The silo’ed and shallow nature of the various disciplines of modern-day psychology and sociology makes the development of a comprehensive, deep and unified model of the human nature and human diversity (both individual and collective) elusive.
In this upcoming book, whose cover page appears here, the author offers a robust, deep and comprehensive theoretical foundation called Foaum, a framework of concepts, models and theories that connects all the various disciplines at the base, offering a unified view of human nature and human diversity. In this book, he also discusses ideas, insights and pointers that can help us redesign and improve the systems such as education systems, workplaces, the institution of family, social service institutions and others that are integral to our living, learning, earning, caring and sharing.
Foaum, pronounced same as foam, is a shortened form of ‘Framework of Aum’, Aum being a Sanskrit word that has several closely related meanings, one of which is ‘everything’. The Aum in Foaum highlights the essense of Foaum, the fact that it seeks to explore everything, i.e., all aspects and all facets of human nature, human diversity, human evolution, human experience, human expression, human enterprise, etc.
Foaum is built ground-up from first principles with its own set of assumptions and concepts, independent of all the existing theories of psychology and sociology. As such, no formal education or training in psychology or sociology is required for anyone to learn Foaum. Foaum is for everyone interested in a comprehensive picture of human nature, be it for professional reasons or be it simply out of general curiosity.
A different approach
Foaum offers deep and powerful insights into human nature and human diversity, connecting a broad range of phenomena, in comparison with any of the theories of social sciences in vogue today, because of the approach it takes. It takes the approach of the physical and biological scientists of modern times and of the Yogis and Rishis of ancient times from India, rather than the approach of the modern day social scientists and the philosophers of the West.
The approach taken by the social scientists today is to explore individuals from individual-centric view, organizations from organization-centric view, communities from community-centric view, relationships from relationship-centric view, life from life-centric view, mind from mind-centric view, body from body-centric view, gods from god-centric view and so on. This is like trying to establish a point on the surface of the earth as the center of earth, without realizing that earth is a three dimensional body with its center situated deep underneath, rather than on the surface. The limitations of the modern theories of social sciences stem from this flawed approach of trying to find a center on the surface. Even some of the ancient theories such as that of Judeo-Christian theology and Buddhist philosophy suffer from the same flaw, that of taking a human-centric view, sin-centric view, suffering-centric view, virtue-centric view, and so on.
The approach taken by the physicists and biologists of modern times and Indian Rishis of ancient times is entirely different; instead of examining the surface inch by inch and every variation by itself, they took a step back and plunged deep into the core nature of things, from which the diversity visible on the surface emerges. Physicists took a molecular-centric view and explained, in its terms, the entire diversity and phenomena of matter that can be seen anywhere in the universe. Biologists took a cell-centric view, and explained, in its terms, everything about life, making humans just a special case of it. Indian Rishis, similarly, took an universe-centric view embedding space and matter in the belly of time (Kāla Garbha) with concepts such as Aum and Bhoota, and explained everything about humans, other life forms, gods and worlds in those terms.
Foaum takes the same approach as that of the physicists, the biologists and the Indian Rishis, and examines everything, be it individuals or societies or relationships, from a single unified universe-centric view, in which time is considered as an integral part.
The approach of the modern psychology and sociology also suffers from another flaw. They pay the least attention (or may not have evolved enough to do so) to the all too important and fundamental question of 'What is life?'. Delving into this question is critical to the understanding of human nature. Psychology and Sociology does not delve into this question even as much as biology delves into it, or even as much as physics delves into the question of 'what is universe?'.
A book is not a string of letters or set of words arranged in agreement with the rules of grammar; it has a subject, a theme, a tone, a context, and a purpose. Similarly, human life is not a string of events or set of behaviors in agreement with the norms of society; it has a meaning, a purpose, a context and a force that drives it. And we need a model them to meaningfully interpret the events and behaviors.
Just as Darwin established a model of life, albeit in the biological sense, with the concepts of 'evolution of species', 'survival of the fittest' and 'natural selection' to help us interpret various behaviors of various species, Foaum establishes a model of life, by introducing several new and bold concepts, using which every action and behavior of humans can be interpreted, thus gaining deeper insights into human nature.
And then there is a third flaw. Drawn too much towards studying the relationship between individual and individual and between individual and society, the social sciences of the modern times all but neglect the three other critical relationships of humans, i.e., the relationship with self, relationship with Nature and relationship with Universe and its mystery. Spirituality, in its various flavors, is nothing but an expression of these relationships, however rudimentary or sophisticated it might be, varying from time to time and place to place. Foaum brings all these different relationships together in its unified model of human nature, thus gaining deeper insights into the multiple dimensions of human nature and the interplay among them.
The core concept of Foaum is organism, defined as anything that has a finite existence and is an integral part of its environment, be it a cell, a body organ, an individual human being, a family, an organization, a community, a city, a country or the entire humanity. Human beings are considered just as one specific type of organism and hence their nature and behavior is considered just as a special case of the nature and behavior of organisms.
Foaum begins with the exploration the nature, behavior and properties of organisms and principles that governing them in general, and then uses those findings to interpret the nature and behavior of human beings. This approach brings humans, social units and universe under one single abstraction, leading to unbelievably deeper insights into the nature of humans individually and collectively.
The most fundamental axiom of Foaum, admittedly somewhat esoteric, is: ‘an organism is a copy of the Universe’, albeit, a limited manifestation of the qualities, power and nature of the Universe’. Every organism, by its very presence and limited manifestation, gives expression to a slice of the qualities of the universe. The variations in the manifestation makes one organism different from the other, thus giving raise to the infinite diversity of organisms.
Foaum takes inspiration from biology in fashioning this axiom. Biology says that all cells in the body are actually limited versions of the stem cells, in the sense that Nature turns off certain functions of the stem cells to create various kinds of cells, rather than creating each type of them independently of each other, or by adding additional functionality to the stem cells.
Self, Else and Verse
From the perspective of organism, there are only three things: Self, Else and Verse. Self is not the physical boundary of the organism, but everything that is inalienable to its identity. Else is everything else in the universe, which is normally referred to as environment. The third one, Verse represents the entire universe considered as a single unit.
The identity of the organism could change over the course of the life of an organism, as it negotiates its boundary with Else constantly. Indian Rishis delved deep into the nature of Self and Verse, and Foaum delves deep into the nature of Self, Verse as well as Else, and the intricate relationships among the three. Foaum considers the study of Verse, which social sciences of the modern day leave to spirituality, theosophy and philosophy on the one hand and physical sciences on the other hand, integral to the study of human nature.
The second most important axiom of Foaum is that an organism, being born out of the universe and being a copy of the universe, is inherently aware of the universe, albeit, the extent of the awareness varying from one organism to the other. An organism holds an inherent, intimate and intricate relationship with the universe and this relationship is more integral to the organism than its own physical survival, which is why people willingly give up even their lives in preserving their integrity or pursuing their cause, and get ready to drop off at the end of life, marvelling at and surrendering to the mystery of life.
At the time of the birth of every organism, the Universe essentially divides itself into two halves, Self and Else, and Foaum considers them to be equal, in the sense that they are mirror images of each other. Self and Else, born simultaneously, are aware of each other inherently. An inherent, intimate and intricate relationship exists between the two, just as one exists between Self and Verse.
Self consumes, influences and contributes to Else over the course of its lifetime, and Else does the same to Self. This interaction between Self and Else is essentially the drama of life of the organism. There exists a balance and equilibrium between Self and Else through the course of life and when the equilibrium breaks, both cease to exist.
Self is a limited manifestation of Verse; evolution simply pushes the envelope off the limits of manifestation as far as possible, in a way that the equilibrium is maintained. In this process, evolution leads to more and more ‘intelligent’, i.e., more ‘aware’ organisms. Humans happened to be the most ‘intelligent’ organisms that are created by evolution so far, at least as we know it now. The 'awareness', i.e., 'intelligence’ also varies from one human being to the other and one social unit to the other.
Foaum treats human nature and behavior as a special case of the nature and behavior of this much generic concept of organism. The recent fascination of the modern day sociologists about irrationality is amusing at best, when viewed from a deep perspective like this. Irrationality is nothing but manifested behavior of organisms, with some of the connections between various behaviors remaining unmanifested or sublime.
Self holds two types of relationships with the Verse, functional (or physical) and subliminal. We experience these two in our everyday lives - the functional, as we utilize and enjoy the bounty offered by the earth, mountains, rivers, oceans and so on, and the subliminal, as we lose ourselves in awe with their majesty and mystery touching our beings somewhere deep. The first one is about experiencing the finite and tangible nature of the Verse and the second one is about experiencing its infinite and intangible nature.
Foaum brings together the tangible and intangible into one single framework. It envelopes the rational into the irrational and the irrational into the rational, like Yin and Yang does each other, while making a whole together. Foaum, by bringing them into one single framework, helps us explore the intricate relationship between the two, rather than struggle choosing between the two. An appreciation of the relationship between the two leads us to unbelievably deeper insights into human nature, and to the unveiling of many a fascinating connection among a wide range of human phenomena.
Colors of Humanity
These axioms of Foaum, elegant and simple, very different from anything that modern social sciences put forwards, which yield many rich insights into human nature and behavior, are no doubt philosophical in nature. But these are not the real ‘prize’ contributions of Foaum. The signature contribution of Foaum is establishment of the building blocks of human enterprise that explain what makes humanity tick and progress. These come out of the consideration of the composition of Self and Else.
Foaum establishes that both Self and Else have layered structures, similar to the way the earth and the atmosphere have. The layered structure of Self is inspired by and is a direct extension of the Indic concepts of Panca Kōṡa (which became Panca Skandha in Buddhism) and Chāturvarṇa. The layered structure of the Else, which mirrors the layered structure of Self is a original contribution of Foaum, a parallel found in no well known philosophy. Foaum studies the inherent and intricate relationship between Self and Else using these mirroring layered structures.
The exact composition of the layers of Self and Else vary from one organism to the other. The patterns among the composition of the layers give rise to the concept of classes of instincts, where each layer is a bundle of instincts. These classes of instincts is an extremely powerful notion, using which the infinite diversity of humans can be reduced into a combination of finite classes of instincts. Foaum color codes these layers and the classes of instincts as Blue, Red, Yellow, Green and White, and thus the theory describing the layers and classes of instincts has come to earn the nickname ‘Colors of Humanity’.
Organisms make up a nested hierarchy. Each organism is contained in another organism. The higher level (containing) organism lives through the lower level (contains) organisms and the lower level organisms lives in the higher level organism. Each organism has free will, and the will of the higher level organism becomes the life purpose and mission of the lower level organisms, over which the lower level organisms have no free will. Happiness is nothing but a reward given to an organism when it is able to successfully pursue its life’s mission, i.e., the will of the containing organism. This abstraction puts to rest the vagueness and contentions around the idea of ‘free will’ to rest with a clear answer.
Organisms with instincts from various classes collaborate in various patterns to carry the will of the higher level containing organism. Using this concept, the entire human collaboration and enterprise can be explained in an extremely elegant manner, so much so, Foaum calls these classes of instincts as the Colors of Humanity. And the instincts and their classes make up the building blocks of human nature.
With its deep abstraction of organism and the concept of Colors of Humanity, Foaum brings new and fascinating insights into human nature and at the same time connects everything that is studied today under various disciplines of social sciences such as Anthropology, Evolutionary Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Educational Psychology, I/O Psychology, Cognitive Sciences, Type/Trait Theories, Social Psychology, Systems Theory, Behavioral Economics, etc. It lays a theoretical foundation, with the help of which, these branches can find connections among themselves and benefit from the developments of each other.
The current state of affairs of these various disciplines of study is far from ideal. Lacking a theoretical foundation that connects them which each other, they find themselves many a time at odds with each other, forget about benefitting from each other, fighting for their own supremacy and defending their own territory. Further, these various disciplines can be found biding their time with obscene number of spurious quantitative studies and mired in ugly feuds of qualitative assertions, with no models deep enough to bring them all together or to stimulate true scientific temper.
Even with regards to those studies, modern research is afflicted with what came to be known as WEIRD phenomena, WEIRD being a reference to the Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic societies to which the samples of the study of human behavior are unfortunately limited these days. Foaum gives a broader and deeper theoretical foundation, using which WEIRD can be put in context, rather than the context being reduced to it. The theoretical foundation laid by Foaum crosses not only geographical and cultural boundaries, but also the boundaries of time periods. Its abstractions are context neutral and it explores how the generic human nature manifests itself variedly in various contexts and how it gets influenced by them.
The various branches can find a deeper theoretical footing in Foaum and thus can advance even further with its help, just as various disciplines like metallurgy, alchemy, medicine did with the help of the newly established atomic and molecular models in the past couple of centuries, and just as various branches of biology got a boost from the Theory of Evolution, since its introduction in the mid-nineteenth century. Foaum hopes to reinvigorate all disciplines of social sciences with the theoretical foundation it lays out.
Like it is true with any scientific theory or model, Foaum is open for criticism as well as for improvement. Foaum is built in a modular and extendible fashion. Any part of it, core or peripheral, can be extended, expanded or replaced by anyone, for the better. Foaum doesn't make any hard assertion that anyone needs to belabor to refute; it is just a collection of many a commonly agreed, observed and verifiable facts of life, albeit, put together into an elegant framework. And the framework positions the known and unknown in juxtaposition with each other, helping us connect one known with another known traversing over an unknown, and one unknown with another unknown traversing over a known. It is a framework that embeds the rational in the irrational and irrational in the rational giving us insights that neither can give by itself.
Explains a broad range of phenomena
The power of Foaum can perhaps be grasped more easily, by taking a look at the various questions, concerns and topics related to humanity, that it addresses, like the following:
- What makes siblings who share the same family, cultural, social, economic and educational backgrounds, different from each other? How is it that people in the same household cannot get along with each other, while people across nations and cultures come together to collaborate in the name of science, arts, sports and commerce?
- What makes some people selfish and others altruistic? Why do some people seek comforts and pleasures, while others seek success and power and yet others riches and possessions while yet others abandon everything and go to Himalayas?
- Why do some people keep themselves busy always while others are lazy? How is it that some people keep their homes tidy and clean while others keep it messy?
- Why is it that people can easily articulate what they are not, but fail to find words to describe what they are? Why is it that people get distracted by fads, platitudes and peer pressure, and fail to recognize, articulate and align themselves with their true selves?
- Why is Japan clean and tidy and India dirty and messy? What makes China and India, two old civilizations next each other, so different from each other?
- Why do people, especially women, talk to themselves and even to animals and trees, knowing very well that they cannot understand what they say?
- Why can't some children follow directions while most do? Why do some children show interest in the academics while others do not? What makes some children bullies and others shy, and yet others indifferent?
- What drives people to give up their lives and take others' lives in mostly meaningless wars? Why do some people resist authority in any form, while others obey it in its most ridiculous forms, readily submitting to it?
- What is happiness? Where do people derive it from? Why doesn’t something that gives happiness to one doesn’t give it to others? Is happiness the supreme goal of life or is there any other goal beyond it?
- Why are people superstitious, across the cultures, across educational and economic backgrounds? Why are a few people fanatic about religions and most shun religious controversies, yet feed the religious institutions through donations? Why most people feel comfortable sticking to the religions they are born into, while others detest them and seek alternatives?
- How is it that the progress of science in the last few centuries, that disproved many a dogma held by the religions, could not make even a small dent in the prevalence of religions?
- Why did stress and depression become so common in the modern times? Why do people commit suicide? Why are suicides rates higher in military than among civilian populations? Why are suicide rates higher among men than women?
- How is it possible that people from different cultures that grew in isolation for millennia in every part of the world able to come together in the modern globalized world, in a span of a few decades?
- Why is it that politics and trade and innovation spring up in every part of the world, regardless of the culture, education facilities, economic resources and such?
- Why do we miss no opportunity to talk about the uniqueness of each child, yet live with education systems that deliver the same curriculum, same instruction and same tests for every child?
- Why some people go through endless, costly and risky surgeries and hormone treatments to change their bodies from male to female or female to male?
- How does diversity sustain and flourish, in spite of all the efforts by the regimes, religions and educational systems, social philosophies to homogenize the populations?
Foaum offers fascinating answers to these and many more such questions, and brings delightful insights into in to all these topics, using its one single, deep and powerful abstraction of organism.
Foaum is not just about modeling the human nature for its own sake as an intellectual exercise, but to gain insights that can help improve systems such as the education systems, legal systems, workplaces, social service organizations, communities and families, that are integral to our learning, earning, living, sharing and caring.
Most of these systems that serve us have evolved at the dawn of the industrial age in a hurry, either completely from scratch or by replacing the ones that already existed. The main characteristic of the industrial age is mass manufacturing and mass delivery of goods and services. The systems that developed during the industrial age acquired the same characteristic, by default. Their focus and expertise is in delivering the ‘same’ service at a mass scale to gain the economies of scale, and thus inherently seeking uniformity among whomsoever they served. Diversity, which is integral to humanity, is ignored by these systems at the best and considered as a nuisance at the worst. And in the few situations where it is paid any attention, it is just an afterthought. As a result, these systems, as they exist today, limit, rather than enhance, our experience, expression and enterprise in many ways. This problem is best understood by looking at how each system functions today:
- Education systems deliver the same content at the same pace to all the children as though they are identical having the same interests, same potential and same emotional and same aspirational makeup, which is far from true.
- Legal systems operate with the simplistic and obviously wrong assumption that everyone above the age of 18 are identical and everyone is as capable as the other in selecting the right candidate to vote.
- Workplaces are built on the assumption that people are resources that can be bought with wages, rather than as humans that come seeking fulfillment and bringing a variety of talents and working styles along with them.
- Families, in the bygone eras, used to be intertwined with each other like trees, bushes and vines in a healthy and self-rejuvenating forest. But nowadays they are like plants growing in pots with their foliage contained in cages; isolated and disconnected from each other.
- Social reformers operate under the assumption that the benefactor always knows more than the beneficiary. Philanthropists, and worse the organizations they fund, go to communities only to impose their idea of ‘better life’ on the beneficiaries, rather than learn from the harmony the beneficiary communities had achieved among themselves and with the nature, over centuries and millennia.
- Religious systems do everything they can to lock people into some predetermined notions of god, universe and humanity, rather than help them explore and express their own personal and intimate connection with the Infinite in their own way.
- Many people go too far with the idea of equality, to the extent of ignoring the diversity that is integral to humanity. If we are not cognizant of and value diversity, we are bound to design systems that impose uniformity, which robs away the opportunity from individuals to be what they uniquely are.
It is evident that fundamental changes are required to address these issues and change the systems. Ingenious innovation is the only recourse to affect fundamental changes in such well-entrenched systems. And a huge value proposition of Foaum is to foster such innovation among change agents like social reformers and policy makers, by equipping them with deep insights into various aspects of human nature.
Most important of those insights come from the theory of Colors of Humanity. Learning this theory makes it extremely easy for people to identify their own uniqueness and recognize the uniqueness of the others. It makes it easy for anyone to determine the strengths of anyone almost formulaically. It makes it extremely easy to understand the psychological composition of any given population set. It also makes it easy to design efficient organizational structures and team structures. It also gives deep insights into how to design products and services to cater to the diversity of humanity.
Once finding the uniqueness of the individuals is simplified, innovation would go on fire to address the needs of the diversity. Once the natural psychological composition and collaboration patterns are understood, innovation would go on fire to design efficient social and organizational structures.
And it is with that innovation, we can hope to see systems that are integral to our existence, experience, expression and enterprise get redesigned and improved.
The evolution of Foaum
Foaum is developed Mr. Krishna Sharma, a mathematician by training and an information systems architect by profession, but a voracious reader, philosopher, psychologist, sociologist and spiritualist by passion. Just as Einstein and Wright brothers pursued their passion without affiliation, supervision or support from any academic, research or industrial body, Krishna Sharma pursued his passion letting his mind wander as it pleased into the complexity of human nature, without becoming a part of any academic or research body, without boxed into a specific discipline of study or a label, without the need to dance around the whims and fancies of an advisor, without the need to waste time submitting proposals or pressure to publish papers and books, without the compulsion to build an image for himself or struggle to sustain it, without getting disillusioned by the limited foundations of social sciences in the West, and without getting frustrated worshiping the social science midgets as giants or having to bash them - for, let us face it, there are no giants like Newtons, Einsteins and Darwins in the Western social sciences and no one in the West said anything profound about life until Darwin and no one ever since.
Foaum emerged by itself organically, after over three decades of such indulgence by him. He shared the first version of Foaum with a few of his friends for the first time in 2009, the 200th birth anniversary of Darwin. Since then, he has been sharing Foaum with others who had similar deep and serious interest in learning about humanity, oneself, life and universe, in the form of workshops conducted under an initiative called Medha Jananam (A Sanskrit phrase that can be loosely translated as ‘Ignite the Intellect’), and has been enhancing and refining the concepts, theories and models of Foaum, based on the discussions and feedback from those workshops.
To stimulate the change agents and to foment innovation required to bring changes to systems, he started three initiatives: 1) ed4ward.org, (shorthand for education forward) to bring fundamental changes in education systems, 2) human4ce.com, (shorthand for human force) to bring a paradigm shift in the workplaces, 3) grihastha.org, (grihastha, a Sanskrit word, means the institution of family) to address the issues and challenges of family life in this modern day and age. The respective websites provide additional details about these initiatives and the various programs, workshops and services conducted under these initiatives.
Foaum, as mentioned before, is a theoretical foundation, which means, as robust and as comprehensive it is, it is still a start to take a different approach towards understanding human nature. It has many implications and applications that needs to be explored and pursued. So far, i.e., since 2009, it has been evolving due to the efforts of one person, Mr. Krishna Sharma, its developer. But now, it is matured and robust enough, to be shared with research community at large, to be enhanced and improved further, so that it can evolve to pay more dividends.
Towards this end, Krishna Sharma plans to share the full details of Foaum in the form of a book, targeted to be published by the year 2020. Click here, or scroll back to the top of this page to see an image of the cover page of the book. And please provide your email id in the form below the cover page image, if you like to be informed when the book is published.