A simple model to understand
the complexity of human mind
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Director, Quality of Life Research Center, Claremont Graduate University, wrote on edge.org, "I confess to the fact that I can't think of an explanation in our field that is both elegant and beautiful", speaking about social sciences.
True, while physical sciences and biological sciences abound in elegant and beautiful explanations, there are hardly any that are worthy of similar admiration, in the field of social sciences. This can be attributed to the pattern of certain key questions not being asked or pursued by psychologists and sociologists as they were by the physicists and biologists. For example, two such key questions are: What unifies the diversity? What causes the diversity?
With the atomic model, we nailed down the building blocks that unifies all matter. With the molecular model, we found how atoms combine to form multitudes of materials. With the cell model, and later with the genome, we understood the building blocks of life. With the theory of evolution and concept of mutation, we understood how multitudes of complex life forms evolve from simple single-cell organisms. But we don't have such solid models that establish the building blocks of human nature or such theories that explain human evolution or diversity.
|Material Diversity||Biological Diversity||Human Diversity|
|What unifies the diversity?||Atoms||Cells and Genome||To be understood|
|What causes the diversity?||Molecules||Mutation and Evolution||To be established|
We need to ask and pursue such fundamental big-picture questions regarding human diversity also.
In fact, we desperately need a model that explains human diversity, human nature, human organization, human enterprise, human evolution and all the human complexity elegantly, if we are to make progress in social sciences that is comparable to the progress made in the physical and biological sciences.
Today, we do have multitudes of branches of psychology and sociology that study parts and pieces of human complexity, but in isolation from each other. Each branch has its own mini-framework of concepts and jargon that has little to do with those of the others. The efforts to pursue the bigger and more fundamental questions about human complexity are rare, if any, in the field of social sciences.
It is true that studying humans is harder than studying life forms and materials. Material world is fairly static; postulations can be validated or invalidated through experiments with complete certainty; experiments can be conducted and repeated easily and with precision. Whereas, the phenomena of life forms and humans are transient and are easily affected by even slight changes in the environment, making it difficult to conduct or repeat experiments.
Also, there is a rich language called Mathematics to describe the phenomena of the material world, whereas there is no such evolved language to describe the phenomena of life forms in general and humans in particular.
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Foaum is the result of one man's dogged pursuit of more than three decades, against these very challenges, of crafting a simple model that can explain human diversity, human nature, human organization, human enterprise, human evolution and all the human complexity, in an elegant manner.
Concepts related to human mind cannot be defined as crisply as concepts related to physical world. For example, love, pain, hope, growth, strengths, weaknesses, etc., cannot be defined precisely like length, area, weight, line, circle, speed, mass, acceleration, etc. can be. Foaum takes a different approach to overcome this limitation. It defines concepts using a focal point rather than using a crisp boundary.
Unlike the modern research which relies mostly on itself and the concepts of ancient Greeks, Foaum draws from a broader base of abstractions and concepts developed by all civilizations, the Middle East, the Far East and the Indian Subcontinent. Foaum doesn't concern itself with the East vs. West dichotomy; rather it unifies the concepts from the East and the West. It doesn't belabor comparing and contrasting Classical vs. Modern concepts; rather it integrates both of them into its simple model.
Unlike most of the modern research in social sciences, Foaum also draws heavily from the concepts, abstractions and phenomena of physical sciences and biological sciences. For example, Darwin gave us the concept of 'survival instinct'; Foaum expands on this concept and establishes what is known as 'Primal Four', the basic set of instincts from which every other human instinct stems from.
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At the highest level, there are four key concepts in Foaum. They are: Organisms, Layers, Cycles and Dualities.
The concept of Organism is the cornerstone of Foaum model. Organism represents not only life forms including humans, but also social units like communities, businesses, associations, cities and countries. This non-human-centric definition of organism allows us to cross-pollinate concepts from different branches of not only psychology, sociology but also biology on one the hand and spirituality on the other. This generic concept of organism makes it easy to make abstractions and generalizations that span across all these aspects of human complexity.
Foaum likens an organism to a bubble (hence the logo). Every organism emerges in the universe when the conditions are ripe for its emergence and sustains itself for certain time and then disappears, like a bubble.
Foaum observes that every organism divides the universe into two - inside and outside. The outside makes the environment in which the organism lives. The nature and behavior of an organism is defined not just by the 'inside', but also by the 'outside', i.e., the environment. With this concept, Foaum digs deeper into human nature and human behavior than the debate of nature vs. nurture that dominated the research world for multiple decades, ever did.
Foaum then proceeds to examine the structure of organisms. It sees each organism and its environment as consisting of Layers similar to the layers of earth and the layers of atmosphere. Foaum also sees a mirror relationship between the 'inside' layers and 'outside' layers of an organism. Foaum explains how the composition of these layers contribute to the uniqueness and diversity of organisms in general and humans in particular.
A key aspect of life forms, humans and social organisms is their growth and life trajectory. Foaum delves into the life cycles of organisms under the concept of Cycles. It examines how the life cycle of every organism, including humans, is defined and effected by the containing organisms. This concept provides a powerful abstraction to study the effect of the environment on humans.
Foaum sees certain organisms being complementary to certain others, which it examines under the concept of Dualities. This concept explains the attraction and tango between the complementary classes of organisms, including between male and female.
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The model of Foaum is not only simple but also open. Any concept of Foaum can be challenged and improved by anyone, as is the norm with any scientific theory or model. Also, not every concept of Foaum is matured to the same degree. Some are based on assumptions with solid bases, while others are conjunctures that need to be validated through further research. Foaum certainly is not complete enough to provide answers to all questions related to human complexity, but is matured enough to provide a crisp set of concepts to frame more questions and find more answers.
The full details of Foaum are available in the book.
The model of Foaum is not developed for answering theoretical questions alone. It is developed to also solve problems of everyday life. While it is powerful enough to connect many dots and answer many questions of theoretical nature, it is also simple and easy to learn and useful to solve many problems of day-to-day life.
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Let us see an example of a practical application of Foaum, before getting into further detail of its applications. This example is about a program called 'Rich Alignment' which was developed based on Foaum and implemented in a Children' Home. It is developed to solve certain issues in raising children in Children's Homes. This specific Children's Home where the program of Rich Alignment was implemented gives shelter to street urchins. The staff members of this Home, like any other Home, take care of the needs of the children by taking turns, throughout the day, 365 days a year.
However, the staff members were experiencing difficulties in managing some children and unable to pay enough attention to other children who were relatively easy to manage. This problem was solved by taking a cue from a normal phenomena in normal households combined with the concepts of Foaum.
It is very common for us to see children getting attracted and feeling comfortable with one specific uncle or aunt, over the others. This happens because children connect to adults who are 'like' them. So, what if, if the children in the Home are connected to the adult staff members who are 'like' them? That should make the children happy and staff effective!
To implement this idea, we need a mechanism to quickly and accurately identify the children and the staff who are 'alike'. This is where the model of Foaum came into picture. The staff were trained over a course of three days on the concept of 'Layers' of Foaum. Using this concept, the staff members were able to identified their own personalities and also the personalities of all the children of the Home, by the end of the three days. Then each staff member took the primary responsibility for the children who are 'like' them, in stead of randomly taking care of the children by taking turns.
Within a matter of a few weeks, they started seeing the results. Managing and supporting the children became much more easy than it was before. With this, the environment and efficacy of the Home became orders of magnitude better, Without adding any additional resources, without needing additional budget and without disrupting existing processes or without adding new processes.
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'Rich Alignment' is just one example application of Foaum. Foaum can be used to solve many macro-level as well as micro-level problems of life.
The macro-level problems that we face are in designing systems and making policies. Some examples are: What is the role of education system in a child's life and in social advancement? How to design curricula that caters to the children of diverse personalities? How to differentiate between a legitimate diversity and a harmful tendency or sickness? How to encourage and provision for the diverse interests of humans? How to increase happiness and reduce stress? How to prevent the high rate of suicides in army? How to design better organizational structures and form most effective teams? What is the best incentive/reward method to motivate people?How to motivate communities to become self-sufficient? How to segment markets? How to fight the homogenizing effects of organized systems such as education system and religions?
The micro-level problems that we face every day are generally in working with people and making personal choices. Some examples are: How to select the right life partner? How to manage relationships with family members? How to raise children? How to understand and work with colleagues? How to work with clients and customers of different personalities? How to make career choices? What is important in life? How to balance between competing priorities of life? How to work with people who are like us as well as who are unlike us?
Both the macro- and micro-level problems beg, in fact, for the same insights. How to understand human diversity and patterns in it? How to identify the uniqueness of each person, whether it is our own or others, easily and accurately? How to predict the future behavior and needs of a person based on the current behavior? This is where the simplicity of Foaum comes handy. Anyone can learn the basics of Foaum in less than a week and find answers to the micro-level questions by themselves. Experts can leverage the simple and robust concepts of Foaum to design programs to solve the macro-level problems.
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To gain an appreciation for the potential applications of Foaum, let us consider the three places where the majority of the human activity occurs: Homes, Schools and Workplaces.
Before there is something called home, there is a boy and a girl seeking the right life partner. Many marriages get into problems because of incompatibility between the spouses. Young people generally end up making the big commitment, knowing only a slice of the other person's personality and making convenient and whimsical assumptions about the rest. If those assumptions happened to be wrong, the marriage hits a rough patch. Foaum helps mitigate this problem. It makes it very easy for anyone to 'read' others more accurately and quickly, as illustrated in the example of Rich Alignment program.
Another important activity that occurs at home is raising children. Each child is different from the other. The same parenting style does not work for every child. All parents are not gifted with the ability to discern the uniqueness of the child, or with the ability to develop a parenting style that is right for the child. Parents make number of decisions for the child, especially in the growing years, based on their own interests and fancies, rather than based on what is best for the child. Foaum makes it very easy and simple for the parents to understand the unique personality of their child and predict the areas in which they shine when they grow up, so that they can focus on giving right kind of support.
The initiative of Grihastha.org conducts workshops for parents based on Foaum. Within a matter of four days, parents gain deep insights about their children's personalities and make adjustments in their own behavior, to become more effective parents. The testimonials on this website indicate the value and usefulness of Foaum for parents.
Similarly the initiative of Ed4ward.org conducts workshops and designs programs to foster innovation in the education system. For example, a workshop by name 'Nature Oriented Nurture' teaches teachers how to identify the individual learning styles of the children and cater to their individual needs.
Similarly the initiative of human4ce.com conducts workshops and designs programs for making the work places more productive and gratifying. For example, a workshop called 'Work Dynamix' trains people leaders with the skills to identify the unique personalities of their staff and form effective teams by distributing the responsibilities in an effective manner. For more applications of Foaum to the workplaces, see human4ce.com.
Foaum is also helpful for those who are not looking to solve a particular problem, but want to know the big picture of life and universe. Workshops such as 'Introduction to Life', based on Foaum, conducted under the initiative of medhajananam.org, show life from various angles, answering questions that most people find even difficult to frame, let alone ask someone or seek answers. For example, a simple question of life that every one faces many a time in life is, how long to pursue something before giving up? Some people give up things too soon and some people hang on to things for too long. Foaum gives a key tool to answer this question with the concept of 'native' and 'simulated' modes. Foaum brings forth over a hundred such concepts that help people understand the big picture of life and navigate through the micro-choices that everyone is called to make, every single day.