As I return after the summer break to these monthly articles which I began to write last year, I want to thank the sources that have nourished my knowledge, with all my heart. First of all I feel a deep gratitude for the circumstances surrounding my origin, the best gift I have received, since they created the connection with innate natural wisdom, which I think I never lost.
Living my childhood in intimate and deep connection with Nature was a fascinating school of life. Theology opened my horizons without limits, and Psychology helped me to understand the contradictions and suffering of many people immersed in misunderstanding, often my family and closest friends. This set of learning led me to the deep conviction that the popular saying “experience is the mother of science” magnificently reflects what I want to share in this first article of the 2019-20 course. The contributions of Holistic Transformation, especially the most original and innovative, have been made possible by being inspired and elaborated from knowledge drawn from many, many years of personal and professional experience.
Holistic Transformation: The training of life throughout life
We live in a historical era when everything is very fast. Changes are happening at a dizzying rate, especially in the field of technology. Training ourselves to keep up and not be out of date has become a priority, especially to facilitate the flow of dialogue and communication between different generations and cultures. However, how do we choose the most suitable type of training, one that will help us keep up to date? What training does a school of life offer, a framework that facilitates the recovery and development of values that are valid for life, regardless of how humanity evolves?
We have to start with the base. What does it mean to train? If we rescue the etymological meaning of the term, training (=formación in Spanish) means to give form (= formar). But to train or give form to what?
If the objective is to give form, we can suppose that we have to give form to something which previously did not have one. It was previously amorphous, otherwise we would say change or modify the form. What is it within us that is amorphous? Only the primary vital energy, our creative potential.
True knowledge, like truth, is nobody’s exclusive heritage, even though there may be people and/or groups that try to appropriate it. True knowledge is also participatory. It is a co-creation based on the experience of different individuals and collectives, and the contributions of many people from different classes, races, ages and cultures. Any knowledge based on forms is likely to be enriched, expanded, modified, and even refuted over the years.
During one of the “scientific breakfasts” at Francisco de Vitoria University in March 2014, there was a discussion among some experts, including Nobel Prize winner Robin Warren, the writer Eduard Punset and the mathematician Samuel Arbesman, about the need for science to address “facts” and not “truths”. The question was also raised whether so-called scientific “truths” have an expiration date. They concluded that the half-life of a scientific “truth” in Medicine is 50 years, in Physics 13 years, in Economics and Mathematics 9 years, and in Psychology it is 7 years.
Scientific “truths” are based on facts that can be demonstrated, or in other words “forms”, and it is obvious that absolutely all the forms taken by the amorphous potential, which is the essence of life, can become obsolete. Only the amorphous potential, which we can call primary energy, spirit or soul is perennial and does not expire. Therefore, if we base our knowledge on “facts,” which are not perennial but relative truths, our training and knowledge will inevitably expire and will cease to be current.
Before *learning knowledge developed by other people, each individual should look within herself to discover her own source of knowledge. These are the gifts (abilities, talents, potentialities, etc.) that Life gives to each human being at the moment of the conception, through their parents. (*In Spanish, “to learn” = “aprender”, and its etymological meaning is “to take”, from “prendere”).
Is what emerges from our interior entirely constructive and healthy? No, since our interior also contains conflicting tendencies, inherited from our ancestors or parents through the same framework of conception, pregnancy, childbirth and/or the baby’s first years of life. This explains why some children are rebellious and conflictive by nature.
It is clear that parents and educators must intervene to set limits and help children to feed everything that emerges from their interior in constructive ways and stop feeding everything that emerges in destructive ways. An education based on “letting them do anything” indiscriminately is bound to fail. But it is precisely because there is everything within us, good and bad, that it is best for it all to emerge as early as possible. This gives us as human beings many opportunities to purify our potential, beginning from childhood, since it is the emergence and manifestation of tendencies and forms that allow us to feed the constructive and not feed the destructive ones. On the other hand, if the destructive potential remains inside, it is like having hidden bombs which can explode unexpectedly and at inappropriate times. Children will obviously need the support of parents and educators in this task of purification, and in some cases they may also need specific professional support.
The potentials of our vital world are inexhaustible, no matter how long we live. As adults, we must therefore continue to facilitate the emergence of aspects and tendencies contained within our vital energy. This is for the same reason as when we are children, but with more motivation, since what gives meaning to our life is the development of the potentials we received at conception. Giving form to one’s own potentials is therefore a lifelong task. Sharing the inspirations of each potential with other adults constitutes a participatory form of knowledge building, which we can call co-creation.
The knowledge that is acquired from a programme with pre-established contents can encourage the tendency to maintain and reinforce previous knowledge and customs, and become an obstacle to each person’s genuine creativity. As Albert Einstein said, “If you are looking for different results, don’t keep doing the same thing.” This risk of strengthening established structures may be minimal or negligible if cognitive contributions are presented as non-absolute knowledge. In this case, contributions made cognitively and presented with a critical spirit and openness to dialogue can be a valuable element of contrast. They can also contribute to revealing genuine internal contents, by resonance, contrast or other ways. Creativity can also be stimulated, always and when the individual has already laid the first stones of the construction of her personal and professional identity. We are surely all familiar with people who identify with the last book they read, or with the attitude of the newspaper they follow.
I have a genuinely creative and visionary friend who has repeatedly presented his work to a publishing house. Despite being written with methodological rigor and good content, it has been rejected, as it has no place within the parameters of an academic establishment which has little or no flexibility. He is not the first or the only hypothetical genius in history who has experienced misunderstanding and the attempt to castrate his genius.
At ESTEL Centre for Personal Growth and Integral Studies, we understand training as a process that prioritizes the knowledge of each student’s genuine potential. Our training focuses on giving form to the potentials that each person already possesses, so that this may serve their integral development as well as the professional and personal activities they are currently carrying out or will undertake in the future. We also offer the possibility of training in a new, unregulated profession, which we call “Holotherapy”, which is the professional accompaniment of personal processes to improve health and human growth from a holistic, integral perspective.
This way of understanding and applying the training has several advantages. On the one hand, each student develops their own unique professional identity, as with their personal identity. This does not encourage competitiveness but cooperation, since each professional will be most able to accompany certain type of people, similar to how we establish friendship with some people and not others. On the other hand, this approach and application of training does not generate any dissociation between what you are and what you do. Instead, a link is established between these two aspects, so that one enriches the other.
For example: imagine that you are a wine producer. You have your vines and you apply all your awareness and know-how to the production of an excellent quality wine. If you offer this wine to your closest friends or acquaintances, with whom you have a direct relationship, they will receive the product directly from you, and you can receive direct information from them about your wine, which may be useful to improve the following year’s production. This does not happen if you sell the wine to a distributor. Consumers who do not know the producer will not be able to evaluate your careful dedication to its production. Neither will you be able to receive their valuable and useful feedback, since there is no direct relationship between you, and your wine is simply another among many.
Another advantage of this approach is the relationship between the student or client and person accompanying the process. Each student or client is valued and treated as a unique being. We all have aspects in common that resemble each other, but we also have aspects that make us unique in the world.
In more than 45 years of my professional practice I have constantly been able to verify that the conflicts that many clients bring to the consultation usually relate more to their unique aspects than to what we have in common with others. It is not difficult to accept and appreciate ourselves for what we feel and see to be similar. It is precisely what makes us feel and see ourselves different to others that is more difficult to accept and value in oneself.
The evidence I’ve discovered throughout my long professional practice has led me to affirm the effectiveness of this approach and vision of knowledge, which affects and transforms human relationships at all levels.
If each person starts from their own genuine potentials and develops them, with or without professional accompaniment, they would find the true meaning of life – which is to develop the talents they have received. They would feel the joy of living, enjoy inner peace, and radiate peace in their surroundings. Human relationships would be based spontaneously and naturally on effective, affective and respectful cooperation, since all human beings have things that others do not. These are their contributions to contribute to society, as we need to receive from others things that we do not have ourselves. The knowledge that emerges from the vital energy of each person is not a simple knowledge, it is wisdom: knowledge rooted in and linked to transcendence.
There is no doubt that the knowledge elaborated by the mind has provided spectacular advances in fields such as technology, but it is still a partial knowledge based on forms, which therefore oriented toward expiry.
On the other hand, the genuine knowledge which Holistic Transformation is based on is knowledge that stimulates creativity. Students do not learn techniques or skills, they learn to create them, taking into account each person’s needs at all times and in each specific situation. The knowledge provided by other people is a contrasting element that can enrich, expand, and also awaken one’s own knowledge. Significant advances can be made from what emerges from each person’s most genuine potentials. These are surprising and radically innovative contributions. They may initially conflict with rationality, but a mind that is trained in consciousness, recognition and acceptance of its own limits will be a humble mind, and will open with gratitude and respect to what it has not previously registered within its parameters. It will see this new contribution as an opportunity to transcend the limited compartments of its rationality. An example and application is the process of brainstorming, a co-creative practice that we all know.
I would like to finish this article by highlighting the importance, in my opinion, of locating the mind not above but in balance and harmony with the other levels or aspects that constitute us as human beings: body, vital energy, emotions-feelings, intuitive mind and openness to transcendence. Within the framework of the professional accompaniment of integral growth processes, if the mind is overvalued, it can easily fall into the consumerism of personal growth activities, producing an illusory effect on people, which is ephemeral over time. From my humble point of view, our society needs a radical paradigmatic change that will not be possible by putting the mind on a pedestal and leaving the rest of our being aside. During my extensive professional experience of more than 45 years I have been able to verify that for a true individual and collective transformation, a deep, holistic process is necessary; a process that includes all levels and is sustained over time, as nature demonstrates to us in most life processes.
The experience of my friend, cited above, and being recently asked why I do not usually cite other authors in my articles or include a bibliography, is what has inspired and encouraged me to address the issue of training and construction of knowledge.
Whilst appreciating the extraordinary contributions of knowledge developed by the mind, especially in fields such as technology, I believe in our present time, when changes occur at a dizzying pace, it is very important to rescue genuine knowledge. This refers to the wisdom that emerges from every person’s vital world, which recovers perennial values. These do not expire because they do not provide us with techniques or skills – which are forms – but teach us to create and adapt them to the context and circumstances of each situation.
As is consistent with this philosophy, in the training provided at ESTEL we recommend that students do not initially consult a bibliography. First we facilitate each student to discover their genuine potential and talents. When students begin training, we encourage everyone to focus on what they already have, rather than what they lack. Thus, little by little, each student builds their own professional identity, which constitutes the backbone that can later be enriched and complemented by contributions from other professionals. Knowing how to extract what is useful and can be integrated into the backbone, and releasing what is not, is similar to how the body metabolizes food.
Ramon V. Albareda
Psychologist. Theologian. Sexologist
Creator of ESTEL, Centre for Personal Growth and
School of Integral Studies
Article written in California, September 25, 2019