more you 'open things up' . . . the more you experience yourself as . . . Space,
which has no 'place', no 'position'. (Tulku, 1977, p. 45)
There is actually no ordinary mind at all. (Tulku, 1977, p. 63)
We completely transcend a self-centered orientation and become fully with everyone
and everything else. Locations and attitudes, problems and confusions, no longer bind
us. (Tulku, 1977, pp. 113-114)
The shape and form of what appears becomes inseparable from the shape and form of
mind. (Tulku, 1994, p. xliii)

Dimension 6: Identity

Question:
How does personal identity change?

Guiding Principles:
The less 'charge' that the self-component has as the agent dominating a passive
surrounding, the clearer it is that the 'self' is a generalization of many instantaneous

44 March, 2011
presentings of 'time'; eventually our sense of identity is seen to derive from an awareness
that is not limited to a particular position or 'point of view' at all.

More simply: The less the self dominates its surroundings by taking various positions,
the clearer and more fluid our awareness.

Guiding Question:
Is there a sense of self that stands apart from experience and externals, or do you feel
identified with, or the same as, what's happening?

Paradoxes
There can be people with names and histories who nevertheless have no sense of
substantiality or continuous existence.

There can be recognizable personality without an experience of personality-owner and


without a feeling of repeated patterns.

Quotes for Dimension 6: Identity

Being ecstatic means being flung out of your usual self. . . . consciousness vanishes . . .
and you feel free of all mind-body constraints. (Murphy, 1995, p. 19)
[When judo is practiced properly,] There will be no curtain to separate you from your
opponent. You will become one with him. You and your opponent will no longer be two
bodies separated physically from each other but a single entity . . . . (Murphy, 1995, p.
32)
[auto racer Jochen Rindt:] You just . . . are part of the car and the track. (Murphy, 1995,
p. 23)
[auto racer Jimmy Clark:] I dont drive a car, really. The car happens to be under me and
Im controlling it, but its as much a part of me as I am of it. (Murphy, 1995, p. 32)
We had known some of the most exciting climbing of our lives, had reached a level of
unity and selflessness that had made success possible. . . . we felt . . . an extraordinary
elation, not solely from our success, but also because we had managed to become such
a close-knit team. (Murphy, 1995, p. 112)
[Japanese swordsman:] When the identity is realized, I as swordsman see no opponent
confronting me . . . . every movement he makes as well as every thought he conceives
are felt as it they were all my own . . . . (Murphy, 1995, p. 130)
[Stirling Moss:] You have to be part of the car. Its no longer that youre in a car and
doing something with it, thats why I refer to this as a complete entity. . . . I feel a car is
an animate object. (Murphy, 1995, p. 133)

45 March, 2011
An actual appreciation of 'time' shows that the way in which it presents identities,
differences, and interrelations is a direct evocation of 'space', of 'no-things', of non-
plurality. (Tulku, 1977, p. 146)
Our usual rigidity and lethargy derive from the fact that the 'self' that we ordinarily try to
improve is a generalization of many instantaneous presentings of 'time'. (Tulku, 1977, p.
178)
This Knowledge is not oriented around us as the subject in a world of objects. It is with
everything and reveals everything, without establishing an 'active subject' and a 'passive
object'. (Tulku, 1977, p. 252)
Forms appear but do not take birth; they exhibit but do not take up the conditions
they portray. A new condition prevails: 'things' as appearance are space, while space
appears 'in' things. The borders between 'is' and 'is not' are no longer solid in the same
way. Appearance shares in the 'no identity' of space, 'taking' form without a body. (Tulku,
1994, pp. 33-34)
We too appear in the dance of time. At one level, we continue to 'be' our patterns
and our limits, our prospects and our aspirations, the identities we proclaim and the
perceptions we own. But . . . things are and are not. Opposites unite, for it is only the
rational that makes divisions. (Tulku, 1994, p. 147)

Dimension 7: Locus of Knowing

Questions:
Where is the locus of knowledge? Where does knowing happen?

Guiding Principles:
The less we see knowledge as just something located inside our heads that we try to
achieve during certain acts of knowing, the clearer it becomes that knowing is not just a
particular type of event, but a mode of 'seeing' which is not limited to a particular position
or 'point of view' relative to passive objects; eventually there is a balanced encompassing
of the whole situation, a 'knowing' clarity that does not radiate from a center, but is rather
in everything, and everything is in it.

More simply: The less knowledge is that which is both lacked and held by a self, the more
it becomes a balanced, unowned encompassing of whatever manifests.

Guiding Question:
Is knowledge simply something that you or others possess or lack, or do you feel
intimately part of what's around you, knowing things that are happening from inside them?

46 March, 2011
Paradoxes
While an individual can know and perceive, knowing need not feel like it belongs to a
person, takes time, or radiates or occurs from a center.

When a particular person knows an object, there may be no felt distinction between
knower and known.

When a particular person knows a locatable object, knowing can be experienced as a


nonlocated encompassing field.

Quotes for Dimension 7: Locus of Knowing

It is possible that ordinary 'knowing' and the observed insentient physical basis for it are
both the result of a higher-order 'knowing' having taken up a certain stance or position.
(Tulku, 1977, p. 25)
The knowing 'by-standers' and the known 'outside-standers' are no longer accepted as
what is really knowing and known. (Tulku, 1977, p. 240)
We can develop a mode of 'seeing' which is not limited to a particular position or 'point of
view' at all. (Tulku, 1977, p. 27)
The higher-order space or field is not falsified or blocked out by the appearance of
discrete objects. Thus, we might say that higher-order knowledge does attend to
conventional items and perspectives. (Tulku, 1977, p. 30)
We, our space, our awareness are all deriving from a higher space and understanding.
(Tulku, 1977, p. 42)
Knowing is . . . particularly not just something located inside our heads, as the
conventional picture of an isolated knower would have it. (Tulku, 1977, p. 240)
This Knowledge is not oriented around us as the subject in a world of objects. It is with
everything and reveals everything, without establishing an 'active subject' and a 'passive
object'. The apparent object pole and the containing world horizon can all be 'knowing'.
(Tulku, 1977, p. 252)
There is no longer a 'looker', but instead, only a 'knowingness' which can see more
broadly, from all sides and points of view at once. More precisely, the 'knowing' clarity
does not radiate from a center, but is rather in everything, and everything is in it. There
is neither an 'outside' nor an 'inside' in the ordinary sense, but rather a pervasive and
intimate 'in' or 'within' as an open-ended knowingness. (Tulku, 1977, p. 282)
Full knowledge dissolves the 'distance' between knower and known that characterizes
conventional not-knowing. With no distance, an intimacy of knowing emerges, and
knowledge becomes inseparable from love. (Tulku, 1987, p. xlviii)

Dimension 8: Content of Knowing

47 March, 2011
Question:
What happens to the content of knowing?

Guiding Principles:
The less that knowledge is a possession that only allows the self to identify and
distinguish what is desired from what is not, to place what is 'known' into familiar
categories and judge in terms of oppositions such as good and bad, the more that
knowing illuminates the relationship between subject and object; eventually knowing
merges with the subject under investigation, becoming an awareness that seems
to 'embody' both clarity and appreciation, 'understanding' and 'feeling'.

More simply: The less that knowledge is restricted to a selfs identification, categorization,
and judgment, the closer it comes to a clear appreciation merged with the subject under
investigation.

Guiding Question:
Is knowledge simply identification, categorization, judgment, and detached observation,
or is awareness an illuminating clarity merged with the subject being explored?

Paradoxes
While particular objects, events, or thoughts are known, still there can be a sense of
comprehensive, unbounded knowing.

The perception of a particular object need not involve a sense of a perceiver nor any
feeling of separate context for the object.

Thoughts can express distinctions without referring to experientially separate objects,


people, or events.

Memories need not refer to a separate past position, and hopes, anticipations, and
expectations need not refer to separate future positions.

Pain, suffering, and emotion can appear without a relatively positioned victim or owner.

Quotes for Dimension 8: Content of Knowing

At the level of self-actualizing, many dichotomies become resolved, opposites are seen
to be unities and the whole dichotomous way of thinking is recognized to be immature.

48 March, 2011
(Maslow, 1962, p. 207)
[Soccer player Pel:] Intuitively, at any instant, he seemed to know the position of all
the other players on the field, and to sense just what each man was going to do next.
(Murphy, 1995, p. 38)
[weightlifter Yuri Vlasov:] Everything seems clearer and whiter than ever before, as if
great spotlights had been turned on. (Murphy, 1995, p. 119)
With all ordinary thoughtseven as these thoughtsyou may discover...freedom from
subject-object fragmentation. (Tulku, 1977, p. 61)
Knowingness has the quality of perfection. It is not simply a content of knowledge, for it
involves no sense of a subject-object duality. (Tulku, 1977, p. 219)
Great Knowledge is....Arguments and assertions cannot single it out or refer to it. It is not
a meaning....It is unlearned or nonlearned learnedness. (Tulku, 1977, p. 253)
'Knowingness' is inexhaustible and can be neither fragmented into little knowable
packets nor foreshortened by known content of any sort. This does not mean
that 'knowingness' is a vacant absorption, but rather that 'things' and encounters are
themselves 'knowingness'. (Tulku, 1977, p. 271)
The shape and form of what appears becomes inseparable from the shape and form of
mind. (Tulku, 1994, p. xliii)
Mental projection can practice the instant reflection of images, arising within memory or
awareness like an image in a mirror, but never entering the mirror itself. (Tulku, 1994, p.
151)
In this new vision, distinctions come from wholeness and remain within wholeness.
(Tulku, 1994, p. 165)
This knowledge was freely available: less a possession to be obtained than a luminous,
transparent 'attribute' of experience and mental activity. (Tulku, 1987, p. xlv)
As we learn how to take knowledge itself as the topic, inquiry and wonder give rise
to the love of knowledge. The source of our knowing merges with the subject under
investigation, and knowledge becomes an ever-present companion and guide. (Tulku,
1987, p. 14)

Dimension 9: Well-Being

Questions:
How do health and wholeness arise? What happens to fragmentation of being?

Guiding Principles:
As habitual self-images lose their feeling of reality and the boundaries among self, mind,
body, personality, and others become more open, experience becomes less fragmented
and conflicted; eventually we draw a wealth of nourishment and energy directly from our
own being, free of separations and disharmonies.

49 March, 2011
More simply: As inner and outer partitions lose their feeling of reality, greater nourishment
and fulfillment is drawn directly from being.

Guiding Question:
Are there boundaries and divisions among your self, mind, body, and personality, or is
fulfillment and satisfaction naturally and directly accompanying a sense of wholeness?

Paradoxes
There can be a person with a personality, reasoning, emotion, sensation, intuition, and
different body parts without any sense of fragmentation or feeling of separate parts.

Quotes for Dimension 9: Well-Being

It happens when our inner forces are resolved. And when a person's forces are resolved,
it makes us feel at home, because we know, by some sixth sense, that there are no
other unexpected forces lurking underground. (Alexander, 1979, p. 51)
[defensive tackle Joe Greene:] Playing with every part of yourself [with] the will to get the
job done. . . . You have great awareness of everything that is happening around you and
of your part in the whole. (Murphy, 1995, p. 7)
[climber Arlene Blum:] Like coming home to a place of beauty, splendor, and peacea
place where I felt I belonged . . . . (Murphy, 1995, p. 10)
[climber Rob Schultheis:] I felt . . . bliss, a joy beyond comprehension . . . a feeling that
all ills were healed, everything was all right, always had been, really, and always would
be. There was nothing wanting in all of creation; anything less than perfection was
impossible. (Murphy, 1995, p. 124)
An integrated, natural intelligence, unfragmented into reason, emotions, sensations, and
intuition, is our greatest treasure, and our key to progress. (Tulku, 1977, p. xxxiv)
No aspect of an experience is 'outside' or apart from knowingness according to this
perspective. Everything is now 'within'. (Tulku, 1977, p. 268)
No separations or disharmonies are found when appearance is seen as the embodiment
of Knowledge. (Tulku, 1977, p. 277)
We participate in an uncontrived intimacy. (Tulku, 1977, p. 287)
Wealth is intrinsic to our Being. When this is recognizedwithout there being a
recognizerthere can be no bondage, fear, or worry, and no ugliness or imperfection,
for the presence of these is itself incomparable beauty. (Tulku, 1977, p. 297)
In this new vision, distinctions come from wholeness and remain within wholeness.
(Tulku, 1994, p. 165)

50 March, 2011
Dimension 10: Need and Fulfillment

Question:
What happens to desire, need, and fulfillment as we come to live life to the fullest?

Guiding Principles:
The less we see our selves as lacking and needing pleasures and things, the more
everythingall situations, thoughts, and emotionsis found to be immediately
fulfilling; there are no isolated packets of nourishment to be grasped at in an anxious or
a 'venturing out' manner.

More simply: The less a self is seen as needing things, the more everything is found to be
immediately fulfilling.

Guiding Question:
Are you driven by a desire for pleasure or a need, or is everything being found to be
immediately and inherently fulfilling?

Paradoxes
A person can have desire and preference, or can pursue this or that course of action,
without any sense of need or deficiency.

Whether a situation is labeled positive or negative, ugly or imperfect, fulfillment and


complete appreciation are immediately available.

Within a finite duration of clock time infinite fulfillment is available.

Though most of the world is outside the individual, a person need not feel cut off from or
lacking anything.

Quotes for Dimension 10: Need and Fulfillment

We can find everything to be clear and fulfilling, and can see that there are no isolated
packets of nourishment or knowledge to be grasped at in an anxious or a 'venturing out'
manner. (Tulku, 1977, p. xvi)
'Space' and 'time' are not just backgrounds or supporting mediums for further

51 March, 2011
experiences. They provide a very special form of nourishment for our humanity, which is
usually nurtured only indirectly through the pursuit of our physical pleasures and needs,
and our ego-centered values. (Tulku, 1977, p. 156)
This idea of infinite growth does not mean that we need to follow some long, difficult
path. Great Knowledge grows, not by making linear progress, but by opening up to the
infinite perfection that is 'here'. (Tulku, 1977, p. 216)
Although infinitely greater 'knowing' is available, it is not 'here' in this or that, nor is it
outside or elsewhere. This is not meant as a riddle, but as the suspension of the riddle
which our common condition of searching for fulfillment is always posing. (Tulku, 1977,
p. 241)
Fulfillment is available within all situations, thoughts, and emotions, whether convention
labels them as 'positive' or 'negative'. (Tulku, 1977, p. 271)
We participate in an uncontrived intimacy. We are also absolutely self-sufficient in a
nonegoistic sense. We can draw nourishment and energy directly from our own being,
directly from Space and Time. (Tulku, 1977, p. 287)

Dimension 11: Feeling of Time

Question:
How does the experience of time change?

Guiding Principles:
The less that time carries the existential character of being an inescapable force
compelling us to move within a linear temporal grid, the more that all going from place to
place and from experience to experience seems to occur as a succession of experiences
in the same 'spot'; eventually time appears as energy that does not occur in moments,
and is neither linear nor sequential.

More simply: The less compelling our sense of time passing, the more time appears as a
nonlinear and nonsequential dynamic process.

Guiding Question:
Do you notice a feeling of time flowing around you, or are you timelessly involved in
things?

Paradoxes
There can be distinguishable past, present, and future times without any felt separation
between the times.

52 March, 2011
Events can occur without any experienced movement or transition from one to another.

Clock time may be finite and limited, but the experienced duration of a period of clock
time is not at all fixed.

Quotes for Dimension 11: Feeling of Time

A single play may seem like forever or an inning may seem like only a second. (Murphy,
1995, p. 40)
[football player John Brodie:] Time seems to slow way down . . . . It seems as if I had all
the time in the world . . . and yet I know the defensive line is coming at me just as fast as
ever. (Murphy, 1995, p. 42)
[Tom Seaver:] As Rod Gaspars front foot stretched out and touched home plate, in the
fraction of a second before I leaped out of the dugout . . . my whole baseball life flashed
in front of me . . . . (Murphy, 1995, p. 47)
There is a common experience in Tai Chi . . . . Awareness of the passage of time
completely stops. (Murphy, 1995, p. 47)
Different times do not violate the nondistributive nature of Great Time. They are not
linked, in a way that irrevocably separates them, by their respective positions in a
temporal series. The 'series' is a fiction. (Tulku, 1977, p. 106)
Time is neither linear nor sequential; in fact, there are neither moments nor successive
movement, and thus no succession. (Tulku, 1977, p. 136)
Time, any 'time', is actually enabling, not restraining, if appreciated and used with the
right 'Knowledge'. (Tulku, 1977, p. 142)
Time ceases to be seen as unfolding distributively, from one thing to the next. Instead, it
penetrates directly through all meanings and partitions to show Great Space in a perfect,
timeless encountertimeless in the sense of being unconditioned and without ordinary
duration. (Tulku, 1977, p. 150)
The Body of Time transitions the appearance of what appears. Without confirming
division, it allows for the conceptual separation into past and present and future. (Tulku,
1994, p. 162)
The boundaries distinguishing five minutes from one second are unreal in a certain
sense, and so any amount of experience constituting five minutes could also be had in
one second. The 'small' interval is not really smaller, nor is the 'larger' one really larger.
(Tulku, 1980, pp. 41-2)
We are 'time', rather than merely isolated objects located in, but separate from, it. (Tulku,
1980, p. 53)

Dimension 12: Feeling of Reality

53 March, 2011
Question:
How does reality seem to change as one matures?

Guiding Principles:
As experience, events, and substance are explored, the fixed sense of reality grows more
attenuated, eventually giving way to complete openness.

More simply: When happenings and existents are thoroughly explored, nothing
substantial is found as a core or foundation.

Guiding Question:
Does reality seem solid, fixed, and substantial, or does everything seem wondrously
ephemeral?

Paradoxes
While objects and people exist and interact, they can seem ethereal and insubstantial.

When events occur, it can seem dreamlike, as though nothing at all is really happening.

The clearer our perception, the less we see reality as a compounded object.

Though knowledge may refer to physical and mental realities, certainty is diminished in
proportion to how experientially separate entities seem.

Experiential fragmentation of objective reality destroys certainty.

Quotes for Dimension 12: Feeling of Reality

[Charles Lindbergh:] All sense of substance leaves. Theres no longer weight to my


body, no longer hardness to the stick. The feeling of flesh is gone. (Murphy, 1995, p.
116)
People have told us that the world seemed like a dream after an uplifting game or
sporting expedition. (Murphy, 1995, p. 117)
[runner Ian Jackson:] My body seemed insubstantial like some ethereal vehicle of
awareness. (Murphy, 1995, p. 135)
Everything is made of emptiness and form is condensed emptiness. (Einstein)
Substance gradually grows more attenuated, eventually arriving at a final stage that is
open and empty. (Tulku, 1994, p. 4)

54 March, 2011
Substance is a mysteriously condensed form of what in our ordinary way of speaking we
would call 'nothing at all'. (Tulku, 1994, p. 5)
For each appearance, there is nothing above or beneath it, no point of origination more
solid than its own communication. (Tulku, 1994, p. 18)
'Before' the present manifestation, 'before' the 'before' that manifestation presupposes,
appearance without substance offers the other side of birth . . . . (Tulku, 1994, p. 27)

Conclusion

With some bearings, or directions, it can be much easier to get to our destination. If we have a
sense or vision of what peak performance is, well probably find it easier to attain. A vision can
provide an ideal against which to measure our progress; then we can get very direct and helpful
feedback.

From my research it eventually became clear that in the zone we have the state of peak
performance of all types, a state in which there is a natural, unfabricated melding of both peak
productivity and self-actualization. Thus the zone is a natural, cross-cultural meeting ground for
personal values and fulfillment and organizational goals.

Most companies drive progress by focusing on the bottom line, and motivate by carrot and stick
approaches that focus on physiological, security, and social needs. But once these needs are
satisfied, theres no motivation any longer. In contrast, aspirations for self-actualization are self-
sustaining--they continually motivate. Unlike other sources of motivation . . . self-actualization
continues to motivate people to ever higher levels of performance. (pp. 163-4, Grove, 1983) So
if management could foster employees self-actualization aspirations on the job, it would require
less and less management effort to get better and better results. When there is a genuine
vision . . . people excel and learn, not because they are told to, but because they want to. (p. 9,
Senge, 1990) The need for management support and motivation is gradually obviated.

As mentioned previously, continuous improvement is moving toward the center, becoming more
involved, whenever possible. Complete involvement in whatever is at hand is self-actualization.
This is confirmed by Abraham Maslow, who said, Self-actualization means experiencing fully,
vividly, selflessly, with full concentration and total absorption. (pp. 43-4, Maslow, 1971) So by
fostering employee movement toward the zone, continually increasing involvement in whatever
is at hand, management implements a self-actualizing means of continuous improvement that
requires continually decreasing management effort.

We can allemployers and employees alikemake good use of this kind of powerful,
long-range vision that naturally guides us toward peak performance--not by motivational or
manipulative techniques, nor by simply getting us to agree with or buy into organizational goals
or values, nor by trying to replicate others successful processes, but by helping us to simply
and directly explore essential qualities of our experience. For optimal profit and fulfillment it
serves us well to pursue the peaceful, yet most productive zone at the center of our whirlwind
of activities.

55 March, 2011
56 March, 2011
Part II -- Transitions

How do we get there?

57 March, 2011
58 March, 2011
Introduction to Chapter Three

Having reached some conclusions about the character of the zone of peak performance, and
the complete range of human consciousness and functioning, we now turn to the question: How
can one directly improve one's activities, moment-by-moment, including work and relaxation?
How does one move from a first-level to a second-level and even to a third-level, zone
experience?

Is it just a matter of luck, astrological patterns, blessing, or some other apparently uncontrollable
factors? Or is there a reliable way to do it?

I have learned that it is not just an accident. And most of us already know the general process,
even if we arent aware of the extent of the possibilities available. With enough understanding
and experience, one can very reliably approach and enter the state or zone of peak
performance, and then stay there. Maslow agreed: One can learn to see in this Unitive way
almost at will. (p. xiv, Maslow, 1970) Getting into the zone doesnt have to be a matter of luck.

How do we do it? Whenever you see an opportunity to improve your involvement in whatever
task is at hand, or in whatever were doing, take it, moving closer and closer to complete
absorption.

But we need to clarify what we mean by involvement. People usually think that increasing
involvement is making certain behavioral or attitudinal changes, such as: join a professional
organization; network with high performers; become the go-to person for your work;
communicate appreciation for the talents and contributions of others; support continuous
learning in yourself and others; connect high performance with individual, group and
organizational success; put service to the organization and to the needs of others before your
own; just connect with others. These things all exemplify ways of enhancing what I call external
involvement.

The Employee Engagement Network online has over 3000 members interested in enhancing
employee engagement at work. The Network produced an E-book called The Employee
Engagement Top 10. This book was a community project from thirty-two contributors of the
Employee Engagement Network. There were 320 suggestions for enhancing engagement. Of
these I found only one, from Scot Herrick, that was about changing ones moment-by-moment
experience rather than changing behavior or long-term attitudes: Focus on the work. When you
are working, do the work. Do not let distractions remove your focus. The more you focus on the
work, the greater the concentration and engagement.

I found it very surprising that only one of 320 suggestions was clearly about what I call inner
involvement, defined as the degree of our experienced absorption in whatever we're doing.
Is this because our cultures teach us to be externally oriented? Is this because the word
engagement is most often used in behavioral or social contexts? Because work environments

59 March, 2011
still foster a policy of check your personal life at the door? Because people dont understand
how important it is for our productivity and our sense of fulfillment and well-being to be absorbed
in what were doing? Because people dont know the range of experience culminating in
complete involvement? Because we dont know the methods or techniques needed to get into
the zone? I think its fair to conclude that this topic of improving inner involvement is not at
all well known, even among those who are quite interested in engagement as a means of
improving well-being and productivity

Despite our preoccupation with external involvement, almost everyone knows that increasing
inner involvement is the primary, natural, and commonsense way we 'buckle down' when we
have to get something done. If one is locked in a room with a task that has to be completed,
and wont or cant leave until the task is done (this actually happened to me), our primary
means of changing involvement is inner, directly experiential, not changing our external, social
involvement by joining a group, connecting with others, etc. We go through certain predictable
stages as we increase involvement and approach the zone: avoiding, holding back, resigned
to doing something, getting into it, being involved, being absorbed, and being completely
engrossed.

This commonsense approach of concentrating on, and getting into ones activities is well
known, but there is much more to learn about approaching the zone. The extended example
in Chapter Three presents a description of some typical changes as one gets into it, plus a few
steps that go beyond psychological changes that are based on the self as the agent of change.
The example comes from many experiences I had at work, particularly when I was a technical
writer for software manuals, a job during which, most of the time, I was in fact working in a
room by myself. We conclude that increasing productivity resulted from choosing consistently
productive directions at transition points where the scenario could either become more simple/
integrated or more complicated/fragmented.

By consistently noticing transition points and choosing directions of increasing involvement, my


work became a peak experience. Having gone through this kind of continuous improvement
process hundreds of times over at least twenty years, I can say that it is reliable and replicable
for anyone who is motivated. Getting into the zone of peak performance need not be just a
matter of luck.

And not just productivity is improved. Improving involvement is a powerful way to increase
productivity, quality, and well-being. Continually improving inner involvement simultaneously
drives productivity, quality, and well-being. As we concluded in Chapter One, an experiential
focus during workbreaking down barriers to increasing involvement--provides a natural
meeting ground of the individual employee's concern with fulfillment and optimal well-being with
the organization's concern with optimizing productivity and quality of product and service.

60 March, 2011
Chapter Three

Optimizing Inner Involvement Drives Productivity,


Well-being, and QualityAll At Once

How does one continuously--moment-by-moment--improve one's activities, work, relaxation,


and otherwise, perhaps even approaching the zone?

Interestingly enough, the typical responses to this question almost always suggest external
methods and processes, and sometimes propose ways of improving one's external , social
involvement. We seem to be relatively unaware of what Peter Senge calls "the subtlest aspect
of the learning organizationthe new way individuals perceive themselves and their world." (p.
12, Senge, 1990) Seldom is one's immediate experience considered a field of opportunity for
improving performance, let alone the best place to focus.

In fact, most businesses these days proudly state that they are "results-driven." In a typical
company the primary focus is on productivity and the financial bottom line. However, companies
might want to reconsider how they drive productivity and improve the bottom line. Rather than
focusing on 'externals'--technological fixes and innovations, reorganization, downsizing, etc.-
-the driver and optimal key to sustainable business success may be continuously improving
employees 'internals', perspectives and qualities of experience, particularly one's inner,
moment-by-moment involvement and work capacity.

A preoccupation with results ignores the negative side-effects that the drive for bottom-line
results can have on our individual well-being. By focusing on results without balanced attention
to their well-being, we--whether employees, managers, or individuals preoccupied with our
personal projects--may produce a great deal during a long work crunch, yet burn out in the
process. Thus, the push for productivity can actually undermine individual and organizational
performance. Focusing on optimizing results does not guarantee optimal individual well-being.

We might also question the types of work for which such conventional measures can be applied.
In the past, efforts to increase productivity involved measuring how we spend our time in order
to identify process improvements. But these measures often fail to take into account much of
the work that we do throughout the day. How many of us have work projects where all we do all
day long is make one or two products? How can productivity be assessed at times when we're
not making the products that are measured? Most of us also do countless other tasks that are
not included in conventional measures.

To foster truly continuous improvement and personal satisfaction, we need feedback that is

61 March, 2011
always available, no matter what task we're doing, and even when we're changing tasks. We
need ways to measure how we think, feel, and view our work at any given moment and not just
the steps we go through to accomplish it.

Extended example of changing involvement

So what does guarantee results and well-being? What about identifying necessary tasks,
determining priorities, and carefully scheduling our work? Personally, I find these practices are
necessary for me to have the confidence that I'm doing the right thing, and then to concentrate
on my task. But these practices are not the core practice.

Again, what does guarantee results and well-being? Is there anything that were already doing,
and dont recognize is important? What if we take a close look at what were already doing
when we successfully improve productivity? Let's set up a 'thought experiment', as Einstein
called it, to simplify things and isolate what's important. Suppose I have a speech that I have to
complete, and I've decided that I'm going into my office, and I'll turn off the phones, and I won't
leave until the task is done.

How do I improve my performance as I progress with the task? Examine the following account
of an extended work period during which inner involvementwhich can be defined as the
degree of our experienced absorption in whatever we're doingincreases gradually for some
time, then decreases awhile. By definition, increasing involvement results in a more complete
integration of the experiential aspects of the work scenario; decreasing involvement results in a
greater disintegration of experiential aspects of the work scenario. Note that rather than being
just a story, the following account is an amalgamation based on many actual experiences.

I have a feeling of dread. It's Monday, and I have a speech that is to be delivered Thursday.
It takes considerable effort to even think about getting started on the script. I could avoid the
feeling of dread and the task of speechwriting, but I'm not going to be that irresponsible. So I
just allow the feeling to be there, and begin to make notes about the talk. The sense of dread
gradually dissipates.

Anticipating the upcoming event, I visualize myself speaking a few days from now, at a point up
ahead, along a linear time line that extends from here in the present to next Thursday. I feel
time flowing strongly and relentlessly in the background. There's pressure and a subtle sense
of anxiety attending the flow of time. I'm at a transition point, where my productivity can either
decrease, continue gradually, or maybe even improve. I could focus on the deadline up ahead
and the feeling of time slipping by, and make myself more anxious, but I decide to let go of this
unproductive anticipation, relax, and refocus on the work. The pressure and anxiety about the
deadline gradually subside as I turn toward the work a little more.

After I get more of an outline for the talk, I realize that writing this speech has begun to feel like
a 'thing' very separate from me, almost forced upon me. I have the distinct sense that this job is
being imposed from outside. There's a tendency to take this feeling at face value, to add energy

62 March, 2011
to it and then react to it. But from another perspective it's clear that no one is forcing me to do
this. It's my decision. So I'm at another transition point. As this becomes very clear, I relax a bit
and think about what to do next.

Although I've gotten into the work a bit, I still experience it somewhat from outside, as an
observer who is not completely "into it." The papers feel distant from my body. I am aware of
a lot of other objects in the room, as well as other scheduled tasks that I have to do in the next
few days. So my energy is a little scattered. The subject-object split and the scattered energy
are clear signs that there is an opportunity for greater involvement in the scenario. I might see
these experiences as being normal, but from past experience it's clear that if I take them as
being realistic for this kind of work, the work scenario will not improve much more. Gradually the
observer-observed split dissolves.

I write down some more ideas that I want to present, visualize myself giving the speech, and
check the list to see what is missing. I write down a few more ideas. I feel a little puzzled about
the order of these ideas. There's some momentum to write more ideas down, but also a drawing
of attention to examine the confusion. I know if I simply rush to put more ideas down, I may miss
something important. It's another transition point. I face the confusion, and soon realize that a
couple of the topics would be better at a different place in the talk.

Things begin to flow a little more easily. Time is not passing so strongly from past to present to
future, and more work 'events' or moments seem to be occurring every minute, as if some other
kind of momentum was accelerating. I reorganize the list, then read the list from beginning to
end, once again visualizing giving the talk. At this point I am considerably more involved in the
work. I am not the least bit aware of other projects I have to do, or other objects in the room.
I do not feel like an observer separate from the work. In fact, there is only a slight distance
that is sometimes felt between my mind and body and the papers. The quality of thinking is
different also, not so much like 'I' am directing the thoughts. Although a bit of effort is required
on my part, the thoughts and the work seem to flow somewhat by themselves. But this is not
just a feeling, I'm actually getting the work done more quickly. The insight about rearranging
topics clearly came on its own, with no volition on my part. My feeling of time has changed
considerably. Time has only a subtle flow apart from me and the work. I feel very little anxiety
about time passing toward the deadline.

Now the writing really takes on a life of its own. Ideas come easily, and insights are frequent,
surprising me again and again. The material seems completely original. The process is creative
in the sense of presenting material that seems new and fresh, not arising from any apparent
source. I experience wonder with the process as well as the accuracy and value of the content
written. I feel good about being able to participate in this process.

Periodically there are little bits of pride that arise as I congratulate myself. I think about
rewarding myself by taking a break. There seem to be more points at which these interruptions
and others are noticed. I could take a break, but I know I would miss the currently strong flow
of the work and the fulfillment I am experiencing, let alone the opportunity to get so much done

63 March, 2011
quickly. I realize that congratulating myself on 'my' progress doesn't make much sense, since it
doesn't feel like 'I' am the source of the flow. These distractions are noticed and disappear very
quickly.

There are no noticeable feelings of anxiety, fear, or pressure. Nor is there a feeling of time
passing. I am not aware of objects in the room, nor of the work as a 'thing' or project. There is
little felt separation between 'my' mind and the thinking and writing being done. Work has turned
into a peak experience.

But at some point, I get confused about the message I want to get across in the speech. There's
a strong tendency to avoid the confusion, and also a pull to continue the momentum of the
work and figure out what to write next. My mind starts to wander, and I look at the clock and
realize it's almost time for my favorite TV show. I know this is the best time to do this work, but
pretty soon I'm thinking about how I might be able to finish my work after the show is over and
during my free time during the next couple of days. Yes, it seems possible! I think I have enough
time. This is another transition point. With some subtle anxiety lurking in the background, I
procrastinate, put my work aside, and begin to watch the show.

The flow of work has stopped and time slips by quickly again. While I'm watching TV, I'm slightly
anxious, subtly aware of what time it is and how much time I have till the end of the show, when
I'll return to my work. Watching television is not a flowing experience now, nor is it as enjoyable
as I'd hoped it would be. My mind is divided between the show and being aware that I really
want to do my work. I am self-consciously watching TV here in the present, feeling anxious
and guilty about a job waiting for me in the future. My experience is divided into present and
future rooms, between an anxious self here in the present and the relentless flow of time into
the future. Besides anxiety, I also feel guilty or pressured about not getting the job done. The
scenario is complicated, with my awareness divided, time partitioned into present and future,
strongly ambivalent feelings about what's happening, and a persistent sense of separation
between myself, the TV, and my work. (p. 1, Randall, 1987)

So in this phenomenological account, when things improved, what facilitated the improvements
in productivity? Could we generalize and say that increasing productivity resulted from (1)
noticing the transition points where (inner) involvement could either increase or decrease,
making the scenario either more simple/integrated or more complicated/fragmented, and then
(2) choosing a direction of increasing involvement? Isnt this the natural way that we improve
productivity without even thinking about it?

By consistently noticing transition points and choosing directions of increasing involvement, my


work became a peak experience. Having gone through this kind of continuous improvement
process hundreds of times over more than twenty years, and having taught parts of it to others,
I can say that it is reliable and replicable for anyone who is motivated enough to go through a
natural learning process with their own experience. This is importantit shows that getting into
the zone of peak performance need not be an accident, just a matter of luck.

64 March, 2011
But we need to go well beyond psychological techniques. Research on the zone (see Chapter
One) provides further guidance. This research shows that a high degree of inner involvement
implies a melding of worker and task (the 'glow' component), a timeless and effortless flow of
events (the 'flow' component), and an unrestricted sense of openness (the 'zero' component).
So, during work, if you feel any separation from your work, if you arent completely swept up
in the energy of the project, or if you feel any distracted within your work environment, you
have identified a key to improving your progress. You can then try to identify productive and
counterproductive responses and choose how to proceed. Regularly noticing your level of
involvement in this way provides feedback that you can use to approach the zone of peak
performance (for a way of charting involvement, see pp. 125-129, Tulku, 1994.)

Improving quality

Noticing your level of involvement in a task can also be the basis for continuous quality
improvement. For example, what else triggers us to improve a work process besides a transition
point centered on conflict, unnecessary complexity, confusion, or wasted energy or effort?
These disruptions in work flow draw our attention to processes that we can change for the
better.

Similarly, we usually discern inadequacies in the resources at our disposal only when our
experience of using them is disrupted or disturbed. For example, when were driving a car, if the
vehicle is functioning properly, we dont usually notice itit virtually becomes a part of us. Some
years ago, Volkswagen advertised that their distinction as an auto manufacturer was that they
considered the auto and the driver to be one. If a race-car driver feels somewhat out of control
when making high-speed turns, this disruption in the drivers sense of flow could indicate an
opportunity for increasing the quality of the steering mechanism. Whenever a tool or technology
does not meet our needs or expectations, we cannot be completely engrossed in an activity
whereby we use it. Identifying a resource as a source of disruption can give us the opportunity
to improve our work environment.

Optimizing well-being

At this point you may be thinking, My company would benefit greatly from this approach of
tracking involvement, but what would I get out of it? The answer: your health and level of well-
being should gradually improve. That's exactly what my example above shows: Things begin
to flow a little more easily. . . . time is not passing so strongly from past to present to future. . . .
Although a bit of effort is required on my part, the thoughts and the work seem to flow somewhat
by themselves. . . . I feel very little anxiety about time passing toward the deadline. . . . I
experience wonder at the process, as well as the accuracy and value of the content written. I
feel good about being able to participate in this process. . . . I could take a break, but I know I
would miss the currently strong flow of the work and the fulfillment I am experiencing.

But don't take my word for it. Recall a time when you significantly improved your involvement
in a work project by breaking through strong emotional resistance. Perhaps you found yourself

65 March, 2011
avoiding a challenging new assignment that you felt uncertain about taking on. When you
overcame your reluctance and dove into the project, didn't you experience an immediate
change in your sense of satisfaction and confidence? Did the breakthrough boost your overall
outlook on your job, and maybe even on life in general, including your time outside the work
environment? The more we absorb ourselves in a task, the greater our involvement, the greater
are our feelings of well-being and fulfillment.

So boosting involvement can be a powerful means for increasing productivity, quality, and
well-being. Nevertheless, some managers might fear that people could use this approach
to concentrate on self-improvement and personal satisfaction at the expense of their work
commitments. This objection, while understandable, is unfounded. First of all, efforts to increase
involvement often require letting go of personal desires and preferences in favor of dedicating
ourselves to focusing on and accomplishing the job. The level of fulfillment we derive from our
work largely corresponds with the degree to which we fully dedicate ourselves to the task at
hand.

Second, the objection that tracking involvement could cause a decrease in productivity may
simply reflect an organizations short-sighted rather than strategic approach to progress.
Businesses seem to be in such a hurry to produce and to improve this quarters financial results
that they can hardly see the possibility or importance of increasing employees productivity
and work capacity over the long term. And while focusing on improving involvement may lead
to slightly lower productivity in the short run, by intentionally working to resolve the conflicts
that preoccupy us at transition points, our work capacityincluding our awareness, available
energy, and level of confidencegrows. We can then accomplish things at a faster rate and
with greater levels of quality than before.

So how can we optimize our work efforts? Probably not by focusing our attention on results,
which doesnt guarantee improvement of well-being and quality. But by focusing on improving
involvement in our work, we can increase productivity, well-being, and qualityall at once.
Moving toward the zone optimizes personal as well as organizational progress. As hotelier
Chris Conley said, I came to realize that creating peak experiences for our employees,
customers, and investors fostered peak performance for my company. . . . It's all about
where you put your attention. (p. 13, Conley, 2007)

66 March, 2011
Introduction to Chapter Four
Modern work environments suffer from a number of issues: First, employees feel unfulfilled;
they have trouble relating their personal goals and values with organizational goals. Second,
theyre not highly motivated, and they tend to think management is most interested in profit.
Third, management has trouble sustaining, much less optimizing, employee motivation.

Where do these problems come from? Organizations focus primarily on results and profit,
quality of product and services second, then well-being of employees. The organizational
focus is imbalanced, weighted toward the physical or material, slighting values and quality of
experience. This fosters an environment that says, at least implicitly, When you come to work,
leave your values at the door. But without values and valued qualities of experience, work is
empty, a hollow shell.

From a personal point of view, it can be difficult to know how to foster your deepest values while
pursuing organizational goals. Yet if we cant do both simultaneously, theres a ceiling limiting
our sense of fulfillment.

Thus employees and management alike suffer from the lack of a vision and operational
method of optimal work which truly provides and actively fosters a natural meeting ground for
both personal fulfillment and organizational results, and which inspires people toward peak
performance, self-actualization, and optimal well-being. This chapter points out the availability of
such a natural, common, visionary meeting ground.

Establishing a playing field for peak performance

No matter what we individuals do in life, it has two aspects, our ongoing experience and the
recording of our intentions, goals and actions. We might call these two aspects of the game of
life the experiential field and the scoreboard.

To facilitate progress toward personal and organizational goals, each individual can define
performance values to measure his/her involvement along one or more dimensions of the
experiential field. As we act to accomplish our goals, we can then periodically measure these
values as a way to drive our progress.

Then, assuming that individuals periodically make suitable revisions of their performance
values, the following two practices should optimally drive and sustain long-term individual and,
for those involved in organizations, organizational progress--including simultaneously improving
productivity, quality of services and products, worker well-being and work capacity:
(1) The primary practice, related to the experiential field: Make increasing-involvement 'moves'
in the field as often as one can, while:
(2) Acting and keeping one's scoreboard at the back of one's mind.

67 March, 2011
Three steps are suggested for implementing this approach to Managing by Actualizing Values.

Step 1: Set up the outer, goal board by determining personal and organizational
goals and priorities.

It's ultimately up to the individual to decide whether to adopt particular individual and
organizational goals.

Step 2: Define a range of inner involvement in terms of specific experiential


performance values.

Inner involvement takes priority over behavioral involvement. Although experts in organizational
development are usually preoccupied with dynamics and methods of outer or behavioral
involvement, the most important aspect of all forms of behavioral involvement is inner, or
experiential.

There are many effective ways to define inner involvement. The utility of your definition
will clearly depend on two important factors. First, it depends on the 'fit' or congruence of
performance values chosen--by each individual--with the individual's personality, goals, and
religious or spiritual values and discipline. Without a significant degree of congruence, the
individual's well-being and performance will suffer. If the organization imposes values that
conflict with those of the individuals--even if it considers those values worthwhile, innate,
natural, divine, best values, empirically validated, obvious, whatever--there will be conflict and
overall progress will surely suffer.

For a particular individual, the transformational efficacy of a set of values also depends on the
individual's level of development. What's good for most people may not help a peak performer,
and vice versa. Therefore, the MBAV approach recognizes that each individual is, and should
be, the final arbiter of which values to use for transformational or practical purposes.

The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) national web site used to
state: Although there is an intellectual construct called high performance work, it does not have
a common definition. However, a definition of optimal work can be drawn (as was done for
peak performance in general in Chapter One) from common descriptions of peak experience by
Maslow, Murphy and White, Csikszentmihalyi, and Tarthang Tulku, among others. From their
works we can derive a vision of the zone and use it in our measurements of involvement during
work. Shared and irreducible attributes of cross-cultural peak experience can help provide
the experiential--not theoretical or behavioral or results-focused--direction for continuous
improvement, moving us toward realizing the zone and increasing engagement/involvement
whenever possible, and managing by actualizing values at the deepest levels.

Step 3: In order to optimally drive progress in productivity, well-being, quality,


and work capacity, continuously improve inner involvement.

68 March, 2011
The significant presumption here is that moves on the inner, experiential field drive both inner
and outer progress. But does changing the way we see the world really change the world we
see?

Certainty about the efficacy of driving progress via increasing involvement will probably come
only from validating it in your own experience. However, in his book Peak, Chip Conley confirms
this approach: I came to realize that creating peak experiences for employees, customers, and
investors fostered peak performance for my company. (p. 13, Conley, 2007) This approach
to optimal work constitutes a version of what might be called Managing by Actualizing Values
(MBAV), similar to Blanchard's Managing by Values approach, for which its stated, When
we keep our eyes on consistently operating our business by aligning with our core values, the
scoreboard does in fact take care of itself!" (p. 49, Blanchard, 1997)

There's no need to convert anyone to a particular set of values, practices, beliefs, or disciplines.
It's sufficient to clarify what is already in place within each person, to point out how it can
serve as the basis for managing by actualizing values, and to trust and support everyone's
progress. Then this approach can serve as a genuine meeting ground for personal fulfillment
and corporate results, and has real potential for breaking through the typical employee distrust
of managements motives.

69 March, 2011
70 March, 2011
Chapter Four

Managing, Producing, and Evolving by Actualizing


Values (MBAV)

Introducing the Issues

Individual contributors and managers alike suffer from the lack of a vision and operational
method of optimal work, or more generally, peak performance, which truly provides and actively
fosters a natural meeting ground for both personal fulfillment and organizational results, and
which inspires people toward peak productivity, self-actualization, and optimal well-being.

First, we can inquire whether there actually is a balanced, general vision of optimal work. If so,
instead of the modern preoccupation with bottom-line results, it would ideally balance concerns
about productivity, product and service quality, and employee well-being and work capacity.
And if its truly general--applicable to any person, environment, culture, and task--it cannot be
defined in terms of organizational structures, management styles, employee habits, and best
practices or processes. Though such a vision cant prescribe specific practices or processes,
perhaps it could tell us how best to do processes and practices by defining a set of possible
experiential "performance values" and tracking our progress within this set.

Second, we can inquire how workers can best motivate themselves, or be motivated. Besides
the usual external carrot-and-stick management methods, there is the inherent drive for
self-actualization described by Maslow. Are there ways for individual workers to set up a
challenging atmosphere centered on this perennial, intrinsic drive? If so, how can management
establish extrinsic organizational goals and yet support this intrinsic drive? Might it even be
possible to foster a genuine meeting ground for personal fulfillment and organizational results
that has real potential for breaking through the typical employee distrust of managements
motives?

Introducing the work game, the scoreboards, and the possible moves

No matter what we individuals do in life, it has two aspects, our ongoing experience, and the
records of our intentions, goals and progress toward these goals. As a shorthand analogy to a
sporting event, we might call these two aspects of the game of life the experiential field and the
scoreboard.

I propose that to optimally facilitate progress, each individual should (1) maintain a scoreboard
that represents progress toward both personal and organizational goals (determined as

71 March, 2011
described in step 1 below), and should then (2) focus on ones experiential field while making
different possible 'moves' of increasing involvement defined by performance values measured
along one or more dimensions (this will soon be explained further).

In the work game, where should we focus?

In a typical organization the primary emphasis is on productivity and the bottom-line outer
gameboard goals (step 1). Sometimes there is a secondary emphasis on quality of products
and services. Very seldom is there even the simple recognition of the importance of the natural
process of trying to deepen our concentration and involvement in the experiential field when we
try to improve performance.

Emphasizing results on the scoreboard can negatively affect employee well-being. By focusing
on results without a balanced attention to their well-being (which can be measured on the
experiential field) employees may produce a great deal during a long work crunch, yet burn out
in the process. It's clear that focusing on results, often touted as a kind of overall 'best practice',
does not guarantee optimal employee well-being or even long-term productivity. As Kenneth
Blanchard asked in Managing By Values, when you're playing tennis, what kind of results can
you expect if you keep focused on the scoreboard--measuring profit or results--rather than the
ball? (p. 49, Blanchard, 1997)

However, with a set of experiential performance values (defined in step 2 below), you can
drive balanced, overall personal and organizational progress--including improving quality, and
employee well-being--if everyone focuses on increasing their own engagement/involvement on
the experiential field rather than focusing on the scoreboard, productivity, or the bottom line,
all of which are lagging indicators. In the previous chapter there was an extended example
of how being aware of (and even measuring) involvement provides immediate feedback to
drive progress (see also What Guarantees Optimal Productivity and Well-Being? at http://
www.manage-time.com/involve.html ).

For clarity we can distinguish two types of involvement, behavioral and inner. Behavioral
involvement is measured in terms of a person's actions, or observable behavior. For example,
one might join a group concerned with the disarmament movement. This type of involvement
is often seen in black-and-white terms--that is, you're either involved in a movement or you're
not. Most of the literature on involvement or engagement uses this behavioral meaning (for
example, see dictionary.reference.com). However, use of the word involvement in this article
usually refers to inner, or experiential involvement, which can be measured by the degree to
which one is fully preoccupied or absorbed in whatever is at hand. It focuses on change in one's
perspective, or qualities of experience. While inner involvement is also often seen in black-
and-white terms, it can instead be measured along one or any number of dimensions of the
experiential field (discussed in detail below).

Outer involvement behavior, such as attending meetings, is often accompanied by 'moves'


or changes in inner involvement, but these two aren't always congruent: people can just act

72 March, 2011
the part, or "talk the talk" outside, but still not "walk the walk" inside. Without inner buy-in,
behavioral compliance is superficial acting.

Hypothesis: the best approach to optimal work is . . . .

In the previous chapter, we concluded that work progress naturally results from (1) noticing the
transition points where your (inner) involvement could either increase or decrease, making the
scenario either more simple/integrated or complicated/fragmented, and then (2) making a 'move'
in the direction of increasing involvement. This is the natural way that we improve productivity
usually without even thinking about it.

This leads to a hypothesis about the best way to drive progress, whether working on ones own
or as part of an organization. Presuming that there is sufficient organizational support (mostly
management understanding and trust) for the environment described below in steps 1 and 2,
the following work practices should optimally drive and sustain both long-term individual and
organizational progress--including simultaneously improving productivity, quality of services and
products, worker well-being and work capacity--in any culture and environment:

(1) The primary practice, focused on the experiential field: Make increasing-
involvement 'moves' as often as one can (a process defined as continuous
improvement), while:
(2) Working and keeping measures of one's progress and goals (the scoreboard) "at the
back of one's mind."

The significant presumption of the hypothesis is that the inner playing field and the scoreboard
are not separate, but related parts of a larger reality in which moves on the inner, experiential
field drive both inner and outer progress. Although most people in most cultures and in these
times have become preoccupied with the outer world, this statement redirects the emphasis
and says that the inner field is essential--and that outer results somehow follow directly from
inner progress. In his book Peak, Chip Conley confirms this: I came to realize that creating
peak experiences for employees, customers, and investors fostered peak performance for my
company. (p. 13, Conley, 2007)

This approach to optimal work constitutes a version of what might be called Managing by
Actualizing Values (MBAV), similar to Blanchard's Managing by Values approach, for which its
stated, When we keep our eyes on consistently operating our business by aligning with our
core values, the scoreboard does in fact take care of itself!" (p. 49, Blanchard, 1997)

We could reword it this way: Actualizing values drives inner and outer progress. When people
perform at their best, their attention is primarily on qualities of their immediate experience of
working, or on what could be called inner performance values--they are not preoccupied with
measuring or tallying the products and services they are producing or delivering. As Blanchard
says, when people do their best, "all of their attention is on what theyre doing . . . . The results
just seem to flow from this focus of energy . . . . [Yet] Lots of companies seem to watch only

73 March, 2011
their scoreboard-the bottom line. (p. 3, Blanchard, 1997)

Three steps are suggested for implementing this Managing by Actualizing Values approach.

Step 1: Set up the outer, goal board by determining personal and organizational
goals and priorities.

Each person identifies and prioritizes his or her personal and organizational goals using
common time management practices (For example, see conventional time management (http:/
/www.manage-time.com/103Frames.html on the Results in No Time website at www.manage-
time.com). This action is initially done, and updated periodically when useful, by every
individual in the organization, whether manager or individual contributor.

One should not start with an organizations mission alone, which just limits possibilities at the
outset. One should realize that the organization is just a part of a much larger whole, and the
MBAV goal here is to improve your performance in life in general, not to limit yourself to only
personal or corporate goals. Anyway, any effort to keep corporate and personal goals separate
is artificial--our personal lives affect our corporate lives, and vice versa.

Organizational goal-setting may be done privately by management, or more publicly with


(external) involvement or participation by other employees. The organization must at the very
least, somehow clarify and periodically update its goals and mission, and pass this direction on
to all employees.

These goals then are up for adoption by every individual employee--and it's ultimately up to the
individual to decide whether to adopt them. In some cases there may be personal ethical or
moral objections. In Managing by Values, Blanchard says, "a company creates a motivating
environment for its people--one in which employees can see that working toward the
organization's goals is in their best interest." (p. 23, Blanchard, 1997) However, presuming
that this is in fact the case, can be misleading or even dangerous. Personal freedom and
integrity take priority over trying to accommodate an organizational decision that one doesn't put
faith or credence in.

Personal goal-setting may be done privately or in a group setting. Ideally an organization


will provide time for identifying personal goals. Doing so demonstrates management's
understanding of the close connection and interrelationship of personal and organizational
goals, as well as support for, and trust in the efficacy of MBAV.

Step 2: Define a range of inner involvement in terms of specific experiential


performance values.

As discussed in Chapter Three (as well as my article What Guarantees Optimal Productivity
and Well-Being? (http://www.manage-time.com/involve.html, with a shorter version at http:/
/stevrandal.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/boosting-productivity-quality-and-well-being) inner,

74 March, 2011
experiential involvement in the current scenario is directly proportional to employee well-being,
productivity, and quality of product and service. We could symbolize it this way: I ~ W*P*Q.
Thus tracking and improving experiential involvement is both an indicator and a driver of all
aspects of progress. In addition, unlike other measures of progress defined in terms of specific
results, services, or production processes, the natural practice of tracking involvement--however
it is defined, as discussed below--has the important benefit that it can be used not only while
focusing on any task, but also as you switch between tasks, or even when there is no apparent
task at hand.

Inner involvement can be defined, as stated earlier, as by the degree to which one is fully
preoccupied or absorbed in whatever is at hand. It can also more generally be defined as a
measurement of one or more dimensions, with each dimension having a set of work-process or
performance values that are experientially possible during a work period. For this step 2, each
individual should specify his/her personal set of performance values to be used to measure
inner progress at work, and if desirable, during other times as well. There are many ways to do
thisyour choices will probably depend in part on your own personality, goals, and religious or
spiritual disciplines. Consider the core values that, for you or your organization, will guide and
shape the way you fulfill your purpose. Whatever your selection, how you define engagement
or involvement will determine what your suggestions are for improving them. Your definition will
also determine whether truly continuous improvement can be fostered using the performance
valuessome specifications do not provide sufficient granularity for continuous improvement.

As a first example of how to do this, one's performance level can be measured very simply
along a single dimension by choosing one of the following seven values: (1) avoiding, (2)
holding back, (3) being resigned to doing something, (4) getting into it, (5) being involved, (6)
being absorbed, and (7) being completely engrossed. Then at work you can periodically recall
your recent experience as if you were viewing a videotape replay, determine which of these
seven performance values best fits your experience, and then look for ways to improve. Using
these values provides a rough measure of involvement.

A second way to track engagement: define it as a combined measure of three dimensions,


awareness (A), concentration (C), and energy (E) (pp. 120-129, Tulku, 1994). You can assign
numbers from 0% to 100% for each of the three dimensions, and use the average of the three
values for a combined measure of involvement.

Third, you could estimate involvement as a combined measure of three dimensions of


integration, energy-flow, and spaciousness: a high degree of involvement can indicate an
experiential melding of objects and individuals, an effortless yet powerful flow of events, and a
sense of openness pervading the entire work scenario. A low degree of involvement could mean
that individuals and objects were strongly felt to be separate, intense effort was required to get
small things done, and the work scenario had a heavy or inert feeling.

Fourth, for fine granularity and precision, you could (a) define engagement as a combined
measure of the twelve dimensions defined in Chapter Three (and also in an article on the zone

75 March, 2011
published in the Jossey-Pfeiffer Bass 2007 Annual--see a similar version of this article at http:/
/groups.google.com/group/playing-in-the-zone). These dimensions or aspects of the zone
are close to being irreducible aspects of peak experience. Then (b), as in the second way to
track engagement above, chart the rise and fall of these twelve factors throughout the day by
periodically considering the following questions that contrast various aspects of ordinary work
from peak performance:

1. Are you applying effort or control to something that feels separate from you, or does your
activity seem to flow effortlessly by itself?
2. Do things feel familiar, somewhat predictable, or even habitual, or does each new
moment, along with all that appears in the momentary scenario, seem spontaneous and
fresh?
3. Are you looking forward to being done with the activity, or are you currently fulfilled
within your work-in-progress?
4. Do objects and events take up space and appear to be separate and dispersed, or are
do they seem intimately connected in and even as one space?
5. Is there a private space or personal world that feels separate from everything outside, or
do inner and outer, subjective and objective appear to be inseparable facets of the same
undivided space?
6. Is there a sense of self that stands apart from experience and externals, or do you feel
identified with, or absorbed in, what is happening?
7. Is knowledge simply something that you or others possess or lack, or is there a sense
of being intimately part of whats around you, knowing things that are happening from
inside them?
8. Is knowledge only identification, categorization, judgment, and detached observation, or
also an illuminating clarity merged with the subject being explored?
9. Are there divisions among your self, mind, body, and personality, or is there a natural
sense of wholeness, fulfillment, and satisfaction?
10. Are you driven by a need or a desire for pleasure, or is everything being found to be
immediately and inherently fulfilling?
11. Do you notice a feeling of time flowing in the background, or are you timelessly involved
in something?
12. Does reality seem solid, fixed, and substantial, or does everything seem somewhat fluid
or dreamlike?

However you define your involvement system, it would probably be helpful to compose some
questions to help determine your current performance level and the direction for progress.

For a particular individual, the transformational efficacy of a set of values depends on the
individual's level of development. What's good for most people may not help a peak performer,
and vice versa. Consider relating to one's work using average performance values limited by
inculcated experiential strictures (see http://stevrandal.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/whats-the-
zone-of-peak-performance/ on my blog). An individual who is experientially separate from the
work action, and who experiences the flow of time from past to present and future, has room

76 March, 2011
for improvement in the transition toward peak performance values. Because the spectrum of
available values is broad, the MBAV approach recognizes that each individual is, and should be,
the final arbiter of which values to use for transformational and practical purposes.

If, because of your growing insight and realization, you periodically make appropriate revisions
of your personal definitions of involvement, these performance values could gradually approach
the irreducible, core values of the 'zone' of self-actualization. By thus improving the precision
with which you observe the workflow, you will eventually have the granularity of feedback
necessary to directly approach peak performance.

Besides helping to empower every individual worker, centering our approach to peak
performance on increasing involvement relieves management of the effort involved in carrot and
stick methods of motivation. These methods depend on repeatedly filling individuals' lower-level
needs (such as approval and security), which can only be temporarily satisfied. In contrast,
the motivation toward self-actualization does not seem to die out. As Andrew Grove pointed
out, "Unlike other sources of motivation . . . self-actualization continues to motivate people to
ever higher levels of performance." (pp. 163-4, Grove, 1983) Thus he suggests that "Our role as
managers is . . . to . . . bring them to the point where self-actualization motivates them" (p. 168,
Grove, 1983)

Another huge advantage of this MBAV approach is that there's no need to persuade or convert
anyone (including managers, who often "don't have time for" this kind of approach) to adopt a
particular set of values, practices, beliefs, or disciplines. Organizational developers don't need
to adopt and implement another foreign program. The method allows and even fosters people's
own current religious or sectarian definitions of performance values on the experiential field.
It's sufficient to clarify what is already in place within each person, to point out how it can serve
as the basis for managing by actualizing values, and to trust and support everyone's progress.
Then this approach can serve as a genuine meeting ground for personal fulfillment and
corporate results, and has real potential for breaking through the common employee distrust of
managements motives.

Step 3: In order to optimally drive progress in productivity, well-being, quality,


and work capacity, continuously improve inner involvement.

The following two work practices should simultaneously optimize and sustain long-term
individual and organizational progress--including productivity, quality of services and products,
worker well-being and work capacity--in any culture and environment:

(1) The primary practice, focused on the Inner board: Make increasing-involvement 'moves' in
the field of experience as often as one can, while:
(2) Working and keeping one's goals for the results scoreboard at the back of one's mind.

About practice 1: Make increasing-involvement 'moves' in the experiential field as often


as one can.

77 March, 2011
Although as we grow older, most of us become preoccupied with the outer world, to win the
overall game of life, we need to focus and master our play on the inner, experiential Board. I
made some arguments discussing step 2 above to support this statement, but can I really prove
this to anyone? I doubt it. Though my arguments might be convincing, certainty about the
efficacy of driving progress via increasing involvement will probably come only from validating it
in your own experience. That was certainly true for me.

To try it out, view your experience as a kind of playing field where you are the only player. The
object of the game is to approach peak performance by driving inner involvement--in whatever
way you have defined it--as high as you can. To do this, as you work, occasionally notice
where you are in the range of performance values you defined in step 2. Are you experiencing
the peripheral values, or does your process currently exemplify the values toward the center,
towards what is sometimes called the 'zone' of peak performance? Use the questions you
wrote in step 2 to determine the level of your involvement, and the direction for improvement. If
it seems there is no restriction or limitation, no opportunity for improving our work process, you
can simply enjoy things and go on. However, it's often easy to identify a limitation on complete
involvement in the work scenario. There seem to be countless opportunities for most of us to
improve the degree to which we are absorbed. As we deal with those that are obvious to us,
before long it seems we are naturally presented with possible transition points that are more
subtle.

If you are aware of a performance value that is low or peripheral, do whatever you can to
change it to a central value. For example, if energy is a dimension that you're measuring by
a percentage value, and your estimate was 40%, do something to increase your energy level.
On the other hand, sometimes people will define dimensions in terms of values representing
feelings, such as the level of anxiety about time passing. Then you can simply attend directly to
the feeling for however long it persists. By noticing these feelings consistently and persistently-
-whether focusing only on these feelings or simultaneously continuing to work--you can
eventually dissolve the obstacle clouding the fuller and more frequent appearance of central
values in experience.

It could be helpful for motivated individuals to meet periodically (even if only around the tea/
coffee pot or dining area) and discuss obstacles and insights--our experiences are often very
similar and it can be helpful to share how we deal with them. Participants might also practice
various 'noticing' exercises designed especially to break up the limitations keeping us from
deepening our involvement. Management's support for such meetings would be influential.

About practice 2: Work and keep one's goals for the results scoreboard "at the back of
one's mind."

As mentioned in the introduction to this article, this approach to optimal work constitutes a
version of what might be called managing by actualizing values. When people perform at their
best, their attention is primarily on qualities of their immediate experience of working, or what

78 March, 2011
could be called inner performance values. And although they naturally and periodically recall
their tasks, objectives, and priorities as they work, they are not preoccupied with measuring or
tallying the products and services they are producing or delivering.

Conclusion

In order to optimally drive progress in productivity, well-being, quality, and work capacity
in any culture and environment, the primary focus should be to continuously improve inner
involvement, which is defined as a measure of one or more dimensions of values that are
experientially possible and measurable during a work period. Inner involvement takes priority
over behavioral involvement. Although experts in organizational development are usually
preoccupied with dynamics and methods of outer or behavioral involvement (as defined above),
the most important, driving aspect of all forms of behavioral involvement is inner, experiential--
without this, behavior is meaningless and robotic.

There are many effective ways to define inner involvement. The utility of your definition
will clearly depend on two important factors. First, it depends on the 'fit' or congruence of
performance values chosen--by each individual--with the individual's personality, goals, and
religious or spiritual values and discipline. Without a significant degree of congruence, the
individual's well-being and performance will suffer. If the organization imposes values that
conflict with those of the individuals--even if it considers those values worthwhile, innate,
natural, divine, best values, empirically validated, obvious, whatever--there will be conflict and
overall progress will surely suffer. Ideally, management will be willing to trust the discovery of
efficacious and naturally motivating values by each individual.

For a particular individual, the transformational efficacy of a set of values also depends on the
individual's level of development. What's good for most people may not help a peak performer,
and vice versa. Therefore, the MBAV approach recognizes that each individual is, and should
be, the final arbiter of which values to use for transformational or practical purposes. In
addition, this method allows an evolution in definitions of involvement when appropriate--and
with the average person this does happen occasionally.

As stated earlier, a huge advantage of this is that there's no need to convert anyone to
a particular set of values, practices, beliefs, or disciplines. It's sufficient to clarify what is
already in place within each person, to point out how it can serve as the basis for managing
by actualizing values, and to trust and support everyone's progress. Then this approach can
serve as a genuine meeting ground for personal fulfillment and corporate results, and has real
potential for breaking through the typical employee distrust of managements motives.

In addition to congruence of performance values chosen with the individual's personality and
preferences, efficacy of each individual's definition of involvement depends on the congruence
of these same performance values with what to some people are presumed (and to other
people are credible, or self-evident) essential, core, irreducible, or 'zone' values of what has
variously been called peak performance, self-actualization, self-realization, or enlightenment.

79 March, 2011
Managing by values is probably effective because of the focus on values instead of results, but
its efficacy also depends on what values are used, and how they are used.

The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) national web site used to
state: Although there is an intellectual construct called high performance work, it does not
have a common definition. However, a definition of optimal work can be drawn from common
descriptions of peak experience by Maslow, Murphy and White, Csikszentmihalyi, and Tarthang
Tulku, among others. From their works and many more by other researchers and writers we
can piece together a vision of the zone and use it in our measurements of involvement during
work. Shared and irreducible attributes of cross-cultural peak experience can help provide
the experiential--not theoretical or behavioral or results-focused--direction for continuous
improvement, moving us toward realizing the zone and increasing engagement/involvement
whenever possible, and managing by actualizing values at the deepest levels.

80 March, 2011
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