Shamanism, the Dao, new spirituality, new technology and cultural revolution


core of our theory, heart of our practice
Why systems? Systems: bedrock of lived reality Systems layers: rooted in biology From the Organic to the Personal

  What you will find
  in this section

Our concepts of systems sensibility and systems layers allow and invites grounded relationship between real human beings. This framework is genuinely open to the detail of lived reality and leads to a heightened level of emotional honesty in relationship. Understanding that we live and move within multiple layers of reality, and that the logic of life is subject to these layers, we are better able to do justice to all of them.

Who am I?
I am Michael Roth, the author of all the material on this site. While training as a medical doctor, I was also an alumnus at the famed AntiUniversity of London (1968-1969), and became involved with the alternative psychiatry movement in that era and later.

I worked and studied with the existential psycho-analyst R.D.Laing, and was a founder-member of the Arbours Association (London), which provides alternative care for persons diagnosed with severe mental illness.

My research path has taken me into spheres of philosophy, social politics, linguistics and anthropology - whilst I have continued to seek out a genuine way of relating to other human beings in the troubled milieux of psychiatry, communal living, and twentieth and twenty-first century social and cultural instability.

I have been consistently inter-disciplinary in all of my reading and exploration, and the personal and philosophical insights to which this has given rise are almost always outside the prevailing classifications - or accepted lists of subjects.

The following authors are they whose work I have been most deeply occupied with, at different times in my life. This has often entailed exploring what the actual world feels like, within the patterns and definitions of life offered by these people. I have also written extensively, and often critically, about many of them.

  • Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Martin Buber
  • Lao Ze
  • St Matthew
  • St Mark
  • St Luke
  • St John
  • Rudolf Bultmann
  • Paul Ricoeur
  • Richard Rorty
  • Robert Pirsig
  • Donald Davidson
  • Jacques Derrida
  • Benedetto Croce
  • Charles Peirce
  • John Dewey
  • A.N.Whitehead
  • J.H.Randall
  • Justus Buchler
  • Martha Nussbaum
Biology, Physiology, Ethology and Cybernetics

  • Mary Douglas
  • Gregory Bateson
  • Milton Ericson
  • R.D.Laing
  • David Cooper
  • Clifford Geertz
  • Victor Turner
Virtual Reality
  • Eugene Gendlin
  • Arnold Mindell
  • M. Scott Peck

I am the foremost exponent of Charlotte M. Bach's ground-breaking theories of emergent evolution, described in my A Bolt From the Bleeding Sky (Dielectric Publications, London, 1984). I continue to work as a psychiatrist and as a researcher into holistic methods of facilitating social change. This used to include facilitation and training sponsored by the organization, Community Building in Britain which developed and disseminated the work of the holistic psychiatrist M. Scott Peck through the 90s and noughties.

I am also involved in an exploratory research group seeking to fuse poetic, practical and fantastical modes of action to create significant cultural/political interventions in the here and now.

emotional intelligence
lived reality
biology, culture, evolution
philosophy, science
systems sensibility
dao and shamanism
applications/ study group
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   Systems Sensibility
intricate treescape
The question of systems - and of systems layers - permeates every corner of this web-site. It is integral to all the descriptions you will find here - and to the engagement with the world, which they express. This is part of the reason why there is no one single route-map through these pages; the links at the top of the page are merely one set of suggestions, and any one page may be reached through a variety of alternative routes. This is both a consequence and a reflection of the rich cross-linkages between the different profiles of reality I am trying to capture here.
There are many occasions where there is a dominant focus in the moment, and we have no sense of any systems layers in the background. According to the maps and guidelines which unfold in these web pages, however, we recognize that any given focus - however much it dominates our awareness - is but a single layer in a complex, layered reality. Any long-term engagement needs to engage the other systems layers, as well as the layer in focus, in order to be effective and sustainable. We will need to learn when it is enough for our systems sensibility to rest in the background, and when we need to bring other layers - hitherto implicit and un-thematised in our present time awareness - into the foreground focus of our attention.

So it is, that our emerging method comes from the meeting of ancient practices such as shamanic ecstasy and the Chinese dao - which have strong undercurrents of systems sensibility in their own right - with the modern incarnations of the same sensibility: cybernetics, neuro-lingistic programming, process psychology and cultural theory.
Why systems? Systems: bedrock of lived reality Systems layers: rooted in biology From the Organic to the Personal
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© all content: copyright reserved, Michael Roth, March 2009