No. 5 Review of Source by Joseph Jaworski

‘Source’ is the story of Joseph Jaworski’s fifty year pilgrimage through the wilder sides of science and metaphysics, drawn by the promise of the illusive ‘Source’, once experienced viscerally as a very young man, and never forgotten.

Joseph Jaworski (author of ‘Synchronicity’) takes us on his personal odyssey to find the source of human creativity and self-organisation. The journey takes him and us through the realms of physics and philosophy, by way of Eastern religion and Native American shamanism, via metaphysics to a new way of knowing.

Before I go any further I should make it clear that I enjoyed this book and would recommend it, even if many if the ideas expressed required significant suspension of disbelief.

The Source, like the eternal Tao, by its very nature, cannot be defined. But ‘While it cannot be defined, Source can be experienced.’ That is his starting point.  Now then…

The Western scientific-materialist worldview as a belief systems is ‘no longer adequate for the issues our society is facing’ and an historic shift is now occurring leading to a broader, more comprehensive world view.

To achieve the next stage of personal, organisational and human experience we must access our intuition as a valid alternative way of knowing, distinct from and just as good as, scientific reasoning.

Jaworski is interested in developing what he calls ‘Stage IV leaders’ (an extension of Stage III leaders envisioned in Synchronicity) who have this broader world view and are able to access Source.

It seems ‘…there is an underlying intelligence within the universe, which is capable of guiding us and preparing us for the futures we must create.’  ‘We are partners in the evolution of the universe’. By implication, the universe cannot evolve without us.

Jaworski takes us back to the aftermath of a tornado experienced as a very young man. The search and rescue team of which he was a part was, he says, ‘self-organised from the very beginning’. This, for Jaworski, was an expression of Source or what D Bohn calls ‘implicate order’.

That experience triggers his realisation that we have a ‘deep hunger for the experience of oneness…’ coming from working in harmony with the Source, and that ‘…Being used in this way is what it means to be human.’

So far so good, however as his is approach is derived from Taoism, Buddhism and a couple-a-dozen spiritually oriented self-help texts, we really need an explanation – is this a spiritual self-help book or a management book?

It is a little jarring, when Jaworski attempts to lead us back from serene contemplation of the underlying intelligence, to the exploitation of Source for no-nonsense business reasons. The well-spring of the entrepreneurial impulse lies, it seems, in our ability to ‘access the knowledge for action we need at the moment’, which comes from ‘the Source’.

The juxtaposition of the ‘spiritual and metaphysical’, with the ‘no-nonsense scientific business world’ is always a little uncomfortable throughout the book, but Jaworski can perhaps be forgiven for this since his purpose is precisely to bridge the gap in attitudes, world view, culture and meaning between these two worlds and, in the Buddhist phrase, ‘return to the market with helping hands’.

There is a process by which Individuals and teams can learn to ‘sense the way the future wants to unfold, and to enable that unfolding.’ Jaworski quotes Brian Arthur or the Santa Fe Institute: ‘for the day to day work of running a business…scientific decision theory works pretty well. But for “the big decisions in life, you need to reach a deeper region of consciousness” where you can “let an inner wisdom emerge.”  “It take courage to listen to your inner wisdom. But once you hear that wisdom, making a decision becomes fairly easy.”

Arthur describes a ‘knowing’ as coming from the heart where a different set of rules applies. ‘You don’t act out of deduction, you act out of an inner feeling; you’re not even thinking.’ The process resembles the Taoist approach: first ‘observe, observe, observe’, then ‘reflect and retreat’ allowing inner knowledge to emerge, then finally, ‘act swiftly, with a natural flow’. Sounds like a martial art.

Jaworski applies this concept and what he calls the ‘U-Theory’ model – ‘a process by which transformational breakthroughs in any field occur, the creation of knowledge that changes the world as we know it.’ Jaworski applies U-Theory to set up a ‘Lab’ to ‘model the concept of leader as teacher.’

In the Lab, leaders are taught the new capability to ‘sense and actualise emerging futures’. The laboratory provides an environment where these lessons can be applied within U-Theory to “enable entrepreneurial leaders to move through all three stages of observing, … going to that place of deeper knowledge, and enacting…”

I should pause here to tease out two profound ideas dormant in the last few paragraphs: Jaworski believes both 1) that the future wants to unfold in a particular way, and 2) that we humans can sense the way the future  wants to unfold, and act as its midwife.

These ideas are set out and developed over the course of the book without once acknowledging that they fly in the face of what I think most people would see as ‘science’. I suppose all this may be obvious to Jaworski and therefore scarcely need to be laboured over, but I found it distinctly odd, even, from time to time, suspecting subterfuge or sleight of hand.  Jaworski’s position is that modern scientific research across many fields is driving this change in view.

Jaworski sails close to ideas such as ‘intelligent design’, Gaia and a host of ancient superstitions that Western democratic culture since the enlightenment and the advent of the scientific method has fought, and still fights, to eradicate.

It’s not that, individually, many if not all of the ideas martialled or introduced are not reasonable from a certain perspective and within a distinct context, it’s that Jaworski brings together a wide range of controversial, even, in a modern sense ‘heretical’ ideas, and places them on the stage without caveat or comment.

Jaworski refers to Michael Polyani’s concept of ‘indwelling’ which, we are told, can result in sudden illumination or ‘primary knowing’ arising “by means of interconnected wholes… and by means of timeless, direct presentation.”

This is an example of an idea that many of us can, in principle, relate to without unease – we have all experienced sudden intuitions or illuminations which provide a complete answer to a question without the bother of having to apply logic or rational thought. The problem is that many such concepts brought together form a whole which challenges the hegemonistic standpoint of orthodox science.

On his journey of discovery Jaworski has pulled together an eclectic and at first sight potentially incompatible set of practices, from shamanism, qigong, mediation, Taoism, Buddhism to quantum mechanics, and a range of spiritual and other practices such as clairvoyance and telepathy.

Jaworski places great store in encounters with nature, particularly wild animals or majestic weather events because: ‘thousands of years of human evolution are imprinted on our psyche’, ‘spending time alone in nature is at the core of our genetic coding. We are virtually identical to the people who lived at the end of the Ice Age … who possessed capacities that lie dormant in us today, including a heightened sense of awareness and knowing beyond the limited self’.

Jaworski tells of how he underwent a group ‘Sacred Passage’ retreat based on North American shamanistic principles. The retreat required days of prior Taoist awareness training. The group practiced exercises to ‘cultivate universal energy’ based upon the Chinese practice of qigong as well as meditation.

Jaworski believes (after Lievegoed’s ‘Man on the Threshold’) that ‘humanity is experiencing a fundamental change in consciousness. The perceived boundaries that surrounded consciousness for centuries are no longer fixed, and … it is no longer only the physical world that implies reality.’ This change in consciousness enables the fourth stage of leadership.

Stage 1: Self-centric leaders

Stage 2: Achieving Leaders

Stage 3:  Servant Leaders and

Stage IV: Renewing Leaders capable of “breakthrough thinking, strategy formation, operational excellence and innovation.’

To achieve the fourth stage we revisit the Source at its most spiritual, and apparently least materialistic, when ‘encountering the authentic whole’, the ‘energy, or spirit, [that] infuses all living beings … without [which] any organism must fall apart into its constituent elements.’ The source is that ‘… which is truly alive in the living being … this energy or spirit … is never born and never dies.’

Jaworski believes that ‘…Time… moves into the future, attracted by … a destiny state, and that the Source is essentially ‘information’ which, with energy and matter, is one of the foundation processes of the universe.

Jaworski suggests we humans share or have access to a kind of group mind, permeating space and time, which is part of our biological nature.

He then takes us on an unexpected detour into clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis and the occult. His conclusion is that thought can directly affect and impact reality: ‘scientific studies irrevocably confirm Bohm’s “unbroken wholeness” of the universe and that we can affect physical outcome through our intention and way of being.’

The Source exists before the sequential order of time, giving birth to the universe at every eternal moment. The Source is the wellspring of the universe itself. To access it we must be open, honest and act only at the right time in the right way. Doors will mysteriously open for us and helping hands appear. “All we have to do is see the oneness that we are.”

Humans can extract information from physical reality “by means that are independent of time and space.” “…information is coming from the future.”

Some aspect of our mind can perceive the future, not infer it or anticipate it “But actually perceive it.”  Furthermore our intelligence is distributed across our bodies, and we have three brains, the mind, the gut and the heart, which are networked together and function below the level of consciousness.

The terminology can get a bit strange, for example, passionately focussed attention attunes your body’s psychophysiological to “a domain of quantum-holographical information, which contains implicit, energetically encoded information about the object” [of attention] which results in an absolute certainty, beyond question or doubt, about the thing yet to happen.

“This experience of an immediate, total sense of the thing as a whole is quite unlike the informational processing experience of normal awareness” These are ‘tiny fragments of the universe embodied in man’, which allow the ‘actualization of potentialities’ in the universe.

“By deliberately changing the internal image of reality, people can change the world. Indeed, the real fundamental changes in societies have come about not from dictates of governments and the results of battles, but through vast numbers of people changing their minds.”

Stage IV leaders experience ‘metanoia’ or sudden illumination which is an ‘invariant law of the universe’ where ‘revelation comes through grace alone’. This ‘transcendence of mind’ or ‘shared intuition’ amounts to a direct knowledge of the underlying logic of the universe or Source. The ‘aha!’ experience ‘just comes [and] when it comes… [it] brings with it certainty’.  “The insight arrives whole… it arrives with a knowing’ that the solution is right – a feeling of its appropriateness, its elegance, its extraordinary simplicity… And it arrives not in the midst of activities or frenzied thoughts, but in moments of stillness.”

The power of love is at the heart of the transformation required of our leaders and our society. ‘A change of meaning is a change of being’.  The path to self-realisation and love is the path to entrepreneurial leadership and knowledge. This leads to ‘the courage to act in an instant’, not to ‘think or strategise’, ‘you just know’.

Jaworski brings the threads together in his four principles and six practices:

Four Principles:

1)      There is an open and emergent quality to the universe.  Order emerges for free in a group of simple components.

2)      The universe is a domain of undivided wholeness; both the material world and consciousness are parts of the same undivided whole. Everything is interconnected and each fragment contains the whole enfolded within in it.

3)       There is a creative Source of infinite potential enfolded in the universe. Connection to this source leads to the emergence of new realities – discovery, creation, renewal and transformation. We are partners in the unfolding universe.

4)      Humans can learn to draw from the infinite potential of the Source by choosing to follow a disciplined path toward self-realization and love, the most powerful energy in the universe.

Six Practices:

1)      Suspend disbelief, or at least suspend knee-jerk habits of thought that close our minds to the possibility of alternative realities – be open.

2)      Use metaphors or mental models to shift our attitude to enable communion with Source -be open ‘receivers’.

3)      Approach the Source from a position of love for mankind and the universe – this enables an “enhanced dialogue with the Source and an increased probability of physical events arising from the Source.”

4)      Avoid attachment to the outcome of the process, choosing instead to “flow” with the indeterminacy itself, “Bring it to reality as it desires”.

5)      Consciousness and The Source, “despite their vast disparity of character and function… are the parents of all reality.”

6)      Inner Self-Management through meditation, qigong and yoga, still the mind and increase access to the Source, creating states of alternate consciousness, tuning channels of reception and amplifying information exchange with the Source.

This approach can be applied to whole organisations: “As the organisation advances and grows, certain core practices begin to define the culture of the enterprise, becoming its “way of being”’

In the closing chapters Jaworski muses on the deepest metaphysical elements of the Source. He reaches beyond the veil of casual human experience into the ‘indestructible and constantly evolving fields of information where all knowledge, wisdom, and unconditional Love are present and available…. In a dimension [outside] our concept of time and space, with non-local and universal interconnectedness. One could call this our Higher consciousness, Divine consciousness, or Cosmic consciousness.”

And then the Epilogue wherein Jaworski ventures into metaphysics way outside the mainstream. The ideas expressed in the epilogue do fall naturally from the conclusions reached in the main body of the book, but some people might find them a little too outré even in a speculative work such as this. The ‘Creationistic’ undertone of some parts of the work is finally made explicit and resolved by means of a kind of universal animistic judo in which it is not God that created the universe, but the universe that created God.

‘Source existed before God; God, the Buddha, Krihsna … all emanated from Source.’

This is a serious work and a good, thought provoking, read. It is probably not for those for whom the scientific method reveals the only valid knowledge.

Source is published by Berrett-Koehler Pulishers, Inc. of San Francisco. Visit: