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Deep Democracy, Terms, and Concepts

World Work is processwork applied to small and large groups, communities and organizations, international events and earth based problems. (For details, see Arny’s books The Year One, Sitting in the Fire, The Deep Democracy of Open Forums, and the entries on these Worldwork pages.)

For organizations, communities, and nations to succeed today and survive tomorrow,
they must be deeply democratic–that is, everyone and every feeling must be represented.

Arny from The Deep Democracy of Open Forums, p. vii.

See the MAY 2014 interview with Amy and Arny about worldwork by Bill Say, that Amy and Arny answered while at the airport, just after the Worldwork seminar with about 500 people in Warsaw, Poland; Click http://www.aamindell.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/Interview-on-State-of-Worldwork.pdf

In the following videos Arny speaks at the Worldwork conference in London, 2008 first about Worldwork and then about Deep Democracy and Worldwork.

Thanks to Amy for having created the video, and Stanya Studentova, Arlene and Jean Claude Audergon, Anup Karia, Mark O’Connell and all the staff and participants for their contribution to that work. To learn more about the 2008 worldwork conference in London, please go to www.worldwork.org

“In fact, there are many facilitators around the world working in global ‘hotspots’ on issues of conflict and reconciliation, bringing together members of hostile communities — Palestinians and Israelis, Serbs and Croats, Irish Catholics and Protestants — and finding ways for them to recognise their shared humanity and start to communicate(n1). …..

This is what the well-known psychotherapist Arnold Mindell calls ‘deep democracy’, which, he says, rests on ‘that special feeling of belief in the inherent importance of all parts of ourselves and all viewpoints in the world around us’(n2). As Mindell emphasises, deep democracy is an ancient and universal concept and experience; it is surely also central to what therapy is all about, both with individuals and with groups. Perhaps, then, we have something to offer the wider world as it struggles to deepen democracy on every level, to move from ‘majority rule’ — or even ‘money/power rule’ — to control over our own lives. This struggle seems to me even more urgent in the light of the ecological crisis and the threat of climate change: not only do governments need to listen to their peoples, but human beings need to listen to the voices and needs of other species and the whole planetary ecosystem: deep democracy means deep ecology(n3).”

In this one hour and 15 minute talk given in Yachats, Oregon, USA in August 2013, Amy and Arny speak about their worldwork +open forum work. They define “deep democracy”, showing it to be democracy’s next step. Thanks to the Yachats Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Interviewed by The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA)in 2002. See:



Democratic methods, rules, and laws alone do not create a sense of community. Rules and laws may govern mechanical systems, but not people. The new paradigm … acknowledges that organizations are partially mechanical beings…and also living organisms whose lifeblood is composed of feelings, beliefs, and dreams.

Arny in the The Deep Democracy of Open Forums, p.4.

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Deep Democracy’s relationship to Democracy. Democracy as we all know is about citizen power, or in Greek, “Demo-Kratie”. Democracy is important, –we all hope for equal rights and peaceful solutions. But because ordinary democracy focuses upon majority “rule,”  –that is power– it does not always include relationship ability or the deep feelings and dreams of community life. That is why democracy often fails when it comes to severe human tensions and conflicts.

Applications; where can Deep D be used?  Deep Democracy has been applied to all sorts of conflicts including terrorism, revolution, diversity issues of all sorts, economic problems, school conflict, climate change, large corporation tensions, government leadership questions etc.

The definition and practice; Deep D. includes democracy as it is now understood, but goes deeper. Deep democracy include 3 levels of consciousness.

1. Consensus reality: everyday reality’s people, issues, environment, history….etc.   2. Dreamland Our dream-like experiences and projections (we call this level “dreamland.”)   3. The Essence level, that is the deepest experiences we have in deep sleep, pre-dreaming, of detachment. This deep level seems to be organized by your processmind. (Other names are “soul”, the “self”, the gods etc.) This processmind is a human “system-mind” and may possibly be nonlocal, that is applicable not only to the individual but to her whole community.

Deep Democracy Practice: In practice, a facilitator or group that understands deep democracy listens closely to the issues and recognizes the various power and rank difference of people representing various sides. The facilitator watches their signals and tries to help them complete their ideas–if they need that help. Then the facilitator remembers the various parts and people are “roles”.  She remembers she can dream about them as if they were all inside herself. Thus, the “other” and each role is a part of herself! She realizes that all the various parts are actually roles that everyone has within themselves to a lesser or greater extent. Then she uses her own deepest self or processmind to gain distance and encourages people to dialogue. If they get stuck, she reminds them the “other” is a role, a role that must be played out for it belongs not only to the “other”, but to all. In this way, “role switching” often leads to amazing experiences and resolutions.

Thus, Deep democracy is a political philosophy, a way of working with, people, and a feeling skill, or “metaskill” as Amy calls such skills. After many seminars in the 80′s, Arny’s term “Deep Democracy” first appeared in book form in his, 1992/2000 book, “THE LEADER AS MARTIAL ARTIST, An Introduction To Deep Democracy, Techniques And Strategies For Resolving Conflict + Creating Community.” Today, many politicians, activists and writers often use deep democracy. See Arny’s, “The Deep Democracy of Open Forums” for more.

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We conceive of deep democracy as an Arny ww 2008elder’s/facilitator’s multi-leveled awareness experience.

Worldwork is constantly being developed, check back here in the future and with other process work web sites; see original worldwork definitions in Arny’s “Sitting in the Fire”, and “The Deep Democracy of Open Forums.”

To download a 2009-10 version of worldwork concepts and definitions, click: wwconcepthandout09

New terms on ecology and quantum entanglement are included here. THanks for using these new terms and referencing them to this website June, 2009.

Commentary by Amy Mindell (originally published in the Journal of Process Oriented Psychology, 1993.)

As the world is filled more and more with ethnic conflicts, poverty, and attempts at discovering forms of sustainable government, there is an urgency in finding new methods to deal with our human struggles. These world events awaken all of us to the important role we have, big or small, in shaping the destiny of our world and our relationships to one another…

(Click here for the full article)

During our recent facilitator training seminars, Amy enjoyed presenting the concepts of roles, ghost roles, and role switching in a new and simple way. Here she recreates that presentation in the form of a fun comic strip called, “A Brief Lesson about Roles, Role Switching, and Ghost Roles”.

To download the presentation, click here. (1.4MB PDF document)

See the late Wilma Jean Tucker’s Review in Whole Earth Magazine of Arny’s “Leader as Martial Artist” and her plea for a new more holistic model of the world and understandings of conflict.

download Download Wilma Jean Tucker’s Review in Whole Earth Magazine (PDF format; download Adobe Acrobat Reader here)