Three Divides

This article is revised from an article that I had published in LinkedIn some time ago.

From November 2008, I have been deeply touched by Theory U & Presencing. Over the years, the articulation of three divides has helped me to make sense of the world we live in: the individual, the family, the work organisations and the communities. Thanks to members of Presencing Institute who have articulated and have sharpened it over the years.

I want to present the ‘Three Divides’ that affect all of us in our current context, represented as an Iceberg (the picture at the top). They are: Ecological divide, Social divide and Spiritual Divide. The three divides are just the tips of huge institutional failure — as a society, we may be creating a world of results that none of us wants.

The ecological divide:

This divide is due to a disconnect between self and nature. The effects are there for all of us to see — global warming, water scarcity, deforestation, air pollution, water pollution, natural disasters etc., due to disrespect for basic relationship with land, water and mother nature.

When I reflect on how I have become slowly and steadily disconnected with nature in my life time, it is shocking. Now we are talking about whether the human race will survive in this world after few centuries or not.

The social divide:

This divide is due to a disconnect between self and others. This is about how each of us react to, ‘what is not like me’. This is could be about race, religion, nationality, language, caste, creed, belief systems, so much more.

The level of cynicism and intolerance has been on the rise whether it is between countries or people of different religions, or languages in the same country. I was told as a child that India is model for ‘Unity in Diversity’; I wonder whether it is true anymore with the level of intolerance we experience around us.

The spiritual divide:

This divide is due to a disconnect between self and ‘Self’- between me, today as I am, and my highest Godly self. It is about living the life of highest aspiration, and the greatest potential, and not being tripped up by ‘ coulda’s, woulda’s and shoulda’s’ due to conditioning from society. Most of us experience this divide very strongly in our mid-career or sometimes after retirement.

Because of these divides, most of us experience a deeper level of doubt, cynicism, fear even though we might have ‘everything’. These three divides are symptoms of the issues and pathologies of our current socio-economic system. The assumption is that we see only the tip of the iceberg (the 3 divides), while the causes, patterns, mental models reside deeper under the surface.

These divides are caused by our inner voices individually and collectively: Voice of Judgement, Voice of Cynicism & Voice of Fear.

Read this article about the three Voices

With inputs from Deepa Ram Bhat.

Reference: The Essentials of Theory U — C. Otto Scharmer 2018

Edited version of what was originally published at



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Raja Chidambaram

Raja Chidambaram


I enable transformation of systems - be it individuals, organisations or communities. I believe in creating a borderless, sustainable, world.