Archive for the ‘Future Positive Home Page Archive’ Category


Wednesday, October 9th, 2002

This morning, I begin a series of articles on a new mechanism for the synergic containment of adversary events. This new tool from synergic science is premised on the understanding that all mistakes are caused by ignorance. We have previously discussed how that premise leads to new ways of dealing with mistakes, even when those mistakes hurt people.


Synergic Containment

Protecting Children

Timothy Wilken, MD

Today our world is a dangerous place, and growing ever more dangerous. Everyday, humans are hurting and killing other humans. Mothers and fathers are beating their children. Husbands are beating and killing their wives. Rouge men are abducting and killing children. Teenage and young adult men are killing each other over the color of their clothes or the brand of shoes they wear. Life threatening violence is erupting over any act of supposed DISrespect.

Children are strapping high explosives to their bodies and detonating them in public places in desperate acts of suicide-homicide. In April of this year, President George W. Bush said, “When an 18 year old Palestinian girl is induced to blow herself up, and in the process kills a 17 year old Israeli girl, the future, itself, is dying.”

And then of course there are the armed conflicts, Peter Wallensteen of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports :

In 2001, there were 24 major armed conflicts in 22 locations. … Africa continued to be the region with the greatest number of conflicts. Worldwide, there were approximately equal numbers of contests for control of government and for territory.

In the 12-year post-cold war period 1990–2001 there were 57 different major armed conflicts in 45 different locations. … All but 3 of the major armed conflicts registered for 1990–2001 were internal—the issue concerned control over the government or territory of one state. The 3 interstate conflicts in this period were Iraq versus Kuwait, India versus Pakistan and Eritrea versus Ethiopia.

… The year 2001 was overshadowed in September by one new major conflict with qualitatively different, global characteristics which have so far proved difficult to categorize.(1)

And now we have the War on Terrorism, the War on Afghanistan, the impending War on Iraq, and then what? The War on Iran? The War on North Korea? The War on the Philippines? The War on China? Etc.? Etc.? 

Something is very wrong in our world.

Synergic Science

As a synergic scientist, I believe that we must learn to work together. This means we must become synergic humans. Synergy means working together—operating together as in Co-Operation— laboring together as in Co-Laboration—acting together as in Co-Action. The goal of synergic union is to accomplish a larger or more difficult task than can be accomplished by individuals working separately. We are committed to a world where I win, you win, community wins and the Earth wins. Win-Win-Win-Win.
Synergic science finds there are three types of humans in our present world. Which type you are depends on what you believe about how the world works.

Adversaries believe there is not enough for everyone and only the physically strong will survive. They believe humans are coercively dependent on others, and they best understand the language of force.

Neutralists believe there is enough for everyone, if only you work hard enough and take care of yourself. They believe humans are financially independent and should be self-sufficient unless they are too lazy or defective. They best understand the language of money.

And, finally a new type of human is still emerging. Synergists believe there is enough for everyone but only if we work together and act responsibly. They believe humans are interdependent and can only obtain sufficiency by working together as community. Synergists best understand the language of love.

But, to be successful in our present world, the synergist must understand all three languages and know when to use them. Synergists must sometimes use the language of force, and sometimes the language of money, it depends on whom they are talking to. However, when synergists are seeking allies—when synergists are seeking to build community—they must speak the language of love.

We believe that you should, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”What is it that most of us want others to do unto us? Synergic scientists answer this question as follows: Help and support others as you would wish them to help and support you.  Or, more simply, “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. And that’s my religion.” —Abraham Lincoln  

Synergists are trying to heal the wounds inflicted by those who don’t understand how the world could work. This then is the essential challenge to the synergists. Can we work together and act responsibly in time to save our ourselves on this planet? … Only by helping each other. If humanity were to achieve synergy, we would have a peaceful world, but how do we get there?

As a young father, I wanted to do the best job of parenting I could. With the birth of our first daughter in 1980, I began reading the then current literature on parenting. After a few months I settled on the parenting style proposed by Dr. Thomas Gordon in his book Parent Effectiveness Training. It was a win-win approach that did not support punishment or conflict. But Gordon realized that permissiveness, and letting children run wild would create its own set of problems. Parent enforced discipline was a win/lose game that the parent always won. Permissiveness was a win/lose game that the child always won. Neither method was good for children or families. Gordon explained how we could improve our communication with others at any age. How to work together for solutions where both parent and child could win.

What he did was provide parents with a specific set of communication and problem-solving skills, as well as a means for knowing when and how to use them (the Behavior Window). These skills (Active Listening, No-Lose Conflict Resolution, and the I-Message) changed the way many parents communicate with their children. The Gordon Method has proved just as valuable for improving communication in the workplace and in our schools. His books have been published in 28 languages and over 6 million copies have been sold worldwide.

However, there was one situation that Gordon did not address. Children through immaturity and ignorance sometimes engage in  dangerous  behavior. The danger may be to themselves or to others. Often this begins before they are able to understand the consequence of their behavior, or to be reasoned with. How do you stop them without resorting to adversity and punishment?

We have all seen parents slap a small child’s hand, when their child reaches for something hot or sharp. The child immediately cries and often runs away, but what has the child learned? Gordon would argue that physically striking the child sends only one message, “You are bad!” And, while the child will withdraw, it is not because they understand that they were in danger, but simply because they fear the parent will strike them again. Now parents often feel that striking the child was necessary to protect the child, but is this really true?

I remember one winter, a heavy storm knocked out the electrical power to our home for almost a week. I hurriedly purchased a portable kerosene heater for warmth and cooking. It was an amazing device, but it was also dangerously hot. My three year old daughter Reason had never seen such a thing in our modern all electrical home and watched with fascination as I set it up. As I watched the sparkle in her eye, I realized the damage she might sustain from touching the top or sides of the heater.


I asked by wife to hold her well within her arms while I set up the heater.Once it was lit, it soon became hot and began to glow. I told my daughter that it was very hot. I placed a small piece of paper on top which soon burst into flames. I poured a few drops of water on the surface that flashed into steam. All this time her mother advised her, that the heater was very hot and she should not touch it. She stood back and I watched her eyes growing large in amazement. Later her mother went to attend her baby sister Serene, and when I turned, Reason was approaching the heater.

I moved quickly squatted down and contained her loosely in my arms. Gently preventing her from getting closer than two feet. Then to my delight, she told me that the stove was HOT! And that I was NOT to touch it.

Later that evening, I would hear Reason carefully instructing her baby sister that the heater was very HOT, and that Serene should NOT touch it. This was quite unlikely since Serene was only nine months old. However, she seemed to listen carefully as she sucked her bottle. Over the next seven days, Reason never ventured closer than two feet to the heater, and watched it with great respect. Then, electrical power was restored and we put away the kerosene heater.

At this same time, I was studying human behavior. I was aware of the three ways we humans could relate to each other—adversarily, neutrally, or synergically—also called The Relationship Continuum.

Striking the hand of a child reaching for something hot or sharp was an example of adversary punishment.Later as I thought back on how I had protected my daughter, I decided to call this technique synergic containment. At this time, I was practicing Stress Medicine. I often worked with young parents and would always tell them about Gordon’s Parent Effectiveness Training. And, include a description of the mechanism of synergic containment. I thought of the technique as protective, and in some cases even a rescue from danger. I advised them to apply it with love and compassion. Certainly, my child had a very positive experience in learning about the danger of HOT!

Synergic Containment of an Aggressive Child

One of parents came to me with a concern about their large and unusually strong two year old. He was into the full fury of the terrible twos, and he had taken to occasionally hitting his baby sister. It seemed to happen when he got angry. His parents had physically spanked him several times, but the behavior continued. They were genuinely afraid for both the aggressive child and the baby.

I advised them to use the mechanism of synergic containment as follows: Ideally, when a potentially dangerous adversary event occurs both parents would be present. Then one of the parents could contain the aggressor, while the other one attends to the baby. But if there is only one parent present, then the most important thing is to contain the aggressor. The baby may cry, but she is safe once the aggressor is contained.

Whenever you see your two year old son striking the baby, pick him up immediately and remove him from striking distance of his sister, then sit down and hold him on your lap. Wrap your arms around his shoulders, but no tighter than necessary to physically restrain him. Do not raise your voice or berate the child in any way. Do not strike him or inflict pain in any way.

You must contain him. You must absolutely stop him from getting down off your lap. If he struggles, increase the physical restraint of your embrace. Your son may struggle and cry, but this should not win his release. You will have to hold him until he quiets down. This may take a while. Be patient. You cannot successfully talk with him until he is calm.

Your goal is to restrain the child, but not send the message, “You are bad!” You want him to understand that you are afraid for the baby. You want him to understand that hitting the baby is dangerous. Once he is calm, in simple language express your fear for the baby. If another parent or adult is there ask them to attend the baby with create concern. Once the baby is calm, have them pantomime, raising one hand into a position as if they might strike the baby, but then deliberately grabbing their raised hand with their other hand and pulling it down. Repeatedly stating in a calm voice. “I am afraid for the baby.” “Don’t hit the baby.”

This is not a technique to be used lightly. It is serious medicine. Children should be allowed to get angry. Containment is not to be used to control anger. Containment is not to be used to stop evenly matched boys from wrestling or rough housing. Containment is to stop DANGEROUS behavior. Containment of an aggressive child should only occur if the child himself or someone else is in danger.


When you use containment, you are limiting your child’s freedom of action. The child may process this as if they are being punished. They may misunderstand the act of containment as punishment. This is why it must be done with love and compassion. Certainly, the parents love their child. They just don’t like his dangerous behavior. The goal is to make that behavior less likely to occur in the future. Synergic containment must do more than stop the dangerous behavior, it must educate the aggressor.

Most adults can easily contain a two year old child. Once your son quiets down and becomes calm, and this might take 15 to 20 minutes. You would then try to communicate with him that hitting his baby sister is prohibited. His ability to understand of course would be limited by his age and level of maturity. The human mind develops during childhood. The ability to understand consequence does not develop until about age four. You don’t over explain or discuss your concerns, you just state them in the way that you feel your child will best understand. Simpler is always better. “I am afraid for the baby!” “Don’t hit the baby!” With very small children, use pantomime when possible.

At this point, you let the child down from your lap to return to his activities. You immediately attend the baby. Showing him your concern. You try to enlist his help in comforting the baby, and in demonstrating love and caring for his sister.You don’t insist that he help, but you let him see your concern.

Synergic containment only occurs to stop dangerous behavior. If the adversary act recurs, the synergic containment recurs.

Every episode of synergic containment is an opportunity to communicate with your child. As the child grows, his ability to reason and to understand consequence grows. Since all humans do not like being on the receiving end of adversary acts, they soon learn that adversity is an inappropriate behavior. Teach them that they need to work together and act responsibly to be successful within the family.

Allowing children of any age to profit from adversary behavior is a mistake. Ideally, the use of synergic containment begins early. A single parent can contain a small child. It may take two parents to contain a 10 year old. It may take three or four adults to contain a 14 year old. And, it may take a SWAT team to contain an armed 18 year old.

Next: Synergic Containment: Science and Rationale


Tuesday, April 30th, 2002

A graduate of Harvard Medical School and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Dr. N. Arthur Coulter is a synergic science pioneer. He began searching for a better way for humanity over 50 years ago. The Time-binding Trust is pleased to announce the availability of the new Revised Internet Edition of his classic: Human Synergetics. The following is from a new appendix added to that edition.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

– Goethe


N. Arthur Coulter, Jr., MD

To prevent nuclear war, it is necessary to abolish war itself.

To abolish war, a synergic cultural evolution is necessary.

The ability to function in the Synergic Modeis a key to such a change.

The purpose of the Synergetics program is to enable as many people as possible to function in the Synergic Mode as much as possible.

The Synergetics Program

To achieve this purpose, a 57 page Appendix called Stabilization Procedure was provided in my book, Synergetics (1976). While this works, it requires a sustained effort and is very time consuming.

Meanwhile, research continued and an alternative to Stabilization Procedure has been developed. Called Starmaker, it is much simpler, faster, and more reliable.

We began with the observation that a new mode of thinking called Tracking sometimes turned on the Synergic Mode. Tracking is defined as as Self-programmed thinking, with an Information Source orientation, for the purpose of producing Synergy and preventing Dysergy.

A large and growing number of different Tracking Sessions have been developed. In a typical session, the Tracker executes the following programs:

A goal is selected by a Consider, Evaluate, Define, Act Sequence (CEDA Sequence).

The Value or Values of achieving the Goal is estimated.

A Program for achieving the Goal is formulated.

The Program is usually incomplete and emerges in the process of executing the Program. This “engages” the mind and heart of the Tracker, and basically distinguishes Tracking from other procedures like executing a computer program.

The Tracking Session continues until the Tracker, by a CEDA, ends the Session. This is followed by a Session Review.

Experience in Tracking soon disclosed that Tracking is much more effective if the Tracker keeps a notebook, called the Tracker’s Log, in which he writes down ideas, describes images and feelings (emotions), and makes notes on other events that occur.

A single Tracking Session, carried out with”loving precision”, is usually very productive. But we soon learned that Tracking is far more effective when a series of Tracking Sessions—once a day or several times a week—are executed.

A long term process, called a macro-process, emerges. The Synergic Mode may turn on, and does so more and more frequently and with greater intensity.

We naturally predicted that if Tracking were done continuously, or almost continuously, the Tracker would, for all practical purposes, stabilize in the Synergic Mode—function in the Synergic Mode most of the time.

But this prediction was not borne out by experience. We observed that it is simply not feasible, in the world today, to Track in most situations we encounter. Talking with friends, performing a simple task, driving in traffic, etc. etc. make demands on our attention, interrupt the Tracking effort and dominate our minds and feelings, etc.

Something more is needed—simple programs which we can execute while carrying out the processes of everyday life.

Tracking on this problem, we observed that situations were sometimes encountered in which other synergetic programs could be used. Such programs produced synergy and prevented dysergy in the particular kind of situation being addressed, with little effort. Three such programs are:

Star Vision— a special way of looking and seeing, when the Tracker is observing a scene.

The Stardrive— multipurposed action in the synergic mode, when the Tracker is doing something, focused on action.

The Dysergy Converters— when dysergy is encountered, one of these converts the dysergy into a synergy producing process.

Let us now examine these special programs in turn.

Star Vision was inspired by lines from a play by George Bernard Shaw:

“You see things as they are, and ask, ‘Why’?

“I see things that never were, and ask ‘Why Not’?”

Seeing things as they are means observing with ruthless selfhonest, no matter how it hurts, overcoming the natural tendency to wishful thinking.

Seeing things as they might be means focussing on the tremendous synergic potential implicit in the scene, which can emerge by creating new and unique things.

Star Vision means doing both at the same time!

This is easier done than said. Everyone has the ability to look self-honestly, and we can do this for awhile. But everyone also has the ability to imagine, to create, and we can do this for awhile. Then, look both ways at once, without saying anything!

Star Vision is appropriate in situations where thinking is not needed, and in which purposive action is pointless. When these conditions are met, Star Vision may produce synergy and prevent dysergy.

The Stardrive is the action analog of Star Vision. The Tracker heeds a call to action by creating a goal and pursuing it vigorously. This burst of action generates a second goal, and another, and another. Overdrive turns on! This is fun.

But the situation must be ripe for the Stardrive to work well. Marching like robots in close order drill, or listening passively to advertising and propaganda, induces a trance-like state which drags us down and holds us back. Efforts to start the Stardrive only stall the engine. Repeatedly.

These three basic programs—Tracking,Star Vision, and The Stardrive, provide a much greater domain of action. When Tracking is not feasible, The Stardrive may work surprisingly well. When The Stardrive stalls, Star Vision may produce remarkably clear vistas. But if Star Vision isn’t working, a Tracking Session may explain why. with experience, synergy between basic program and the situation tends more and more to emerge.

But even this may not be enough. We need more basic programs, and we find them, already described in my book: the Dysergy Converters.

There are potentially a very large number of these, and every Star may select his/her own set. I’ll consider these five:

Information Source

Mutation Source

Hidden Advantage

Unique Focus


Information Source means to regard the situation or other focal point as an opportunity to learn something new, to view things in a different light, etc. The world is full of things we do not know, or think we know when actually we do not. Infosource leads us to some of these.

Mutation Source means to learn a new ability, like playing simple tunes on a piano, executing a computer program, or learning the rules of chess. We not only are informed; we change.
Hidden Advantage means that no matter how unpleasant or difficult a situation may appear to be, there may be one or more hidden advantages which are being overlooked.

Unique Focus means searching for what is new and different, or what is original but unrecognized. We frame the events that happen, the better to understand them, without realizing that the frame itself blocks parts of them from view.

Buckmaster means our current effort may be making matters worse, that a different approach might be tried. Butting one’s head repeatedly against a stone wall might be replaced by searching for a way around the wall.

These four basic programs – the Dysergy Converters, Star Vision, The Stardrive, and Tracking – provide us with a relatively comprehensive set of programs which cover a large range of behavior. Any one of these should produce synergy and/or prevent dysergy, when the context is ripe. My hope is that Stars who use them will function in the synergic mode most of the time. But this means trial by others.


Human Synergetics



Sunday, March 31st, 2002

On Easter Sunday, many of our thoughts turn to Jesus of Nazareth. Whether you believe Jesus was the Christ foretold in the Old Testament, or just a man, his words bring wisdom to all of humanity. He may have been the first human to embrace synergy. He is credited as the author of The Golden Rule and his words seem to capture the very essence of synergic morality.


The Scientific Basis for “The Golden Rule”


Haskell's Relationship Compass

Edward Haskell, a pioneer of synergic science, explained:

“The first formulation of the MORAL LAW for a non-human “kingdom” of Universe was Dimitri Mendeleev’s discovery of the Periodic Law in 1869. “The properties of the chemical elements are functions of their atomic weights.”

“What Mendeleev’s discovery states for Atoms is that “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” where “reaping” is the properties of the chemical elements and “sowing” is the co-Action between the atom’s two components ­ its vast, light, electron cloud, and its tiny, massive nucleus.”

Haskell’s analysis of the Atomic elements showed that these two components ­ the electron cloud and the massive nucleus related in only three ways ­ positive, neutral, or negative. Haskell called this the Moral Law of Unified Science.

For humans, the earliest formulation of the Moral Law of Unified Science appeared 3500 years ago as the doctrine of karma.

“Hinduism began in India about 1500 BC. The belief in rebirth, or samsara, as a potentially endless series of worldly existences in which every being is caught up was associated with the doctrine of karma (Sanskrit: karman; literally “act,” or “deed”). According to the doctrine of karma, good conduct brings a pleasant and happy result and creates a tendency toward similar good acts, while bad conduct brings an evil result and creates a tendency toward repeated evil actions. This furnishes the basic context for the moral life of the individual.”

The doctrine of karma was accepted by Buddha ~500 BC and is incorporated in modern Buddhism today. It appeared in western thought ~300 BC, in the Old Testament of the Bible as the phrase:  “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

Two thousand years ago Jesus of Nazareth stated this law this way:

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.“

Recall Universe is now understood to be process. Reality is a happening. Many things are going on all at once. Living systems­the plants, animals, and we humans all live within the EVENT paradigm. Buckminster Fuller defined an event to be a triad of related phenomena­ action, reaction, resultant.

The dynamics of all behavior can be understood using these three concepts. Fuller discovered for every action there is a reaction, and a precessional resultant.

I can decide on an action. I can then implement my action. The environment including all life forms react to my action, the vector sum of the two produce a resultant. I act, the rest of the world reacts, and when it all settles down the change made by the interaction is the resultant.

Now reformulating Haskell’s The Moral Law of Unified Science to include Fuller’s Principle of Action­-Reaction­-Resultant, we get:

Adversary action tends to provoke adversary reaction ending in an adversary resultant.

Neutral action tends to provoke neutral reaction ending in a neutral resultant.

And synergic action tends to provoke synergic reaction ending in a synergic resultant.

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

We humans have three choices. We can sow adversary actions and reap adversary resultants. We can sow neutral actions and reap neutral resultants. Or we can sow synergic actions and reap synergic resultants.


Jesus of Nazareth’s The Golden Rule

The first formulation of the synergic corollary of the Moral Law of Unified Science was:

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

This formulation is credited to Jesus of Nazareth who intuitively discovered the synergic way 2000 years ago. He gave us the rules for synergic relationship in his sermon on the mount.

 “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Ö Go be reconciled with thy brother.”

But, can we modern humans do this? Can North American whites love the South American browns? Can the Jews love the Arabs? Can the Northern Irish love the English? Can the Bosnians love the Serbs? Can the South African whites love the South African blacks?

Are we humans better able to love today? Have we learned enough in 2000 years—“To reconcile with our brother”?

Jesus of Nazareth may have been the first human to embrace synergy. His words seem to capture the very essence of synergic morality. Synergic morality is more than not hurting other, it requires helping other. Jesus was the first human to state the fundamental law of synergic relationship. It is known as the Golden Rule:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law.”

What would you have others do to you? The best one word answer I can find for this question is help. “Help others as you would have them help you.”

Synergic Morality is Helping

Andrew J. Galambos, in his lectures describing Moral Capitalism, often quoted the negative version of the Golden Rule:

“Do not do to others what you would have them not do to you.”

What would you have others not do to you?

Here the best one word answer is hurt. “Do not hurt others as you would have them not hurt you.”

The negative version of the Golden Rule is true and correct as far as it goes. In fact, it is the underlying premise for the Neutral Morality found in the western world today. But, Synergic Morality requires more of us than simply not hurting. It requires more of us than simply ignoring others. It requires us to help others ­ to help each other.

Jesus of Nazareth understood this on the deepest of levels. He called for more than a prohibition against hurting others. He asked all humans to help each other.

Synergic Morality is more than the absence of hurting. It is the presence of helping. Synergic Morality rests then on the premise­ that when you help others, you will find yourself helped in return.

Happy Easter!

Timothy Wilken