This thesis is about love at work; love as process; love as it weaves its way through intention into practice.
In Chapter One I begin by exploring what love has meant to me, starting from an inner embodied sensing that uses contrast and dissonance to judge the 'rightness', the authenticity, of words and speech. I differentiate between social constructions of love and the unconditional nature of Divine Love that is beyond the grasp of the body, language and feeling. I maintain that all human beings share an innate capacity to experience an ineffable sense of being.
I show how the transformatory nature of love is disclosed through a developing awareness of how the body, mind and emotions resonate to form meaning. How this inner resonance then connects with the world around me is represented in the drawing on page 68, showing 'Eros at the Heart of Action'; Eros is in the centre of the many petalled lotus flower.
Eros at the Heart of Action, p. 68
In Chapters Two and Three my ideas of love are polarised around the meanings of Eros and Agape. I develop the constellations of values clustering around Eros and Agape by reflecting on my professional practice and developing my sensed memories of the loving meanings underlying my work.
The drawing on page 102 showing the 'Dynamic of Contradiction' is the underside of the lotus flower, the stem of the lotus flower around which contradictions entwine and through which the sap rises that feeds the flower.
The Dynamic of Contradiction, p.102
My reading of Eros is as an idealistic vision of leadership within organisation, and here I show how Eros must be subject to contradiction, both to bring new understanding to the nature of the constellation values from which it arises, and to provide the energy for transformation and change. This perception of love and how it operates in organisation is supported by a storied account from my practice in Chapter Four, and is represented below:
Mapping a Critical Incident, p. 161
Here, I have mapped the clash of values across various policy decisions and showed how over time, these contradictions gave rise to new meanings.
By contrast, Chapter Three is about Agape, the acceptance of other in relationship, it is about learning to step into another's shoes, to act out of character. Agape's extreme is about mental plasticity, the dissolution of personality into another. It is the ultimate surrender and represented in this drawing:
The Practises of Love p. 113
This mental agility is what I experience as the logic of love, the ability to turn the world upside down, and in Chapter Four I write and represent how I do this in my practice:
Practising Salamba Sirsasana p. 172
These pictures represent the way that love works. I take Eros as a force that creates boundaries and must be tamed and I take Agape as a connectivity that dissolves boundaries. I open up to the possibilities created in the lotus flower mandala by the action of Eros and Agape.
This loving action is shown in the video clip, and represented in the picture below:
To view the three minute video clip from the CD ROM, click here: (the full video-clip is on the CD, playable from Quicktime at eleanorpaul.mov)
The significance of the contradictory nature of this conversation is described by Mad:
'The story depends on the fact, for me, that Paul is your husband and you live together. This is not just any person. He is the man in your life. Any viewer, including me, imagines their own view of what a loving relationship might look like when they think the words 'husband;' or 'man I live with'. The shocking thing about the video is how abusive it feels when you watch it....' (Mad Church, private email communication 15.11.04)
I have lived with Paul for 26 years, I know how he reacts and that his view of the world is very different from mine. I know how he is likely to respond and that he usually raises his voice when I disagree with him.
My experience of Divine Love has strengthened my identity; it makes me strong enough to withstand being shouted at. I want to listen to what Paul is saying. I value what he is saying, not the way that he says it. As he speaks I hold a sense of love in my body; it is an embodied vision. I stay in touch with a sense memory of how Paul is helping me by agreeing to have a videod conversation. This is the enaction of Eros. Because we live together I have tried to understand how he sees the world; I have tried to get under his skin. I want to understand how he uses language and emotion so that we can communicate better. This is the enaction of Agape.
In her email, Mad shows that she understands this when she writes:
'I remember laughing out loud with the shock....A kind of horror, only mitigated by the fact that for you, Eleanor, there is no sense of pain in the encounter, you are not victimised nor seem to feel abused or bruised by it. .... And the way that you sit and engage with him is quite revelatory. There is no defensive body posture, no intent to keep him out or react to his 'rightness' with a 'rightness' of your own. ....It shows you facing and embracing what to me would be experienced as outrageous and infuriating, something that could easily lead me to violence' (Mad Church, private email communication 15.11.04).
I am so used to having these kinds of conversations with Paul that I had considered the video to be unremarkable. It was not until I experienced Mad and Jack's (Whitehead) incredulous reactions that I began to comprehend its value. Their responses broke through my habitual way of interpreting the world and helped me to understand more fully how the dynamism of Eros and Agape is enacted.
In another excerpt Mad writes:
'You indeed meet it [the abuse] with loving presence, and take from it what there is in it that is offered' (Mad Church, private email communication 15.11.04 [my italics]).
And it was Mad and Jack's recognition of loving presence that enabled me to see it more clearly. Previously I had sensed the presence of love, but in an unthinking way. I had known that it was there, but now I could see how love came through my action, and how it influenced relationship and connection. Now I was able to build on this recognition and develop the theory of a pedagogy of presence more fully.
The video clip shows an absence of communication that is filled by loving presence. I think of this absence as a space of vitality containing a living dynamic; the inclusional Ground of Being. I think that this Ground of Being can only be represented when we recognise and respect our unique capacities for being. I write about this in Chapter Five.
By clarifying my meanings through writing, pictures, photographs and video I have come to understand that what I refer to in Chapter One as 'being authentic', has by the end of the thesis, been reformulated to become my critical standards of judgement. It is a question of resonance and dissonance, a feeling and a movement in the heart. Too much dissonant reverberation and I must alter what I do, too much resonance and the strong vibration moves into dissonance.
This is a process of clarification that has involved an ongoing relation between the body and the mind, where the constant core of my being continues to seek a silent and harmonious relation with the Divine.
In this thesis I represent the meanings of love as I experience love at work in my life. By writing, I learn how to craft the words to express that knowledge. By seeing the visual images, I begin to understand the power of loving presence. By listening to the reverberations of my body, I bring critical judgement into my action and articulate this judgement as living epistemological standards of love. These loving standards enable me to judge the value of my practice, and to be better accountable for what I do.