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January 2015




Cause, Effect and Awareness

"To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction."

… Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727) English mathematician and natural philosopher

Not many people would dispute the view that Isaac Newton was a genius. He was a key figure in the scientific revolution and his famous book, generally known as the "Principia", is revered as one of the great works.

Visit The HubHis work, particularly his laws of motion, led to one of the basic premises of the scientific approach; that every effect has a cause. Admittedly, this tenet has been challenged with the emergence of quantum mechanics but most of our day to day thinking relies heavily on the idea that we can find out what caused something to happen.

This idea has found its way into the study of consciousness and has even raised the question of whether or not we have free will. The argument goes something like this. If what we do now is the result of what we just did then we had no choice over what we did because it was the result of a chain of cause and effect that goes back through time. In other words, we could not do anything other than what we were predetermined to do as a result of previous events. Hence there is no such thing as "free will". This is the basic tenet of philosophical determinism.

This idea has been demonstrated experimentally by a pioneering scientist in the field of human consciousness Benjamin Libet. His experiments and some that followed have shown that at least some actions - like deciding to move a finger at a certain time - are initiated subconsciously at first, and enter consciousness afterward. In other words we have subconsciously decided to do certain things before we are aware we have made the decision to do so. This raises the question of the role of consciousness. Does consciousness simply reveal to us what we have already decided to do? If this is the case, it means we only have the illusion of free will and that our life is predetermined. A scary thought indeed as the concept of free will is closely aligned with that of personal responsibility. If there is no free will, the basis of our societies would crumble.

So is something else going on?

Libet thought so. He argued for the existence of a "conscious veto". Consciousness does not initiate the action but it can act to prevent it. In other words, although we do not have free will, he argued that we have "free won’t". In this interpretation, we could not control what showed up as our desires and impulses; they just showed up. However we could intervene and veto those impulses. Of course, Libet's findings and his interpretation of the role of consciousness are a contentious matter. Indeed the question of what gives rise to consciousness and its role in human life is probably the biggest question currently facing philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists and many others involved in exploring the human condition and spirituality.

So why am I telling you all this?

A key aspect of the ontological approach is the distinction of transparency and breakdown. Transparency relates to the habitual ways in which we respond and act. A breakdown speaks to awareness and a sense in consciousness of something likely to impact our future that we need to address . Our capacity to deal with our breakdowns speaks to our capacity in life. Indeed as Newfield Network founder, Julio Olalla, has said, "Mastery in life is mastery in breakdowns".

No matter what neuroscience may tell us about consciousness, human societies are built on the idea of free will and personal responsibility. This speaks to the importance of developing our self-awareness and with it the capacity to raise the important things from our subconscious to our conscious mind for us to process. These are skills that can be learnt. The challenge is to have the desire and the perseverance to learn them.

You can read more about Benjamin Libet's experiments by clicking here.

We invite you to explore more in the articles section of our web site.


Our Gift To You

Our mission at Talking About is to share the ontological work with as many people as we can with the aim of making the world a better place. To that end, we have initiated the Ontological Foundations... A Free Learning Experience.

Who can do this?

Anyone! There are no pre-requisites. You are even welcome to pass this offer on to other people that you know. However please be aware that there is a limit to how many people we can take on at any one time as we have to also allow space for our other activities.

With this limitation in mind, we will only be providing assignments to a maximum of four people each week. As a result there will be a waiting list established on a first in basis if the current places are filled.

So what are we offering?

We are offering you the chance to complete an assignment that we will review and return to you with comments if you return it to us within 28 days of our issuing the assignment. This assignment is designed to give you an opportunity to gain some familiarity with the foundations of the ontological approach. It is also designed to provide you with an opportunity for self-reflection and self-observation.

The assignment consists of FIVE parts:

Part 1. The Paper. This part includes reading the paper, reflecting on what it means for you and then responding to some questions we have asked;
Part 2. A Quote. This part involves reflecting on a quote, discussing your thoughts and the quote with at least one other person and then sharing your thoughts with us;
Part 3. A Stillness Exercise. This part involves completing a stillness or meditative exercise, which we ask you to engage in regularly during the course of the assignment;
Part 4. The Body. This part involves doing some activities associated with body and body observation; and
Part 5. Wrapping Up and What Next. This part invites you to summarise your experiences and decide on some future actions based on your experiences in this assignment.

Ontological FoundationsWe will provide you with:

  1. An extensive paper setting out many of the foundational ideas of our ontological approach, together with a slide show and mind map setting out an overview of the contents;
  2. An assignment in MS Word format that invites you to explore what these ideas mean in your world allowing you the opportunity to undertake a short personal development experience;
  3. Written comments in response to your thoughts and any questions that arise when completing the assignment. You will have 4 weeks to complete the assignment and get it back to us for review if you wish us to make comment. The paper, assignment and our written comments will be our gift to you.

If you would like more than our written response, for a small investment, you can take this assignment further. You can arrange a one to one conversation with one of our coaches to explore your assignment in more depth. These conversations would be conducted via Skype and can be one hour or two hours in length. Your upfront investment for these conversations would be billed at Aus$50 (+GST for Australian residents) per hour.

You Interested?

To be part of this offer or to find out more, please write to us at info@talkingabout.com.au setting out when you would like to start doing the assignment, bearing in mind you will have four weeks to complete it. We will then let you know if we can fit in with your desired time frame and, if not offer some alternatives. We can then work our way to the necessary arrangements for your participation.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Play Create Elevate

Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

Although some might say the silly season is over, I am not one of them. In an ode to the wonderful work of Roald Dahl this month’s article pays homage to one of his quotes:

"A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men."

So I must be remarkably wise being a cherisher of a little nonsense. For those who have been following my journey over the past two years you will know that l like a little nonsense -  more often than now and then.

Recently I was introduced to the game called “5 Second Rule”. This game involves you being given three things to name in five seconds. It sounds simple and it is. Though for many it is far from easy. You might be asked to name three people you’d like to date. Or name three rivers in England. Or to name three fish. Which three people you’d like to date created some intrigue when the second person named was not familiar to anyone in the room. Three rivers in England because once the Thames had been named there was an enormous brain blank moment while the timer ran down. And the three fish request left the entire group with tears of laughter running done our faces as the answers “red fish”, “thin fish” and “blow fish” were offered. The third fish response landing well after the time had elapsed. Not only did the game add some nonsense to my world it also created some wonderfully memorable experiences. Those memories have now become part of a series of shared experiences that can instantaneously recreate the laughter and joy of the moment in which they were created.

The other game I played was “One Word at a Time”. This is played by each person contributing one word at a time to a story. Its hilarity came from unusual plot twists and turns, quirky character additions, interesting character names and traits and the inevitable desire to want to add more than one word at a time. Thanks to “One Word at a Time” I’ll never be able to hear the word ‘porpoise’ or its plural and remain straight faced!

I invite you to pull one of your favourite games out of the closet before much more of the year passes. If you don’t have a game in your closet, find one, buy one, borrow one, or make one up – whatever it takes. Add a little nonsense to your life. Smile like a toddler. Giggle like an eight year old that just heard a fart joke. Have a full bellied laugh at the vagaries of life. It’s the memorable experiences that we collect, more so than physical possessions that add immense value to our life experiences and enhance our well-being and our mental health. Remember your mind health matters!


In case you missed the December e-zine there is exciting news on the cards. Jacqui’s nearly finished writing her book on what it’s like living with a mood disorder. The working title is Black Dogs, Roller Coasters and Pink Elephants. Jacqui cannot over-emphasise the value and re-assurance she has gained from having a chat with, interviewing, and reading about the first-hand, lived experiences of other people with mood disorders or other mental illness or the people who care for them.  Her own knowledge has grown far more effectively out of hearing and reading the first-hand, lived experiences of others.

If you’d like to receive a pre-publication excerpt, or be kept in the loop about publication and launch dates please email Jacqui at jacqui@jacquichaplin.com with the subject heading “Keep Me In The Loop”.


Play Create Elevate also offers your organisation the opportunity to hear first-hand, from a lived experience perspective about the signs and symptoms of mood disorders, how to give and get help and how to build and sustain resilience. PwC have released a report that says for every dollar spent in creating mentally healthy workplaces that an ROI of at least $2.30 is possible… What are you waiting for?  It’s time to speak openly and comfortably about mind health matters!

We invite you to read Jacqui's blog here

You can visit the Play Create Elevate website here

More on PCE next month!

Hey, did you know?

"But I Feel Good" Radio Show

Radio Show

Did you know that since November 2013, Jacqui has been hosting a weekly radio show called ‘But I Feel Good’ …talking about pink elephants and black dogs.

The show is dedicated to speaking openly and comfortably about the ‘black dog’ of mood disorders from a lived experience perspective and the ‘pink elephant’ strategies and practices that build emotional resilience and inner fortitude.

It covers a range of topics related to mind health and plays a great mix of music in between interviews with subject matter experts and related content.

The show goes live to air, streaming on www.MAINfm.net so it can be heard AROUND THE WORLD every Monday from 1-3pm AET. Its official broadcast base is 94.9 MAIN FM which extends across the Mt Alexander Shire in Victoria on the wireless.

You can listen to on demand episodes at www.jacquichaplin.com.

The Monthly Diversion

Two for one this month!

Wrong email address:

A couple were going on vacation but his wife was on a business trip so he went to the destination first and his wife would meet him the next day.

When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick email.

Unfortunately, when typing her address, he mistyped a letter and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher’s wife whose husband had passed away only the day before.

When the grieving widow checked her email, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor in a dead faint.

At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:

Dearest Wife,
Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow.

P.S. Sure is hot down here.

Clever kids:

A police officer found a perfect hiding place for watching for speeding motorists.

One day, the officer was amazed when everyone was under the speed limit, so he investigated and found the problem.

A 10 years old boy was standing on the side of the road with a huge hand painted sign which said “Radar Trap Ahead.”

A little more investigative work led the officer to the boy’s accomplice: another boy about 100 yards beyond the radar trap with a sign reading “TIPS” and a bucket at his feet full of change.


"Being an intellectual creates a lot of questions and no answers."

… Janis Joplin (1943-1970) American singer-songwriter

Join Us Online

LinkedInDo you want to explore some of these ideas in more depth? Then, we invite you to join our LinkedIn Group and share any insights you may have. As others have done, we also initiate your own thoughts and conversations if they relate to the ontological approach. You can find us on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Want to Read More?

Since the formation of Talking About in 2005, we have published our e-zine every month. Before that, Chris wrote regular newsletters and e-zines with Gaia Consulting dating back to 1995. If you would like to explore more of Chris' ideas then you can access our e-zine archive and view any newsletter written since 2005 by clicking here or to look at all the articles Chris has written over the years simply click here.

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