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Hi! I'm the founder of Self Learners Network. Contact me at ms@ms.lt, +1 (773) 306-3807.

From 1998 to 2010, I organized Minciu Sodas, an online laboratory for serving and organizing independent thinkers around the world. I had to give that up because I failed to make it a viable business and because our culture was too weak to help me. I moved from Lithuania to Chicago where I'm trying to make a living and repay my loans. I also rethought what I want to do, which is Self Learners Network. Read more below about my past and my vision]].

See my Chicago street artist blog for my art and creative activities.

I Share My Past

Written in January, 2011

How might I best apply myself?

In 1971, as a six-year-old, I dedicated myself before God to know everything and apply that knowledge usefully. In 2009, I completed my quest with a 10-minute video summary, I Wish to Know.

What did I learn?

I learned from my quest that, while I assumed as little as possible about God, yet God's perspective is what made sense of the many conceptual frameworks which I observed, and thus I need not be cold to God, but may rather embrace and include God with all my love.

I also concluded that most useful would be to found a culture of wisdom where all truth is at hand. I wish to found such a culture much like Lord Baden-Powell founded scouting with his book Scouting for Boys.

You may typically not care about my answers or my questions. But I think you do care about some of the hundreds of ways that I and others have figured things out. I wish to apply my creative talents to share them as games for self-learners.

I regularly dream that I figure out how simple it is to fly, to walk up the air, and then I rush to show everybody how to do it.

What do I believe?

I believe that deep inside we are truly one person, the same person, Jesus Christ. Yet, in this world, I find that I am alone, just as I think God is alone. I wish for a culture by which we truly live and know and accept and embrace that we are "all one" in that each of us is "alone".

From 1998 to 2010, I tried to make a living from Lithuania, the land of my heritage, by founding Minciu Sodas, "The Orchard of Thoughts", an online laboratory for independent thinkers around the world. I organized a network of working groups around the deepest values of our leaders, including:

  • Holistic Helping (Janet Feldman)
  • Global Villages (Franz Nahrada)
  • Learning From Each Other (Pamela McLean)
  • Mendenyo = "Men Without Food" = Motivation through Sacrifice (Samwel Kongere)
  • Cyfranogi = Participatory Society (John Rogers)
  • Social Agriculture (Ben de Vries)
  • Fighting Peacefully (Eluned Hurn)
  • Veikti Placiau = Ever Broader Action (Audrone Anusauskiene)
  • Learn How to Learn (Kiyavilo Msekwa)
  • Earth Treasury = Unity of Salvation (Edward Cherlin)
  • Nafsi Afrika Saana = Cherished Sustainable Livelihoods (Kennedy Owino)
  • Zmoniskai = Humanely (Thomas Chepaitis)
  • One Reaching Another (Fred Kayiwa)
  • Haki Elimu Rafiki = The Right to Education (Josephat Ndibalema)
  • my own Living by Truth
  • and God's Loving God.

Our most amazing achievement was the Pyramid of Peace to avert genocide in Kenya in 2008. We organized 100 peacemakers on-the-ground and 100 online assistants to love our enemy: engage gangs, free the roads, aid the hungry, the homeless and the victims of violence. In other ways, too, we manifested Jesus's vision of a Kingdom of Heaven, with An Economy for Giving Everything Away, and an inclusion of the widest variety of independent thinkers, regardless of faith, wealth, education or status.

What went wrong?

Minciu Sodas failed as a business. I and my teams served 30 clients around the world, but my debt kept growing, until in 2010 it reached $130,000 and I had to stop. More importantly, our culture was too weak and too slow. Overall, I wasn't able to inspire others to live as people of integrity:

  • to live a culture of investigation in all that we do
  • to openly learn from our lives
  • to insist, in our work together, that we and others grow personally
  • to cherish our work together as an investment in each other
  • to organize around one's personal integrity, as given by one's deepest value
  • to dream openly, What do I truly want? and pursue our dreams
  • to support each other's dreams directly rather than waste money
  • to coordinate with each other, how to share our resources
  • to help each other make a living
  • to make explicit basic principles for our culture
  • to commit to such principles so they take hold.

I felt that others weren't there for me in the way that I was there for them. People ran up against their own limits, which they avoided transcending. They live fragmented lives. In order to learn about life, we need to live integral lives. People are hesitant to learn about life because they don't want their lives turned upside down.

My intent had been to serve people like myself, independent thinkers. Ultimately, I believe that, given enough time, people do and will grow towards a shared culture. I do not want to or need to wait. My own deepest value is living by truth and so I am willing, at any moment, to find myself living in a world turned upside down. In this, I may be alone, as I was in my quest to know everything.

What should I do?

In 2010, I regrouped. I stopped networking online. I flew to Chicago to work as a tutor in the Black American community. Over four or five years, I hoped to pay back my loans. I dreamed of returning to the Lithuanian countryside, marrying my true love and starting a family. Meanwhile, I jotted down, in Lithuanian, more than 200 ways I had figured things out, and I considered how they all fit together. How might they express the culture I seek?

Ultimately, how might I make a living? I hoped to create learning materials, for example, to illustrate deep ideas and classic problems in mathematics, which I noted as I tutored. Unexpectedly, my boss decided not to give me any more students to tutor, as several of them had left me, because I encouraged them to learn for learning's sake, and thus discouraged them from having me help with their homework or tests at school. I wondered, what other work to look for? and was there any honest work at all? God insisted that he would provide for me, and that I would make a living from my creative talents, notably, my artistic skills. People like my art, but they aren't buying it. Yet it opens them up to my philosophical ideas. I was also encouraged by the success of Punk Math at Kickstarter.com Thus, I hope to create learning materials, especially games, that might illustrate the ways of figuring things out.

As an artist, I had a booth at the Kwanzaa festival at Malcolm X College. I drew people for free, letting them take photos of my drawings for free, and selling the originals to those who wanted them. I drew people's deepest values in life, portraying them as superheroes. I saw that I was losing money, and yet, my questions and my drawings were helping people see themselves in a new light. I started thinking that the best thing I could do might be simply to drop out of society and do good deeds in the Black American inner city where there is so much hurt and so much need.

Ghingo Brooks, the President of Malcolm X College, engaged me. I was moved by his concern for, in my words, the ethnic cleansing of Black Chicago, the most downcast conditions that I know of, and I think surely a place to attract those who seek the Kingdom of Heaven. He sent me to the Human Resources department. Later, I thought, what would I truly want, and I wrote of my wish to start a Center for Self Learners which might be affiliated with Malcolm X College and his Karnak Wellness Institute.

Alongside this, I recalled how I had shone as a leader, the Commander-in-Chief, during our Pyramid of Peace. I have so many years of practice at nonviolence, at looking at everything from my enemy's point of view, that I feel confident engaging any gang house in the city. If I ever drop out of society, then I might well become a Peace Lord. I think I have it in me. I've prepared all of my life for that. I would call myself a King. I remember an image that I have every so often, where God places a crown on my head, but we keep turning it, as it doesn't quite seem to fit. I think some day it will.

Yet it seems such a leap to have absolutely nothing. What help am I if I do? And it's counter to my picture of the Kingdom of Heaven as involving many little leaps of faith rather than one big one. So if I do go bankrupt, I intend to take the long way about it, and go through each and every step, so that I know I had no honest choice. Thus, I thought more about the center, and I wondered, how are self-learners any different than independent thinkers?

Why Self-Learners?

January 10, 2011, I swung by my friend David Ellison-Bey of the Moorish Cultural Workshop. He invited Brother Mokee-El, the National Grand Sheik, and me to have a meeting of the Moors. After we said the Prophet Noble Drew Ali's prayer to Allah, David had us take turns reading from "The Effective Board" by Cyril Houle, 1960. I wondered if Jesus or any of the prophets, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, the Noble Drew Ali, or any person who founded a culture, had a board? I feel ready to be a person who establishes a culture by manifesting it of himself.

I realized that when I organized independent thinkers, I was looking for people who, at heart, were like myself, but then I was disappointed that, in one way or another, they weren't. They lacked the integrity to learn about themselves, how they might grow. Thus I couldn't identify with their integrity and I couldn't grow a culture with them. Whereas, with the self-learners, I can identify with their behavior, with the particular way of figuring things out that they take up. I am a natural leader because I pull together the widest variety of ways of figuring things out. And so they can be fragmented, as people, and yet participate in a shared culture, of which I am a hub. Their little leaps of faith, of learning, of growing can all be included, and fostered, and they can expand on that, as they are ready. We can thus foster a culture where we grow as one; where we transcend the self, even as we learn of, by and for the self; where we can identify with the self even as we appreciate that it but is what we are not, what we make room for, yet where we are for all. So David concluded that I must be my self. I would say, in this way, I open space for all to be all.

And so I share with you my life. As I looked for a domain name, I saw that selflearners.net was available, and also self-learners.org and selfdirectedlearners.com I thought that a Network is truly more relevant than a Center, although the latter might be practical some day. Yet this Network may, for some time, be simply myself as a Hub.

Why You?

Please do engage me as you think best. Here are some ways, and you may think of more.

You may like one or more of my learning materials that I create. Please, let's do think how you might get the most from it. I invite you to take initiative to build on my work, which is all in the Public Domain. You're aware of my broader interests.

You may admire me and want to support me. Please do so! I need it very much.

You may want to work together to bring out the many ways of figuring things out, and discover how they all fit together. Or you may want to live and bring to life a shared culture of self-learners. And you may perhaps want to help me include God. Please join my working group Living by Truth. Let me know all about you! I hope we find each other.

Andrius Kulikauskas, ms@ms.lt, +1 (773) 306-3807, Chicago, IL, USA

May we share a future?

I want to start a culture of wisdom where all truth is at hand.

I think that it is a culture of, by and for self-learners. It is an outlook, and even more, a way of life, where we are able to learn our own, think on our own, work on our own, and are happy to live forever. We are able to be alone, just as God is alone, and thus be one, in the deepest sense, through our aloneness.

I think it is Jesus's vision of the Kingdom of Heaven for the poor-in-spirit. The martyrs are rich-in-spirit, able to believe in one giant leap: "I believe!". I think the poor-in-spirit are those, like me, who prefer to take little leaps of faith, as small as we like, so that we and others can see that our faith makes sense.

I think that the way to share this culture is to share the many ways of figuring things out. They may unite us even as we ask different questions and seek different answers.

I believe that there is an overarching theory that make sense of these many ways, and that those who live with integrity will discover it and embrace it. However, there are many people who live fragmented lives, yet are able to apply and contribute ways of figuring things out that are meaningful for their particular disciplines or concerns, including science, business, medicine, agriculture, warfare and education. Thus, this culture includes and benefits from self-learners with narrow concerns. Those with broader concerns will be natural leaders if they can make relevant many different ways of figuring things out, which is to say, if they are wise.

I think we can best express and share each way of figuring things out as a game for self-learners. As a game, it is an activity that people take up because they enjoy it. It makes sense to them and so they can teach it to others.

I want to document the hundreds of ways that I and others have figured things out. I want to show how they all fit together, as a culture, and how each can be shared as a game.

I want to make a living from this. I am pursuing three ways: <ul><li>I am pooling support to create Learning Games and publish them in the Public Domain. <li>I am seeking clients and sponsors to document and highlight ways of figuring things out that are specific to their domain. <li>I am proposing to establish a Center that supports and champions Black American self-learners in inner city Chicago. </ul>

I invite your thoughts and your help, and especially, your ways of figuring things out!

Andrius Kulikauskas, ms@ms.lt, +1 (773) 306-3807

AndriusKulikauskas


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