Guiding Theories and Practices for Understanding and
Living within a Participatory Reality

What might a participatory reality be like?

Participatory reality is a theory of what reality is or in the case of participatory and quantum thought, what reality might be but is never absolutely known. Most basically, a participatory reality is a reality in which we are all one and we are many; we can know unity and we can act individually, out of a larger field of consciousness, that is, a transpersonal reality that we all share.

In philosophy, a theory of reality is known as an ontology. For an excellent paper on the basics of philosophy and on the participatory reality, please read Peter Reason at this link. Reason and his collaborator, John Heron, were early to propose a new definition for the times we are living in today. They called their method a participatory inquiry paradigm.

Why should I care about a participatory reality?

Our planet is changing and many of those changes are negative whether we speak of the environment or of social justice between individuals, groups and institutions.

Right now some seem to be encouraging the end of the Earth, literally racing towards an Armageddon where elite will be saved and the rest will perish.

The rest of us, who may not agree, may want to learn and do whatever we can to save our planet and our future or to simply live life with deeper meaning and less fear.

A basic concept of the participatory reality is that we are inescapably engaged with all of Nature, and what we do matters, quite literally. What we believe and how we act creates matter on the earth. How we do/act our living, with what intended outcome determines the quality of our lives.

A theory and practices for working with a participatory reality can, I believe, help those of us who want to preserve the Earth for future generations.

Recommended readings from the work of John Heron:

While there are many resources I hope to share on this site, John Heron's work is a primary influence. His model of cooperative inquiry is radical. Unlike some other models, which suggest what and how reality and relationship is, and continue the cult of patriarchal authority based on the opinions of experts, Heron (and Reason) suggest ways of looking for ourselves in our own community of inquiry.

Three books of Heron's offer powerful guidance for anyone wanting to engage in transformative learning and change based on a participatory theory of reality:

Feeling and Personhood: Psychology in a New Key (1992)

Co-operative Inquiry: Research into the Human Condition (1996)

The Complete Facilitator's Handbook (1999)

Sacred Science: Person-centered Inquiry (1998)

John Heron's site for his work and for the lovely retreat center in New Zealand that he and his wife, Barbara Langton, have created can be found at


© Nancy Peden 2000-2007