I never met R.Buckminster Fuller, or Bucky as he preferred to be called, in person, although I know many people who did. But of all the possible humans in Universe, Bucky has influenced my life more than any other.
This article is not so much about the man and his history, which you can easily discover through Wikipedia and his many books and articles, but about his influence on my life and why that might be relevant to you. And why his work is ever more relevant to humanity now 30 years after his death.
I am infinitely curious. The quest for truth, understanding, meaning and sense-making drives most of my actions. So when at age 26, I hear some of the following..
Space has shape.
The tetrahedron is the minimal system in Universe.
There are 6 degrees of freedom.
Unity is plural, at minimum two.
One plus one can equal thousands. This is the principle of Synergy.
Multiplication by Division. To keep conquered, keep divided.
Nature has a co-ordinate system.
You can either make money or make sense.
Precession – every action has a precessional effect at 90 degrees
The principle of ephemeralisation – doing more with less (also known in our world as dematerialising)
..my immediate impulse is to know what the hell is meant by these statements.
And in diving deep into their understanding, to get a felt sense of the world, my place in it, and the arc of Universe in its unfolding.
In my own constant question of “to what purpose was I born?” or…on those dark occasions when I am lost in the metaphorical forest..”what is my value and purpose for getting up today?” I can refer back to Bucky and his and my profound belief that the orchestrating intelligence of the Universe is to have 100% of humanity succeed, without ecological offence or the disadvantage of anyone. That if we humans followed natural design science, the world can work for everyone, there is ample life support for all of humanity, and the game is infinite. Not win loose. But win, win, win.
But…and here is the BUT…that depends on us. On every single person acting in Integrity.
This is no easy life path I might add. Since I was introduced to Bucky at a Money and You seminar in Sydney in 1986, and then an immersion 7 days of his work in Kona Hawaii in the early 1990s, I have chosen to be both a dedicated student and apprentice of his work. There are days I curse my decision. Frigggginnnn hard…path.
Much much easier it is to drink the kool-aid, to take the blue pill.
But I am an endurance athlete. Someone who is attracted to the edge. By the fringe. By the ‘think different‘ and ‘here is to the wild ones…‘ An explorer, adventurer, a scout…always seeking the frontier. That curiosity…
So back to act with Integrity. But what is integrity? And why is this integral to all of Bucky’s work?
Integrity…to hold its shape. Wholeness. To be whole. Complete. I first got integrity building a tetrahedron from jelly babies (gummy bears) and toothpicks. As soon as you add the fourth dimension, it held its shape. It has integrity. Wow..says I, in a Neo/Keanu Reeves kind of way…It is the minimal viable system in Universe because it has an inside and an outside. It is nature’s building block…
Not the cube, or square, which is what we are taught in school…but the triangle and tetrahedron.
Tumbling down the truth excavating rabbit hole I go…how much of what we have been taught is true? What beliefs have we swallowed without rigorous inquiry? Is there such a thing as a straight line? And if not, what does this mean? Is there a co-ordinate system of nature? And if space does indeed have shape, what does this mean to how we design systems?
My work with Bucky set me on a path to challenge all of my beliefs, all of the models I had been taught…to build my own models, to argue with them…
It has set me on a path to understanding what it means to act with integrity. To hold my shape. To bring my whole self forward. The shadow and the light. That my feisty self is as much me as the joyous child.
And in the study of his geometry (relationships) to speak systems fluently. To have an embodied spatial relationship with Universe. To sense relational dynamics. To know relational integrity. To know how to build human relational integrity.
Currently to learn full integration of “since complementarity is essential to the success of eternally regenerative Universe, the phenomenon identified with as the opposite of positive cannot be negative, nor can it be bad…they are both GOOD for the Universe.” (Critical Path, opening page) What does this mean to all that we hold as ‘bad’ in the world?
And that is what I love about Bucky. He was first and foremost a model builder, not a theoretician. Argue with the model, he would say. I have argued with his models for years. But each time I commit to building them for myself, the argument stops.
When I need to dig deep to get off my knees when life feels hopeless…I think of Bucky in 1930…considering the all-in-cost of a barrel of oil. From Earth creating oil over billions of years, to our extraction, transport, refining, use…to the end result of use…rising CO2, the ecology of atmosphere…that to consider the all-in-cost back when we had only started extracting black gold, Bucky determined no one on earth at the time could afford to pay for a single barrel…if we ‘oh so smart’ humans had considered the all-in-cost we simply might have looked to solve our energy issues another way.
To be comprehensively considerate. To start with Universe first. This is what is asked of us. This is the principle of synergy. One of the many Generalised Principles (true in all cases) that Bucky spent his life identifying. Principles that make up nature’s co-ordinate system.
On the challenge side…for me, those days when I curse my apprenticeship to Bucky…is around..”we either make money or we make sense..” Money has rarely been a prime motivator for me. It has always been a precessional effect. A bi-product. At age 32 Bucky, seeing himself as a business failure, owning money to friends and family, attempted suicide. As he was wading into the water of Lake Michigan, he heard the words… “This is not your life to take.”
He decided instead to commit ego suicide and to dedicate his life to serving 100% of humanity…that if he did what was spontaneously arousable from within him for the highest good of the highest number of people, Universe would provide for him. He would not need to “earn a living.” This he called an experiment, Guinea Pig B, which he documented so thoroughly that you can access the most comprehensive chronofile of a human life prior to social media/IoT, at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
Here I find myself, 30 years after being introduced to the work of Bucky, 30 years of working at the edge, immersed in the world of the red pill, now throwing myself ever more completely into service of humanities well being, a steward to a different geometry than the world of Bucky’s architecture. I am an Integrity Architect for Beautiful Business.
One of my skills is human geometry. How to assemble human relationships so they create a song in their synergy. My 30 year apprenticeship and I may just now call myself a journeywomen, the second stage on the path to mastery, has been an intense roller coaster. My models are organisations. People coming together around a central strange attractor to co-create Moonshot type projects and doing so in harmony.
And…The complex geometry of a leader…an individual trying to navigate their way towards a more beautiful world they know is possible. How they fit in relationship to their business, their partners, their family, their life…the whole…
The invisible dimension of my work is often missed by those who only have eyes to see ‘reality.’ They miss that space has shape. In their haste to build physical models, they step over, time and again, the invisible form. The energetic dynamic of people, place, time, space, intention, beauty, love…and they do so at great cost down the track and with consequences ill considered because they have not done the all-in-accounting.
Yet in the end, we all reach the same truth…the one Rumi wrote of…out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing…there is a field…I’ll meet you there. That what matters most as death looks us in the eye has infinite intangibility…defiance to measurement, to being seen with the human eye.
Love, truth, beauty…the connection between people you love, between you and beauty, between you and your whole lived truth.
‘But integrity is the essence. In an invisible world there are no visible aesthetics. In an invisible world the only aesthetic is integrity.’
This is the call of Beautiful Business. Uncommon. Rarely heeded. Seeking the frontier of your full becoming. Committed to Integrity.
Yes to the Red pill.
Like any greater Master, Bucky has been to me a rigorous, uncompromising disciplinarian. I have broken down, wept, begged to stop, cried out for an easier path. But to do so would violate my essential self. I have come too far, the price to this point is too high. There can only be onwards. There can only ever be integrity to myself. And to my full engagement with Universe.
And in the second act of my life…I learn to bring more of the levity and delight, no matter what the conditions, into my path, as Bucky did. We have serious work to do, let’s have fun doing it…
A transcript of one of Bucky’s last public speeches.
I want you to think about this as individuals. An individual will say this to me, “What can I do? What can I do? I am just a little tiny guy.”
And, I say, what you can do- I’m repeating something I said to you earlier_ that we are really in the final examination- I did get, last night, to you that we are a function of the universe. We’re here for local universe information gathering, local problem solving in support of the integrity of eternally regenerative universe.
But integrity is the essence. In an invisible world there are no visible aesthetics. In an invisible world the only aesthetic is integrity.
So, I simply say, I am really confronting you with the way—I’ve lived through all that—because I am a comprehensivist, I’ve kept the records; that’s the only reason I’m able to say these things to you I am up to. I am giving you a very faithful record of what/s going on economically.
So, I simply say, what you can do personally is commit yourself to what is truth. That’s all.
You have to remember that we didn’t invent-design the universe, and we’re not running the universe.
I’m absolutely willing to give credit to-to the- I like what the Indian’s say “The Great Spirit”. The word “God” tends to infer a human being’s form, so I say “The Great Spirit” so you realise that I don’t mean it anthropomorphic when I say “God”.
But, if you operate with integrity, God wants you to know right now whether human beings have the courage to go along with their own minds, or do you have to go with the crowd? Do you have to go evenly with the game or are you going to dare?
If we really dare to go with our minds, we’ll stay here. We’ll go into an entirely new era of humanity.
It will not be a matter of earning a living. You’ll be doing what you see needs to be done because you’ll feel you’ll want to do it—you’ll want to qualify to be able to serve one another. There will be nothing—you will have no question at all about earning a living.
At any rate, personally then—we’ve got two minutes to this session—it comes back to each one of you, as the numbers multiply of individuals who are willing to commit themselves to integrity—whatever the truth may be—and really commit themselves to making all of humanity a success.
You have to ask yourself the question, “Are my reflexes so conditioned that I resent someone else enjoying themselves? Am I really telling to really love my humanity, my fellow?
If you do that, we will win. If you can do it, if it is spontaneously arousable in you to operate with integrity and really go along to love—to love comprehensively. That’s it.