Open Systems and Levels of Development in Disclosure Communities

Article by Doug S. MA, MSW, LCSW

Disclosure Support attempts to help make sense of the whole disclosure movement by bringing to bear a holistic model of discernment in the hopes of climbing high enough to get a clearer picture. I begin this article by stating an obvious thought, which I’m sure that you, dear reader, share: This disclosure business is hard, isn’t it?! 

There are so many confluences of backgrounds that are coming together in a loose-knit movement that discloses hidden things to a largely conventional world.  From the ground level, we get bombarded by different narratives, some of which seem contradictory to one another. People from different perspectives may say that other disclosure sources are of the cabal and trying to sew disinformation at best or physically, socially, and emotionally attacking others who don’t agree with their narratives, at worst.  From the outside looking in, it seems that some major figures have achieved high spiritual development and yet in other areas they seem quite dualistic.  We can scratch our heads at the apparent incongruency that is obvious to the outside observer. It is not my intention to point fingers because if I did, I should start with pointing at myself.

If we take a step back (or climb above the fray), what might be a good metric for disclosure discernment? What are the qualities of a healthy disclosure source group?  What are some ways forward for those disclosure parties? The following are just suggestions, but they are based in good psychological, philosophical, and spiritual ideas.

Open and Closed Systems:

Open Systems:

For the disclosure movement to be most effective and to mitigate against the attacks from anti-disclosure parties and their clever techniques, different disclosure communities would do best if they adopted open-system approaches. Open systems, whether familial systems, interest groups, religious traditions, etc, are ones that enjoy communing with like-minded people while at the same time always keeping an eye out for both subtle formations of elitism within the community AND for the next breath of fresh air that could be invited in.  Open-ended systems don’t always feel comfortable because the semi-permeable membrane that is needed for fresh exchange of ideas and people necessarily causes some level of tension.  Great leaders within these open systems know how to hold the tension, ask for help when needed, admit they are always learning, and know how to emphasize common ground rather than differences.

Closed Systems:

Closed systems, by contrast, often feel very comfortable if you are on the “inside.”  It can even feel like a family as long as there is no disagreement with the power structure.  Yet, there is always the need to defend oneself from both attacks from the outside and dissonance from the inside.  Often, heavy-handed measures are employed to keep people in line which can include threats, both emotional and physical, to keep the system going, or the ostracization of people who have become unwelcome.  In the short run, closed systems can be highly efficient but in the long run, they eventually die out due to entropy.  Without the fresh exchange of ideas and growth, closed systems may find themselves obsolete, yet still they plunge ahead not realizing that they are walking towards a dead end.

It may be helpful for us discerners to wonder where our sources of disclosure lay on the continuum between open and closed systems.  How open are the different, more prominent groups, to new faces, new ideas, and being able to admit that they don’t know?  How much integrity do they possess as persons and groups?  How often do they go on the defensive or on the offensive against other groups?  In what ways do they critique the “bad” by the practice of the better?   It just might be that the more a person or group needs to defend themselves or offend others, it is a telltale sign that their information or narrative is stuck within a closed system and thus much more vulnerable to manipulation by more clever “higher ups” who have agendas contrary to freedom and full-disclosure.

Axes of Development:

A very helpful insight that has emerged in psychological and philosophical realms in the past twenty years is the idea of levels and axes of development.  The idea is much older, however. Consider the 13th century phrase, “whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver,” that still holds true today.  In other words, two people could hear the same truth but interpret it very differently depending solely on their individual levels of development. Moreover, one could be highly advanced on the spiritual axis of development but be much less developed on the emotional axis.  This insight is really great for us to keep in mind for those who are discerning well during the unrolling of disclosure.

For example, I may be a pioneer of an area of disclosure or hidden knowledge and have a high degree of intellectual development. In addition, I may be an advanced meditator and have achieved high levels of spiritual nonduality.  But, at the same time, I may be interpersonally or emotionally immature and can’t see that about myself.  People can be at very different levels of development and this is important to realize.  It takes great humility– and is a sign of a more trustworthiness– when people can admit they are wrong or have made mistakes. We can be on the lookout for those kinds of leaders in the disclosure movement because they likely are doing their inner work and are more self-aware in all of the different kinds of intelligences.

The Different Intelligences

The following are the common intelligence axes that have surfaced through the overlapping fields of psychological and philosophy.

  • What am I aware of? (cognition)
  • What do I need? (needs)
  • Who am I? (self-identity)
  • What is important to me? (values)
  • How do I feel about this? (emotional intelligence)
  • What is the right thing to do? (morals)
  • How should we interact? (interpersonal)
  • How should I physically do this? (kinesthetic)
  • What is of ultimate concern to me? (spirituality)

I put together a chart that puts the intelligences on a grid and labels them from the dualistic levels to the non-dualistic.  No one on the scene today is non-dual in all of the areas and very, very few humans in human history have even come close.

chart of intelligences

Moving Forward

Every major disclosure actor on the scene today is a complex person and has some areas of high development and other areas of lower development.  This is true for the academic types, whistleblowers, crop circle experts, and spiritual teachers. This is true for me and for my colleagues at Disclosure Support.  How could it be otherwise?

We need healthy critique within the disclosure movement because without it, we end up having closed systems.  But those who do the critiquing by labeling and name calling others end up throwing shade on the disclosure movement as a whole and we won’t have the kind of unity in the community that is necessary to be most effective.

May the leaders within disclosure communities make preferential options for:

  • Diversity of people and ideas
  • Spiritual and psychological wholeness that emphasizes meditation
  • Collegial approaches to one another instead of tearing down others

Thank you for reading this article and may we remember that we are the change agents we have been waiting for.  Let us start by witnessing our inner defensiveness and how often we take offense and then meet those feelings with forgiveness, empathy, and the desire to transcend and include our differences.  That is how we model positive transformation instead of being transmitters of negativity.  It starts with the person in the mirror.

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