Yields and Flows

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Redbird
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Yields and Flows

Post by Redbird »

Greetings!

After going over the ERE Wheaton levels, I believe that I'm at level 5 (Optimization) and that if I could get to level 6 (Yields and Flows), I could quit my job right now. But, I'm not sure I grasp what Yields and Flows looks like. Are there any additional examples that illustrate this level? I'm not necessarily looking for tactics to copy but hoping for a better general understanding to spur my thinking in that direction.

For reference from the ERE wiki:

Yields and Flows
How can expenses get even lower when efficiency is already maximized? By playing a different game altogether. This might mean breaking the rules and not automatically accepting what everyone else perceives to be necessary. One concrete example of this is vandwelling as a solution for shelter, which requires a certain type of mastery over self. At a minimum it means being willing and able to use alternative forms of capital to meet needs and wants. Non-financial forms of capital become just as relevant as money is to the previous levels, and one becomes proficient in managing the flows. This mindset is beyond budgets, as they capture only one dimension of spending.

Thank you!

jacob
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by jacob »

At earlier stages, everything (things, activities) are still seen in the framework of money buying products to consume. The optimization is on getting the best product for the lowest price or the most consumption out of a product.

With flows, one begins to consider inputs of forms other than just money and outputs in forms other than just waste/garbage. Outputs can become inputs for other processes. Cooking with leftovers instead of throwing them is an example.

With yields, one considers the outputs of side-effects for a process. For example, walking might have the primary goal of getting to a destination but also has a side-effect output of exercise which is an input to a better health.

This is level 6.

At level 7, this is built into a coherent system.

ERE book has more in chapters 5 and 7.

slsdly
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by slsdly »

I've been making progress on level 6 I think. Jacob mentioned the obvious one, I walk and/or cycle from the office, even in the Canadian winter; it is much less stressful than transit anyways. Some other examples: Instead of throwing them in the organics bin (or trash), I turn organic eggshells into calcium supplements, just add lemon juice and they dissolve into calcium citrate. I volunteer with one of my exercise clubs, which covers my fees for those particular events in exchange for a very small amount of my time that was captive anyways.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by black_son_of_gray »

Redbird wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:15 pm
This mindset is beyond budgets, as they capture only one dimension of spending.
Indeed, each of the upper ERE Wheaton levels are based in fundamentally different mindsets, starting narrow and getting broader at each level. Optimization is lower dimensional than yields/flows, which in turn is lower than systems/networks. But the abstract/nominalized (there's a $10 word!) language just sounds like gobbledygook.

So here are some specific examples relating to exercise equipment:

Optimizing: You purchase a brand new Thighmaster on sale for a great price. It is a fine piece of exercise equipment that does a great job on your thighs, and you got a great deal! You dutifully follow the included program and your thighs make great strides for a few years, then the device wears out or you stop using it for whatever reason, and it winds up in the trash or donated to a thrift shop. But you're satisfied with the quality of the thigh workouts and the total price paid.

Yields/flows: You purchase a used set of kettlebells/dumbells. They have some scuffs on them, but for your purposes it doesn't matter - and you got them for way cheaper than new. They are also quite versatile, and you spend the next few years using them for a number of different exercise programs when you get bored or max out your potential with the program you are doing. You use them for maybe an hour after work every other day, and maybe you start to experiment with creating your own routines. When you finally decide to part with them, you are able to sell them on Craigslist for about the same price you paid for them, so the net cost of ownership was close to $0.

Systems/networks: You purchase* a used bicycle with a rack and panniers, and you perform your own maintenance on it. You take trips sometimes solely for exercise, but more often than not you are using the bike to transport groceries (and use the panniers instead of plastic bags), commute to work, or visit friends. You find that you don't need to schedule exercise time into your day in 1 hour blocks anymore (although you can if you want) because you get a decent amount of exercise just from incorporating the bike into your lifestyle. Your commuting costs, resource usage, and interaction with the local neighborhood (etc.) are also beneficially effected. You've also learned how bikes works and have gained riding and repairs skills. You can sell the bike on Craigslist for about what you pair for it - or if you wanted to, you could fix up bikes and flip them for a profit.

*or maybe you share one with a friend, or you find one in a dumpster and repair it, lots of non-consumerist options here.

With optimizing, you are looking narrowly at value and cost. Sure the Thighmaster might be the best thigh-related device, but it's only exercise value is for the thighs, and it has no other non-exercise value. And as for cost, while you got a good deal on a new one, all of the purchase price is degrading to $0 by the end. With yields/flows, value and cost are looked at more broadly in time and space. The purchase price, even if very high, isn't as important as the total cost of ownership, which can be very low if the eventual reselling price is approximately the same as the buying price. Key here is that you are looking at value across the whole span of your interaction with it, not just when it was bought (e.g. optimizing). The weights are also more versatile, which means that their value spills over into different exercise routines that you might want to do. With systems/networks, you start looking at the cost and value of things so broadly that boundaries become arbitrary and fuzzy. The bike is exercise but also transportation, a way to learn a skill, an outlet to experiencing your city differently - and all of those aspects have some value. Biking frequently also breaks down the boundaries around the definition of "exercise", which in the weights and Thighmaster context meant a separate, dedicated time period set apart in your schedule, but now it's all just mashed up together with "living your life". At this level, you're looking at the cost and value not simply of a single thing/behavior over the course of your interaction/participation with it, but across your whole lifestyle and all the other things you own and/or interact with. Does this one thing "lift up" or support numerous other goals/systems/routines that you have in your life? How do the other goals/systems/routines that you have in your life in turn impact this one thing that you are considering? Because the cost and value are spread across so many other aspects of the lifestyle, calculating it for any particularly element becomes perhaps ironically, extremely difficult. This is also why money itself starts to become almost irrelevant once a robust system is up and running smoothly.

Of course, I just randomly plucked those specific examples (Thighmaster, weight set, bike), but I hope that helps with getting a grasp on how mindsets change on the way up the ERE Wheaton levels. For certain particular purchases/behaviors, it's often easy enough for someone at a lower level to just copy the purchase/behavior of someone at a higher level, with good results. However, the change in mindset (which is, frankly, very difficult to bring about) is ultimately the most crucial factor.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by Jin+Guice »

This discussion has been very helpful to me. I'm also a level 5 struggling to see why I'd even want to get to level 6. I see from this discussion that I didn't understand what level 6 and beyond meant. I didn't fully understand what level 5 either. I'd been trying to "do more DIY stuff," but viewed from an optimizer viewpoint. I've been trying to do too much too fast and getting frustrated. I can see that I need to change my mindset from optimizing to reducing frictions.

Have others found it is helpful to actually focus on "getting to the next level" or to focus on the end goal of achieving the highest level with the understanding that levels cannot be skipped?

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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by jacob »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:20 am
Have others found it is helpful to actually focus on "getting to the next level" or to focus on the end goal of achieving the highest level with the understanding that levels cannot be skipped?
There was some disagreement when constructing the initial Wheaton table with some saying that they were doing a little bit of each of the levels. To me that's like a karate-ka saying that they know some black-belt moves and some green-belt moves.. and various other graduations. There are different teaching philosophies as to how to go about it. Some martial arts will only teach you the next level once you're graduated from the current. Others will teach you everything. The risk in the latter approach is that "the understanding that levels cannot be skipped" is easily ignored.

If one follows the progression of focusing on the next level, then https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence follows naturally.

Current = Unconscious competence (your de facto level)
Current+1 = Conscious competence
Current+2 = Conscious incompetence
Current+3 = Unconscious incompetence

Instead of the four stages of competence, it's also possible to use the CCCCCC-model.

I'd also note that the experience is different when one is trail-blazing because it's impossible to know what is up ahead w/o a map. Note that the table is vague on level 8 and doesn't have levels 9+ ... That's because they're in the domain of incompetence of those of us who made the table. Conversely, a table exists, it's easy too fool oneself into believing that one groks (unconscious competence) something just because one knows the right words. That is the difference between making a presentation and actually doing the "calculation".

Jin+Guice
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by Jin+Guice »

@jacob: What "level someone is" almost has to be an average. Figuring out one's level requires a synthesis of the ideas presented in the tables columns, which wasn't happening for me until I read this discussion. Everyone will operate at a higher level in some dimension and lower levels in others.

Ignoring "understanding levels cannot be skipped" and "not deluding oneself into thinking they are a higher level for false personal gratification or the misguided urge to compete" are mitigated by reality. To my knowledge, the only "prize" for ERE Wheaton level X is the lifestyle, so if you falsely believe you are higher than you are, you don't realize the benefits. Does deluding yourself impede progress or is it part of the progress that is eventually overcome?

My current understanding is that increasing Wheaton level requires a paradigm shift in how one views consumption/ production in their own life. Is it possible to use the CCCCCC-model in the paradigm shift context?

Is someone like Daniel Suelo or Mark Boyle the model for Wheaton level 8 or 9? What about Dan Price? How much import is there on "living withinin society" at higher levels. Would Suelo, Boyle or Price claim that they do or don't live within society?

Maybe it's the barriers of my own level that lead me to believe this, but if you're going to "live within society" to even a modest extent, the trade-off between optimizations and a fully integrated system are difficult. Exercise is the perfect example. Fully optimizing exercise as a separate activity which costs essentially nothing (level 6 above) requires drastically less time and (mental) energy than integrating it fully into a system so that no exercise time is required. How much time do I spend replacing 15-20 minutes/ day of otherwise pointless exercise to maintain an acceptable level of upper body strength? Maybe I'm just defining conscious incompetence.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by classical_Liberal »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:03 pm
the trade-off between optimizations and a fully integrated system are difficult.
You're skipping a step in that statement, Wheaton 6. Maybe that's why is seems like such a leap? :D

I'm just poking at you, because I'm stuck at Wheaton 5 too. Occasionally I get a glimpse of 6, when I manage to, mostly accidently, figure out a way to do a life activity in a way that creates some other yield. It feels exciting when it happens, but nowhere near a purposeful design with interplay between realms. I do think this is a hard transition because there are no other FIRE-type places to read about anything above Wheaton 5 in action. It's also the point at which anyone in general society loses you completely. So, there is a social aspect tethering me to Wheaton 5.

Some of the most helpful advice I've gotten lately wrt to this:

@jacob said advancing wheaton levels can be a "long step", in that it seems like you make no progress for a long time, then BAM!

@jacob also said the barriers in moving beyond your current level lie in the context of the thought processes of your current level. For me thats "It's easier to earn $50 in an hour of work to pay someone to do 4 hours of work to give me what I want". For you maybe it's "It's easier to live without what I want than spending four hours to make it".

@7WB5 said that once you begin to breech thinking in a new level it seems there can be temporary regression to previous levels. Because doing new things mean you're not going to be very good at it, hence it's frustrating. So the easiest thing to do with the frustration is to go back to what you know works. Although she used much more colorful language and a cute analogy to make the point.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by black_son_of_gray »

Gardening provides another set of examples:

Optimizing: I want to grow the biggest, healthiest, greatest yielding roses I can. So I pick the best spot on the lawn to plant it, buy the most appropriate soil and fertilizer from the store, then water it with the hose on the optimum schedule and spray it down with pesticides. Result: incredible roses, with a lot of specific effort.

Yields/flows: I want a nice veggie garden to eat from seasonally. I learn about guilds (e.g. "three sisters") and learn how to compost. There's some annual effort in setting the whole thing up, but design minimizes the need for fertilizing, weeding, and watering. Result: half of what was the "lawn" now produces a lot of good food, I'm eating fresher food most of the year, the amount of trash I throw out is lower, and the soil is healthier with relatively little external inputs. The efforts I do make (e.g. weeding, deep mulching) tend to benefit most or all of the plants in the garden.

Systems/networks: I live in a permaculture food forest. I understand that each plant/animal (including myself) plays a role in the whole operation and every variable (nutrients, water, sunlight, etc.) can't be maximized for every element. In fact, individual yields (e.g. the number of "eating" apples on a given tree in a given season) start to lose relevance. Many of the plants are perennial or self-seeding/donors, and many of the plants aren't directly edible or beneficial to me specifically. Maximum extraction of single elements isn't the point. More important is the balance between opposing forces (predator/prey, nutrient cycles, etc.) that keeps the whole thing going with just a little on-going maintenance from time to time. Result: I can get almost every thing I need from the garden, and almost everything I produce can go back into the garden. I start to wonder if this could even be called "gardening" or if it's just participating in an ecosystem that sustains me.

@7W5, please correct me if I've gone astray!

jacob
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by jacob »

@J+G - Not sure I understand what you mean by "dimension". Do you mean different kinds of capital?

I see each additional level as a fundamentally different [in kind] way of thinking. I don't think one can simultaneously occupy too many different kinds of thinking (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_knowledge). In particular, I think the brain is limited in what it can handle in terms of connections and variables. This is why I think that the next level is contingent on mastering the previous one. How much mastery? I think at least the level of Coordinating---because that's the point where one does not have to think about the ingredients which one is putting together. It's hard to be creative if one continuously have to refer back to a Compiled list for example.

Consider for example a bad math student who relies on a formula compendium rather than having everything memorized like a good student. In order to solve a problem, they'd have to meticulously search through the tree of possibility of which equation to use... whereas for someone who has the formulae memorized, putting them together happens more intuitively.

Am I correct in presuming that you think that it's possible to understand higher levels +2 removed from current experiences? Because I think that's just about impossible. The real stumbling block is not in an inability to understand them but an inability to even perceive they're there. @bsog has helpfully pointed out some examples... but I think it's fair to say that w/o being walked through it, the higher levels would never even have [i[occurred[/i] to a lower level player.

https://www.amazon.com/Amateurs-Mind-Tu ... 1890085022 is my favorite chess book. It's helpful to illustrate what I mean even if you're not into chess. Simply put, an amateur sees individual moves, an intermediate sees pins and x-rays, an advanced player sees patterns and balances.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW4LTqRJDW8 are the various Kegan levels. This also shows how it's impossible to think about fitting into groups (Kegan4) w/o a theory of mind (Kegan3).

I should make it clear that thanks to math, it's easy enough to process/grasp all levels in an abstract manner. However, this is useless in terms of applying it ... application really requires there to be meat on the bones all the way up to the desired level. There's no faking it until you make it.

If dimensions mean capital, then that's the beauty of the renaissance approach. Being competent/mastering several different fields makes it possible to intuitively hook them (the flows) together in ways (the networks) that is beyond a specialist or a team of specialist. In order to Coordinate and Create from two or more separate domains one need to have reached at least the Calculate/Coordinate level for most of them.

Redbird
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by Redbird »

Thank you, everyone, for the thoughtful replies and great discussion. Very much appreciated.

black_son_of_gray, those were excellent examples and make a lot of sense and, Jacob, per your suggestion I re-read chapters 5 and 7.

I think I'm starting to "get it", at least, intellectually. Applying it is a whole 'nother matter! It's a more significant shift in mindset than I anticipated but eye-opening nonetheless.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by Jin+Guice »

@c_L: You're probably right about that. Maybe I'm still having trouble fully grasping level 6. Those are great quotes. I didn't even understand why I'd want to advance before this thread.

@bsog: Thanks for another example, they're really helping me. I tried to think of a gardening example before this but couldn't. I'm having trouble separating 6 from 7 and 5 from 6 when I try to think of examples.

@jacob: The table mentions spending, savings rate, focus, retirement goal, vacations and experiences. It's possible to be at different levels in all of these. The same with exercise and gardening. That's what I meant by dimension. What I was trying to say is that people can (and probably will) be at different levels in different specific areas or dimensions (sorry if these have precise math definitions that I'm butchering), but they will have only one paradigm. I think this is what you were saying with the black belt/ green belt example.

In a lot of ways these are capital, but that's not 100% what I meant. I agree that the Renaissance approach covers this.

I was trying to understand level 7, which is perhaps a bad idea if I'm at level 5. With the question about levels 8 or 9 I was trying to imagine what they might look like.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by classical_Liberal »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:40 pm
Maybe I'm still having trouble fully grasping level 6.
This may seem a bit weird, but I'm bumbling about trying to figure all of this out myself, so take my thoughts here with a grain of salt.

Maybe the reason you're not really grasping its definition is because you already, to a large degree, have unconscious competence in Wheaton 6? That's where I would have pegged you, from a thought process or "focus" level. I think it's the mental process behind decisions that's much more important than individual decisions themselves. Like the point you were making above, people have individual decision points, or maybe "practices" is a better word, that seem to move across different Wheaton levels, probably mostly on or adjacent to their current level, but kind-of all over the place. They seem to be a mess from the Wheaton level definitions. As a result, you can't quite place yourself or anyone else.

Personal example. I recently switched to Mint mobile and cut my cell phone bill by 80%. This action, in isolation, is definitely a Wheaton level 4 move. It's a "life hack", get a very similar service for much, much less. Does this mean I'm just moving into Wheaton 4 now? No, here's why. I knew I could make this move (or a similar move to any carrier) a long time ago, yet purposefully decided not to do it. I did this because I knew the rural areas I was living had pretty poor cellular coverage with anyone except verizon. I often get calls/texts from the hospital which inform me I need to work my upcoming shift at other local hospital campuses very close to the time I need to leave for work. If I missed that call/message, I would end up at the wrong place and would have walked or rode my bike vs needing to drive to the other locations. Additionally, the only options for verizon coverage without verizon meant I lost my hotspot usage. I also knew that I moved every three months or so and would not have home internet service, sometimes for weeks, at the new home, so I really needed that feature. Having the verizon service at more cost pareto optimized my situation. I could avoid my car as much as possible and still safely walk or ride bike to work most days, I could avoid having internet service interruptions without costs to expedite new service. The decision, or practice, was done with Wheaton level 5 thinking. Even though, if it was viewed in isolation, it was not even up to Wheaton level 4.

EDIT: IOW, more upfront cost equaled less hassle, less costs in other realms (car, internet service), more happiness and peace of mind. A Wheaton 4 person in the "life hack"/cost cutting thought process may have actually saved money on the phone service, but lost out overall.

bigato
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by bigato »

The progression in martial arts, at least the ones who actually work in a real confront without guns, is not related to which moves you learn in each belt. That's mostly a white belt's mindset.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Another example:

Level 1= Pre-Sexual
Level 2= Pre-Orgasmic
Level 3= Masturbation
Level 4= Dependent Sex
Optimization= Fucking
Yields and Flows = Strong Sex with Mutuality
Systems/Networks= Self-Aware Sexuality
Level 8 = Transcendent Sex
In some presentations I ask audience members to write brief descriptions of what fucking, doing, and being done mean to them. I ask them to explain it as if they were talking to someone who doesn't yet know about it. (Sexual possibilities beyond your personal experience may be hard to imagine-until you remember back to when you didn't know about orgasms.) This activity always produces confusion, smiles, and laughter in the audience- especially for those sitting beside their partners! It gets interesting when one knows about fucking and the other doesn't. Shocked looks that say how do you know- and how come I didn't know you knew?! are quickly exchanged. Not everyone knows this phenomenon firsthand. Many couples of thirty years are still "virgins." -"Passionate Marriage" -Schnarch
NOTE: I'm not entirely satisfied with my description of these levels, especially the first 2. One thing I was trying to make obvious was that going up one level also requires referring back one level and integrating. In this hierarchy, the focus shifts from inward/self to outward/partner with each step.

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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by jacob »

@J+G - The table is certainly not meant to be read from "behind" (from right to left) like gauging one's paradigm by which kind of vacation one takes or one's understanding of retirement savings. That's like saying that one is a black belt because one has learned the five point palm exploding hearth technique. Basically, that's a noob or white-belt perspective as @bigato is saying in which everything is a tip or trick. The actual level is the paradigm. What a "teacher" or oneself should be gauging is the "Focus" column. This is somewhat of a judgement call.

In chess, the Focus would be e.g. "Looks for threats from opponents pieces and how to threaten opponent's piece", "Considers X-rays, pins, ...". There might be a typical experience column for typical openings like "Knows the Italian opening three moves in", "Knows Queen's gambit", "Has memorized the ten most popular openings 10 moves in".

Basically, the Wheaton level indicates how one plays (and why), not what one plays... what goes on in the mind/how the decision is made. Not what the decision is.

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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by jacob »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 7:31 am
One thing I was trying to make obvious was that going up one level also requires referring back one level and integrating.
This!
7Wannabe5 wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 7:31 am
In this hierarchy, the focus shifts from inward/self to outward/partner with each step.
In other threads I've called it the Hegelian constructor. This quote explains, what's going on.
jacob wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 1:37 pm
What's the "Hegelian dialectic"-operator? Basically, for order N, it's
Step 1) Form a framework that explains your way of understanding the world at the Nth order. (What Jordan Peterson calls "Being".) [the thesis]
Step 2a) Begin to realize that there are things that don't make sense within the framework formed in step 1. [the antithesis]
Step 2b) There may be more than one antithesis. At this point, we're at Kegan N+1/2 or so.
Step 3) Create a bigger framework that explains or rather contains both of them. [the synthesis]. Note that if one's strategy is to force step 2a/2b into the framework established in step 1 (e.g. "those who do not understand [me] are obviously idiots, one has not really leveled up"). In order to do that, one has to be ready and willing to break down the framework constructed in step 1. This is like pulling teeth because one builds one's identity based on that framework! Therefore, it often only happens insofar one has either hit rock bottom or some other bottom [wrt one's world view].

For those who don't hate math-abuse, the relation is (N+1)=H^N(1), where H is the operator and () denominates the order.
For more, see: viewtopic.php?p=169390#p169390

Jin+Guice
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by Jin+Guice »

@jacob: I think we're largely in agreement and I'm not sure I have a strong point.
jacob wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:48 am
There was some disagreement when constructing the initial Wheaton table with some saying that they were doing a little bit of each of the levels.
I was initially thinking out loud as to why this might be. I do think it's possible to hold different mindsets in different areas, so that you're not just executing the moves of a different level, but holding the mind-set. I agree that this will coalesce to a certain level or paradigm and that the individual components are subservient to the level and not the other way around. I'm not sure this is very useful information though, because it's the paradigm= level = focus that really matters.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by Jin+Guice »

@c_L: Interesting theory and personal story. I do feel like I'm more accurately between 5-6. It makes sense to me that as you try to ascend to the next level you'll sometimes succeed in occupying that mindset and other times fail and perhaps, as 7w5 pointed out, momentarily descend a level as well out of frustration.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Yields and Flows

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

jacob wrote:In order to do that, one has to be ready and willing to break down the framework constructed in step 1. This is like pulling teeth because one builds one's identity based on that framework! Therefore, it often only happens insofar one has either hit rock bottom or some other bottom [wrt one's world view].
Very true. For instance, I am quite unhappy about the fact that I just sold my urban permaculture project to the Permaculture Manager, but I can't unknit back to a fix. I am similarly pessimistic about my potential for achieving transcendent sexual union at this juncture. Close but no cigar sucks rocks.

Anyways, I was thinking that maybe what J+G was considering when he indicated that a person can simultaneously be at different levels was that any realm can be broken down into smaller realms and sometimes the competencies that need to be combined can be greatly out of sync. For instance, somebody who was an expert skateboarder, but couldn't swim at all, if they were considering taking up kite-surfing.

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