Hello dear friends,

What is the nature of the fracture found in unbridgeable frames? 

In one meeting with my teacher, I encountered what seemed to be an Unbridgeability. No way to communicate. An impasse. 

I couldn't find a single sentence to say that would help me reach him where he was, from where I was. Our frames were too different. There seemed to be a chasm between us.

Later on, he would ask me about the nature of this thing. What made it so? What is the origin? What is the cause? What is its nature? ((Not in these words, but here, I try to capture the essence of the deeper question.)) 

(When we know the origin and the cause, we may also know the escape.) 

He was asking me a real question. Real questions have the power to capture our minds. My teacher pointed directly at the mystery, and now I have this question, and it has me. 

If I were expansive and large enough to hold multiple frames simultaneously without losing anything valuable from either of them, I think I could find a way to bridge. It would take a lot of computation, perhaps? A lot of pedagogical skill—since pedagogy is basically bridge-building. And I don't know how to do distant-frame-bridging pedagogy without a fair amount of computation. 

Is it really the case that the individuals need to be the ones doing the work? That this work is done at the nodes, rather than in the line? 

Is there a way to trust a third, larger process or force? Something that holds the in-between? I imagine a mysterious alternative process. Circling tries to touch on this. 

Using our bodies, minds, egos, and beings, these frames can find voice and manifestation in reality... enough for two different frames to try to meet from across the room. What is it like to see? What is it like to feel? What happens in the meeting? 

In order for this to work as cleanly as possible, our 'small selves' are best kept in check. Otherwise their insecurities try to wrangle the communication away from the main thread.

The pure meeting... clear of hindrances...
I yearn for this moment. And opportunities to create this moment. My Eros is drawn to this, but also I personally feel helpless in trying to create the circumstance... 

This is the True "Double Crux." The technique the rationalists tried to invent through a step-by-step process. But it was like teenagers trying to invent the Better Sex technique. It's fine for them to try, but they're not starting from a place of expertise. 

So, here are the ingredients for Frame Bridging v0.8: 

Ingredients here means skills or insights or ways of being that seem useful for this process. 

I believe this is a high-level technique for people with a lot of training, and so the baseline skills here are pretty advanced. I think it's OK to develop beginner-unfriendly techniques that require high skill levels! This is just one of those.

- Circling skill. But more than just that. Embodied Circling. Not mental Circling. Not ego-driven Circling. Not an interest in being seen or understood by others. Not an interest in belonging to a group or a tribe. We have to move beyond those adolescent needs in order to engage in the higher practices. The truth-oriented practices. We need to be full of love and joy already. A sense of fulfillment in being alive and being connected to all things. From this, Circling becomes more about Truth, Manifestation, and Teaching/Learning. From a place where nothing NEEDS to change, everything becomes 'on the table'. All directions are open. 

- Commitment to connection. This is already embedded in the Circling skill, but I might as well pull it out and explicitly name it here. Seems important. Value the relationship between the people involved. People are not mere puppets and tools. The links between them are precious. Don't violate them. This isn't something to be "sacrificed" for some other greater good. Ideally this point is already obvious from direct experience. 

- Faith in Truth. Beyond just a mere desire to know. Beyond a desire to build an accurate map. This means a willingness to be transformed by the Truth... even to be burned or washed away by the Truth. (It's not always a pleasant process!) There needs to be a willingness to not know and be in the sensation of uncertainty. Without this, it becomes a farce, another enactment, a stage-play, a forced conclusion. 

- Not-clinging-to-views skill. Without some of this, the process will hurt. Every disagreement feels like a personal attack. If I identify with a frame, then it's not a conversation—it's a fight. There's no play. There is only offense and defense. 

Caveat necessary: Some people shouldn't open themselves up in this way because they can't quite hold Truth in their bodies or they cling to views and so may get stuck. Anyone who is led by trauma or addiction as a primary, unchecked, and/or unseen reaction, it may not make sense to do this process. 

- Equanimity and patience. The ability to hold all kinds of sensations, no matter how uncomfortable or intense. The ability to be with thoughts, emotions, and somatic experiences with relative equanimity. In particular, while in relationship with another. Also, the patience to get through boring, seemingly unhelpful, or frustrating parts of a process. 

- The ability to get the mind to step aside. Easily said, not easily done. But basically, getting the mind to a place of quiet. Or at least 'transparency' (the opposite of opaque or dense). With this, reality becomes discernible. 

Now for the process itself: 

You inhabit the frame fully. You don't need to leave the frame. 

Simultaneously, however, you somehow (and this might be some kind of impossible magic) stay open. 
(But what if the nature of the frame is that it is closed?? This makes me doubt this step.) 
OK, maybe the trick is expansion. 

You expand. You're larger than the frame now. Even just a little bit. There's the frame, but there's also some space outside the frame, like a sandbox area. Like the front porch to a house. 
Other things can be entertained or tried in the sandbox area. 

Besides, if the frame is holding YOU then you're being controlled by the frame, not vice versa. And this is already undesirable, I claim. 

It gets easier to hold and shift frames when you can discern the empty nature of all frames. This is what we call Wisdom at MAPLE. 

[Aside: We see Wisdom as the ability to transcend all frames / views. This is realized primarily through samadhi. Samadhi is the best trainable means of investigating reality directly, and it is a largely lost art form.]

OK, now you are expanded and holding both the frame and some space around the frame, where play can happen. 

Meet the other.

[Insert Circling] 

OK, so I think the entire package of Circling might mislead the whole exercise. The encounter can't devolve into one about two personalities/egos meeting. That would defeat the point. The frames are trying to meet. Not the personalities/egos. A skilled facilitator who can see the difference would be helpful, to guide it back. 

(I'm interested in THIS specifically because we are living in a world with an enormous multitude of unbridgeable fractures. A subset of these fractures don't seem to be trauma- or individual-based. They seem like deeper disagreements about reality. Or egregores fighting? I don't really know what they are actually. Anyway I think it's seriously worth investigating.) 

See what happens. This is just like running an experiment. We don't know what's supposed to happen after the initial lab setup. There is some intention here to meet, to encounter, to learn. Beyond that, there is no investment in making sure something interesting happens or that the frames actually manage to bridge or merge in a particular way. We trust something valuable will happen. 

Preliminary guesses at tips: 

  • Start by laying one or both frames on the table. This doesn't mean explaining the frame. It means speaking directly from the frame. Just name what reality is on your side. Name what is happening, what you see, what seems true. Name what you want. Name what you think should happen. Name what's wrong with other perspectives. Get it going. Don't hold back. 
  • It's possible people should generally start with just trying to bridge in one direction only, rather than trying to go bidirectional. Hopefully there's an intuitive sense of 'where we should start' and who should start speaking. My guess is that the more skilled person should be the one trying to receive the other person, but not as a strict rule. 
  • Be very patient, and don't try to rush the process. Feel each moment as fully and completely as possible. Savoring each nuance of the experience. Move only when guided by Truth to do so. Not because the ego wants to move. 
  • Be open to transformation. Be open to loss. Be open to newness. Be open to uncertainty and confusion. 
  • It's OK if nothing interesting happens at all. After an hour, I'd just stop if it's not going anywhere.
  • It's not interesting trying to get the other person to do or see something. It's only interesting what happens in your own world. Trying to get the other person to do or see something is like an experimenter messing with the test results; you can no longer trust the integrity of the experiment. This seems boring and a waste of time.


This is my attempt at developing an art form. 

Where the artist and the art are the same thing. 

(I am super into this general pattern—where I am both the experiment and the experimenter, the mouse and the maze-designer. This is how I tend to live my life. Maybe it's an Enneagram 4 thing? 🤪)

Here, the "art" is my being, my felt models, my mind, my mental architecture, my ontologies, my frames—all of these being embodied, not merely cognitive. 

As the artist, I yearn to encounter other "living models" and perhaps even be transformed by them. But not in a willy-nilly fashion. In a deeply mindful, embodied, and truth-seeking fashion. In a way that is intimate, sincere, and grounded in reality. 

I yearn to discover bridges over seemingly impassable waters. To heal seemingly impossible wounds. To transform fractures, both at the individual and collective level. 

I hope writing this procedure down will increase the chances I get to do this, with my being and my life. 

Thank you for your attention. 

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9 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 10:40 PM

Here's me attempting to parse this and translate it into my own native frame, which I think is closer to the median LW-folk. 

This is partly be checking where I might be misunderstanding you. I'll flag parts where I wasn't sure I understood.


If you find yourself talking with someone who seems to have a very different worldview or way of looking at a situation, and your attempts to communicate seem to be falling completely flat (i.e. you don't understand the things they're trying to say and they don't seem to be understanding yours)...

...and both of you are fairly invested in actually bridging the communication gap 

(or, at least you're pretty invested, and they're at least willing to continue talking to you even if they don't seem super invested? It was unclear to me which people needed to have the prerequisites) 

...then here's a process you think will help bridge that gap. It is fairly skill-intensive. You think it'd work reasonably well for people who have the skill-prequisites. The process doesn't seem perfect but it's the best one you've got.

The prerequisites are:

1. Embodied Circling skill. 

I'm not sure I understand what you meant here. I think I understand the things you said it was not. It makes sense to me that to bridge frames, you may need to let go of a need to feel seen or understood. 

Tabooing "Circling", I think the thing you mean here is to have skill at:

  • Introspection – noticing your own bodily sensations, posture, emotions, thoughts, felt-senses*. Being able to model how those inner-stimuli map onto your overall psychology in a way that tracks reality. (I think Circling practices tend to avoid focusing on fitting all the pieces together into a coherent story, and instead be more like looking at the raw data, but I think someone who is 'good at Circling' would 
  • "Extrospection". Noticing other people's body posture, mannerisms, and words they say, and forming accurate impressions of what's going on in their bodies/minds.
  • Making statements and asking questions that successfully communicate your inner state to other people, and hearing other people's words/expressions about their inner states and gaining an accurate impression of what states those words correspond to (which can include noticing when their words are kinda fake and lying, consciously or unconsciously)

(Those were both very "rationalist frame flavored" descriptions, and I think Circling aims to also have some stuff that's less about "information intake and prediction" and more about, like, just vibing, and maybe... having skill at vibing? But I feel less able to summarize that)

You mention it being important to be full of love/joy/connected. My guess is this is not actually a requirement-per-se, but was a route which worked for you, and maybe the pair of you/your-teacher. I think there is some super-set thing that Love/Joy is one facet of.


...okay that was a fair bit of work and I think I'm going to stop there for now. I think the next few bullets are probably more straightforward before we get to The Process, which I'll come back and take a stab at later.


* "Felt Sense" is still pretty jargony and I'm not sure people use it to mean. the same thing. See "Focusing," for skeptics, Focusing, and The Felt Sense: What, Why and How. I think "felt sense" is typically used to mean something like "a sensation in your body that corresponds with emotions or thoughts but is not directly the emotions or thoughts." Focusing is a technique for finding felt senses that tell you useful information about stuff you're subconsciously aware of but can't necessarily express in words.

Your attempt to break down the Circling skill is creating a good example of the original problem at hand. 

I notice a fracture between my frame of Circling and your frame of it. The gap is not all that bad, as far as I can tell. Like, bridging seems fairly plausible (rather than totally impossible, as it seems in certain situations). But also, it seems like it might take quite a bit of work to bridge with appropriate fidelity.

IMO a sloppy, imprecise, or agreeable person might be willing to interpret your version as a 'basically good enough' translation of Circling practice into rationalist terminology... and consider them basically describing the same thing in the end. 

But I'm not willing to compromise the significant assumptions underneath my frame, and I imagine the other person shouldn't either... at least as long as we're both keeping track of something Real. Compromising on this seems good for coordination and harmony purposes but not good for getting to the bottom of what each of us really sees, believes, and acts in accord with. 

So here, you and I might actually be able to try the technique and see what happens. ! :0 

My own attempt to Taboo Circling... here is the skill breakdown: 

  • Staying at the level of sensation. This is one of the 5 Principles in the Circling Europe school. So, the ability to not automatically go into stories but to stay present with the arising and passing of phenomena, especially based in the physical, emotional, and energetic bodies. 
  • Sincerity. Or maybe meta-sincerity, if you like. Showing up without pretense, as much as possible. Authentic, real-time expression. (Obviously, some amount of insincerity or pretense is fine, esp if this can be held and revealed sincerely.) 
  • Holding one's own experiences without putting it on the other person, aka owning one's experience, and being responsible for your nervous system responses. Avoiding victim consciousness / getting swallowed by the drama triangle. You can hold your own wounded inner children, trauma responses, etc. You don't fall into total nervous system dysregulation when triggered. You can stay conscious and present even while activated. You take responsibility for your own reactions and don't resort to merely blaming external circumstances. 
  • Ability to go beyond ego. If the ego drives, then instead of just being with what is happening, the ego will attempt to do things like... turn everything that is happening into a story about the self. Or get something it wants, like validation or a sense of belonging or a pleasant experience or a novel idea. One of the main issues with the ego driving is that you will fail to see the other person as a person, instead trying to use them as a means to an end. While assuming that you ARE seeing them and treating them like a full person. 
  • Bonus skill: You are very perceptive about what's going on, at multiple levels. And you can turn that into articulate words. ! But if you yourself aren't good at this, it seems fine... a third party can do this part. 

If you find yourself talking with someone who seems to have a very different worldview or way of looking at a situation, and your attempts to communicate seem to be falling completely flat (i.e. you don't understand the things they're trying to say and they don't seem to be understanding yours)...

...and both of you are fairly invested in actually bridging the communication gap 

(or, at least you're pretty invested, and they're at least willing to continue talking to you even if they don't seem super invested? It was unclear to me which people needed to have the prerequisites) 

...then here's a process you think will help bridge that gap. It is fairly skill-intensive. You think it'd work reasonably well for people who have the skill-prequisites. The process doesn't seem perfect but it's the best one you've got.

Mostly accurate. 

A lot of the time, these 'fractures' result in major disconnections between people, such that they stop talking to each other for a year or more. Or if they need to work together, it becomes really difficult for them to work together in any functional or healthy way. This fracture can spread to others or cause group-wide fractures. 

A rationalist-relevant example might be... say, inability of certain prominent rationalist leaders from being able to coordinate or even have reasonable / good conversations with one another. Sometimes requiring extensive mediation. Or sometimes causing bigger community-wide conflicts. I'm sure you can come up with at least 3 examples. 

Sorry for not including this context in the post. I wasn't trying to make the post very good. :P 

OK, but let's say! YOU are experiencing this kind of fracture with someone and are at least willing to try to bridge. (However, unwilling / unable to drop your frame or try to adopt theirs.) This process is an attempt to find a way to start the conversation without either party needing to drop their frame. So the frames get to 'meet'. 

I think you are overbraining it. The missing skill is the one of cognitive empathy: understanding where the other person is coming from, what they feel and why they feel that way, suspending any judgment along the way.

No, you misunderstand. Part of the issue is that neither person is quite able to 'try on the other person's perspective'. But not because of a lack of cognitive empathy skill. But because something very important would be lost by doing so. 

Hmm, what would be lost by modeling the other person?

This question points at the mystery of this phenomenon! That's part of my investigation. I'm not totally sure what exactly would be lost, but it sure seems like there is something. 

Hard to go into it further without a live, real-time example. But maybe you'll run into some examples in your own life. 

Try observing when two people seem to be in an intractable communication. Or in a long-term estrangement. Why are they unwilling to take the perspective of the other person? Unwilling to even try to model them? 

In some cases, it's just that they're holding too tightly onto their own frame (e.g. taking something as personal that wasn't personal), in a way that is obviously unhelpful and counterproductive. And you may see how their frame is wrong or misguided.

But in the more interesting cases, it's like a deeper philosophical or existential clash? Again they might be holding their frame more tightly than they strictly need to, but it seems like something critical would be lost if they let go and tried on the other person, even for a second. What is this? This is my inquiry. 

In your case, did you/your partner succeed at understanding each other's perspective? (I wasn't sure from your description if this was more like "I was facing a problem/confusion, I figured out this process, it worked" or "here's my current best guess as to next steps to try"

I haven't tried this technique explicitly yet. 😅 So more like 'best guess at what to try'. But I also have some evidence this will yield interesting results, based on previous pseudo-attempts at something like this process. 

My teacher and I totally failed to communicate in my opinion, but this wasn't made explicit between us. It's my own story in my head.