The Privilege of Consensus Reality

Organization and Relationship Systems Coaches (ORSC) are trained to work with the soul of the relationship rather than simply the individual members of each couple, family, or team. In ORSC lingo this soul essence of a relationship is called the Third Entity™. It is considered to be the unseen essence of the relationship that is more than the individual voices of each person in the relationship.

On some level we can all get a sense of the soul or spirit of a couple or family or team. We know when people come together in relationship, the space they create together is different from, and more than, each separate individual.  We get this – kind of. It’s hard to really grasp and easily articulate because what we’re talking about is something that is not a part of the nuts and bolts of daily life. It is intangible, unseen, and nearly impossible to measure. That’s because it’s not part of what we call our Consensus Reality.

In relationship coaching we use an image of three levels of reality to talk about the various influences on our relationships. Consensus Reality is the level we are most familiar with – that of facts and figures, that of the concrete and measurable, that which we can experience with our five senses. It includes the measurable, objective, and agreed upon (why it’s called consensus) aspects of our lives. This is what we call the “real” world. We sure do know the real world impacts us and our relationships all the time.

The Dreaming level of reality is the level of dreams, visions, values, and emotions. Our beliefs and our worldview are articulated in the Dreaming level of reality.  This level of reality is subjective because we each have our own beliefs, dreams, and feelings. As coaches we know this is a juicy level, full of the energy that enlivens our relationships. We cannot see our dreams or our values, but we certainly know they impact everything about us.

Many of us have trouble getting a grasp of the third level of reality, that of Sentient Essence. Our language doesn’t work so well here because this is the level before words, the preverbal sensing of something that is beginning to happen or the awareness of something that is immensely powerful yet inexplicable. We know this level is acting on us, we can feel it and express it with our bodies, or we use metaphor to attempt to capture it. Quantum field, the void, the whole of which we are all a part, may be just some ways of describing the Sentient Essence level. This deep unseen level of reality provides the “umph” or urge before ideas or words that underlies all of life.

We have so much trouble talking about these unseen levels of reality because Consensus Reality in this culture at this time has what relationship coaches call privilege. By privilege we mean the advantage, or special right, or permission to be the dominant worldview. The measureable, objective outer world of what we have all agreed upon is “real” is so dominant, we have very few agreed upon words for expressing anything that is outside of the sphere of the linear, factual, and measurable. Given our culture’s nearly complete reliance on the scientific model, this is such a natural state for us that we could almost say, “duh!” to the concept of the dominance or privilege of Consensus Reality.

We are the product of a worldview that gives dominance or privilege to the linear, rational, measurable, scientific, repeatable, and provable. This favoritism is so complete that we aren’t even aware of how it lives in us and how it shapes our thinking.

Personal life coaches and relationship coaches are pretty good at some aspects of the Dreaming level. After all, we do a lot of work with our clients’ values, dreams, and belief systems. But that Essence level is a stumper for many of us. The Sentient Essence level of reality is particularly problematic for us because everything about it has been marginalized. How do we use our Consensus Reality dominant brains to grasp the preverbal, the more than verbal, the oneness of possibilities that can be felt in an instant yet never fully articulated?

Ordinary or Consensus Reality has tremendous privilege over non-ordinary reality or the unseen levels of Dreaming and Sentient Essence. And where non-ordinary reality does hold privilege – in religions and spiritual traditions – dogma limits, alienates, and creates conflict. Spiritual traditions are all about giving words and meaning to that which is more than our five senses can perceive. And usually religions or spiritual traditions require faith, not tangible proof. When we start talking about the unseen, all of what we have learned or felt about spiritual traditions – our own and others’ – gets stirred within us. We are easily triggered by uncomfortable language, and most of the conversation is uncomfortable just by the nature of its unfamiliarity.

In the subjective Dreaming level of our unique beliefs and worldviews, we do not have a shared language. The Sentient Essence level is beyond language. When we attempt to talk about our experiences with these unseen levels, we get tripped up by the language and images of others that appear to be at odds with our own beliefs.

This is the one-two conversation knock-out punch: If I can’t measure it in the factual world it has no meaning or value, and if we do attempt to explore it, you will step on my beliefs.

My colleagues and I are up to the very edgy work of teaching coaches how to engage with the unseen levels of reality in ways that aren’t awash in dogma, that don’t require faith.

We believe that working with relationships and individuals, that all of life, involves interacting with what is not tangible, concrete, or part of what we could call ordinary or Consensus Reality. We believe that it is imperative for us to reclaim our innate ability to recognize, engage, and influence that vast universe that is so much more than what our standard five senses can perceive. And we know that this conversation is so outside of our reality box that it can stir tremendous fear and avoidance.

We know that denying the conversations about the intangibles that are such a large part of our selves and our experience is no longer a viable option. Too much information and opportunities are missed. Too small of a story is being told. Too few options are left open to us at a time when we desperately need more of them. And as relationship coaches we know that all three levels of reality need to be tended for our relationships to thrive.

In Standing in Both Worlds, The Third Entity™, the Unseen, and the Technology of Magic, we have created a step-by-step, dogma-free process for exploring the unseen that anyone of any spiritual tradition can use. Using the tools from ORSC and from various wisdom traditions we have identified key components necessary for shaking free from the dominance of Consensus Reality just long enough to sense even more of what’s trying to happen in our relationships. We say ORSC opens the doorway to other levels of reality and NORSC – Non-Ordinary Reality Systems Coaching – gives you the tools to walk back and forth between the worlds.

Yes, it is likely that this work will always be edgy, at least until as a culture we are able to have open conversations about the unseen. And no, we can’t avoid this work just because it’s so challenging. We have to use all of our tools, all of our inner wisdom, and all of our daring to get past the privilege of Consensus Reality. Beyond the boundaries of privilege lie immeasurable possibilities. Won’t you join us there?


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