Any system has natural limits. These limits hold the system in a certain level of operation and production. Transcending these limits requires a breakthrough. In the case of the Triad of Change, this breakthrough comes in the form of more energy, that can be delivered in a number of ways including energizing one of the modes (perception, behavior, structure) of the Triad itself.
Its valuable to be clear on what limits the Triad so when we are seeking to reorganize at higher levels of complexity we are aware of the what may be holding us back. This happens in research all the time. Research is just as subject to the triad of change as anything else. There is the behavior, the act of research that is the forward motion, there is the structures being researched and the structure of research itself and finally, the perception of what is known (or believed to be known) and what is learned through the research. When two sides of the triad are highly energized the third will more naturally come along and a new discovery or breakthrough can be made.
Conversely, these modes (perception, behavior and structure) can also be limits to reorganizing our research knowledge at higher levels of complexity and sophistication. This was the case with the classic story of the sperm and egg for decades. This was the study of Emily Martin. Martin didn’t start off as a biological researcher, she started off as a cultural anthropologist. This training helped Martin see cultural stories and beliefs in action. Much of her early work was with Asian cultures but when she returned home to have children she observed something interesting.
The classic story of the egg and sperm is almost like a fairy tale. The egg just lies like a damsel in distress, waiting for the adventurous sperm to make the hero’s journey and save the damsel, whereby sparks fly, new life starts and everyone lives happily ever after. When you pair this perspective with the fact that the vast majority of scientists who arrived at these discoveries were men, a couple of red flags might go up. Have researchers been overlaying the cultural stereotypes of men and women on the fertilization process? Martin says yes.
Martin’s research found that sperm were not as heroic as once imagined. Sperm are often portrayed as “missiles” or “bullets shot from a gun” which generates all kinds of masculine imagery. Martin found instead that these sperm were acting in a different way. Her research team used a very small pipet with light suction at the head of the sperm and what they found is that the sperm thrashed around quite a bit.
The research came to the conclusion that the sperm were not the great burrowers previously assumed, which is actually great news. If they were designed just to burrow they’d burrow into the first thing they ran into. Instead, what the sperm are excellent at is running away – not quite as heroic as some men would like. When a few of the sperm make it to the egg they are chemically trapped by a coating on the egg’s surface, not valiantly digging their way to the genetic end zone.
While Martin’s research may be a bit dated now (from the 1990’s) what is important is not the prevailing theory on sperm egg attraction but rather to see how a cultural belief held science back. This cultural belief anchored in the masculine energy, in this case in the form of the sperm being heroic, was a perception that was limiting the objectivity of understanding what was actually occurring. As this perception was seen more objectively (increasing the energy transcending the unconscious stereotype) the structures of egg and sperm and the actual behaviors that were happening were able to be observed with new clarity as well.
This may well be the case for much research that is occurring today. Cultural beliefs often form the unseen context for the content of the experiments. Moreover, anything unexamined, whether perception, behavior or structure has the opportunity to hold back the Triad of Change from operating and allowing the dynamic to reorganize at a higher level of complexity.