Causation vs Pausation – Beyond Cause-Effect




The Transformative Power in Pause-Potential

Some wonderings…. Can you pause – for a moment – that could be potentially transformative?

A pause as a stop, that is actually a movement, in the direction of new possibilities, for some growth, some development – of your consciousness, your self-awareness.

A pause that enables a cessation of your conventional default ‘auto-pilot’ mode… that is actually a creative act, triggering a change in trajectory, a novel perspective.

Are you ‘up’ for intentionally harnessing the power of pause, for exploring what might be generated, by giving pause a chance, to fundamentally change you?

Fortunately, my formal professional practice in recent years has been complemented and enriched by participation in a ‘community of practice’ – more informal, but highly informative – if not occasionally transformative. We hold ‘inquiries’ that interest us as a group; one inquiry a few years ago was around ‘the power of pause’[i].

I am being drawn back into that inquiry now, as I notice the stillness practices gaining prominence in new social learning initiatives, such as the presencing featured in U Lab work; stillness as a protracted pause. The presencing that is enabled in the stillness (at the bottom of the U, in the core of one’s ‘You’) can release incredible potential – that can be literally transforming. Which seems like a rather good fit for a course that is all about transforming… business, society and self [ii].

I’m sensing that there is perhaps a causation of sorts at work here – that is possibly more ‘pausation’. Again, I find I am being given pause – to reflect on its professional development potential, as part of the discernment of one’s ‘prof-essence’ [iii]. For those who might initially resist stillness practices, an invitation to simply pause might garner more attention, in the spirit of some experimentation – not so much in the realm of cause and effect, but more in the field of pause and potential.

I again take heart from my earlier exploration into the power of pause. The inquiry was highly generative, a testament to the value of the dialogue that can be achieved in a community of practice that affords a unique combination of amenity, intimacy and curiosity. Invariably, such inquiries – which often felt like pregnant pauses in my then ‘normal’ professional life – transport me into new realms of experience, which take the form of what I have come to call ‘in-sightings’. These often manifest in, literally, new terms – that attempt to capture the essence of the insights. That particular inquiry had me wondering about the possibility of pause as the root of a phenomenon on a par with causation; namely, pause as linked to pausation (in the same way that cause is linked to causation).

It seems to me that so much of what professionals profess nowadays is based on an appreciation of ‘cause-effect’, rendering much ‘standard’ or ‘conventional’ practice as applied science. This has often felt unduly limited – and limiting – to myself. What about not only the application of science as a frame for our practice, but also the application of art (or the arts), and the application of humanity (or the humanities) … and enacting such multi-dimensional integration by design? Is this cause for pause?

Might pause – and stillness as protracted pause – power such a reframing? Potentially, I would suggest – if pause was associated with pausation, in a world where ‘becoming’ was as privileged as ‘being’, where we take our leadership cue from what is already emerging. Pausation targets what that might be – what might come into being – as much as causation effectively targets what has been, or what is currently. While we obviously must continue to pay homage to the power of ‘cause-effect’, can we also equally credit what I sense is its twin – ‘pause-potential’?

What are the ‘pausatives’ in pausation? The initial inquiry provoked me quite profoundly to confront how I relate with respect to pause, to making it operable in my terms. My ‘pausatives’ emerged as interesting conjunctions – with convention, with creativity, and with transformation [iv]. Part of my sense of pause is associated with a break from convention (an absence of pause) into ‘post-convention’ (pregnant with pausation).

The power of pause initially felt most compelling in the context of programmed experiential personal/professional development activities, with the conscious injection of an opportunity to simply pause – from what was otherwise a normal course of events, or a regular/routine flow of experiencing. No other requirements, or expectations – of the facilitator, or the participants. Just a pause. An opening of sorts, a clearing. A suspension of what might otherwise be the case. A letting-go, with the possibility of a letting-come.

If we think about it, most of our awake existence is characterized by an absence of pause in this respect – we are more likely to be on active, ongoing, busy ‘auto-pilot’, which can also be code for being ‘other-driven’. An actual pause is therefore – almost by definition – out-of-the-ordinary, if not outright extra-ordinary… when we consciously opt to check in with our Self. As such, it is a break with convention, but it is not so much unconventional, as post-conventional – if the underlying intention is effectively to tap the potential in the pause.

To pause, in this sense, is essentially – perhaps without fully ‘knowing’ it – a future-regarding, rather than past-respecting, move – taking it beyond reflection as retrospection, and beyond therapeutic intervention. Indeed, it is less a therapy for what might currently ail us – that we might want to put a stop to, or cease – than an active whole-seeking intervention, in the sense of action with a view to enabling a new envisioning, tapping into the potential, in ever-more-whole-making. In some interpretations, the (pause-potential) intention would be less around what ‘ails’ us, as what ‘wells’ us… what supports/enables our ongoing well-being, by attending to our well-becoming.

Etymologically, the root of ‘well’ is ‘whole’. Pause represents a potential whole-making place, dissolving divides, effecting integration – in service of our evolution (with ‘our’ defined in the best, broadest sense of the word). Consider that to ‘evolve’ is to become ‘ever-more-whole’. The invocation to pause can thus also be extended to embrace all dimensions of our selves – not simply body and mind. Pause can intrinsically invoke the intelligence in one’s heart and soul, and spirit; the potential in pause, pause-potential, is potentially infinite. ‘Prof-essence’ thus becomes an inner place for evolving what you profess, in the moment – an awareness of your awareness arising.

[i] A longer commentary on this particular inquiry, held in 2012, may be found here:

[ii] See:

[iii] For more on the notion of ‘prof-essence’

[iv] See Endnote 1, above, for more discussion of these conjunctions.

The Purpose of Place (Michael Jones)

The Purpose of Place (Michael Jones, The Soul of Place, Glossary entry, p. 264-265)

[I have been collecting several of the ‘glossary’ entries from Michael Jones, in his book, The Soul of Place   I feel – in these glossary entries especially – he is helping us into some place-based languaging that can advance our own placemaking efforts. This one is on ‘the purpose of place’]

“As we enter the world of leadership, being place-based is how we keep the dream of childhood alive, and with this dream, the source of our own creative power and well-being.

Being place-based also respects the appetite many have to engage our world through something more than the anonymous transactional relationships that make up much of our public lives. When we feel connected to a place our relationships are more meaningful and significant and we tend to the places in our world in a more caring way.

Experiencing the soul of a place also reminds us that we are ‘creatures of belonging’. As such, places help us feel more rooted, more at home and more connected to something larger than ourselves.

Raising the consciousness of place also increases our awareness of the extent to which we are shaped by our surroundings including nature, culture and community as much as we shape them. That is, we learn to appreciate how each evokes something from the other and that we are essentially sentient beings whose moods and emotions are deeply influenced by the subtle forces of tonality and atmosphere that move around and about us.

So, the purpose of place is to inspire a new guiding narrative, one rooted in a shift in our world view from seeing our environment as a backdrop primarily constructed out of impersonal bits and pieces of things, a legacy from the industrial age, to a world that is alive, complex, artful and intelligent – a world of place”.


Presencing Prof-Essence

Learning Journey u.lab 2016: September 15, 2016: Presencing Prof-Essence

Although I’m now retired (but actually re-firing!) the past week or so has found me in ‘back-to-school’ mode, re-engaging with an extraordinary ‘mooc’ – a massive open online course

I first engaged with this course in its previous iteration, last Fall, while in Scotland. This course is a very big deal in Scotland right now (there is a discrete  U Lab Scotland ‘supplement’ to the main course – delivered by MIT through edX). This Fall my experience of the course will be from Canada, from my current home base in North Saanich, BC. I hope to focus more on this particualr experience in future posts – as I sense into the new course ‘field’ that I expect to be tilling in coming weeks and months. For now I will simply indicate that….

I am particularly interested in the course because of the focus on transformation – especially in relation to my ongoing interest in transformational professional learning. I have already set an intention of sorts for myself in relation to the course, building on the presencing that is central to the U Theory that underlies the course (NB while the focus is on presencing the course is equally concerned with its counter-point, absencing). Because of my ‘professional’ learning interests, my intention revolves around ‘enabling the presencing of prof-essence via professional-self design’. This would be one’s ‘professional essence-in-action’, borne out of one’s heightened awareness of this potential dimension in anyone who identifies as ‘professional’.

Such ‘prof-essence’ is for aware individuals to design themselves – and with like-minded, like-hearted, and like-willing others – as an engine of transformation, as a manifestation of their transformency, as their leadership in action. The u.lab involves experimenting with development of capacity for ‘leadership from the emerging future’. The professional-self design I have in mind would seek to ‘source’ the requisite leadership to help actualize the wellbeing that WE – the highest achievable collective – seek to will into existence. Not simply through the work of our minds, but also – and perhaps moreso – from the centre of our hearts and the depths of our souls.

I am conceiving ‘prof-essence’ as three professional ‘makings’ at work, each encompassing a key transformation: praxis (personal – from ‘me’ to ‘I’, from small self to large Self); ethos (interpersonal – from ‘I’ to ‘We’); and poiesis (trans-personal – from ‘We’ to ‘All of Us (beyond ‘them and us’)’. The associated ‘self-design’ engages several elements, each of which might be perceived to contribute to one’s ‘prof-essence’. The elements include consideration of various ‘pairings’, ‘standings’, ‘settings’ and ‘transformings’ – which I will seek to address at greater length in the course of the course. For now I will simply mention that the ‘pairings’ entail an effort to cultivate particular awareness of, and a particular intent to align: self and service; soul and role; spirit and purpose (one more ‘inner’; the other more ‘outer’).

These ‘makings’ are further conceived as part of a larger ‘whole-making’ endeavour, aligning with a wellbeing imperative – as the bottom-line, and highest aspiration – closing the divides, in greater integrations of integrated-ness – on our insides, and integration-ability – on our outsides. The ensuing wholeness may be envisaged as an integration of the classic virtues – goodness, truth and beauty, in a movement devoted to ‘ever-more-whole-making’. The emerging future I am willing – as our existential ‘pull’ – might therefore be an infinitely compounding G.T.B. … perhaps G~T~Bn ….

[If you are curious about the course, check it out at:

And for a quick ‘taste’, sample the short mini-course designed for curious u.lab ‘newbies’: The latter can be completed in around two hours]

Exploring the Inner Ledges of Knowing


[In 2014 TEDx Victoria invited folks to address ‘The Pursuit of Knowledge’, and I surprised myself by dreaming up an offering. It was not selected for presentation at the time, but I came across it again recently, and find that many aspects are still alive for me.

 I have been hoping for some time to experiment with having a web-site presence, and tackling some blogging – and my idea back then, for a focus, is still vibrating. It seems to want to get out – some inner goings-on that want to come out into the light of day. Here’s my opening out-coming… my coming-out, into the blogosphere. I’m curious about any curiosity this sparks in you]

Out-comes and In-goes: Exploring the Inner Ledges of Knowing

I have a curiosity about the pursuit of a particular type of knowledge – self-knowledge. The scope of the pursuit is through ‘inner work’. This places ‘it’ squarely in the realm of consciousness, as a complement to ‘outer work’ in the realm of concrete form. The operative motivation is in service of greater ‘integrated-ness’ (on the ‘inside’ – our inside) and greater integration-ability (on the outside – our exterior world).

I have a particular interest in ‘off-the-ledge’ (outside the box) ways of knowing and being, that stretch the notion of knowledge and related conceptions of understanding, especially through more ‘integral’ framings, that privilege whole-making.

Consider. Knowledge can seem to be mostly or mainly about outcomes – about what emerges from a linear inquiry process – essentially and/or especially objective in essence, and often having the quality of being certified by a scientific method framing. But what about the inner workings – the inside-goings-on – that may determine the evident outcomes?

Consider further. Knowledge is as much subjective and inter-subjective as it is objective and inter-objective. The pursuit of such inner self-knowledge, about the worlds of I and We, merits as much consideration as the pursuit of knowledge about the worlds of It and Its. And pursuit of knowledge about the past and the present needs to be matched by the pursuit of knowledge about the future.

Suggestion. New dispositions are needed to pursue such expanded forms of knowledge, to achieve the necessary comfort and capacity to sufficiently engage new horizons… to go out on limbs that are ledges – at the edges of knowing and at the interface with the unknown. An inner self-knowledge disposition favours the mobilization of novel perspectives – to help peer over the ledge: outcomes and ingoes; in-sights and out-of-sights; under-standing and over-standing; inner-standing and outer-standing.

Privileging the future, as much as the past or present, also invokes new inquiry territory – the cause-effect of the conventional scientific method becomes the pause-potential of a post-conventional orientation; thinking and doing are complemented by presencing and enacting, and a prime concern with being and becoming. The transformational power of pause beckons (another blog – to come).

Hypothesis. Knowledge is not the preserve of a remote institution, nor something produced by an inanimate process. It is fundamentally subjective and inter-subjective. Each of us possesses an amazing instrument – our selves (ideally our Selves) – gauging qualities and quantities, with sensitivity and sensibility. Each of us possesses a vast consciousness, full of discoveries to come – a source of unimaginable growth and development. Each of us is part of a wider field – of mutual resonance, alignment and synchronicity – that can feed us… knowledge-in-the-making, to be pursued.

Tweet-meat. Knowledge represents out-comes that depend on in-goes – inside-goings-on, that we also need to more consciously pursue – at the ledge of our knowing.