The Universe sets my pace for me. I need not resist.
It stops me so I rest when stillness is needed, it separates me from company when I need time alone, it brings me into challenges when I am strong enough to meet them.
It opens my eyes to the extraordinary beauty of being
And I am replenished again and again, which allows me to develop patience and perseverance.
It nudges me towards effectiveness and to take full responsibility, and opens me to what is happening so that I can respond appropriately to each moment, calmly, knowing that each act is a drop in an ocean entirely composed of drops.
It shows me peace, but it also shows me that all is falling towards change, and I must be prepared to keep rebalancing in a universe whose constant is impermanence.
It reminds me that even though I am wholly aware of the mountains I burn to climb, the books I itch to write, I will achieve these things only through release of desire. For the universe is breathing me in and out.
It is beyond time, and space, and it reminds me of my true scale, which is miniscule, and temporary, but also a direct reflection of the universe that engages with me, as a dew drop reflects the sun.
The universe anoints me with darkness, blesses me with light, I overflow with gratitude, appreciation and compassion. It teaches me honesty, creativity and generosity all the days of my life and I move in the universe forever, as the universe moves in me, in the gift of my life, in the inexplicable mystery of existence, and with the humility that wisdom brings.
There is no easy way out of the predicament we are in. Ultimately, none of us comes out alive. Consider how people have survived in extremis in the past, however. Those who lose their heads, who jump overboard, or who climb over the bodies of others to try to escape, gain very little and help no one. In a way, we are preparing ourselves always for the ultimate emergency, our emergence into death! We need to practice because it is not easy to face our own demise, individually or collectively. But practice really does work. Practicing focusing on the breath, practicing trusting your core sense of being aligned to what really matters to you, because you absolutely trust that you have your own interests in complete and healthy balance with the interests of others, human and more-than human, creates connection. It’s when you are in touch with something beyond your own personal issues and problems and tap into a sense of more going on.
Part of our capacity for narrative is the exploration of conditionals. We may not know what it is like, in Nagel’s famous phrase, ‘to be a bat’ or anything else on a different evolutionary branch, but we have the capacity to imagine different future scenarios, and to empathize with other humans, and even to understand that other organisms and ecosystems ‘need’ particular conditions to survive. It is reasonable to conjecture that this kind of capacity arises as a result of our own evolutionary conditions. It so happened that we developed particular cognitive capacities as a result of cumulative interactions between responses and conditions, none of which we were aware of consciously. These, in turn, were shaped by the directional development of our physiologies.
This process is not unique to humans. Other organisms developed different sets of capacities: cognition, and self-awareness, happened to be a part of the set that we developed, but in essence, the process is no different for any capacity developed by any bio-physical system. Yet the narrative that accompanies our particular uniqueness is one that also tells of our superiority. This is the narrative that humanity’s unique capacity for cognition (along with our opposable thumbs) justifies the kind of impact that humans have had on the world’s organisms and other systems: we have done this because we are ‘wise men’, or because it could not have been otherwise, or so we tell ourselves.
In this mode, we are possessors. This is very like the klesha, Asmita, where we rely on possessing a character, a personality, an ego. We identify with our own opinion. We try to “win” arguments or discussions by being better at expressing ourselves than the other. We don’t expect to change. We might expect to change the other but only by overcoming them, by subsuming them into a version of us.
There is another way of engaging, which relies on brahmacharya, on holding back. In this scenario, we listen to what the other person says without concerning ourselves about who is right. We would focus on the topic – energy production, for instance – without concerning ourselves with our own prejudgments. We would be open to dialogue. In this dialogue, the focus would be on learning and understanding what the other person is attempting to communicate. Erich Fromm did considerable work on this:
They give birth to new ideas, because they are not holding onto anything and can thus produce and give. (…) Thus the conversation ceases to be an exchange of commodities (information, knowledge, status) and becomes a dialogue in which it does not matter any more who is right. (p.17)
Try this exercise: the next time you meet someone and have a talk, notice when you are insisting on communicating your own opinion, in order to get the other to agree. When you notice, shift your perspective to listening to what the other person is saying. Imagine you are listening to a teacher. Remember that everything is your teacher. Appreciate what is being said.
‘A philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel’. Alan Watts
The notion of a compassion arising from the knowledge that we arise out of nothing and return to nothing need not leave us cold. Rather when we see ourselves as part of the ephemeral dance of the universe, the foam on a wave, we can feel the deep longing to feel how this connects us, how we seek to be listened to, seen, and loved. We can feel the upswell of the huge sense of compassion as we realise how this feeling threads through the fabric of existence, the interconnectedness of things apparent in all its intricacy when we look, and listen.
The “more-than-human world” may have signified the animals, plants, fungi, and lichens when it first came into use, but it reaches far beyond that into the soil, the rock, the heat at the core of the planet and the cold vastness of space, to the quantum and quark.
We can see the extraordinary chance of energy flows dissipating in just such a way that consciousness came into being, and being awed into silence at the vastness of what this consciousness fails to comprehend, or even consider. Humility, as Eliot says, is endless.
If a philosopher is an intellectual yokel, it’s because she’s lying in the meadow, a grass between her teeth, looking up and dreaming, realising that language shapes what she sees, and playing with words.
We emerge into consciousness blinking at its brilliance, but we need to begin to look beyond ourselves and into a world keening for our attention. Our self-awareness and our awareness of the world go hand in hand. We need to reach out and touch what is going on and with one eye on grief and regret, and yet without being overwhelmed, pull ourselves up to the task of reciprocity, of returning the favour of existence with more than gratitude, with a determination to alleviate suffering, human and more-than-human.
What we dealt in ignorance we can gently accept with awareness. Education is lighting ourselves a way that circumnavigates our urge to grab all we can, and open our hands, ready to work for good.
To be free of this nagging sense of fear, or anxiety, or dissatisfaction, or loneliness, is not to relegate everything to the realm of illusion: if I’m real, so are things around me, and so is my fear. I cannot refuse to relate to the world or to my own experience of it: it often demands a response. Nor can I pretend that I am in control of my experience: that kind of arrogance drowned King Canute. The idea that the world is benevolent is pollyanna nonsense and asking for trouble: existence will, in the end, kill me. But there is something that overarches my fear, my suffering and that lifts me free.
It takes a huge amount of effort, and it is a practice. It takes the kind of effort that a bird, lifting from water, must make, all its energy focused on lifting into the air. I need to generate enough momentum to be able to see the fear from a fraction’s distance, which is also entirely here, now, because it is awareness of what is happening, my fear unfolding and me as observer, just clear of consumption, able to see and understand, appreciate, love. I can see too how the fears arise, what feeds it, the past patterns and the current climate. I can feel deep humility and even awe for the organism’s desperate search for connection when all seems alien and hostile. I cannot do much about my own reactions, except this: practice creating this fraction of a moment’s space, into which I can pour my watching, and my love, not only for myself, but for all that has become entangled in the rippling net of cause/ effect while I observe with just a moment’s notice and the opening capacity to wait, here, free, while the fear flames unfed, flickers and turns to compassionate action, subverted by this willingness to attune to the whole enfolding system which once again makes known its kind and generous embrace.
I cannot do much about the rain. Except, perhaps, plan to buy a good raincoat.
I want to teach you about a couple of yoga concepts, and my own theory of the threefold relationship we need to understand in order to respond to the demands of our lives. I want to do this through a series of asana practices. These will appear as a series of short practices which should help you to reflect on the relationship you have with yourself, other people and the more-than-human-world, and to understand how these relationships are not different from one another.
Begin by coming into a seated position, cross legged. You can equally well sit in a chair. It’s important that you don’t force anything, but see if you can use your awareness of your position in space to allow you to feel for a desire, a motivation, within your own system, to find a more upright, more aware seated position. Rest your shoulders down and back. Rest your facial muscles, your neck by balancing the head. Pause and see what else needs to rest. You’re upright and aware, but resting. Then see if you can let your breath become more rested, more like you breathe when you’re asleep, or resting deeply. Maybe sigh a couple of times. Maybe increase the depth by squeezing the abdominal muscles slightly, quite subtly, and then by lifting the pelvic floor.
Then increase awareness of your thoughts. Consciousness reflecting upon itself. See your awareness becoming aware of itself. Watch it reflect, drift to elsewhere, draw it back, and go quiet for a moment, just watching yourself watching yourself. The regress is an egress, opening to now. Be here now. Be now here. Be nowhere. Just sitting.
Now stretch your sides, one at a time. Gently, consciously, see if you can feel as subtly as possible where the stretch is taking place, from the hips to the finger tips. One side for about three breaths, and back into the first practice of awareness, and then the other. Now twist slowly round to the right. Awareness of the arch in the low back, of each vertebra turning on the one beneath, of the position of the upper spine relative to the lower spine. Not leaning, turning, broad shouldered, narrow waisted, squeezing as you turn, less space in the abdomen, using the space in the region around the heart, being honest about this twist, at least three breaths, then return and repeat to the other side.
Now take your hands behind. Straighten your legs as much as you want to, half way, all the way, but without losing awareness, a grace in your movements as though you are being moved by awareness, by love, itself. Watching it move you as you open your chest. Maybe even lift up pursvottanasana, heart lifted as an act of trust, of faith, that cooperation is more powerful than competition, that love is more powerful than exploitation. Feel one, two, three or more breaths here. Finally bow forwards. You can be cross legged or with straight legs. You are bowing to take your attention inwards, honouring your own experience. Give yourself an affirmation, or a mantra, or a resolution: I have the intention to open to, and to submit to, love, to compassion. Come into as conscious as possible an experience of yourself now, here, nowhere. Just bowing. Then again come back to sitting. To just sitting. To open minded, open hearted, embodiment. You are this body. You are not in this body. You are this body and this body is inseparable from the world around it. It cannot be sealed off. You are a part of all else and all else is a part of you. Realise this in silence. The take this knowledge and apply it to the rest of your day, the rest of your life.
Yoga focuses on how to live, as does my post-doctoral research. The key is compassionate attunement. All change begins with attitude, and all attitude begins with attitude to the self. Dan Dennett, a brilliant philosopher and a fearless defendant of humane atheism, contends that we atheists must reclaim the notion of spirit as it’s understood in the phrase “that’s the spirit!” The spirit is the manner, then, or more accurately, the attitude with which we approach our experiences. If “that’s the spirit!” means anything, then it is that there is a certain attitude which allows us to approach what is happening which benefits. That attitude is compassion, kindness, and love. There is nothing weak about approaching even the most challenging situation with love. In fact, to do so is to open to the possibility that the challenge is just that: a demand to put all our effort into openness to resolution, to the possibility for a successful outcome. Namaste! Oh, and Happy Birthday to my shining son.
An in-depth exploration of the relationship between self, other and the more-than-human world through studying key Sutras yoga further training yoga nidra
Yoga for Ecological Connection
Yoga unites more than just the mind, body and spirit. Spirit is attitude in Dan Dennett’s famous use of the phrase: let’s reclaim spirit, as in, That’s the Spirit! But Yoga also connects us to others, making us realising that our happiness and success is not attained alone but only ever in conjunction with the success and happiness of others. And these others are not just human. They include the more-than-human world. The Yoga that I teach (and learn) is, then, the Yoga of compassionate attunement that allows us to realise our practice of connecting to self, other, and the more-than-human world. In this ecological emergency, emerging internally and externally into awareness, this is the Yoga we need to enlighten ourselves and respond to what is happening right now. further training yoga nidra
Yoga is a great way to improve your self esteem, to stretch and strengthen. But it’s also an amazing tool for improving how you relate to others. These others are not just humans but the more-than-human world. Go on a journey to the most profound interconnectedness you will ever know and watch yourself transform into a spiritual warrior for the good of all. further training yoga nidra
Yoga Nidra and Sankalpa
Yoga is much more than just stretching, though the stretching definitely improves your body. It is also an exploration of your mind, and nowhere more than in the state of Yoga Nidra. I’ve practiced Yoga Nidra and lucid dreaming for many years now and the impact is profound and transformative, deeply healing, and also a lesson in humility. Watch as you unfold in love and connectedness and do what you, as love, needs to be done! further training
ECOnnect Patanjali’s Sutras!
At the moment, I am teaching an in-depth exploration of the relationship between self, other and the more-than-human world through the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Yajnavalkya.
This is the development of a practice of embodied philosophy, which includes asanas, pranayama, meditation and yoga nidra, as well as explorations into lucid dreaming, practice-realisation and attunement to compassion. It is about communication, community and connection, and will help us all respond to our interconnectedness more effectively.
The ecological emergency includes climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and systems fragmentation but which also includes our individual and collective challenge to integrate a response to this emergency. Eco in the word ecology comes from the Greek word ‘oikos’ which means ‘home’ and is therefore more intimate than ‘environment’ which means ‘neighbourhood’. But the root ‘eco’ also gives us the word economy. We have the way we talk about our home, and we also have the issue of body, and planet, budgeting.
We have to rethink how we experience ourselves in relation to the systems outside us and to the systems inside us. Being in an emergency requires an urgent and critically important response from us. Traditionally, throughout the development of the dominant cultural ethos,we thought we could use will power, or strength (through technical innovation) or force (through militarisation), to overcome the limits of systems. My thesis suggests this approach has failed. Instead, we need to use the practices of yoga to explore our relationship with others, including the more-than-human world, through the yamas, but also to explore our relationship with ourselves through the niyamas. Throughout this course we explore the relationships as intimately interconnected.
This, then, is the practice-realisation that is talked about in Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō. And it is also at the heart of a generous and up-to-date interpretation of Patanjali’s, and Yajnavalkya’s, Sutras, as well as ecophilosophy. We can live an examined life, a life where we experience the spaciousness and compassionate nature of all existence. We can both honour, and ‘forget the self’, and let love work through us. Through us love does what needs to be done. We will work on communication, connection, and developing communities that are resilient, diverse (we don’t all have to think alike…) and tolerant. We will learn to ‘think like a planet’, or a river, and we will reintegrate ourselves, and our species, with all.
This is a revolutionary course. It is based largely on my book, Love is Green: compassion as responsibility in the ecological emergency (Vernon Press, 2019) and on my own understanding and practice of Yoga, Zen and Philosophy as Practice (about which I’m currently editing a collection of philosophical contributions called Urgent Matters for Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming 2021).
Students are learning:
To use the practices of asana, pranayama, yoga nidra, meditation, discussion, reflection and lucid dreaming to develop an in-depth understanding of the relationship between self, other and the more-than-human world.
To understand and embody the philosophical concepts of attitude, realisation as agency, and compassionate attunement in order to deepen their practice and insight into responding to ecological awareness and the ecological emergency.
To use the practices of yoga and meditation to gain a better insight into and develop better relationships in order to develop resilience, tolerance, and an understanding of the importance to these of diversity.
To use the practices of yoga and philosophy to develop the practice of overcoming conflicts, internal and external.
To use the practices of yoga and philosophy to develop skills in communication and building community through compassionate communication and compassionate achievement so that their own professional development advances and they become more skillful in their work.
Week one: Introduction: kinetic and potential energy and non-dualism as a practice. Integrating yoga with non-dual embodied philosophy through the practice of asanas, pranayama, meditation and yoga nidra. What will be expected of you. two assignments (week 6, week 11), one presentation – half an hour, recorded (week 12). What you can expect from me. Availability, WhatsApp group, follow up, community participation. Sankalpa. Yoga history and philosophy. The relationship between the internal and the external worlds.
Week two: the first Yama. Ahimsa. Georg Feuerstein: if we get no further than this, we will still have done some good. How we harm is also how we suffer. We suffer by creating suffering.
Week three: the second Yama. Satya. How we lie. What we deny. What we know and don’t know. Telling the truth does not mean being unkind. The truth and freedom. Science and truth. Data and truth. Knowing what we don’t know. Humility and truth. Freedom of speech.
Week four: the third Yama. Asteya. Stealing from the future by taking more than we need. Stealing from the past by not learning the lessons of history (as outlined in Collapse by Jared Diamond). Stealing from others by stealing ideas and not acknowledging them. Thus Asteya builds on honesty and kindness.
Week five: the fourth Yama. Brahmacharya. Restraint. The tendency to blame others is a reflection of unresolved conflict in the self. Compassionate achievement: creating win-win situations. Compassionate communication: seeing others’ communications as reflections of needs, meeting the need with skillful speech. Yoga is skill in action, thought, words.
Week six: the fifth Yama. Aparigraha. Non-grasping, non-covetousness. See also 1.33. Delphi: know thyself, do nothing to excess, be not assured. Alan Watts’ The Wisdom of Insecurity. The monk story.
Week seven: the first Niyama. Saucha. Clean body, clear mind. Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha. Declutter. Create more space. Delegate. Do less.
Week eight: the second Niyama. Santosha. Contentment. Radical self-acceptance. Changing the narrative. The compassionate self.
Week nine: the third Niyama. Tapas. Effort. Abhyasa and Varaghya. Effort and Surrender, or impartiality, or dispassion and passion. The practice is the way.
Week ten: the fourth Niyama. Svadhyaya. Know thyself, forget the self. Confucius: the steps to the way of self knowledge and peace.
Week eleven: the fifth Niyama. Ishvara Pranidhana. For whom the bell tolls. Listen. Datta Dayadhvam, Damyata. Lucid dreaming.
Starting 6th April 2021-22nd June 2021 (12 weeks) Tuesday evenings 6.30-8pm
One and a half hours per week, 18 hours contact with students, plus student assignments and presentation (expect to work on these for at least an hour a week, as well as establishing a daily practice of asana, pranayama and meditation for at least 20m per day, or at least two hours per week: 36 hours student study time per course. Total course time: 54 hours total course time.
Yoga Alliance Professionals certified teacher, course creator, provider and trainer.
PhD in Philosophy. Thesis: From Respect for Nature to Agency as Realisation in the Ecological Emergency (UCC, 2014)
Author: Love is Green: compassion as responsibility in the ecological emergency, Vernon Press, 2019
Postgraduate Yoga training, certified and endorsed by Yoga Alliance Professionals. If you are not a teacher, it will still ensure that you understand and can communicate the interrelatedness of self, other, and more-than-human world. You will receive a signed certificate of successful completion, contributing to CPD.
“…each class was very calm and relaxed …the emphasis on breathing and the Bandh…”
ECOnnected Yoga is an in-depth exploration of the relationship between self, other and the more-than-human world. Examining Yoga and Zen texts, linking them with scientific and philosophical theories (evolution, systems theory, free will, ethics and neuroscience, among others), and embodying the resulting practices, can help us reorientate our perspective on where and how we stand in relationship to the universe. This, in turn, can help us to develop a more effective attitude, to allow the self transformation of yoga to go beyond the skin, so we become channels through which love can do what needs to be done. Sounds esoteric? It’s a no-nonsense approach. It will change everything.
Changing the course of human history..
Anna asked what I wanted to achieve on Linkedin. My reply came to me as I was dreaming. I find, increasingly, that setting yourself a question or a problem or issue to consider during sleep is a fantastic way to put your subconscious to work.
Firstly, then, I want to sell my course in ECOnnected Yoga, and my course on Udemy on ECOnnect! No nonsense non-dualism. These are practical courses which basically sell an idea. The idea is a huge challenge because it requires and creates total transformation of how we perceive and therefore how we engage with all our relationships. I know enough now to know that what we’re supposed to sell what people want to buy and I’m not sure how I can convince people that they don’t want stuff, or happiness, even, but as Iris Murdoch pointed out, instead what people really want is to be loved, and to love.
I want to convince people that the dependence we have on consumption, our addictions to patterns that are exploitative and competitive, is killing us and the systems that created and sustain us. But I’m teaching what I need to learn.
We are designed, insofar as we can be said to have been designed, by Nature, the blind urge to survive, to be somewhat competitive. We dance with but we also fight, eat and kill and are fought, eaten and killed by the systems in and around us, as this pandemic makes all too clear.
I want to show you the mesh, the Matrix, if you like, which contains and constrains us, the illusions of free will, which I, too, am subject to, but which I know how to sidestep. I want to teach myself and others this practice, this trick of the light that brings a different view, and a different set of options. We are not free, but we have agency. We have the capacity to realise, be aware.
The ecological emergency is the emergence into our awareness of realisation, a bringing into being of a different way of relating that attunes us, eliciting compassion, letting love do what needs to be done.
Of course this has echoes in philosophy, Buddhism, yoga and even scientific ideas. I investigated these connections in my PhD. Now I’m facing the challenge of putting them in terms that people will buy, or at least be able to understand and think about. You don’t have to be right all or even most of the time. You just need to be guided by what the loving thing to do is more often than not. To be good enough.
I need to find a way to open a discussion about this. Let’s start talking about what it means to practice compassionate attunement, practice realisation, to understand that the way of doing something is just that, The Way, since it embodies attitude, quality, a means of being the instrument of love.
Responding to the ecological emergency
Emerging into Awareness
What has all this to do with the point I made earlier about the ecological emergency, as I call it? When we recognise that we are experiencing a world mediated through expectations, we begin to understand that we have a choice about how to respond. The practice of yoga is just that, it is a practice, a way of doing something. It is therefore in how we do things that our response and responsibility lie. We are not responsible for what happens to us, for our parents, or indeed for the entire emergency, the pandemic, that we have emerged into. But what we can do is be increasingly aware of the manner of our response. The only manner that is of any benefit to anyone is a manner, an attitude, of compassion. Compassion means recognising the suffering and being determined to do everything in your power to alleviate it, however huge that challenge is. It means admitting to yourself that you cannot become enlightened if the entire world is suffering in ignorance and darkness and despair. You have a duty to do something, however small, to alleviate suffering. There are many small things we can do as individuals. Plant a tree (www.tree-nation.com). Conserve water. Buy less stuff. Be kind. Challenge ourselves to be kind in every interaction. Not weak, not appeasing, but making sure our words are really compassionate.
This is all we can do, but it is something. Avoidance is not helpful. Renounce if you must but be aware that the world does not stop spinning just because you don’t like what’s going on. Yoga has the capacity to offer a real boon to the world that is far beyond the mat. Each act may be a drop in the ocean, but as David Mitchell wrote in the final line of his fabulous book, Cloud Atlas, “what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”
Now begins the teaching on Yoga
Now, or Then. Here, in a spirit of offering, begins. A word that emerged from the throat of Brahma. The beginning.
What is Yoga? You tell me. Union. Intimacy. Connection. Compassion in action.
Teaching. Instruction. The Way.
Where you are, right now, is the instruction, the way, to connection.
I’m constantly attempting to stretch the boundaries of our understanding of agency to show that the free will we think we have is an illusion. That while the brain undoubtedly decides (based on memories) what to do in the moment, there’s a microsecond pause during which we can, if we are fully aware (mindful, if you like, though I loathe the word – mind empty is better! Aware or realising are better still!) see or fully experience the state we are in.
In this microsecond, or possibly quantum, gap, we bring into play a meta or overarching experience of our awareness that is a part of but also an extra dimension of consciousness. It is in this state that we can see ourselves angry, sad, stressed, in love, etc, and we can see that all these are reactions to previous actions.
In seeing this, we can, if we are very careful with our attention, elicit, that is, allow to come into being through us, an attitude. The most rational attitude to take to our situation is compassion, or kindness, or love. And this is us cooperating with the cooperative principles that run through every system, living and more-than-living. Everything cooperates.
This is like the Dao, or flow, or The Way. We become a part of The Way. Our practice is The Way. We disappear into it, and yet remain ourselves. In fact we are more fully ourselves than we are in the state of reactivity, which is part of Karma, Cause-Effect, Samskaras building scar tissue on scar tissue, tightening us into the knot of suffering.
When we are practicing in this Way, we let love, or compassion, or kindness, do what needs to be done. In that microsecond, instead of reaction, we become responsive.
I think this is what sages have been talking about for generations. Thich Nhat Hahn has said this time and again.Jesus of course could be said to have said this: I am The Way. But the I that he referred to is itself The Way. It is love, compassion, and the cooperation of all things with each other that we have the possibility of becoming one with.
Ultimately, it is the way that you practice that counts.
We call this something – a heart shape, or a piece of seaweed – but even the words are just an idea. Becoming silent, we have the capacity to see this just what it is. An emergent culimation of relationships dynamically moved through the dimensions. We tend to see the boundaries, the edges of things, and we are, of course, hardwired to differentiate. But differentiation is a useful perceptual tool. What is really happening is worth considering too because it shows how interwoven the observer is. We are not apart from it, we and it are different points in this shifting moment. This moment is not even a single point but moves like a saddleback between that, and that.
Why is this important? Because we’re utterly dependent upon how we see for how we respond. Where we see ourselves as boundaried, and see those boundaries as under threat, we react to protect just ourselves. However, when we see how our relationships hold us as emergent elements within a matrix, then our responses can become meaningful on a much more dynamic and subtle level.