Resonant Intelligence and the Core Commons
There is more to intelligence than a solitary
capacity exercised within the life of a single entity. As it
attunes to life, intelligence evokes a fuller, deeper intelligence
in and around it. Resonant intelligence is intelligence that
grows stronger or fuller as it resonates with other sources or
forms of intelligence, or which deepens in empathic response
Resonance is an energetic response among
similar things, which arises from their similarity, especially
in the absence of barriers to that response.
A vibration in one tuning fork sets off
the same vibration in a similar tuning fork--the nearer it is,
the stronger the response. A memory shared by one Vietnam vet
sets off a flurry of memories in another Vietnam vet--especially
in a supportive group setting where participants have come to
know themselves and one another well, and thus have lowered the
psychological and interpersonal barriers that could block resonance.
The core commons: the depth of kinship
As human beings, our experience of resonance
arises from what we share or what we have in common with one another
or with the world around us. Several realms of kinship with life
support this phenomenon:
We feel special connection with people with whom we share significant
ties, characteristics or experiences. Family members, war buddies,
single mothers or cancer survivors--"we can relate."
Even when the "vibes" are not pleasant, they tend to
be more intense because of the resonance. Tribal and national
resonances are also found at this level of kinship.
Deeper down, we feel kinship with all other people. We share
a tremendous amount in common simply by being human. We often
call this "our common humanity."
Then there is our kinship with animals--especially our intelligent,
infant-nursing, often furry relatives, the other mammals--such
as dogs, cats, horses, dolphins, and monkeys. Most pets are mammals,
but most people can empathize with any animal that is like us
in any way.
We also can have feelings for plants and other life forms. We
can respond to all forms of life, since we are living creatures,
Most of us feel deeply at home with sunsets, mountains, oceans,
and the rain--and the way the moon and stars look. We are part
of the earth, and kin with everything on it. Every atom in our
bodies has been part of this planet for eons, flowing through
life in all its forms, including its winds, seas and lands.
Some people even identify with the entire universe, saying (with
considerable scientific evidence) that humans are "star
dust" and that "we are the universe becoming conscious
Finally, at perhaps the deepest level, as spiritual beings, we
recognize other spirits and other creatures as part of our larger
spiritual family. Many people experience spiritual kinship in
all of the realms described above.
Combined, I call these kinship realities--these
facts of our relatedness that help us resonate with each other--our
core commons. This biological, human and spiritual
kinship deep within all of us nurtures our most basic values,
such as compassion, respect, and integrity.
Which brings us to that energetic responsiveness
called resonance. The fact that the common core exists in all
of us means that you can evoke its resonance within me--and the
resonance between us can cause it to come alive in our larger
group--and a group, in the right conditions, can cause it to resonate
in the wider population. Under the right conditions, resonance
can ripple out through life quite remarkably.
So somewhere deep inside us, our sense of
goodness, our connection to spirit, and our natural earth consciousness
are all blended together into a seamless sense of right relationship
and healthy, wholesome behavior. Sometimes this common core is
buried, and sometimes it is very much alive and vivid in our consciousness.
The more we are in touch with the kinship realities that make
it up--in ourselves and each other--the more resonance becomes
possible, allowing these deep forms of intelligence to resonate
from one person to another and from one form of life to another.
This is "co-resonant wisdom"--the
wisdom that is evoked in one person,
group or other living being by someone else's powerful love, integrity,
inquiry, suffering, empathy or other pure invitation to common
humanity or life. Resonant intelligence, or the ability to evoke
co-resonant wisdom in others, is what made Gandhi and King so
effective. Our core commons--our shared patterns of human, biological,
and spiritual kinship--can, if we attend to them, point us towards
connection, towards healing, towards life, towards making our
actions and our solutions wiser. The fact that we can evoke these
things one another is remarkably empowering.
"ALL MY RELATIONS"
Resonant intelligence arises from, and supports,
a sense of kinship, a lived reality of relatedness. We treat one
another like sisters and brothers when we ground ourselves in
our common humanity or life. Those who see their God or essential
goodness in themselves and in everyone else have a powerful capacity
to resonate with people around them. Those who see sacredness
everywhere resonate and commune with the whole world and
everything in it. Everything becomes an expression of the sacred
Beloved or the spirit of Nature--and, as such, an opportunity
for offering love, respect and consideration.
Other forms of resonance are grounded in
nature. Deep ecologists recognize that we have much in common
with other life forms and even with rocks, rivers and landscapes.
We share common ancestors, chemical patterns (DNA, water, salt),
a common atmosphere and our planetary home. And we share that
undefinable dynamic energy we call life. Upon this shared aliveness
rests our ability to commune with nature and with one another
as living beings. Many Native Americans see the living world as
"all my relations." We all can realize this relatedness
and act on it. Resonant intelligence thrives on this level of
Of course, we may feel resonance with a
more limited set of humans, with whom we share certain beliefs,
identities and narratives about life. Most people identify with
a particular religion, lifestyle, nation, or culture. Sometimes,
these more limited kinds of resonance are built around a "common
enemy" and do not include a sense of connection to the larger
Yet the existence of the "core commons"
means that there is always a way that we can attempt to bridge
the differences that tend to keep us separate at a more limited
level of resonance. As many religions point out, direct offerings
of love appeal to the fundamental truth of our deeper shared humanity.
For example, Kathryn Watterson's Not By the Sword tells
the story of a wheelchair-bound diabetic neo-Nazi Klansman who
was terrorizing a local Jewish cantor. The cantor and his family
responded by offering sincere friendship. The heartful communications
and actions from these people he despised generated profound resonance
in the Klansman's heart and mind. Finally, they broke through
his shell. When the now former Klansman died of his disease soon
thereafter, it was in the home of the cantor, as a member of his
The potential for resonance among all beings
suggests that there are forms of leadership that call forth deeper
patterns of resonance among people. We could call this resonant
At the surface level of this phenomenon
we find resonant appeals to patriotism and team spirit. On the
dark side of this important but shallow resonant leadership are
demagogues who evoke an exclusive, alienated tribal resonance
that lifts their followers out of self-concern into deep feelings
about their group or country--and about its enemies. Hitler, for
example, was a profoundly resonant leader. The problem was that
he concentrated on a very shallow level of the core commons, the
level of the tribe, and grounded it in exclusion rather than inclusion.
Today's world urgently needs forms of resonant
leadership that are strong enough to accept, include and honor
all the differences we find among us. We need leadership that
calls forth our resonance at the deepest levels of our core commons--our
natural and spiritual kinship. This can, of course, include deep
feelings for our group or our country, but only as they are embedded
in a strong sense of connection to other groups and countries,
and to the larger world.
From a co-intelligence perspective, the
highest form of resonant leadership would give people awareness,
tools and institutions to support their deep resonance with one
another, with all members of the human family, and with the natural
world, all at the same time. The materials on this site are intended
to support that emerging leadership.
USING OUR LEADERSHIP TO NURTURE RESONANT
One of the ways that all of us, regardless
of where we are, can use our leadership to support resonant intelligence
is simply to share. All kinds of sharing support the process of
resonance: sharing our ideas and stories; our possessions and
wealth; our interests and fears; our hearts and meals; our activities
and conversations; our singing and dancing; our past, our present
and our future.
We can nurture resonant intelligence by
sharing, by appreciating that which we already share, and by creating
cultures, institutions and practices that increase and sustain
sharing. Sharing creates and sustains relationship, expanding
our ability to perceive our common ground while lowering the barriers
Yet it is important to be able to share
not just what we have in common, but our differences as well.
Paradoxically, when we create a safe space where we can readily
share our full diversity--all the
things that make us unique and individual and different--we are
often able to experience our shared humanity on a much deeper
level. In this way we are often able to arrive at creative
consensus without compromise.
When we speak our own truth, even when we
fear it may alienate others, it can encourage others to also look
within and find what is true for them. Likewise, when we take
an action that is motivated by principle, or even when we propose
something new, we may find ourselves at first standing alone,
or encountering some initial resistance. Yet if we maintain a
spirit of inclusivity and connection with others, we often find
that others are inspired or moved by our actions, and ripples
of resonance begin to form.
Resonant intelligence is often intertwined
with our experience of collective
intelligence, especially at a group level. Experiences of
high collective intelligence in groups are almost always accompanied
by unforgettable experiences of resonance, where we may feel "as
though we are one larger organism," accompanied by a strong
sense of "flow." Therefore, many people identify collective
intelligence--the capacity to be effective together--with a group
experience of resonance or "collective consciousness."
Among the many aspects of collective intelligence at the group
level, this is certainly one of the most compelling.
Resonant intelligence and the core commons
are fundamental to understanding how collective intelligence can
bring forth the wisdom we need to address the challenges of the