Symbiosis in LOs LO11262

Mnr AM de Lange (
Wed, 4 Dec 1996 13:40:48 GMT+2

Julie Beedon wrote in LO11205

> I am not sure if this matches my experience - somehow things seem to come
> to me from other loops?? and open loops link to other open loops?? is this
> possible - do we have to 'close' the loop when we are working with
> commensual sybiosis to be confident things will come back to us?

As far as my experience and understanding goes, yes. Sometimes the koops
make such far distant turns that we loose sight of its closed nature.

But there is another reason for having a closed loop in commensual (sorry,
I previously spelled it comensal and should have consulted the dictionary)
symbiosis. On a number of occasions I have observed that when the loop
becomes broken, some of the commensual dyads get destroyed while others
become parasitical. Herein lies a great warning for self-organisation. Do
not go overboard with it.

> I suppose the question might be around how much is freely given - one of
> the ideas some colleagues/partners and I have been toying with is that
> 'freely given' works if we have the time and energy to provide it and if
> the reciever is ready to wait or recieve it in the form we currently have
> it available etc.. if the reciever has a desperate need for it and is
> requesting our immediate attention to it or asking us to specifically
> devote time and creative energy to it then this might require some form of
> compensative arrangement???

Julie, the concept symbiosis is the complex result of two main concepts,
namely 'living together' and 'give and take food'. The second concept may
also be described by the idea of producers and consumers, an idea much
more prevalent in business management. Forget for a moment about symbiosis
and merely think of a society or organisation in terms of production and
consumption. I can think of two important questions.

Is the society or organisation a netto producer or a netto consumer? In
this part of the world we have much experiences of netto consumers and
little of netto producers. Part of the problem is the absence of the
culture of compensation, ie. very little mutual symbiosis and
comprehensible closed loops of commensual symbiosis. It is not a nice way
of living.

In terms of what do we measure the production/consumption? Much of the
western world use money (profit) as the ultimate measuring device. It is
because of the paradigm 'the engineer and his machine' which they follow.
They may be a netto producer of money, but other parts in the world is
fast catching up on their paradigm. However, the looming catastrophy for
all of them (western eastern, etc) is when they will be forced to
acknowledge that their paradigm was after all not a netto producer, but a
netto consumer. In other words, there is another measuring device which
they should have used to open their eyes, but which they use very little
at present. This measuring device is life, not merely human life, but all
of reality which exhibits the signs of life (i.e. deep life). The really
big problem now is that we have a very minute culture of compensating for

> >But I also think that we tacitly acknowledge that the wholeness (mentione
> >above) may indeed be impaired. This is a primary source of us becoming
> >uncomfortable.
> I am not sure if this is the source of my discomfort when I am on the
> recieving end - although it may be and I am not understanding what you
> have said. My discomfort is sometimes around the 'feeling' of
> indebtedness and a sense of my inability to repay someone. Is this the
> same as the wholeness being impaired...

I admit my reference to wholeness was a little premature. In order to
calculate whether a society is a nett producer/consumer and to decide on
the ultimate measuring device, we have to have wholeness. Without
wholeness we cannot come to a conclusion. Do you agrre with that?


> How do you see this working in the context of this list - I am still not
> sure I get it? Is it supposed to be mutual - in the list context would
> that be I get something from the list which helps me and so I give
> something back to the list which helps it (the list or the people I had
> stuff from??) Or is it commensual - I get soemthing from the list and I
> use it for the general benefit of the develop of LO and organisational
> learning in a range of contexts?? (how would we know this was happening??)

See my reply to Robert Bacal and compare it with this one to you. If A
asks a question and B answers that question in terms of previous learning
experiences without learning something extra in answering the question,
then it is commensual symbiosis (symgnosis). But if B also learns by
answering the question while A learns something, even if it is different
than that which has been expected, then it is mutual symbiosis

OK. What have I learnt in my reply to Robert's question. That we try to
live together with layers of metaphors between us which prevents effective
contact if we are not able to translate them. What have I learnt in my
reply to you. You are a very spontaneous learner. This means you are
driven by some very high qualities which have emerged within you. The one
that I can clearly observe, is that you wish to understnad exactly what I
am talking about. In other words, you wish to break through all the layers
of metaphors between us.

> > By this I mean
> >that if I am a member of the back-pack and I make use of what is made
> >available to me by the frontier in such a manner that it is detrimental to
> >the frontier, then I have become a parasite.
> I found this very helpful - so if people used the things they got from the
> LO list for their own benefit but it resulted in LO and possibly the list
> being decredited or harmed we would be in the arena of parasital

> symbiosis?? This seems to me to be what has happened to the work of a
> number of people ... Taylor, Deming etc often sounded bitter about the way
> in which their work had been used ......

Maybe it is the rat race we all are subjected to. Publish or perish. Get
famous and rich or leave the race. Why do I contribute so heavily in this
forum. Is it to get famous or rich? No. Soon I will go into lurking
because I must finish my book. Will the book make me famous and rich? I do
not care and will not be surprised if it is just one more on the bench. I
am much more concerned about my fellow humans. (It is out of this concern
that I have written the book.) An almost unspeakble catastrophy looms in
the near future. Those clinging to the pesent paradigm of our civilisation
(described by the metaphor 'the engineer and his machine') will not make
it. How do I know it.

I have been trained in the physical sciences and have experienced success
and failure (anomalies). However, I am also a desert wolf and have spend
in total a number of years in deserts. If you go into a desert without any
help (food, utensils, shelter, locomotion, etc) from civilisation built on
the paradigm (engineer and his machine), you will be dead within three
days! In our deserts we have the curious San people (bushmen). They do not
fit into our civilisation (commensual and mutual symbiosis) and thus our
civilisation pitty them as misfits (parasitical symbiosis). However, in
the deserts they live in complete harmony with that seemingly harsh
environment. They know how to track and hunt. They never kill more than
necessary. They know which plants are sources for food and water. They
refrain from parasitical symbiosis. In a ceratian sence these San people
is a metaphor fo what may happen to any society or organisation.

On one of my trips to Bushmanland I experienced this wierd calling: leave
your civilisation behind and manage to stay alive for at least three days.
I was torn in two: the civilised part of me said: you are a family man
with responsibilities, you are mad because you will die. The creative part
of me said: go for the learning experiences, you will succeed because you
are able to learn.

For about 5 hours I wondered into the wilderness like a robot. My mind is
always active when I am awake, but during those 5 hours it was completely
shut off. Then suddenly, I became aware of my thirst. What then happened
was unbelievable. I knew from my hobby many of the plants which contained
water such as Fokea edulis (kambroo). But suddenly that knowledge became a
matter of life and death. At de Lange, I said to myself, very soon you
will have to find a kambroo or you will leave your family your skeleton.
So the botanical personality in me arose to the occasion - I found my
kambroo. During that trip many of the personalities (chemist, physicist,
soil scientist, etc) arose within me for every want and desire which I
beame aware of. ( I even wondered at this observation of seemeingly
shizofreny - various personalities, each arising at an appropiate
occassion.) However, none of them arose on the old paradigm ('the engineer
and his machine'). It was probably during that trip that I intensely
became aware of the new paradigm, namely the 'warden of life'. I also
discovered that creativity makes the difference between life and death.

I will not advise anyone else to undertake such a trip. It will cause
death. By that I do not want to make myself out as superhuman. I merely
want to stress that I had many learning experiences previous to that trip
which enabled me to survive - experiences which few, if any, of you would
have. But the point which I wish to make is that IN ORDER TO SURVIVE, I

This is what I wish to shair with this forum. Emergent learning is real.
The pinnicle of emergent learning is to experience cognitively a paradigm
shift. It makes the difference between life and death, whteher it be
material ot spiritual. This is the essence of the rebirth in Jesus Christ.
Whereas parasitical symbiosis cannot afford emergences, emergences, even
in learning, thrives upon mutual symbiosis. It is tacit knowledge to the
San people. I pray it will become formal, objective knowledge for fellow
learners of this list. But you will have to experience it by emergent
learning. How? When you hear the challenge calling in your field of
expertise, go for it, even if you realise that it is on the other side of
your expertise. Let nobody stop you, especially you yourself.

I humbly thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.
Julie, I hope you are able to create a new perspective on symbiosis in

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email:

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