The trialogue is an exploratory method that the late ethnobotanist Terence McKenna used at the Esalen Institute and Omega Institute to cocreate new knowledge informed by interdisciplinary expertise. McKenna’s trialogues featured mathematician Ralph Abraham and biologist Rupert Sheldrake. More recently, Erik Davis and Douglas Rushkoff have continued the tradition. The theoretical physicist David Bohm developed a similar method for dialogue and group work.
Floyd, Ramos and I discussed this approach in February-April 2006 after taking three different
iterations of Advanced Professional Praxis a ‘capstone’ project unit in
Swinburne University’s Strategic Foresight program. Richard Slaughter provided a focal point as he assembled papers for a special issue of the journal Futures (Elsevier) on Integral Futures Methodologies (November, 2007). For over a decade, Slaughter had synthesised a Futures knowledge base of new frameworks, methodologies and visions. Informed by Ken Wilber‘s Integral vision, Slaughter proposed Integral Futures as a “broader and deeper” horizon for Futures work. Wilber and Slaughter galvanised a new cohort of practitioners to develop new Integral Futures methodologies. Yet new creative horizons may create new problems.
How can Integral Futures practitioners be ethically informed about their new methods? Our trialogue proposes Embodied Foresight as one possible way to achieve this: the cultivation of ethical sensitivity, situation awareness about the Teacher-Student relationship and pedagogical barriers, and self-reflection on the transformative potential of initiatory knowledge and wisdom traditions. Or, “foresight-in-context” may anticipate and prevent hazards that might have unforeseen consequences.
The trialogue creates a space for each of us to bring theoretical frameworks and practitioner reflections into the discussion. Floyd brings expertise in Zen Buddhism, cognitive science and phenomenology, and a familiarity with Wilber and Evan Thompson‘s research. Ramos brings transcultural experiences in Futures, action research, and postcolonial insights on “model monopolies”. I added some insights from mid-1990s exploration of the Gurdjieff Work and the Temple of Set, and experiences during Masters studies, publishing and research projects.
From our trialogue’s conclusion:
Embodied Foresight offers some emergent solutions for the individual practitioner to the challenges and difficulties of Integral Futures practice. These reflexive ‘problems’ are part of diffusion, initiation and knowledge transfer in many wisdom traditions. Our ‘trialogue’ has raised several ‘reflexive’ problems-from Teacher-Student relationships and pedagogical barriers to the archetypal dangers of Phobos and Thanatos-that each of us has personally experienced within the Futures Studies community and in other initiatory and wisdom traditions.