Review by Marilyn Hamilton, Founder of Integral City and author of Integral City Book Series
Terry Patten’s New Republic of the Heart is a book not just for Revolutionaries but for at least three tribes all active in the current public discourse. Patten names them as Innovators, Ecologists and Evolutionaries. These three tribes are critical to the functioning of cities that we would categorize as Smart (promoted by the Innovators); Resilient (admired by the Ecologists); and Integral (postulated by the Integralists).
The readers who are most likely to traverse the first Part of Patten’s book on Fragmentation and Wholeness are likely to belong to the Ecologists and Evolutionaries – primarily because they would have the empathy and patience to review the picture of the world’s great dilemmas that the human species now faces. From our perspective at Integral City the key to engaging Innovators would be to offer an invitation that would appeal to their strengths, as Patten outlines in Part 2 (Chapter 10). Otherwise, the Innovators may well fall into the consensus trance, that Patten points out is one of the major dilemmas that prevent us from challenging the invasion of technology. So, what seemingly improves our convenience of life at the same time robs us of our quality of life. In city life this tension may be emerging as most evident in the inequality of compensations that flow to technocrats but seem to flow away from the poor and middle-class traditionalists (who are likely not even included in the purviews of the Ecologists or Evolutionaries). This kind of disparity translates into financial capitals and spatial capitals that unfairly privilege the few at the expense of the many.
Patten can build his argument on his years of direct research with scientists, environmentalists, activists, spiritual seekers and integrated consciousness adepts. So, he paints a graphic picture of the multidimensional causes that have produced unintended consequences and many wicked problems that have no easy answers. He points to tipping points, that can signal very rapid change, but he also considers the indicators that show change can take generations to percolate through a society.
When we consider these discontinuities in terms of finding ways to generate quality of life in the city, we are confronted with the condition that most major cities of the world contain all the major cultures of the world. But we do not yet have the governance systems to negotiate amongst them nor recalibrate our decision methodologies. So, we would do well to take Patten’s warnings to heart and open the conversations between the 4 Voices of the City who might, working together as a whole system, find ways to open new pathways for translating inner longing into outer action.
The juxtaposition of different worldviews in the city may be the source of sufficient dissonance to make the changes that make the difference to improve the quality of life. Patten points to the practices of gratitude, grieving and spiritual activism as sources of hope. Gratitude for the blessings of modern technology and post-modern caring; grieving to honour what we are beginning to realize we must let go of (like technologies that cause pollution, waste energy and endanger health); and spiritual activism to move us beyond political correctness into the “higher callings of our natures”.
These suggestions seem to be more doable at the city scale than larger social systems. For example, it would seem, on a survey of the world’s politicians, that the Mayors are taking greater risks and commitments to change than any of the politicians at so-called higher political levels at state/province or nation (climate change action is a good example). Thus, we may consider the importance of local and regional power to change the world for the better (as in associations of cities and/or regions) – while at the same time becoming aware that these urban scales are gaining the stature to embrace and influence their eco-regions as a way of amplifying positive impacts on the planet.
Patten is a lifelong activist and he reviews the history of activism and activists who have changed the social fabric of the developed world by valuing unconditional love and seeking a happiness to which all humans are entitled. He contrasts the value of plurality revealed and affirmed by people with these worldviews embedded in local social networks and civil society to the profit-driven, consumerist strategies of the techno-modernists who have captured markets and minds at a global scale.
At the scale of the city, applying Patten’s injunctions and sensitivities to remember “the cruelties of the shadows of activism” could give our urban systems increased senses of our true undivided and interconnected wholeness. But in a world that is continuously complexifying and as a result, fragmenting, it is all too easy to strip the dignities of cultures and relationships by looking for over-simplified solutions that flatten the causes of injustices to a “one size fits all” set of policies that in fact serve no one. The paradox of fragmentation in an age of systems thinking that is capable of framing wholeness is an underlying source of the VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – conditions that characterize our daily lives.
In the face of the many paradoxes that contribute to our VUCA cities in a VUCA world, Patten considers the evolutionary trajectory of our species and steps boldly into a terrain for which he has been a major and articulate contributor to its mapping – namely, “radical integral ecology”. This ecology, which is as applicable to cities as any other form of ecology, has at its centre the evolutionary impulse. This impulse drives the path of change irrevocably to unfold in all four domains (quadrants) of bio-psycho-cultural-systems realities. Patten reviews the steps of differentiation and integration that mark each stage of complexity that has emerged (through Traditional, Modern, Postmodern stages) and culminates in our “integral revolution”. He describes the involutionary and evolutionary energies that manifest in the city through Beauty, Goodness and Truth (See Integral City Book 2, Map 5). Thus, he makes the case for the characteristics of healthy city emergence, that Integral City frames as Place Caring (through consciousness/ Beauty and culture/Goodness) and Place Making (through behaviors and systems/Truth).
Patten concludes Part 1 of his book, with a call to both the collective and individual revolution of the heart – “a growing capacity for appreciation, care, generosity, courage and creativity [that] is both a solo and a team effort.” This is the pioneering territory that Integral City has been exploring through “we-space” with its core team and its biomimetic exploration of the “human hive” (in Integral City, Book 1).
Having laid out the life conditions and environmental context of the New Republic in Part 1, Patten goes on in Part 2 to explore “Being the Change” through whole-system practices that stimulate whole-system change. While Part 1 drew from many sources to describe the levels of complexity and shadow that challenge our world, in Part 2, Patten reveals his heartfulness – both in its broken and grieving state, as well as its transparent and tender capacity to witness the conditions of life at their darkest, brightest and “the only way they could be”.
Patten goes on to share the spiritual practices that enable the co-existence of paradoxical tensions that tear apart the human life. He enjoins us to move from seeker to practitioner, giving us encouragement to discover and maintain the practices that grow consciousness that have staying power and do not “wear off” in the face of the realities of family life or amongst the frictions of multiple cultures that are the realities of our cities. He reminds us of Murphy and Leonard’s conclusions after witnessing powerful state changes at Esalen in the 1960’s that stage change only happens when practise is continual and in multiple dimensions of life. This must include the collective domains of relationships, work places, communities, and the many systems with which our daily lives intersect in the city. Patten reminds us that the inner practice must manifest as outer practice and that attention and intention of practice in these multi-dimensional “dojos” are what can result in transformation. He considers the discipline of “practising in every moment” and the necessity of connecting the head, the heart and the hara to gain the alignment of our multiple centres of intelligence. As co-author of Integral Life Practice, Patten draws from the cross-training and individual body, mind, spiritual and shadow work that is needed to mark progress along the trajectory of adult developmental learning.
While Integral City (books, blogs, website, trainings) describes the practices and intelligences needed for optimizing the quality of life at the scale of the “human hive”, Patten digs deeply into the bio-psycho-relational-systemic practices that the individual must commit to for individual change. He reminds us of the 4 ways of being a leader (proposed by Erhard and Jensen): authenticity, taking full responsibility for one’s life, commitment and integrity. At the same time, Patten opens the discussion of “we space” practices. He shows how they are offering promises of developmental amplification beyond the singular focus of individual practice. They take on deep change to, with and as human culture. Only in this way can we create the conditions which the 4 Voices in an Integral City can aspire to catalyze – to be fully alive in each moment.
Patten spends time cultivating the habitat of “soul work” that has attracted him to explore first for himself and then coach others to discover the calling that arises from the natural interconnections of archetypes, self-narratives and cultural myths. He invokes the spirit of Joseph Campbell and the koanic parables of Rumi to dive below the surface of ego and even the arrested development caused by collective and individual trauma. Patten retells the stories that both hold us in our trance but also finds others that open gateways to new fields of energy. Integral City accesses similar territory through our “storytelling intelligence” and our practice of Systemic Constellation Work where the invisible, even ancestral energies embedded in the city are revealed and released. Patten draws from the same Rumi poem that differentiates Integral City in respect to other (less complex) city paradigms. He quotes Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Integral City has recalibrated this sentiment to the city scale with: “Out beyond the Smart City, Out beyond the Resilient City, Lives the Integral City. There is a Knowing Field, We will meet you there.”
Patten moves into his exploration of evolutionary activism with a powerful quote from Andrew Harvey: “When… the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force – the power of wisdom and love in action – is born.” He examines the nascent communities of practise that are discovering the powers of “we-space” that deepen forms of communication to draw on inner technologies while navigating the expanding and often confusing influences of outer technologies that are invading and ordering our lives – often without any permission from those most affected. Patten shares several significant experiments where evolutionary activists have impacted communities as diverse as a forestry community in British Columbia Canada to the regeneration of the lake that used to exist where Mexico City currently is located. His examples seem to provide evidence that no government nor private sector actors can make change on their own. On the other hand, each of the examples seems to support Integral City’s methodology of requiring input from all 4 Voices of the city to make change that transforms life conditions (Citizens, Civic Managers, Business and Civil Society).
While Patten laments the intransigence to change of political life at the national scale, especially in the United States, he invokes the possibility of making change with a community of friends. He goes on to recommend that the next Buddha is likely to be a sangha and realizes the praxis of our “we-space” relationships to grow capacity and resolve conflict is going to mean engaging the voices from at least three tribes.
Patten draws on another inspirator of Integral City methodologies – Margaret Wheatley – reminding us through her voice of the power of conversations. He explores with whom and how community dialogues can be initiated – especially challenging our assumptions about the potential dignities and disasters of the parallel discourses occurring within but far too seldom across the three tribes he names – Innovators, Ecologists and Evolutionaries.
Even as Patten is sure those conversations must be woven into a unifying fabric, he may want to borrow another of Margaret Wheatley’s influences on Integral City – and that is to inquire when entering a human system like a community or city, “Where is the energy?” By convening a conversation with the expressers of energy, it always becomes a starting point to invite in the 4 Voices – who by their nature, generally not only include Patten’s 3 Tribes but also the Traditionalists and the Civil Society who tend not to be made up from Patten’s 3 Tribes.
That being said, Patten’s concluding chapter turns the mirror squarely on the reader and declares that “we are it” – we are the ones who are going to make the change that needs to – wants to – seeks to – happen. Patten declares despite all the dire warnings he outlined in Part 1, that it is never too late. He invokes the power of the “don’t know mind” and encourages us to take courage and act, all the while knowing that we won’t get things perfect. But the opportunities for synergy both entangle and catalyze us to show up to co-create the New Republic of the Heart. Patten assures us (despite our many imperfections) we possess “the greatness of the human spirit, in all the ways our predicament is calling for”.
In Integral City terms we would call forth the Master Code as an expression of this New Republic of the Heart. We would say it is the first time in history when we can be aware of our choices to – simultaneously – Take Care of our Selves, So that we can Take Care of Others, So Together we can Take Care of our Places and Take Care of our Planet.
We recommend Terry Patten’s New Republic of the Heart as an ethos and a fierce message that informs us how and why we should live the Master Code to bring our cities fully alive in service to the wellbeing of Gaia, our planet. Patten offers us what we might call a New Integral Civics of the Heart that is profound, caring and practical. He has given us 11 chapters of conversations we should be initiating in every city on our planet of cities.