Capstone Presentation:
Creation and systemic conceptualisation of the Butterfly Model
Yago Abeledo Madueño

Interesting Links related to the Model: 
Translation in Spanish >>
Ongoing research Butterfly Model >>

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly” (Lao Tzu)

Expanded Framework for Peacebuilding (John Paul Lederach, The Moral Imagination, 2005)

The Butterfly Model new components (Yago Abeledo, 2014)

Here it is an on-going draft of a new tool for framing Conflict Transformation in the here and now. It is called the "Butterfly Model". It keeps developing (development is envelopment) the "expanding framework for Peacebuilding" of John Paul Lederach, which, originally, was inspired by Maire Dugan's "Nested theory of conflict". The "Butterfly Model" explores an integral and organic approach towards Conflict Transformation.

What is the "Butterfly Model"?

  • It is an organic model (process-structure) that listens and mirrors the dynamics of creation. It trusts nature and its processes. It empowers the peacebuilder to identify, map and consciously follow nature. 
  • It engages with conflict in the here and now.
  • It mirrors the peacebuilder (practitioner/analyst/theoretician) within the model itself.
  • It understands conflict from the perspective of energy flow.

What are the assumptions of the "Butterfly Model"?

  • The Power of Now: "The past perpetuates itself through lack of presence. The only place where true change can occur and where the past can be dissolved is the Now." At the same time "The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future, which of course can only be experience as the Now." (Eckhart Tolle)
  • Identity: "You are not in the universe, you are the universe, an intrinsic part of it. You are the universe expressing itself as a human for a little while."(Eckhart Tolle)
  • Perception: "You become what you pay attention to" (Herm Weaver)
  • Interconnection:The inner self, relationships and the world are all aspects of the same community process” (Arnold Mindell)
  • First things first: We must look inwards to know our own internal world before we can map clearly the internal state and the mind of the other” (Daniel Siegel); “Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves” (Gandhi)
  • Ecology: Nature has a fundamental voice in peacebuilding processes.  
  • Knowledge and Non-Duality: Knowledge is primarily based on identity and it is acquired through a non-dual way of thinking. We build our intervention in who we are (identity), and not so much in what we know (cognition)

New components added by the "Butterfly Model"

  • It is a model designed to welcome this unavoidable fact: only the NOW exists. It incorporates the wisdom of the mystical traditions and the new sciences.
  • The "Butterfly Model" is an organic self-regulating/intelligent system. It adapts itself constantly processing new information and growing in a fractal way. 
  • It is a model that analyses-monitors-evaluate the flow of energy.

  • The "Butterfly Model" incorporates the "intra-personal" wing. This new wing is an invitation to honesty and authenticity on the side of the peacebuilder analyst/theoretician/practitioner.  This wing becomes a mirror to herself. She navigates on her own existential resources to deepen into a more holistic understanding of the conflict where she is included as an active participant of the process.  This "inward wing" can also be applied in a collective level (organizations, ethnics, parties in conflict...) Fields like Process Oriented Psychology, Neurobiology, Attachment theory, Emergence theory, etc. will serve the practitioner/organizations as tools for this inner journey.

  • This model articulates Lederach's insight on the urgent need to integrate the "below and the beyond" in Conflict Transformation. The "below journey" invites the practitioner to navigate in his/her personal and collective subconscious. It is the journey of "shadowboxing." It is in the depth of his/her humanity that the practitioner will be able to transcend him/herself and have a better grasp of the mystery behind the conflict. Richard Rohr contributes to this insight saying that "humans must first find the unified field of love and then start their thinking from that point."

  • The horizontal axis of the Model agrees with the indigenous world view where "social meaning, identity, and story are linked through narrative, which connects the remote past of who we are with the remote future of how we will survive in the context of an expansive present where we share space and relationship" (The Moral Imagination, 146)
  • The "Butterfly Model" incorporates the "space framework" adding the ecological/evolutionary dimension; a fundamental new layer as we grow in consciousness of our radical interconnection with Mother Earth and the whole universe.

  • The vertical axis of the model travels through the illusionary outer and inner space of the practitioner. Always we return to the centre for a sense of purpose and direction. Because at the center we find what is: the Naked NOW, the reality where everything happens… It is the “center that holds.” The center like the Sun, a force that pushes out and pulls in (The Moral Imagination, 76).

  • This Model believes that "Mother Earth" is a sentient and intelligent being. She is our link to the universe. It is literally our common ground. Arnold Mindell says that "understanding means literally 'standing under.' In a very concrete way, the earth is the common 'under-standing' of everything occurring in her surface. Thus earth experience becomes essential for both our inner and outer processes" (Process Mind, 67). Meaning, the inwards and outwards wing of the "Butterfly Model's" space framework.

  • In this Model the "time/space framework" dissolves in the Here and Now. This model goes beyond the nested model as it becomes an organic one that keeps feeding itself back with new information and meaning. Its own process resembles very much that of a butterfly's complete metamorphosis. At the end of each wing the nested "grasp" of reality opens itself up and dissolves in the simplicity of the Now.

  • The Model mirrors the logic of evolution with an eternal dance of birth-death and rebirth (creation and destruction). It always comes back to the conflict because it is through conflict that everything grows in complexity and beauty. Chaos is the gate towards a new order. As Margaret Wheatley says, "it is chaos' great destructive energy, happening in the NOW, that releases us from the imprisoning patterns of the past and gives us the gift of a new future" (Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science). It is through chaos that a world of new peaceful possibilities emerges. The capacity of following the flow of nature is the “loving attitude which supports that which is trying to happen”.
  • This Meta-Narrative of birth-death-rebirth transcends the fundamental and necessary "narrative affect" (Christian and Annmarie Early) that deals with the emotional complexity of the conflict.

  • This "Butterfly Model" breaths in and out as a living system. It exemplifies the goal of this blog: to breath forgiveness as we make sense and deconstruct and finally embrace the energies of enslavement in the Naked NOW.

  • This model welcomes the "mirroring effect" present in the whole creation. As Arnold Mindell says, "reality comes about through a process of reflection! Every time we look at something, we participate in creating the universe and, in a way, it expands from nothing to something" (Mindell, Dance of the Ancient One). We live in a "participatory universe." The four wings of the "Butterfly Model" mirror one another.

  • This Model incorporates the notions of "Morphic Fields" and "Morphic Resonance" from the biologist Rupert Sheldrake. Fields encourage us to think of a universe that more closely resembles an ocean, filled with interpenetrating influences and invisible forces that connect. R. Sheldrake says that fields are not themselves energy, they organise energy, they give energy form or structure (IGEEM keynote 2003). He also says that nature has memory, every species has a kind of collective memory, every individual draws on that collective memory and in turn contributes to it. This memory works through the process Sheldrake calls "Morphic Resonance", "the influence of like upon like across space and time"; and this memory is carried and expressed through fields call "Morphic Fields" (IGEEM keynote 2003). 

Morphic Resonance. The Presence of the Past

  • This Model invites us to pay close attention to  "Multigenerational Transmission of Trauma", identifying how is transmitted, its symptoms in the here and now, and ways to process it meaningfully. Trauma is carried across generations through individuals, organisations and societies. What is overwhelming and unnamable is passed on to those we are closest to. Our loved ones carry what we cannot. And we do the same. As M. Gerald Fromm says “what human beings cannot contain of their experience—what has been traumatically overwhelming, unbearable, unthinkable—falls out of social discourse, but very often on to and into the next generation as an affective sensitivity or a chaotic urgency.” 

  • Being attentive to the power of narratives is essential in this healing process. Discovering transmission means coming to know and tell a larger narrative, one from the preceding generation.

Butterfly Model and Identity 

Source: No Boundary, Ken Wilber
  • This model challenges and expands our sense of identity. Ken Wilber in his book No Boundary presents a full spectrum view of human potentials. He charts a complete spectrum of consciousness that moves from subconscious to self-conscious to superconscious, from pre-personal to personal to transpersonal, from instant to ego to God. The Butterfly Model regulates and monitors self-identity expansion.
  • This Model helps in the process of becoming more aware of the biases/assumptions/worldviews carried by the individual or collective. It helps to objectivise.
  • It is a therapeutic Model that unveils the real potential of the practitioner/analyst/theoretician. She is being invited to engage with her "Observer-self" (the stable witness within)

  • The practitioner's "Observer-self" is the stable witness, and at the same time, it is the dynamic "inner platform" from where life is  continuously created in the here and now. In the peacebuilding field, John Paul Lederach invites us to think of "smart flexible platforms" for change. They have the "capacity to move with the shifts that are presented along the way and  from that place generate responsive processes and solutions to rising and constantly shifting demands" (The Moral Imagination, 127). Practitioner's capacity to melt into her dynamic "inner platform" (essence reality) is an essential component for her toolkit. In a more spiritual context Richard Rohr says: "Prayer is not self-observation but 'falling into the hands of the living God'" (Heb 10:31) (Rohr, Everything Belongs, 90)

Butterfly Model and Perception

Double Helix
  • According to John Paul Lederach, the "double helix" is a good metaphor to encourage the peacebuilder to expand holistically. That is, how to be a person that has skillful technical capacities to respond to challenging situations that people face, and at the same time be a healthy and whole person. Both are necessary if we want to be effective in our task as peacebuilders. In John Paul's book, The Moral Imagination, we are invited to reflect on our capacity to perceive when facing the hard side of reality. We take the risk of only developing a tunnel vision, and ignoring our ability to incorporate a peripheral one. Both are important and necessary. If we are only in one part of the "double helix" equation we are in trouble. The Butterfly Model and the "double helix" creates a whole, allowing us to be fully present to the other and the conflict.

  • This Model challenges two scientific false assumptions: the first one is that everything is separate from everything else, that what happens in one place has no effect anywhere else; the second one is that our inner experiences of thought, feeling, emotion and belief have no effect in the world beyond our bodies.

How does the "Butterfly Model" work?

"Butterfly Model" and Projections in Mediation processes
Mediator energetic influence over the parties

"Butterfly Model" invitational "process-oriented" attitudes 

(Primary Reference: A path made by walkingJulie Diamond & Lee Spark Jones)

  • Developing a different way of seeing: following the flow of process requires a different way of perceiving reality. "It means caring for the absurd and impossible and going against conventional beliefs and ways of seeing things." (Diamond & Spark)
  • Looking through a beginner's mind: meaning following a process without judgment, interpretation or bias. A beginner’s mind is curious, open, and eager. It views every experience as something new.
  • Incarnating an eldership spirit: eldership is an attitude of support, love, and –above all- inclusiveness. The elder doesn’t push for outcomes. She does not work hard towards a particular goal. The elder sees things from a long-term perspective, recognizing the momentary and the eternal, the personal and the impersonal. The elder is capable at working at different levels of reality simultaneously; he can follow a process in the present moment (tunnel vision) while keeping in mind a sense of history and context (peripheral vision). The authority of the elder derives from this comprehensive viewpoint and a sense of being guided by something greater than himself. 
  • Concerned with the overall process: the "Butterfly Model" is not interested whether the model is true or accurate, but with whether it works, whether it helps her survive in the complexity of a conflict. She is not concerned with correctness or solutions, but with the overall layout of the process.
  • Readiness for unpredictability: the "Butterfly Model" does not create a fixed plan, but a dynamic and often unpredictable framework; it is like the kind of map that is featured in fairy tales, where signposts change direction, roads appear and disappear, destinations change, and strange or marvelous creatures pop up.
  • Non-dualistic thinking: the "Butterfly Model" is built based on possibilities, exploration, perception, guessing and imagination, rather than deciding on a right or wrong dualistic move.
  • Non-judgmental attitude: the "Butterfly Model" does not have to ask the right questions or get the right answers. In fact errors and wrong guesses allow a peacebuilder, and the sides of the conflict, to explore various avenues and gain a richer, more detailed understanding of the conflict's inner landscape.
  • Believing in the roundness of the universe: if we have the courage to follow the unknown we do not fall off the edge of the world, but discover new worlds. We venture beyond the bounds of preconceived notions, familiar experience, and everyday identity and still find our way home (Riding the horse backwards. Arnold and Amy Mindell)
  • Being humble: the "Butterfly Model" encourages humility on the side of the reflective practitioner. S/he journeys deep within him/herself affirming a "yes" of basic acceptance to the conflict and paradoxically many "nos" as s/he is called to transform with new meaning and information the conflict itself. She is called to transcend his/her world views and beliefs being grounded in the mysterious web of life where only the Eternal Now exists.
  • Being organic and holistic: This model supports Lederach's logic to "complexify before you simplify" as the practitioner enters into the chaotic dimension of the conflict. It is the journey of multiplicity, interdependency and simultaneity as the practitioner navigates through the four wings of the model and returns organically to the very center where the conflict keeps being transformed with new meaning in the NOW.

  • Complexity has many faces. The "Butterfly Model" is especially concerned with the complexity that is generated especially by trauma. This is probably the most challenging and transformative one to confront. We are invited to face, name, embrace, deconstruct and transform the traumatic energies present in the four wings of the Model as they mirror one another. This is not an easy task. The practitioner must be skilful in this personal/collective ongoing journey. She must by nourished by the power of attention (focusing) and intention. Conscious connection to the field "beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing" empowers the practitioner to face challenges ahead. This connection with the field gives the practitioner a great degree of self-acceptance. Self-empowerment allows her to transition to new stages of awareness as she navigates her growing edges; then she integrates (going back and integrate, digest, own, and engage pending issues from previous stages of development); the last stage is the one of transformation, reaching new stages of meaning-making (Leadership Maturity Coaching).
  • David Coleman (Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellencetalks about three different kinds of focusThere's "inner focus," which is self-awareness and managing our inner world. There's empathy, focusing on other people, which is the basis for all relationship skills. And there's systems awareness. "This includes focus on, say, the global systems that support life on the planet, and the ways in which human systems of transportation and construction and industry and commerce are degrading that larger system." (David Coleman)

"Butterfly Model" Team Work and the Mandala Metaphor

Photo by Ralph Barrera
  • Mandala (Sanskrit: circle) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddism, representing the whole Universe. The basic form of all Mandalas contain four gates (the four wings of the "Butterfly Model" and a center point with a circle (the here and now central point of our Model).
  • The Mandala represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organisational structure of life itself. The "Butterfly Model" aims at mirroring the flow of life itself with its birth-death-rebirth logic.
  • The Mandala describes the seen and unseen, the material and non-material realities (consensus, dreamland and essence realities). Awareness of the Mandala may have the potential of changing how we see ourselves, the planet, and  perhaps even our own life purpose. (Mandala. Journey to the Center, by Bailey Cunningham)
  • Creating a group Mandala is a unifying experience in which people can express themselves individually within a unified structure. Peacebuilding practitioners bring the uniqueness of the individual into the "Butterfly Model" celebrating the benefits and demands of a collective experience.
  • Representing the Universe itself, a Mandala is both the microcosm and the macrocosm, and we are all part of its intricate design. In the "Butterfly Model" we are all actors (tunnel vision) and spectators (peripheral vision). 
  • Jung said that a Mandala symbolises "a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness". A conscious and constant engagement in the "Butterfly Model" becomes a healing experience.
  • Sand Mandalas are symbols of the impermanence of life. When finished, the monks gather in a colourful ceremony sweeping their Mandala into a jar and empty it into water as a blessing to the world. This attitude also reflects the organic creation-destruction nature of the "Butterfly Model". The practitioners engaged in the analysis are always ready to readapt their notes according to the ever changing rhythm of life. 
Photo by Paul Leclaire
  • The Mandala and the "Butterfly Model" could be used a holistic structure to present factual information while demonstrating the interconnectedness of all things. The "Butterfly Model" supports the integrating approach to education and peacebuilding incorporating the Multiple Intelligences Theory developed by Howard Gardner
  • The "Butterfly Model" involves the integration of "non-consensus" approaches, such as art, and more "consensus" oriented technical skills.
  • Life's complexity makes the dynamic inter-action between the four wings of the "Butterfly Model" to resemble a labyrinth experience.

Artist: Michael Palladino

Metamorphosis and Human Liberation

    Metamorphosis Phila: Blueprint To End Homelessness. (Author: Josh Sarantitis)

    as the practitioner navigates through the Model's four wings
    (co-opted from the Little Book of Conflict Transformation)

    May the warmth of complexity shine on your face. 
    May the winds of good change blow gently at your back. May your feet find the roads of authenticity. 
    May the web of change begin!
    John Paul Lederach