Living Axioms (R6)


  • What is it that informs the decisions you make, the reactions you have to your experiences?
  • How do you store the events of your life so that you can create patterns of meaning and begin to learn from them?
  • What is it that creates your internal guide for a coordinated system of responses to people and events?
  • What informs what you say to yourself or to others?
  • What (like the girders in a bridge or the spokes of a wheel) gives you internal strength and enables you to maintain a kind of integrity while being buffeted by encounters over hills and troughs?
  • How proactive are you in building a collection of axioms to orient you on your journey and keep you focussed on it?
  • Do you know where to find or create axioms for living?
  • Does observing the rhythms of natural phenomena provide inspiration?
  • Do you enjoy observing them as they tumble from the words of others or tease them from their actions?
  • Do you just snatch them or let them seep in to you from the written creations of thoughtful others?
  • Are axioms a living and breathing hub of your existence?
  • Are there some so deeply embedded that you can chart their influence from the place they originated through all the twists and turns of your life?
  • What are the planets in your personal cosmological landscape?
  • Are there some that you are trying on for size as a scientist might hypothesise in order to see if they fit your values?
  • How many of these fit your personal cosmology?

ANWhitehead pointed out long ago that the object of education is to help learners convert what he called ‘inert ideas’ into their own personal possessions. How does the conversion work? He also said that education should consist of a very few general axioms by which one could live resourcefully and productively…  How many do you need?

This collection of Axioms for Living is a living part of our being—one that we’ve worked with and on for 125 years; for others it will just be a collection of ‘inert ideas’—will remain that way until ignition takes place.

We haven’t got this list by Googling it or by looking things up in some compendium of snappy quotes—they come from a variety of real life experiences. These are the patterns of being we have chosen to live by.

Naturally, we don’t often succeed… But it’s always worth the striving…

Simon & Colin Blundell

  • At the beginning of every day ask yourself, “What am I doing here?”
  • This is me here now being me here now…
  • Everything that’s anything (worthwhile) arises organically (or ‘comes with the flow’)…
  • The more ways of electronic contact there are the less people will actually communicate…
  • The whole object of education is to convert ‘inert ideas’ into something you can call your own… (ANWhitehead)
  • Education should consist of a very few general axioms by which one can live resourcefully and productively. (ANWhitehead)
  • The dumbest question is the one the one you don’t ask…
  • ‘We have a right not to be negative…’ (Maurice Nicoll)
  • Making a change in one part of your system affects all the other parts. Change is systemic…
  • Going beyond what you consider your limitations creates a new strength…
  • I am always doing things I can’t do—that’s how I get to do them…
  • You must leave criticism until after you have produced; it will transform into a path of new steps forward…
  • Thinking and connecting thoughts is like the kindling that creates fire and new energy…
  • You can start anywhere…
  • When your brain revisits a task after a rest it will have increased suggestions to offer…
  • The thing you most criticise in someone else is what you need to be aware of in your self…
  • Always to be able to step into Beginner’s Mind…
  • Freedom is when you’re doing what you want to do when you want to do it without upsetting anybody else…
  • The greatest thing in the world is to know how to live to yourself… (Montaigne)
  • STOP!
  • Seek first to understand before ever trying to make yourself understood… (Stephen Covey)
  • Concentrate on what what the other person is saying instead of simultaneously constructing your response…
  • Develop a high toleration of ambiguity…
  • Keep on asking, “What am I doing here?”
  • Adopt a different angle or perspective: Always think ‘otherwise’… (Gurdjieff)
  • Circumstances collide to give you valuable experiences…
  • Inspiration does exist but it must catch you working…
  • Gurdjieff: ‘nothing should be given in a ready-made form…’
  • JGBennett’s version: ‘Anything too well and too neatly organised sows the seeds of its own destruction…’
  • The brain is always ready to supply the missing details in order to make it feel comfortable with the way things seem to be. It’s called ‘self-calming’…
  • Do one small thing differently every day…
  • The best question one can ask is always, “Is there anything else?”

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