Exploring Transformative Learning as Life

When we grow and develop our human societies in ways that are not coherent with the way life evolves, our impacts will cause harm.

Learning for regeneration and thrivability should be the primary focus of education today, which goes further than mere sustainability. To explore the developmental patterns and evolutionary wisdom of life — and not just academically, but also musically, artistically, and physically through movement, dance, and sports. Draw and dance the spirals of life, play the notes of dotted harmonics, score the ball in a circle. Put the qualities of life into action, relate from these qualities and facilitate learning and development as an evolutionary process of life.

Learning as Life

  1. Three Evolutionary Principles of Life.
  2. Five Stages of Transformational Change.
  3. Five Syntony Spheres of Evolutionary Learning Ecosystems.

1. Three Evolutionary Principles of Life

You may have heard before how our state of consciousness influences how and what we learn, yet do we understand what consciousness is? There is a growing body of research — also referred to as New Paradigm Sciences — that suggests that consciousness, and not materialism, is primary (Penrose, et al. 2017). We could even say that consciousness is who and what we all are, and not something that we have. The following section is going to be a little complex (and scientific), but if you continue reading, you’ll find out why it matters to understand this…

The universe exists and evolves as a unified entity through implicate orders of reality that literally in-form the emergence and evolution of life.

This is best understood through the holographic principle in physics, which suggests that the appearance of our physical universe as a three-dimensional space (with the flows of time as the fourth dimension), originates from a two-dimensional holographic surface or boundary that is mathematically encoded at the smallest level of physical reality (Smitsman and Currivan, 2021). This mathematical encoding consists of digitized information that acts as a numerical alphabet that fractally in-forms how life comes into being and evolves.

  1. The universe exists and evolves as a single unified entity, an undividable wholeness. Cosmologically this means that both energy-matter and space-time are complementary informational expressions of that underlying wholeness — This evolutionary principle helps us understand how life evolves as a unified reality at all scales and levels of existence.
  2. The universe evolves coherently through increasing embodied complexity, as space expands and through the flows of time, precisely tuned to make life possible — This evolutionary principle helps us understand how complexity and diversity become generative, to co-create coherent systems that remain rooted in the underlying unity and wholeness of our universe..
  3. The universe learns and develops its evolutionary capacities by actualizing its cosmological potentials through systemic autonomy and autopoiesis — i.e. self-creation, self-regulation, and adaptation — This evolutionary principle helps us understand the systemic conditions for learning and development as well as how we grow, expand and evolve as a self-actualizing process of consciousness.

Systems that are not coherent with life, cannot create futures for life. It is that simple.

Exploring the qualities of Life as an Evolutionary Process

  1. Life is Consciousness — Life is the dynamic expression of consciousness, which is the source of our being and who we all are.
  2. Life is Unity — Life is unified at all levels and scales of existence, we are the diverse expressions of the unified consciousness of life.
  3. Life is Community — Life forms communities of being and interbeing, including all the non-human ecologies of life and the animals, plants, insects, trees, rivers, oceans, planets, suns, stars, galaxies, and all other expressions of our universe.
  4. Life is Wholeness — Life is whole and undividable and so are you. You cannot be separated from life or consciousness no matter what you experience or do. When parts of your body are sick, disabled, dying or missing, and when you feel loss, division, or separation, know that you remain whole and undividable.
  5. Life is Relationship — Life is always in relationship with us and itself as a whole. Life communicates, senses, informs, responds, and listens. Life is an ongoing and evolving relationship. Partnering life is the essence of learning and acting for regeneration and thrivability.
  6. Life is Change — Life is a continually unfolding journey of change, letting go, and becoming through which we and our universe regenerate, renew, evolve, and actualize the potentials of consciousness that we are. There are no end goals or final destinations on the journey of life.
  7. Life is Choice — Life gives us the power and possibility of choice. Life is not a deterministic or computational program, life enables choices through which old ways die and new futures are made and born. We can choose to co-create a world in which all of us can thrive together.
  8. Life is Creativity — Life is a future creative and possibility-increasing process that creates the conditions for us to thrive and evolve. Your creativity is the power of life within you, through which you can learn, grow, and evolve by exploring, creating, transforming, dissolving, renewing, rebirthing, and generating life.
  9. Life is Learning — Life is a continual journey of learning, discovery, and development. All expressions of life learn, from the tiniest cells and microbes to the largest galaxies, we are always learning and evolving. Your capacity to learn is intrinsic to life.
  10. Life is Healing — Life heals the deepest wounds, those of the flesh as well as those of the heart and mind. Your capacity to heal is intrinsic to life. We heal with the structures and potentials of wholeness and unity. In healing we learn how to trust, let go, surrender, open, renew, and evolve ourselves.
  11. Life is Love — Life has an enormous caring capacity and is always sourced in unity while manifesting wholeness in diversity. In other words, life is a great force of love, a force of deepest cosmic coherence. You too can learn how to become a force of love.
  12. Life is Wisdom — Life generates wisdom by converging knowledge into knowing and information into experience, which combined matures as wisdom. You too have this capacity to become a force of wisdom, by learning the ways of life. Call upon the wisdom of life for guiding your life and the choices you make.
  13. Life is YOU — Continue your exploration, enjoy!

2. Five Stages of Transformational Change

Exploring transformational change as a process of future becoming can empower us to work with the dynamics of evolutionary change, and become more conscious of our evolutionary capacities and potentials.

Tipping Point Dynamics

The 5 stages of transformational change can also be linked with a growing body of research on social tipping points, and particularly the irreversibility of tipping points. Metamorphic transformation can be seen as an irreversible tipping point — i.e. once the caterpillar body starts to dissolve inside the cocoon to become a butterfly, it can no longer return to its earlier state (which is true for many developmental processes).

  1. Can educational transformation become a generative tipping point for creating an irreversible change process in people’s values, behaviours, and actions towards regeneration and thrivability?
  2. How can education prevent people from reverting back to earlier states, stances, and behaviours that are no longer sustainable or not regenerative?
  3. Can education become a tipping point for the required economic and political transformations towards regeneration and thrivability?

In metamorphic transformation, it is NOT the critical mass of the present state, or critical group size, that generates the new feedback-loops that drive change, but rather the degree of coherence of new future states in relation to collapsing or decreasing coherencies of the old states of a system.

Once future potentials become embedded in present states and are able to link up and coordinate the activities and potentials of the existing system, a tipping point is reached that transitions the system into a new state and developmental direction. This is similar to what happens when the imaginal butterfly discs link up to form the imaginal cells and organs of the butterfly.

3. Five Syntony Spheres of Evolutionary Learning Ecosystems

Learning for regeneration and thrivability requires that the institutions and systems that provide such education do themselves mimic the collaborative learning capacities and patterns of natural ecosystems. People learn as much (if not more) from the dynamics of the environments in which learning takes place, as from the learning content or tasks.

  • What can we learn from a forest about how to collaborate and regenerate?
  • Why do you think that we as a species are destroying our own habitats and that of other species? What are we not (yet) learning about this or ourselves?
  • If we, like our planet and universe, are also a living system, then how can we (better) develop our ecosystemic capacities through education and from an early age?
  • How does education need to change in order to facilitate the development of our ecosystemic learning capacities for regeneration and thrivability?
  • How are we forcing nature to adapt to our human impacts?
  • How are our planet’s climate systems, forests, oceans, and tectonic plates adapting to the impacts we have created and continue to create?
  • Could the COVID-19 pandemic be nature’s response to a larger change process that we as humans have catalyzed?
  • How is nature learning to live with humans?
  • How are you, your family, and the communities you form part of, adjusting and adapting to the ecosystemic changes that we as humans have catalyzed, including climate change and biodiversity loss?
  • Are you learning from the harm we are causing? And how about other people in your life?
  • Do you believe we are becoming wiser and more mature as a species? If the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’, then why and how so?
  • Do you believe that it is part of human nature to be destructive? And again, if ‘yes’ or ‘no’, to explore why and how so.

The Five Syntony Spheres of Wellbeing and Transformative Learning

Working group member Alexander Laszlo, developed a valuable integral framework titled “The Syntony Spheres” for describing the evolutionary development of becoming an evolutionary learning ecosystem. According to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (1979), syntony can be defined as in radio, resonance, while to syntonize is to tune or harmonize with each other. As such, syntony can be understood as a creative aligning and tuning with the evolutionary processes of which we are part. Syntony involves listening to the rhythms of change and learning how to play our own melody in harmony with the larger whole. It is about finding and creating meaning and evolutionary opportunity, both individually and collectively (Laszlo, 2015).

  • Focus: The intra-personal dimension of sustainability; thrivability within yourself.
  • Ask: What brings meaning to my life? To what do I feel called to contribute? What are my talents and how can I use them to live into my highest calling?
  • Focus: The inter-personal dimension of sustainability; thrivability with your communities and social systems.
  • Ask: What common cares bring us together? What defines our shared sense of humanity and makes for our shared vision? What do we want to create?
  • Focus: The trans-species dimension of sustainability; thrivability with the more than human world.
  • Ask: What gifts do I receive from nature that I have not acknowledged? What relationships and connections need to be restored? What would a thriving relationship with nature look like?
  • Focus: The trans-generational dimension of sustainability; thrivability with past and future generations of all beings.
  • Ask: What would my ancestors think of my work and life? What would our children’s children think of my choices? What does it mean to be a Future Ancestor now?
  • Focus: The pan-cosmic dimensions of sustainability; thrivability with the deep dimension of the cosmos.
  • Ask: What messages come to me in flashes of insight and sudden inspiration when I feel truly aligned and connected with something greater than myself? What dreams give me a feeling of déjà vu and what is it about them that makes them seem so familiar?

Other articles in this series


Centola, D. (2018). Experimental evidence for tipping points in social convention. Science, 360 (6393), 1116–1119. DOI: 10.1126/science.aas8827



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