Posts filed under Original Vision

The Bridge of Foresight

"The future enters into us,in order to transform itself through us, long before it happens." –Goethe


The teenage years might just be the most difficult time to figure out where you are headed with your life. It sure was for me. An indifferent student, my dream of playing professional hockey was shattered when I turned sixteen. It was then that I figured out what everyone else seemed to know already: I just wasn’t good enough to get there.


Like most kids in Canada, hockey was an obsession. I played in elite minor hockey leagues, first in Ontario, then in Quebec, and I was passionate about the game. That I was a step slower and couldn’t break an egg with my shot did not interfere with my hopes. I relied on strong defensive play, and aggressiveness, and managed to earn a place on some of the best teams in my city.


Then, one day, I got it. I saw what everyone else saw. It was like a bubble popping. I continued to play until I was eighteen, but by that time, the most talented of my teammates were already in junior hockey programs that fed the NHL.


Now what?


Long walks followed – a couple of years of long walks – lost in thought. I would walk for hours but always found myself drawn to a spot beneath the Galipeault Bridge that connected the western shore of the island of Montreal and Ile Perrot. The Grand Trunk Railway built that bridge, sometime in the late 1800’s.


Here I would sit and look into the darkness that shrouded my future. In those moments when I wasn’t completely bummed out, I began to notice the bridge itself, how it was constructed, and the arches that drew the eye across the water to the far shore. It was hypnotic. At the time, I was unaware that I journeyed daily to sit before a powerful metaphor for my dilemma… and my future.


The bridge, a symbol of “transition and connection,” provided a visual representation of my inner search. Bridging differences was a talent I had. I had always been “a bridge-walker” between different groups of people and was able to see the common ground that existed in seemingly disparate positions. I sought out different people from backgrounds that were unfamiliar to me. I loved living in the midst of two cultures – French and English – and felt enriched by that intermingling. Eventually, I was able to see that I had other aspirations beyond hockey, and pursued a university education in Communication Studies, which included cross-cultural communications.


It has taken me 35 years to understand what I was seeing as I looked at that bridge on the shoreline of Lac St. Louis. That image has haunted me – working on my subconscious mind until the day I made the connection to Visionmaking. The Bridge of Foresight, from current circumstances to future outcomes, had its genesis under the Galipeault Bridge.



© Patrick O’Neill 2010. All rights reserved

Posted on June 25, 2010 and filed under Original Vision, Uncategorized.

Vision Quest

What was it I came hereto remember? I have been standing on this spot for three days and three nights, waiting. The sun pounded me to my knees, the heat enough to steam me open. At night the moon shakes me and my teeth rattle. I won’t quit though won’t leave here without seeing. What was it that I came here to remember? I have seen with my own eyes visions I know they are true. Last night my grandfather came. He didn’t say anything just took my measure and was gone. He never ever quit on anything. Tough. Me too. Maybe you can only see once everything shimmers and fades? Maybe that’s when you can see what hasn’t happened yet?


© Patrick O’Neill 2010. All rights reserved

Posted on April 12, 2010 and filed under Insight, Original Vision.

The Way of Dreaming

Imagination is more important than knowledge, Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

-Albert Einstein


In my last post, I outlined The Way of Knowing, or cognition. The second power of the intellect, and the subject of this post, is The Way of Dreaming, commonly known as imagination. In Visionmaking, one way is not superior to the other, despite Einstein's value judgment. They are both held as complimentary faculties, to be stewarded equally.


If cognition is the problem solver, then imagination is the explorer. Imagination is centrally important to Visionmaking because it allows for a different kind of seeing-one that trancends the narrowness and familiarity of convention to explore the vast realm of possibility. This is the terra firma of the artist, scientist, entrepreneur and adventurer. "Imagination is a very high sort of seeing," wrote Emerson.


This capacity to dream has spurred humankind to extend the boundaries of the known world, both outwardly and inwardly. It is the domain of visions, dreams, imagery, metaphor, symbol and stories-what Sir Laurens van der Post termed, "the forgotten language of God."


Author Evelyn Underhill recognized the differentiation between imagination and cognition when she wrote: "...the reasoning powers as such have little initiative. Their province is analytic, not exploratory."


Make no mistake. The Way of Dreaming has its own science, though the forces that govern it may seem as strange to the cognitive frame of reference as quantum theory is to Newtonian physics.


The science of dreaming leaves is constructed through ten domains:


1. Dreams-the guidance that arrives in sleep that provide instruction, premonition and healing.


2. Images-mental representations of people, animals, ideas or things and the ability to render those images visually or orally.


3. Symbols-objects, images or sounds that evoke complex ideas or emotions beyond their plain or superficial interpretation.


4. Creativity-the ability to bring forth meaningful new ideas, forms, methods and interpretations which display originality and initiate change.


5. Possibilities-the exploration of potential that something may manifest, may be true, or may take place.


6. Stories-a narrative, either true or fictitious, that is designed to interest, arouse, amuse or instruct.


7. Myth-a body of stories, beliefs or ideas that belong to a people or culture that tell about the ancestors, heroes or supernatural beings and which explain history, natural phenomenon or human behavior.


8. Ritual-ceremonies, rites or procedures that bridge the spiritual and mundane worlds.


9. Art-aesthetically meaningful expressions that stimulate an emotional, physiological, intellectual or spiritual response.


10. Memories-the ability to recall people, places, events and information that ignite the imagination or cause reflection.


The Ways of Knowing and Dreaming provide the Visionmaker with the intellectual faculties to pursue a path of heart and meaning. They are intertwined and constantly collaborating in an extraordinary dialogue about the conversion of possibilities to outcomes.


© Patrick O’Neill 2010. All rights reserved

Posted on March 19, 2010 and filed under Insight, Original Vision.

The Way of Knowing

"The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge."

–Bertrand Russell


The last post was devoted to identifying the two powers of intellect-cognition and imagination. In this installment, I will cover the function of cognition–The Way of Knowing– from the perspective of the Visionmaker.


The Way of Knowing harnesses the pragmatic and practical aspects of the cognitive mind. These aspects were developed by early man in encounters with the natural world, especially through the agency of survival. Through the survival instinct, humankind developed the capacity to learn what works and what doesn't work in encounters with the natural world.


Cognition helped in providing food and shelter, avoiding peril and in tool development and manufacture. Even today, in our "civilized world," the survival instinct spurs humankind towards being better, faster and smarter. Cognition, through the discipline of learning, assists us to apply knowledge gained to encounters with uncertainty and unfamiliar experience.


The Way of Knowing includes eight apptitudes:


1. Awareness-the capacity to be watchful, gather information and remain present and alert.


2. Attention-the ability to focus the intellect and to concentrate over a period of time.


3. Probing-to search or explore something in order to expand one's knowledge or understanding.


4. Understanding-the capacity to percieve, interpret, assign meaning and apply knowledge.


5. Reasoning-the power to form conclusions, judgments or to infer through logic.


6. Analysis-the ability to separate something into constituent parts as a means of determining its esential features and their relationships.


7. Judgment-the ability to make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoratively and wisely, especially in matters affecting action, good sense or discretion.


8. Memory-the capacity to retain and recall facts, events, impressions and experiences and to apply recall to new experiences.


"Knowledge is power" goes the 16th century proverb. As a result of the survival instinct and the rise of cognition, human beings have placed a high value on acquiring knowledge and in developing the skill of logical reasoning.


Equally high value should go to imagination, known in Visionmaking as The Way of Dreaming. It will be the subject of the next post.


© Patrick O’Neill 2010. All rights reserved

Posted on March 16, 2010 and filed under Insight, Original Vision.

Keep The Faith

Recently I was asked for a definition of faith. The person asking didn't trust such words, he informed me, and why was I introducing such a word into a secular discussion? I'll call him Doubting Thomas (DT) after another famous skeptic. I could see DT was spoiling for a fight.


I explained that in Visionmaking, faith was seen as an unshakeable belief in Destiny. DT didn't care for that idea much either.


Since he had asked, I continued to define the term. The conventional definition of faith, I explained, requires a belief in something that carries no proof or guarantee. In Visionmaking, faith is seen as the energetic link that is set up between a Visionmaker and Destiny.


We all have an individual Destiny, a path we were formed for specifically, which no one else can follow. That is why we are born unique. We all have an original body and a never to be replicated configuration of aptitude, gifts, talents, character qualities, knowedge, life experiences and other resources. These are not random or haphazard. They are the hand of Destiny shaping us for a specific journey of meaning.


DT became even more agitated. Undaunted, I continued.


Faith provides an umbikical linkage with Destiny that serves as a guide for the pursuit of one's life dream. This linkage is called Intuitive Vision.


Faith also funds the power to make the life-long journey towards our singular Destiny despite the circumstances and challenges that we meet. Through faith, each of us has the power to take that next courageous step into the unfamiliar and unknown territory of life's experience. And to do so without an illusionary guarantee of safety or success.


Supported by faith, the fire to act grows stronger than our fears and concerns. Mohandis Ghandi writes, "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." Of course, he is right.


Every Visionmaker knows that whatever we fear, we will face it on the journey of meaning. Without the faith that we are up to the challenge, we would never get out of bed in the morning.


My friend was unconvinced. We agreed to disagree. Was he satisfied that he was living his life fully and that life was the meaningful adventure that he had hoped it to be? Things were ok, he said rather flatly.


There is a Doubting Thomas within each of us. There is also a capacity to believe in ourselves, trust that we are capable of achieving our dreams and that we have the resiliency to learn from our experience. The unshakable conviction of a Visionmaker is that each of us has a greater purpose and that this purpose is attainable.


Keep the faith.


© Patrick O’Neill 2010. All rights reserved

Posted on February 24, 2010 and filed under Original Vision, The Visionmakers Code.

Insight: Intuition

"Modern man's besetting temptation is to sacrifice his direct perceptions and spontaneous feelings to his reasoned reflections; to prefer in all circumstances the verdict of his intellect to that of his immediate intuitions." -Aldous Huxley  

We return to our examination of Insight, the second step in the Cycle of Visionmaking after Reflection.


In previous posts, I outlined the seven portals of Insight: body wisdom, unfoldment, assumptions, intuition, atmosphere, synchronicity and signs. These portals enable a Visionmaker to see the invisible because they focus the heart on a set of distinctions that assist discernment. As every Visionmaker knows, the heart is an organ of vision.


The fourth portal that Visionmakers peer through is intuition. Intuition is defined as "a direct perception of truth, immediate apprehension, keen or quick insight." Who would not take the direct, immediate and fastest way to truth if they could manage it?


And yet, in the dominant culture, intuition is often demeaned as feminine and anti-logical, even occult. Those that require deductive reasoning or conventional proof before they will consider the validity of something dismiss it. As though reasoning were the only way to apprehend the world!


The legendary film director, Ingmar Bergman suggests that intuition and reason must work together: "I make all my decisions on intuition. I throw a spear into the darkness. That is intuition. Then I must send an army into the darkness to find the spear. That is intellect."


The Visionmaker sees intuition as the heart's direct experience of meaning, before it can be recognized by consciousness. Meaning is not simply a product of the intellect. Rather it forms and shapes the intellect by providing the content of consciousness. The heart is able to reach into that content and perceive truth immediately.


Open, clear, strong and full, the Four-Chambered Heart has the acuity of a precision lens. Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle put it elegantly:


"It is the heart that sees

Before the head can see."


© Patrick O’Neill 2008. All rights reserved.





Posted on October 27, 2009 and filed under Insight, Original Vision.

The Desert

I have returned from the Four-Fold Way 12-Day Intensive program with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment for the work of Visionmaking.  

It was a wonderful experience to spend time in the Sonoran desert. It was unseasonably hot and I arrived with a cold. But the hypnotic rhythm of the land-medium to slow-produced a natural altered state. Just the right environment to pause, reflect and envision the next stage of the journey of meaning.


The spirits of land and place, what the Greeks called 'genus loci', were especially palpable at dawn and dusk. Those are the times of the day when the veil between the worlds is thin and you can catch a glimpse of the future.


For Visionmakers, it is important to take regular breaks from outer action to reflect on all that has unfolded and to re-dream the journey forward. This allows access to the Cycle of Visionmaking, which begins with practices of reflection; the gathering of insight; the projection of foresight; the harnessing of wisdom; and the making of purposeful action.


This is how we re-vision our world and ensure that we make steady progress on the path of purpose and meaning. Seeing is the Visionmaker's way. In the Sonoran desert it is possible to see a preferred future uninhibited by the past.


This week, I will return to the practices of Insight with a post on Intuition.


© Patrick O’Neill 2008. All rights reserved.

Posted on October 26, 2009 and filed under Insight, Original Vision.

The Heart of A Visionmaker

"Keep your heart with all vigilance; For from it flows the springs of life."



The Four-Chambered Heart is the home of vision. When we are full, open, clear and strong-hearted vision is 20:20.


Visionmakers believe that the heart always knows what is most meaningful. They recognize that the old proverbs about following our heart's desire is more than a bromide. The old ways, now long divorced from their original context by the decline of our mythologies, are still home to perennial wisdom.


Visonmakers see the truth about the heart: it is the place where vision assembles.


The full heart is the home of deep engagement. It is here that we learn about being authentic, about commitment and about full expression. What am I full-hearted about?  Where am I half-hearted? How can I resolve issues of half-heartedness through problem-solving?


The open heart teaches us to trust self, others and circumstances as they unfold. It is the home of love, balance, compassion and tolerance. Where am I open-hearted? What has caused closed-heartedness? How do I forgive and reopen the heart?


The clear heart teaches the lessons of integrity and discernment. What am I clear about in my personal journey - in my roles, relationships and activities? Where do I stand on important issues? What are the dilemmas or areas of confusion in my life?  How do I resolve my concerns and move forward?


The strong heart is the home of courage. Where am I strong-hearted about my journey, relationships, and actions? Where am I weak-hearted and unable or unwilling to make difficult choices, say what's so when it's so, and stand by my convictions? What strengthening work do I need to undertake?


The Four-Chambered Heart is the seat of Destiny and the source of the unique and unfolding path that every Visionmaker is born to pursue.  


Daily maintenance of the heart, then, becomes a navigational necessity.


© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved

Posted on September 16, 2009 and filed under Original Vision.

The Assemblage of Vision

Assemblage – the action of gathering or fitting things together.  

A common misconception of the Visionmaking process is that vision arrives either fully-formed and in Technicolor, or not at all. This is a false assumption.


While vision can arrive in a close to finished state, it is an exception rather than the rule.


Most often, vision arrives in fragments- seemingly disconnected images, feelings, encounters, discoveries, insights and dreams that must be pieced together like a mosaic or a puzzle in order to be understood.


Nowadays, most people have little patience for remaining in such creative tension. They prefer to dismiss what is emerging to conscious awareness because it does not make immediate sense, or misunderstand the arrival of a mysterious, ongoing communication because it is not wholly logical.


Visionmakers understand that vision is assembled. They recognize the importance of investigation and contemplation, the twin aspects required to make meaning of the abstract.


Every vision starts as an abstraction, content that is seemingly disassociated from its source. While most of us are satisfied to meet such material with a quizzical shrug and a chuckle, Visionmakers see these moments as revelation. They are not in such a hurry to allow a fragment of vision to escape further investigation or contemplation.


Visionmakers recognize that the assemblage of vision is a creative act. Vision is a gift to mankind, a gift that carries the responsibility of full engagement. It is disrespectful to meet such generosity with laziness and entitlement.


Visionmakers seek to understand the directions encoded in the fragments of vision. These fragments demand that we apply all of our faculties to decode their meanings and construct a comprehensive understanding of our individual manifest destiny.


What are your dreams, callings, important images, intuition, synchronistic events, and inspirations telling you about the emerging future?


© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved

Posted on September 7, 2009 and filed under Original Vision.

Conditions of Uncertainty-Paradox

"At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement." -T.S. Eliot


We have been exploring the conditions of uncertainty and the hidden opportunities that lay awaiting us there. This is the fourth installment, paradox.


Paradox is defined as a person, situation or thing that provides seemingly senseless or contradictory evidence that leads to a riddle. Behind the riddle is very possibly a hidden truth.


Galit Hasan-Rokeem and David Shurman are poetic in their characterization of the riddle:


"A riddle is poised on the boundary between domains, at the edge of life and death, where each issues into the other. Both are somehow contained and made present through the challenge posed by the riddling question and addressed by its solution."


It is this boundary between domains that Visionmakers understand well; the territory where the present and future touch within a field of creative tension. It is here that Vision is forged through agencies that are inexplicable. Paradox is such an agency.


Many of us cannot tolerate paradox. We see it as a bewildering obstruction that prevents us from making progress towards our goals.


A Visionmaker holds this form of uncertainty differently. To one who values the mystery and challenge presented by the riddle of paradox, it is an opportunity to enter a deeper level of perception through focused attention. Like a koan, a paradoxical riddle forces us to entertain, rather than immediately dismiss, contradictions. Perception is stretched by this task.


In Visionmaking, the purpose of a paradox is to generate enough creative tension to evoke ingenuity. Ingenuity is the capacity to be clever, original, and inventive. Ingenuity requires us to learn quickly, to think on our feet, to apply our knowledge in real time.  These qualities are essential to the life-long journey of meaning.


"How wonderful that we have met with a paradox," remarked the Nobel Prize winner for physics, Niels Bohr. "Now we have some hope of making progress." Bohr recognized the presence of paradox as a place of high potential rather than its absence. This attitude should be a guide and an inspiration to Visionmakers.


Visionmakers welcome paradox as an agent of transformation. Facing a riddle or paradox requires us to maintain openness and curiosity while we attempt to solve the challenge that it poses to us. This is the journey of mastery – the willingness to fail for as long as it takes to succeed without giving up, becoming demoralized, or allowing frustration to sabotage our commitment.


Finding that "still point where the dance is" that Eliot refers to in the opening poem is our place of solid ground. From here, we can explore the strange reality of contradiction, a reality that our ancestors wrestled with on their journey to knowledge.


Here is a riddle to get you started:


"How much dirt is in a hole two meters wide, two meters long and two meters deep?"*


The answer next time.


* From: A Brief History of the Paradox: Philosophy and the Labrynths of the Mind, by Roy Sorensen, Oxford University Press.


© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.

Posted on July 22, 2009 and filed under Original Vision, Uncertainty.

The Conditions of Uncertainty-Confusion

"Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood." – Henry Miller  

Confusion is the second condition of uncertainty. In my last post, I suggested that uncertainty is a lack of knowledge, experience, precedent, or assurance about current conditions and what may emerge in future. 


Most people are made uncomfortable by such conditions. Not Visionmakers. They see the conditions of uncertainty, including confusion, as openings for the Field of Possibility-the geography of unlimited creativity and potential.


Confusion is generally seen as "a state of bewilderment and lack of clarity, a disorderly jumble." In Latin, it means "mingled together" and that is precisely how Visionmakers understand it. They see confusion as the place of emerging order.  


Rather than be overwhelmed by the appearance of chaos, they hold the creative tension that comes with this "developing coherence," recognizing that inquisitiveness, patience and trust are required to see the new patterns as they are forming, in real time.


Albert Einstein speaks to this capacity for managing creative tension, the atmosphere of uncertainty, that accompanies the journey from confusion to clarity when he states: "I used to go away for weeks in a state of confusion." 


Imagine being able to remain open and confident for weeks at a time in states of confusion, trusting that you will recognize the new pattern that is just emerging to view! That is a supreme accomplishment of the will ...and a goal for all Visionmakers. 


We live in an age of instant gratification. Many people panic and collapse when they can't figure out the answer to something immediately. Or they become bored and impatient, ultimately abandoning the quest to understand something new. Others still turn on themselves, victims of harsh self-criticism.


Visionmakers prefer a different approach. They actively train to build the capacity to explore the emerging future with quiet confidence. They realize that if they become confused, they are being initiated into the next order of clarity.


This new order carries with it a test – will we succumb to disorder, lack of distinctions, unfamiliarity, and breakdown and quit the pursuit? Or, will we follow Einstein's example and move from confusion through curiosity, tenacity, patient observation, creative thinking and trusting ourselves and the circumstances? 


The Visionmaker's choice is obvious.


© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.

Posted on July 6, 2009 and filed under Original Vision, Uncertainty.

The Opportunity of Uncertainty

"Where nothing is sure, everything is possible." -Margaret Drabble


We are living in a period of great uncertainty and volatility economically, socially and politically. Although world markets appear to be recovering, most "experts" concede that they remain unpredictable. Industries have been shaken, people have lost their jobs, and governments are seeking to stabilize the marketplace through stimulus spending initiatives.


Most people seek simply to survive such conditions of uncertainty.  Visionmakers see uncertainty with different eyes.


Uncertainty is a condition where there is a lack of knowledge, experience, precedent, or assurance about current conditions and what may emerge in future. That implies a high degree of also implies an abundance of opportunities.


Uncertainty is a condition that exists in the Field of Possibility. In Visionmaking, this field contains all the creative thoughts, feelings and actions available to everyone and anyone as they pursue a journey of heart and meaning.


Possibility is limitless, despite what conventional thinking dictates. There is always far more available within the Field of Possibility than the imagination can apprehend.


Visionmakers recognize that uncertainty carries with it risk. But to one who hears uncertainty as a call to adventure, the benefits of venturing into unknown territory is far more compelling than to remain on the shoreline of convention.


Calling on the gift of foresight, and trusting the careful preparation that he or she has made to enter uncertainty, a Visionmaker sets forth connected to personal power and trusting the heart's guidance. He or she enters uncertainty with respect, discernment and excitement. 


Rather than be afraid of the conditions of uncertainty, the Visionmaker's intention is to hold the creative tension that comes with the emerging future. Creative tension, the atmosphere of uncertainty, is the perceptual stretching required to stay open to new possibilities rather than overwhelmed by them.


This demands equanimity. Equanimity is the ability to maintain buoyancy and composure in the face of a challenge. Put another way, equanimity is the ability to meet a disturbance without disturbance.


In the Field of Possibility, and in the atmosphere of creative tension, a Visionmaker seeks to explore all the potential opportunities and actions that further the journey of meaning. In this new territory of uncertainty, if one is agile, it is possible to pluck the future from the fingers of Chance.


© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.

Posted on July 1, 2009 and filed under Chance, Original Vision, Uncategorized, Uncertainty.