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Emerging out of Presence

When I was young - about the age of 20 - I was fascinated by Indian spirituality and philosophy. The ‘Bhagavad Gita’, a part of the epic Mahabharata, dating back to the second half of the first millennium BCE, really stood out for me. At the core is a dialogue between Prince Arjuna and his guide, Krishna at the start of the Dharma Yuddha (righteous war) between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Arjuna is seen as highly knowledgeable in many disciplines (mind), with outstanding moral standards (heart) and excellent warrior skills especially in using his warrior bow (hand/will): Arjuna represents a human being, who had fully developed his skills. But now being on the battlefield facing some of his family members on the other side, he gets stuck in the moral dilemma and despairs about the violence and death the war will cause in the battle against his own kin.

He wonders if he should renounce war, and so seeks Krishna's counsel, whose answers and discourse constitute the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna counsels Arjuna to "fulfill his Kshatriya (warrior) duty to uphold the Dharma" through "selfless action". One of the core sentences that touched me deeply, as it dealt with the important question of how to finally take the right decision and action after deeply diving into all aspects of a problem or challenge. It points to a wisdom beyond knowledge, which becomes accessible while being fully present:

Yogastah kuru karmani - firmly grounded in BEING, act!

40 years later I now feel reconnected to this text and sentiment in my lively experience of Theory U. The phases of deeply sensing into different aspects of a system, then letting go in a moment of Presencing to then let come what wants to be born echoes the Gita. The bottom of the U represents the firm foundation in BEING from where vital next steps emerge. It is a moment of letting go of the known, even patterns that worked very well before; instead opening up to the unknown future and receiving information beyond personal or even collective expertise.

But how does this practically apply in processes of transformation you may wonder?

During this year's Movalogue - a 3-day co-creative participatory gathering of practitioners of the Social Presencing Theater with 100+ participants from all over the world (read more about it here) - we wanted to deepen our understanding about the question: How can we cultivate communities that nourish the earth? We decided to use the Presencing Institute tool 4D mapping, which is an excellent method to make the current reality of a system and its inherent potential visible.

This happens by letting core stakeholders be physically embodied by volunteering representatives. The representatives become the components of a “living map,” of a given system. Each representative steps into a physical shape, one after another to first represent the current reality as “sculpture 1 or S1” and from there collectively move into a different organically arising shape, as “sculpture 2 or S2” which then represents a possible future state. (You can learn more about the 4D mapping process here). Our intention in doing so was to let the even yet unknown components of the system see itself and make the collective longing and possible next step(s) visible. In addition to the usual process, we decided to create some additional space for being present and letting the unknown emerge.

  1. Focus on embodied presence In online mappings sometimes a virtual board is used to create a representation of the positioning of the different stakeholders in space, which is naturally the case when facilitating a 4D mapping in person. We felt that the back and forth dynamic that takes place when watching and positioning oneself on a board distracts speaking from embodied presence.

  2. Bring in different case giver perspectives As we wanted to make use of the possibility to have people from different parts of the world participate, we found it important to listen to different perspectives on the core question of how to create communities that nourish the earth. We appointed 3 case givers from different regions of the world (Asia, Europe, Latin America) to let them express what they were curious about.

  3. Let stakeholder roles emerge from the field Usually the stakeholder roles will be defined in advance between the case giver, facilitator and sometimes the participants of the 4D mapping. We decided to not preset the roles, but instead to let them emerge from the global group of participants in the present moment of conducting the 4D mapping. The only role we set at the beginning was Earth, being the central element of the mapping. Thereafter the participants who felt a call to represent a role could step up and join in. The process of adding roles ended with the calling of the marginalized groups or individuals, and the highest future possibility of the system.

  4. Initiate an individual journaling on guiding questions Due to time restrictions and as an approach to connect what could be sensed during the 4D ritual to a more personal and practical level, we invited all participants to journal on the two questions:

    • How did my relationship to the Earth change?

    • What can I do in my local community?


After listening to three case givers cultural perspective on the question ‘How to cultivate communities that nourish the Earth?’ we opened the ritual space by at first calling the Earth to be represented. From there one after the other 17 stakeholder roles appeared from the field, each finding a shape and stating a sentence out of their current reality. Thereafter - in zoom gallery view - all stakeholders expressed their relationship to the Earth before they started a collective movement into a sculpture 2 ending with a sentence from a possible future state. In subsequent phase of reflection we listened to all stakeholders and what they noticed during their journey from S1 to S2. We invited the citizens - those who watched the process - to also share their insights. The whole 4D ritual ended with a personal moment of journaling on the above questions.

The following visual shows all roles and their shapes and sentences in sculpture 1 and sculpture 2.

visual be Geisa Paganini de Mio

The videos offer two creative ways of sensing into the process of the 4D ritual. The first one gives a comprehensive summary of the energy and radiation more talking to your heart. The second longer version adds some further explanation about the process and represents the full flow of the 4D process.

video by Denise Cunha Sobrinho (2:19 minutes)

video by Denise Cunha Sobrinho (15:49 minutes)


There are many ways to interpret what happened during this global 4D ritual and it is difficult to forward the richness to those who didn’t participate. I was personally surprised and touched by the energy and attraction that arose between the communities and unconditional love. I sensed it being the crack and shift from where the system starts to move into a new more connected direction. A lot of warmth emerged from there and sent its waves throughout the whole system. I felt a deep sense of inspiration and intention to bring a more heartfelt connection with stronger relationship to the world. Further on I was moved by the clear offering of the indegenous people to share their wisdom and teach - especially children - to live in harmony with nature. I was also struck by the despair of Business & Corporations, Governments & politicians and Communications & Social Media whose ‘stuckness’ became visible and gave me a sense of their pain.

Participating in the process not just reminded me, but also made me feel being a part of a global inter-connected system with the Earth being the holding foundation, which nourishes and needs nourishment at the same time. It strengthens my intention to further connect and co-create spaces of collective listening and learning and it also made me curious about how we can further explore how indigenous wisdom and rituals could support a global approach of heartfully cultivating sustainable ways of living. Co-creating new global rituals by integrating different local approaches and wisdom seems to play an essential role in it.

If you resonate with this learnings and approach you are invited to join our monthly Open Movalogue Calls which take place on the 3rd Tuesday each month.

Special thanks for the support in the writing of this article

Patricia Scott, Denise Cunha Sobrinho, Geisa Paganini de Mio, Patricia Sogayar, Priya Mahtani


For those of you who would like to dive even deeper, a script with all phases and the perspectives of the three case givers can be found here:

Download PDF • 1.14MB

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