Welcome to the Pons Asinorum

There is no easy fix

Entering Lonergan's Novum Organon

Facing the Reality of a Lack of Moral Courage

Joyous Insurgency & the Long Game?

A Strategy for People Celebrating Life

Things to Keep in Mind: Listening

Listening is not easy, when you are involved in a heated discussion. One trick is to ignore the main topic of the discussion, refrain from expressing your own important contribution, and just listen to the person speaking—trying to understand the other person from the inside. What are they going through at that moment? Drop any intention to express your own opinion.

Or when you are in a intense emotional debate, personally involved—try doing the same thing, but at the end paraphrase what you have heard in your own words, or something like “I want to think about it.” Or when you really want to make a comment, expressing something important, something essential to the discussion. Why not drop the idea and switch over to listening?

Often such discussion can be very anxiety producing to the point where you feel you have to do something about it. But why not try paying attention to the pressure without wanting to change it? Its quite possible that the tension will start to ease and then dissolve.

This doesn’t mean you should set aside your concerns. Make a note of them for future reference, for they have a lot to do with understanding your own orientation; your own reactions may provide the clue to improving your own orientation. In short, while you listen to others, listen to yourself. But you will not really encounter another until you walk in their shoes.


The need for entering into personalized training starts with the experience of being part of a cosmopolis-L group and realizing that there is much to be known if one is to participate in any fruitful manner. This is mentoring for those interested in seriously taking up this kind of very demanding work. And it works both ways: while one is learning the ropes one is also contributing to the whole according to one’s needs and interests. This process starts from where you are, with the questions you have, your orientation at this point in time, and your capacity to actualize your potential for freedom and liberty.

Living in the Tension

We have the capacity and need for self-transcendence. But it is not easy to live in this tension between transcended and transcending selves. But as long as one’s potential for freedom and liberty is not met, one’s contribution can only be flawed. Learning to actualize one’s potential is both private, for the process is internal, and public, for it is in encountering the orientations of others that one comes to objectify one’s own horizon.

Freedom is actualized by improving one’s orientation; orientations that consists of an horizon and the intentions that create it undergoing a process not of horizontal adjustment but a vertical shift to a higher perspective that redefines who one is. Although such a shift is a unity, there are distinct phases Lonergan identifies as intellectual, moral, and religious (psychic change is implicit). Too often religious conversion is conceived as belong to a specific religious conversion, but for our purposes it refers to a process of falling in love with the Divine. Intellectual conversion is of special interest, for unless we know what it is to know and are not only willing but able to following the transcendental injunctions, we are left afloat in a mythic sea.

It is not that we are experts in such matters, but our transdisciplinary approach can shed light on what is going on within the individual and suggest avenues of research and exploration, including other mentors whose specialized expertize may be required.


The first task is to build a common vocabulary based on common epistemology (Lonergan’s critical realism) and a common method (Lonergan’s transcendental method) as laid out in our Schematic. Without this we are only participating in a Tower of Babel, unable to constructively build upon another’s work. Solid foundations need to be laid, but only by verifying these operations within one’s own consciousness.

The second task is to come to understand the nature of the problem that a Lonerganian Cosmopolis is meant to solve, as well as the nature of the solution itself.

The third is to build up a knowledge base concerning history, especially the history of myths and rationalizations in human power-seeking, geography, with a special interest in geopolitics, and current affairs at the global level as well as a background in psychic, intellectual, moral, and religious conversion.

The fourth is to find one’s own specialized contributions to such a project, starting as a member of a cosmopolis-L group, moving on mastering the skills of a team leader, and perhaps eventually taking up coaching and mentoring roles.

I have gradually come to realize how extremely rare it is to find an organization that names itself as dedicated to evil . . . [The] positive affirmation of evil is almost entirely lacking in the real world.

Roy F. Baumeister, Evil

(N.Y.: Henry Holt & Co.,1996), p. 61

Handbook: Mentoring

This is Why You Don’t have a Mentor
Ryan Holiday

There is an old Zen kōan about an aspiring swordsman who approaches a master.

    “How long would it take me to become great under you?” he asks.
     “10 years,” The master swordsman replies. 
     “I don’t have that long,” says the student. “I want to be good soon. What if I worked very hard and dedicated myself completely to the task?”
     “Ok, 30 years,” he says back.
     “But that’s even longer,” the student says with some perplexity. “I am telling you I am in a hurry.”
     And so the master replies, “Precisely, students in a hurry end up taking even longer to learn what is right in front of them.”

Students have been missing the point when it comes to mentorship for centuries. . . . They all tend to have the same three misperceptions . . .

  1. Mentorship is something you do, not something you get. A mentorship is a flexible and often informal relationship that can vary from person to person and field to field. . . A mentorship is . . . a dance, not a contractual agreement.
  2. Give as much as you get. ‘Excel and you will get a mentor.’ Successful busy people rarely take on substantial commitments pro-bono. They are picking you because they think you’re worth their time and will benefit them too. So figure out what you can offer them so that this can become a mutual, though lopsided, exchange. . . . They want to help you succeed because along the way you can help them. Even if it’s just energy you’re bringing, even if it’s just thanks and satisfaction. The mentor cannot want your success for you more than you want it for yourself. You better show up every day hungry and dedicated and eager to learn. One suggestion that’s helped me: provide articles, links, or news that can benefit your mentors. You are less busy than they are, so your time is better spentlooking and searching. . . . I was able to be a source of new information, trends, and opportunities. I asked alot, but I tried to give in return.
  3. Keep your problems at home. I often write that passion can be a form of insanity and dysfunction because it makes people selfish and emotional. Not surprising, a lot of . . . people get upset when they read this. And it is these very [people] that I wouldn’t want to work with. They’re likely too sensitive to feedback, too wound up to really listen to instructions, and too stuck in their ways to learn. . . . Your personal life is irrelevant. Your excuses aren’t going to fly. If you get asked to do something, do it the way it was asked. If that means staying up all night to do it, then ok (but that’s to stay your little secret). No one cares what’s going on with you, or at least, they shouldn’t have to.

For sure, a lot more goes into becoming a master and to getting the most out of a mentorship, but these are the rocks I tend to see people crash on the most often.

Copyright @ 2006-2015
Adobe Systems Incorporated.

It may seem strange, but training one’s emotions is an essential part of the process. While intellect can guide in the formation of emotions, emotions — drawn from the basics of biological life, of human drama, of aesthetic considerations — allow us to make quick decisions of what to do or not do in specific situations. We are emotionally committed to the terminal values that we decide to use to direct our intentions, or actions, and the development of our horizon as free and liberated people. While our orientation may be intellectual, without emotions we are dry, lifeless, and in the extreme hostile. The gamut of emotions range from a hard heart that ignores all others for one’s own gain, and a soft loving heart that keeps the Hillel response alive (don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you). Understanding is in some sense contingent upon a warm, caring, cherishing, and loving heart; if you don’t, you will likely end up using others as tools for your own purposes.

Another factor is that we can become emotionally attached to who we are to the extent that we cannot be happy otherwise. Detachment is required for continued conversion, and this means an emotional capacity for living in the tension between transcended and transcending selves. But not for persuasion. Novels, poems, movies, and stage all appeal to emotional drama to carry their theme.

How does one identify the foundational expectancy . . . ?

. . . As a first attempt I would propose three questions which one should ask . . .:

  1. In what realm of meaning, or human activity (for example war, liturgy, family life, politics, sports, aesthetic activity, and so forth) does the Speaker expect revelation or salvation to occur?
  2. In what precise way is salvation or revelation expected to be experienced by the Speaker/reader?
  3. What demands upon the reader, what conversions and what practices, are implied and demanded by this foundational expectancy?

– Sean McEvenue. Interpreting the Pentateuch
(Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1990),
pp. 61-62