Going Forth in a VUCA World

The Calling of Our Times

Fruit is transformation. It’s the embodiment of vision. It’s abundance. The quality of the fruit is ripe, alive, nourishing. When the ground and the path merge into fruit, it makes doing more natural. Because in the natural great perfection the fruit is already there, it’s already done. We just have to relax into the flow.

To illustrate this notion, I’ll share a few words about that path of the Buddha. The Buddha was a human being, like us. And, like many of us he had privilege: a very good life–many people to care for him. He had many ‘mothers’ taking care of him. He was set to be the ruler of the Kingdom and was protected from all problems of life. As the story goes, he became curious about what the world was like outside of the Castle, so he convinced one of his servants to take him out. Once out in the world he saw sick people in Pain. When he asked what this was, he was told “This is Sickness”. Then he saw someone who had died and was told “This is Death”. Next he saw very old people, crippled and walking with canes and was told “This is Aging”. Finally, he saw a woman giving birth and heard the cries of Labor and was told “This is the pain of Birth”. The servant then told him that Birth, Death, Sickness and Old Age happen to everyone. The Buddha then cried and vowed to find a way out of Suffering. This is the subject of our endeavors. How we can become free of unnecessary suffering–the suffering about suffering.

When Buddha reached enlightenment, his first teaching was about the four noble truths. The First Noble Truth is that suffering exists. The Second Noble Truth is how we end Unnecessary Suffering and how we work with the inevitable suffering. Like the Time of the Buddha over 2,500 years ago, the kind of world we are living in now, in our 21st Century is a VUCA world. This world makes it hard for us to receive our fundamental human needs: safety, satisfaction, and connection.

We suffer whenever we want things to be different than how they are. Another way to say this is: We suffer because of Emotional Reactivity. This is our Problem. We can learn to be free of suffering by cultivating the three fundamental needs of safety, satisfaction, and connection. Rick Hanson advises us to take in the good through small amounts of focus and time that allow us to install new structures in the brain.

We can use VUCA as the fuel for transformation by knowing context, environment, and knowing that something else is possible. All groups have messiness–you just need skills to be a human being in relationship. It’s not easy. What seems to me to be fundamental understanding of the difference between what it takes to stay responsive rather than be caught up in reactivity.

When we have safety, satisfaction, and connection, we are in a responsive mode, which means we have choice. When we experience a lack or deficit of these fundamental needs, we become emotionally reactive, which means we have no choice.


Keys to Freedom: Recognize, Resource, Regulate, Relate.

  • Recognize the trigger. Pause to remove yourself from the situation and reflect on how you feel. Recognize the ways in which your heart may be closed, your amygdala is hijacked, and you may be building a case against the person or situation.

  • Resource yourself by providing some self-nourishment (go for a walk, practice yoga, meditate for a few minutes, cuddle your dog, etc. to self-regulate).

  • Regulate the situation by spending energy in peace-making.

  • Relate by sharing your experience, being open to feedback, and creating new intention for building the relationship.When we add this information to what we are learning about neuroscience, we understand even more deeply why learning new ways of being in groups and relationships of mutuality are so vital.In our MatrixWorks Training, we are exploring a template for groups as living systems that is based on love, connection and support. We are learning to live in a relational field where we use our “smart social nervous system” and let love and an openness of heart be the ground we rest in, be the ground we are.

Practice: Some Exercises to help us feel Connected

  1. Take a moment with yourself and answer these questions: How do you experience suffering in your life? Why have you come to this learning?

  2. Find a partner and share your answers with each other.

  3. Find another partner (maybe someone you don’t know) and share a challenge you had to overcome to be here tonight

  4. Find another partner and share a wisdom you have learned from your own Suffering. Share something you are still learning from your own suffering.

  5. Whole Group sharing


Working alone, journal about the following questions:

  1. What are 3 challenges you currently face in your work, or life?

  2. What are your current most vital sources of Love and Energy (work and/or life)

  3. What is trying to Emerge?

Reflection Questions: Reflect on the areas of your life where you are Reactive and where you are Responsive. Are you willing to work toward becoming more responsive?



This is a preview excerpt from Mukara’s upcoming book, MatrixWorks: A Life Affirming Guide to Facilitation Mastery.