The Ionasphere, ©2001
CHAOS CONSCIOUSNESS AND HEALING
by Iona Miller and Graywolf Swinney, ©1992
ABSTRACT: Experiential therapy sessions have shown that as consciousness journeys deeper and deeper into the psyche, it eventually encounters a state characterized either as "chaotic" or void of images. Those emerging from this non-ordinary state of consciousness report an increased sense of well-being ranging from mood alteration to profound physiological changes. We known that research has shown that imagery can affect the immune system. Imagery journeys in the autonomous stream of consciousness may activate psychosomatic healing forces, such as the placebo effect.
Science thus brings us to the threshold of the ego and there leaves us to ourselves.
...the attractor does not consist of a simple point, curve or higher dimensional manifold, but contains an infinite complex of manifolds.
CHAOS IN DAILY LIFE
Both the shamanic view and modern depth psychology embrace an integrated view of psyche, soul, and nature. Sometimes this worldview is easier to achieve as an abstract thought than as an on-going perspective about life itself. Try as we might, we are so ingrained with the old mechanical-materialistic fantasy that we find our thoughts and attitudes slipping back toward causal models, perpetually denying the true nature of reality as we experience it.
We have been conditioned since birth towards a conformist, orderly behavior that is deemed good for society, but is the death-knell of individuality. Much of the distortion in our worldview comes from our outmoded view of who we are, in terms of consciousness, awareness and perception. Consensus reality doesn't represent any universal truth -- so-called "normal" consciousness is more of a cultural trance state (Tart, 1992).
Integrating the new science of chaos theory can help us expand our understanding of reality. It impacts our sense of self as well as our concept of "how things work" in the universe. Allowing chaos back into our lives in a positive way also fosters the healing process. We have observed in experiential therapy that clients naturally gravitate in their inner journeys to a de-structured place. While there, they report feelings of rejuvination and well-being.
There are certain primary characteristics of chaos and chaotic systems (complex dynamic systems):
6) intrinsically unpredictable
7) yet boundaried
8) and geometric
9) and sustained by complex feedback loops
CHAOTIC SYSTEMS ARE:
1) sensitive to initial conditions
2) disproportionately responsive to stimuli
3) translatable from micro- to macroscopic proportions
4) attractor centered
5) shuffled time/space
6) apparently acausal (actually enfolded; implicate/explicate)
8) global phenomena
Each of these aspects can be literally or metaphorically illustrated by a consciousness state, particularly if we include dreamlife. In fact, they are all present within each and every one of us when we turn our attention inward. We have observed many dream journeys to which these descriptors could apply.
For example, the quality of shuffled time/space is seen in the precognitive or prophetic dream. An attractor-centered dream might focus around a specific psychological complex, which acts like a magnetic center [strange attractor] for emotional conflict. Chaotic systems are also complex, as are dreams. They represent systems that are far-from-equilibrium. Jung contended that dreams help maintain psychic balance.
The scientific metaphor provided by chaos theory allows us to describe the psyche in terms congruent with physical reality as presently understood. Old psychological models have placed emphasis on order, and the overcoming of chaos.
Yet chaos has a perhaps unrecognized value, in our psyche and physiology. Just as a healthy heart sometime goes into a chaotic pattern, turbulence and chaos help us break down old, outmoded structures in personality. Even the deterioration of mental illness is quite purposeful in that it is the individual's attempt at healing and finding a new emergent order.
Chaos theory provides a comprehensive metaphor for uniting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realities. It has been said that "any supreme insight is a metaphor." It has also been said that "the better the idea, the more likely it is to have been extremely vague."
While this may not hold true in all cases, it is true that there is a certain quality of ambiguity in chaos and chaos consciousness which must simply be tolerated. For example, this description of imaginative consciousness and "turbulence" from artist Naum Gabo in OF DIVERS ARTS;
The artist's mind is a turbulent sea full of all kinds of impressions, responses and experiences as well as feelings and emotions. Some experts on art assert that the artist does not really have more of these emotions and feelings and impressions than the ordinary man who is not an artist. This may be true or false, but what they apparently fail to see and assert is that in the artist these feelings and responses are in a more agitated state. He is more concerned with them, and the urge to express these experiences is more intense in him than it is in the ordinary man. And that, I suppose, is the reason why the artist's mind is not only more turbulent but sometimes, alas, troublesome also...
The chaos of our human lives is re-iterated from the subatomic through the cosmic level. Chaos is the matrix of creation. It provides a bridge for unfolding "heaven on earth", a means of manifesting and grounding spiritual energy, that is not only creative but healing.
A state-of-the-art empirical foundation is essential for any well-grounded philosophy of life and a realistic self-concept. We create limited subjective fantasies about ourselves and the nature of the universe all the time. Usually we do not examine our a priori beliefs which condition those notions.
We grasp our beliefs as though they were the most precious of gemstones, rather than just models or constructs. The true nature of perception dictates that we experience only a simulation of ourselves and the world-at-large (Tart, 1992). From our worldview come symbols and images which a small part of our brain, and an even smaller part of our mind and consciousness clings to, attempting to structure reality out of chaos.
By clutching these beliefs, we then limit our experience of reality to that defined by them. For the most part, these underlying beliefs are rooted in notions about the nature of reality which are derived from 17th century physics and philosophy. The old mechanistic view asserts that mind and matter are separate.
Newton's discoveries bolstered the notion that reality is a universe consisting of separate objects interacting with one another according to fixed laws of cause and effect. The laws are learned through objective observation and measurement. Causal laws fit with our direct experience of the universe and are therefore supported as feeling "right" by intuition. Einstein said our language requires coordinates.
Since we live in a culture which is mostly based on this science and its technology, we generally accept these notions as a given, as axioms too basic to be questioned. We may know about the irrational, counter-intuitive concepts of quantum mechanics, yet it hardly seems to affect us.
Our beliefs are still largely rooted in cause-and-effect. From these axioms we also construct our ego and personality which is a collection of secondary beliefs about what we are and how we can relate to and control our surroundings.
It seems to work. Using this system of thought and belief, we are able to control much of the physical world around us. That is, until catastrophic chaos intervenes in our lives. It may come in the form of natural disaster, random victimization, the bifurcation of a love triangle [paramour as strange attractor], or a crisis in transition from one phase of life to another.
Sometimes the intrusion is a spontaneous unusual psychic or spiritual experience which can neither be integrated nor assimilated into daily life. It also will not be ignored. It may come, therefore, in the form of a recurrent dream, or other means of hailing the conscious mind from the subconscious.
Spiritual emergencies, ranging from addiction to near-death-experiences, call for a breaking down of the old system to the primal or fundamental (or chaotic) level. Disintegration is the direction of these processes, which create opportunities for us to "get it back together' at a healthier, more enriched, enlarged level, with a new primal self-image.
As powerful as the scientific approach seems to be, it leaves many phenomena unexplained. There are strategic holes in the fortress of classical scientific doctrine. For example, objective observation and the principles of cause and effect In 1938 Einstein wrote, "Physical concepts are free creatures of the human mind and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world."
Quantum mechanics further attacks the principles of objectivity and separativity. The implications of this theory take us into a strange reality in which we not only influence reality but actually create it from our minds and expectations. Realities exist as possibilities which come into being through our consciousness and intentionality. To put it in other terms, apparently the universe exists only within the context of our relationship to it.
John Wheeler, a physicist from Princeton University, writes, "May the universe be 'brought into being' by the participation of those who participate?...The vital act is the act of participation. 'Participator' is the given incontrovertible new concept given by quantum mechanics. It strikes down the term 'observer' of classical theory, the man who stands safely behind the thick glass wall and watches what goes on without taking part. It can't be done, quantum mechanics says."
Henry Pierce Strapp, another quantum physicist, states that the world is "Not a structure built out of existing analyzable entities, but rather a web of relationships between elements whose meanings arise wholly from their relationship to the whole."
In the field of medical science, there are many cases of healing which conventional or classical medicine or psychology cannot explain. These gaps have been labeled placebo and spontaneous remission. Yet, this does no more than hide our ignorance behind words. There is, however, a striking parallel between healing and the new physics.
As in the new physics, healing too occurs in a realm of connectivity and mutual creation. Healer and "healee" are not separate objective entities following fixed laws with the former manipulating the physical components of the latter. They are partners in a process of creating a universe in which mind and body are no longer separate. They establish a flow in harmonious accord with each other and the rest of creation, a state of ease rather than dis-ease.
The new paradigm helps us evolve out of the body/mind or nature/spirit split instilled by our culture during the era of mechanistic science and the industrial revolution. We now live in an information society. Information theory describes the fundamental quality of information as an agent of change.
Great minds have been moving in these systems-theory directions for some time, but there seems to be a lag-time in the psyche of the general population. Even though some may comprehend it mentally, it rarely transforms into a truly transformative, deep knowledge on all levels of awareness, much less what it could mean in terms of mental health.
Chaos theory gives us a visual mathematical language for charting strange attractors in dynamical systems. They can be applied within an individual psyche or to interactive relationships. This technology has already been applied to human behavior. Order and chaos in the emotional realm have been studied by mathematicians and psychiatrists.
Their studies produced models of a person's chaotic or unstable behavior in comparison to their stable behavior. Stable behavior can be imagined as being like the sky, unstable behavior like mountains, with little pockets or "caves" of serenity within them.
These little sanctuaries could be fostered through therapy. Stability can be increased through therapy within a broader landscape of chaos and pathology. It may also lead to new ways to individualize psychotherapy, like dreamhealing. [see DREAMHEALING: THE HEART OF DREAMS, Miller and Swinney, 1991].
Even mental illness may relate to the phenomena of strange attractors in the brain or emotional field. Some researchers believe, for example, that a number of mental disorders, such as manic-depressive illness and schizophrenia, occur when biological regulatory systems cease to operate at their normal, fixed point and change suddenly to another stable but abnormal point.
In chaos theory, when an attractor disappears due to sudden catastrophic change, the system becomes structureless and experiences a term of "transient chaos" before another attractor is found.
The primal image is the attractor and it forms based on the organism's interaction with the "Not-I" or environment. An individual's personal myth or mytheme might be conceived as an activated chaotic attractor. In another phase of life, the focus could change to others. Sometimes these transitions are fairly smooth, other times catastrophic, sweeping the old structure away in an uncontrollable fashion.
The ego can suffer greatly from this jerking around by the deep forces within, especially if it doesn't have enough information about its purpose to derive meaning from the experience. For some, the disruption leads to a nervous breakdown or psychotic break, while for others it opens the doors into a new freedom and expanded sense of self.
Chaos is part of a greater structure/process, for want of a better title, called evolution. Order emerges spontaneously from chaos, and order tends to degenerate into chaos when forms are obsolete.
Chaos is also the root of the creative process. In chaos, the search for information is open. As soon as you think you "know" something, you close down the search for new information and solutions.
There are many questions which arise within the model of human development based on chaos theory. We can conjecture why certain attractors or complexes form. We really don't know why some may become prominent and others fade into the background. But we do know that when two or more are competing for divergent behavior and attitudes, the resulting psychic split can be painful, setting up a deep conflict which is not be easy to resolve. If it is extreme, it leads to psychological fragmentation.
Free choice may be a factor, but our choices are limited by our attitudes about what we believe is possible for us. The only solution is to dive to the deepest levels, seeking evolutionary transformation -- a quantum leap in consciousness that can contain opposites within paradox. The first step in understanding how these attractors affect us has to do with our personal filters, our distorted experiences of raw archetypal energy.
CONSCIOUSNESS AND CHAOS
In our studies of healing, and an attempt to synthesize them into a consistent ideal, we have developed a model. Consciousness may be viewed as a field interacting with other fields. In physics, a field is a medium of connectivity, an extent of space within which lines of force (magnetic and electrical) are in operation. It is also called a field of force.
When two fields, like electricity and magnetism, interact they create electromagnetic waves which include all forms of radiant energy from light and radio waves, to gamma and cosmic rays. Electromagnetism is magnetism developed by electricity. EM fields interact with the smallest units of matter energetically exciting the components of the fundamental geometry of space in fields which are in a constant state of fluctuation.
The consciousness field is not limited to the conscious awareness of human beings, as in the Jungian concept. Rather, it is the creative dynamic matrix behind all life and inorganic manifestation. It is self-generating. Consciousness begets consciousness. It is self-iterating (or repeating--chronic), and self-organizing.
When consciousness interacts with the space/time field or electromagnetic (EM) fields, then individual consciousness emerges. Since the consciousness field represents all potential, its qualitative nature must be paradoxical for it encompasses the opposites. Still, once it begins interacting with other fields and begins to "make psyche matter," certain boundary conditions are imposed. The determinism of a chaotic system guides the growth and maturation process.
The original site interaction of consciousness with time/space creates not only the material basis, but the organism's strange attractor, which we refer to as the "primal image." It is the blueprint of the entity.
Jungian psychologists are exploring the possible relationships between strange attractors and archetypes or complexes [see PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES]. In our view these attractors or complexes are secondary formations, even though the concept of a primal guiding image shares much with the Jungian concept of self. They are merely similar.
This view is neither archetypal nor complex-oriented. Rather than limiting exploration piecemeal to a few select archetypes or specific complexes, it approaches the individual as a whole, not as a collection of fragmented parts.
Human beings reflect the qualities of chaotic systems. As living creatures we are sensitive to the initial conditions of our genetics and conception. We can easily respond disproportionately to stimuli.
A child's actual brain chemistry and neural patterns can be changed by childhood trauma. This creates a rigid structure through the process of conditioning. The trauma may come from an insignificant incident such as parents yelling, for the child perceives them as gigantic, all-mighty gods essential for survival. Needless to say, severe trauma inflicts an even deeper imprint or distortion of the personality.
Seeds of change (for good or bad) planted in our lives can quickly grow later to transformations of vast proportion. For example, any choice point we face in life where we leave an alternate "road not taken," leads to a wide variety of different life experiences and opportunities.
We are attractor-centered, whether we conceive of that primal attractor as divinity, the higher self, the core self, the Jungian self, the Gestalt self, or that deepest sense of self--our primal self image (including its unconscious aspects). As an attractor, it contains an infinite complex of forms and images. Elsewhere, we have delved into this more deeply [see EGO AND THE PROCESS OF HEALING, Miller and Swinney, 1991].
Our consciousness is capable of experiencing shuffled space/time. It happens during dreams, deja-vu, precognition, and other psychic experiences. We also experience apparently acausal phenomena, termed synchronicity by Jung.
Physicists (Bohm, 1980) call enfolded information "implicate" when it is enfolded in a latent state of potential. It is called "explicate" when it is unfolded or actualized (observable).
Our entire lives are encoded in the initial moment of conception, yet the details of that unfolding potential are inherently unpredictable. Our lives are the explication of the initial conditions present at conception. That initial blueprint is subject to many perturbations along the way.
Chaotic systems are qualitative. Even physics proves it is impossible for us to comprehend anything but subjective perceptions. When it comes to human life, quality is generally valued over quantity faced with impairment.
We adapt to changing circumstances in our environment because we are flexible and creative. Because of this we have covered the globe with civilization. Our physical bodies and our societies are sustained by complex feedback loops. Our moods are controlled by excitatory and inhibatory brain hormones. The political process is part of the social feedback system.
The consciousness field is that which relates us to the entire universe. It may be viewed as chaos, or energy in a primal chaotic state, prior to any solidification into matter. It is a field of energy, not a "thing." It is able to take on infinite forms, including images.
Time is also a field. Consciousness may intersect with time at a 90 degree angle, in which case a linear flow seems to emerge. Or, it may fold over in a contiguous way, producing a "bending" or folding of space.
In far-from-equilibrium conditions, this folding or kneading would create layers of time/space that are simply connected, like pieces of layered pastry dough. Points in time widely separated in the linear sense, become intimately juxtaposed. In this model, consciousness would have the ability to "pop" around in time.
The site interaction with other fields by consciousness is what we view as the intrusion of the strange attractor. Where two fields interact, that is the strange attractor, which then attracts and forms the consciousness around it. The other field, whatever it is interacting with, attracts the energy around it too. And this is what we create our experience from.
The strange attractor is the intersection of the fields. We can view it linearly, or in non-linear fashion. This is speculation, on the touching of fields creating reality at a profound level. When consciousness intersects with other fields it seems to create matter, or the illusion of matter, and we can manipulate that, change forms, etc.
Consciousness evolution equals the process of chaos moving into structure, dissolving back into chaos, and reconstituting into structure. It requires a breaking up or dissolving of old forms back into the primal state.
For some reason in dreamhealing sessions, each new structure that comes out of the primal chaos seems to be an evolution beyond, or a superior structure, or a better structure than the previous one that went into the chaos. Now we don't know why this should be, but it does seem to be that way consistently.
We can speculate that this generalizes to the whole process of evolution. In any event, it has been observed specifically in dream journeys which move deep into the psyche. Of course, it pre-supposes that the journey gets to the depth where chaotic consciousness is experienced to begin with.
Whenever we begin with a structure (the currently defined personality), we commit it back to the chaos (the primal chaotic state of consciousness). The new structure, the new image that emerges is always better, always more healed, more whole, evolved beyond the old structure that was so limiting.
Rigidities seem to dissolve and reform in that state of consciousness, like a modern equivalent of the old alchemical maxim--"solve et coagulatio." This may relate to a deeper, unknown law of chaos. What is known is that we observe it repeatedly in the dreamhealing process.
If you take any portion of a fractal and expand it, you find it is self-similar. This reveals a harmony with shamanic law--that organization repeats itself at all levels of organization. Patterns repeat at all levels of organization. It is much like finding the universe in a grain of sand.
Evolution in consciousness comes with a quantum shift in awareness. That quantum shift occurs during the period in which the evolving structure is in chaos. So if you are in a dreamhealing process, experiencing for example, the multiple consciousness of the Earth Mother as decay, you may follow that to the point of total disintegration.
Since you are identified with that state of consciousness at the time, your personal awareness dives down into the chaos, journeying to the most fundamental or primal state of consciousness--chaos.
That is when the shift in primal image of self becomes possible, because it is totally de-structured. During that period of chaos is when it (and you with it) are changed from this to that, in a non-linear state. From that, you can see that you can consign your bound-up rigid energies (whether it is fear, pain, or whatever) to their primal state so that the transformation of that energy frees it to take on a new quality. Again, this is an alchemical notion: "Only that which has been separated can be properly joined."
Consciousness healing takes place in quantum shifts. The old model of psychological integration changed and integrated a little piece at a time, building toward a "strong coping ego." The personal experience of the quantum shift is in the imagery of dreams and dream journeys. It appears spontaneously.
For example, here is how one client described the journey to the inner healer in self-guided session:
First the dream: I am in a sunny field of green grass. I see an old college friend coming toward me across the field. His name is Mark. I'm also trying to set up a screen to watch a movie on. The screen is two pieces of painted green wood.
With the dream in my mind, I choose to become the dream. I am the field of grass. I notice how close to the earth I am, indeed, how I am the earth. I feel an aliveness as grass that I have forgotten as myself. I take in the sunlight to nourish me.
I feel drawn into the roots of the grass. I have a sense of the rootedness of the grass, so I let myself go into the earth through the roots. This leads me into a series of colors and textures which I discover as the journey continues underground.
I let myself go on, and I arrive eventually at the center of the earth, where a vibrant orange lava surrounds me and penetrates me with its heat. With this main sensation in my body, I find myself settling into the flow and resting, taking in the heat all around me.
The journey has come to a momentary ending, but the ending brings movement and flow into my awareness. I have found a place of transformational energy. From the bright green field, I've come to rest in a warm, embracing lava-energy deep inside me. I have contacted the inner healer, the healing state of my dream.
The real healing IS this quantum shift in mental, emotional, even physical structure. The approach is one of wholeness and following the image. The dreamhealing process is aimed at addressing this very profound level from the beginning.
Progress comes unpredictably in quantum leaps in consciousness. Carl Simonton's work using imagery with cancer patients touches on this. The use of imagery with the intent of bringing about healing seems to mobilize forces deep within us that were formerly unaccessible.
Nature as structure is reflected at all levels of organization just like fractal math shows. If you look at a tiny piece of a fractal, the whole structure is reflected within it, much like a hologram. This is because it is self-similar and self-iterative. Any tiny piece reflects the whole. It is much the same in holography where a tiny piece of the negative can produce the whole image, though the detail may be fuzzier.
This happens in human systems also. Applying Transactional Analysis to corporations shows that if you look at the pathology of the organization, it is related to the pathology of the individuals within that organization--and very often most to the founder or director. And vice versa.
We re-encounter the "holographic notion" in shamanism. The worldview is that we are reflections of the great Mother Earth. What happens to us is reflected in Gaea in the rocks and the trees, etc. At any level of organization nature repeats herself.
As you watch the cycles of nature, you observe that things go into life and death and rebirth, as energy changes form. If that is happening all around you, what is to make you think you are any different than that. You are part of nature, unlike in the "civilized" or "scientific" views which set us apart.
If you are truly not separate, you can expect, quite naturally, to go through the same cycle yourself, in consciousness as well as in biology. Further, you can trust that and embrace that flow of life, death, and rebirth. Mystics and scientists show us that "change is stability."
This is very much part of the shamanic perspective. We find that, in therapy, people get into "earth consciousness" and they perceive that they are healing the earth as well as themselves. This idea may be subjective, but not necessarily grandiose or delusional. It is unusual and perhaps unpredictable from their presenting problem.
For example, in one experience a woman became a throbbing like the heartbeat of the entire planet. She felt the healing within herself as that of the planet. From the shaman's perspective, the healing of any component contributes to the healing of the whole, though it may be difficult to substantiate for the rational mind.
To some extent this view becomes less subjective if we look at fractal theory in which any change in a part also changes the whole. As further evidence of dream's chaotic nature, a case can be made that dreams are holograms. In using dream symbols for healing work, it seems that "all roads lead to Rome."
A person can enter the dream through any of the symbolic doorways and derive a very different experience of consciousness along the way. Still, following the symbols deeper and deeper one arrives at that healing, primal level.
As long as the image is followed back faithfully, the connection can be made from any beginning point in any dream, old or new. That is one reason we never need to go back to a particular dream symbol that has not been worked, but can pick up the process entering through a fresh dream image.
The deeper mind always presents the best departure point for current conflicts and turmoil, that which seeks healing. The part is contained within the whole, but the whole is also contained in each part, according to the holographic model of reality.
Therefore, by changing the part, therapy changes the whole. So philosophically, it makes sense to approach the whole person, rather than the part which contains less-detailed information. If the therapist chooses the part to work on, it is limited. Psyche has many options to choose from its deeper wisdom.
Small changes in therapy can translate into exponential changes over time, since chaotic systems are sensitive to initial conditions. They quickly pump up small changes to larger changes in awareness. Part of the overall healing model is that WE ARE NOT SEPARATE. And, to the extent that we can embrace that model, it becomes more of a reality in the most profound sense.
CHANGE IS STABILITY
The difference between inanimate and animate life (or consciousness) is only a reflection of the interaction of the conscious field with the time field, or based on the level of observation. Inert matter is alive with subatomic activity. If you look closely enough, or remove the time-bound aspects, the similarity is there.
Inanimate objects have a capacity to reconstitute just as organic systems do. Any definition of the difference between animate and inanimate existence is time-bound within a given period of time. Because of the conservation of energy, our constituents will participate in many animate and inanimate processes over the aeons.
For example, all the elements within our bodies were cooked in the crucible of some ancient star, which exploded in a supernova millennia ago. When you remove the dimension of time, the definitions "star" and "human" do not hold. We share the same essence. Maybe this is why mystic Aleister Crowley said "Every man and every woman is a star."
The similarity of archetypes (pervasive patterns which seem to repeat in nature and the psyche) may be a function of genetic structure. Genetics provides a sense of universality amongst all humankind of senses and experiences of structure. Jung proposed a psychoid nature, (beyond and independent of human experiences), for archetypes. In the deepest sense, these archetypal energies are trans-human, transpersonal.
Nevertheless, out of chaotic systems, we see self-similar, though not identical, patterns emerging. This is a property of chaotic systems. Our perceptions of these forms, our sensory patterns, may simply create archetypes out of them. There is that deeper structure of forms that arises spontaneously from chaos. The limitations of our perceptions and senses, based on genetics, conditions what "archetypes" we tend to perceive and live out.
Perhaps Jung mistook human perception of archetypes for those being "common" archetypes; whereas chaos may not be bound to that. A tree, for example, has the ability to experience its existence in its own way, at least from the shamanic perspective of animism. We can speculate about trees, or rocks, or fish with their different perceptual apparatus.
They naturally will experience different perceptions of so-called archetypes based on their forms of "perception." They may also "notice" and create archetypes of their own out of persistent patterns. But, these will be very different from the kind of perceptions our intellect and genetic organs are capable of focusing on. Therefore, an archetype may be a function of genetic commonality.
Strange attractors in this view are based on the genetic structure that attracts the conscious energy around it. Out of chaotic systems we see self-similar patterns emerging. Our perceptions create archetypes by adding words and concepts.
When it comes to creating a human being, one of the first things that is created out of that consciousness field interaction with EM fields, gravity and time, is the genetic structure which is the blueprint around which our physical structure evolves [see EMBRYONIC HOLOGRAPHY, Miller and Webb, 1973].
Our physical structure, as dictated by DNA, in turn determines emotional structure, sensory structure, and perceptual structure. Our sensory apparatus arises out of the genetic structure. The strange attractor is that touching of fields which then forms the physical and psychic structure. The relationships of our physical and emotional structure come out of their interaction, that interface, or nexus point.
Chaos may also be related to certain forms of divination, based on so-called chance, such as the I Ching, Tarot, or the Rune Stones. Divinatory procedures help us extract personal meaning from the chaotic jumble of divinatory elements. They mirror our subconscious and environment at that specific moment of observation.
The structure of divinatory instruments also reveals much about the nature of the human psyche. There may be an infinite number of archetypes in the universe, but a select number are most influential in the lives of humanity. These are what get encoded into our divinatory systems as most relevant.
For example, let's examine a just a couple of rune stones, relevant to our theme: "Disruption" and "Odin." The rune for disruption seems like an ancient statement of the laws of chaos -- disruption is where evolution comes from. Disruption is what heralds and brings about change and growth. Dynamic change is actually a more stable condition than the inertia of the status quo. Nature reveals this lesson to us daily, personally and in complex dynamic systems. Without disruption there is no change.
"Odin," the blank rune, is NOTHING, and at the same time ALL. When you draw "Odin," you have essentially drawn all the runes and none of the runes. That blankness is the crucible of all and the matrix of creativity. This seems to relate to chaos, also. "Odin" and chaos are also qualitatively the same.
THE SOCIOLOGY OF CHAOS
At all levels -- personal, societal, and so-forth -- we come back to the idea that chaos/order reflects the same structure and problems. All the structures we are, have or experience are constantly in a balance between chaos and structure (order). Moving in and out of that, bathing in that chaos and emerging again, that is our re-creation.
One of the main implications of that for our history as a species, as a culture, is that we are moving into a place of intense chaos in our political systems, our social systems, and our financial systems. In reality it always has been that way. There isn't much new about the so-called New World Order.
That is part of the point -- we are moving into a new order which is unpredictable since it is not logically thought out. It is really nothing new, but we have been enculturated to worship order (through the primary religion of science), and to fear or distrust chaos. Even anarchy doesn't have to imply lawlessness if each individual is consciously self-governing (autarchy).
The so-called "Aquarian Conspiracy," popularized by Marilyn Ferguson, can be seen as an introduction of social chaos to break up old forms of thought in an iconoclastic way to make way for rebirth on many levels. So, there is a message of hope for positive change even though things seem chaotic and are becoming more so. It is part of a larger order of evolution. There is going to be a quantum-shift and the new emergent structure hopefully is better. If we trust nature and trust ourselves, we realize this is true.
If we re-embraced chaos within our culture, like the old nature religions of ancient times, what qualities would it have? How would this new paradigm--chaos is okay, and even "good"--impact the individual?
Another aspect of modern life is that with the population explosion there is naturally increasing stress. How do we learn to live with that? Behaviorists have shown that packing too many rats into a small area leads to increased competition, aggression, and unpredictability.
Stress also leads to unpredictability in human behavior. We may need to find new, creative methods of decreasing population density so that stresses are held to a level where quality of life is still attainable. This may come through birth control, or territorial expansion into space, or combined with other solutions as-yet-unknown. But we had better take action. This decade determines whether twice as many, or three times as many people inhabit the planet as it can sustain.
Patriarchy suppressed the old chaos cultures, but the return of the Feminine to social importance may herald a new era of co-existence between chaos and order in our culture. The truth is we always have been a chaos culture, but in a state of extreme denial. We tend to see ourselves as ordered, responsible, reliable. This "control fantasy" probably springs from neurotic roots. It may feel safer, but is not necessarily true.
Scientific notions of chaos may be difficult for some people to grasp, but not the notion of chaos pervading their daily life--we see it everywhere.
Lorenz tells us that an attractor contains an infinite complex of manifolds. It is a complex interaction of fields which forms the attractor and which forms the complex around the structure. It is not a "thing" at the center of a bunch of orbits. Rather, it is a complex infinity of interaction. Field interaction may be the strange attractor.
This may be hard to understand -- but not the first-hand experience of chaos in our lives affecting our fixations, fascinations, attention, and intentions.
Some of us think that science started out with things we could perceive and that it is getting further and further from things we can grasp with our senses. The limits of our observation have been extended down to the void, and out into the far-reaches of the cosmos.
As we got into quantum mechanics, physics no longer described our daily experience, so there is difficulty in understanding it, even for the experts. Understanding or comprehending laws or principles, doesn't really tell us what things are.
Chaos doesn't imply a complexity beyond human understanding and everyday experience. Because we all perceive the inherent chaos in our mortal lives, we understand it at a deeper level -- even more than quantum mechanics, relativity, or even Newtonian physics.
We understand how chaos could be fundamental in reality. Chaos not only relates to the cosmic level of the physical universe and the subatomic world, its effects are obvious on the human levels of perception, experience, and understanding. We may not get the mathematics of chaos, but we get the gist of its fundamental role in our lives. No one can deny it exists!
Chaos need not be part of the mystification of reality and nature by science. We understand it at a deep, personal, profound level. Physicist Joseph Ford has said that, "to accept the future we must renounce much of the past..." This helps us move toward an evolutionary inclusion of chaos science into our worldview, displacing the outdated mechanistic-materialistic notions.
This is not a petty rebellion against the established order, but a quantum leap in awareness which brings our concept of "I" and "Not-I" closer to reality. Everything is of one fabric, seamless and whole.
Basically, this involves a "letting go" or "emptying" which frees one up to move into the future. We need to empty ourselves before we can be re-filled. Devolution (regression), revolution, and evolution are three different, related processes.
We are not dealing with a revolution in science from chaos theory. The tone is evolutionary. Chaos theory is not overthrowing any old notion, but extending and opening up what was formerly incomprehensible and often incompatible.
Mandelbrot [who discovered them] has said that "nobody is indifferent to fractals," and that seems to be true. Because they are based on chaos, they are a deep expression of chaos. The surprise is that they are so beautiful. We see our own essence reflected in them, and they become expressions of ourselves.
That is our relationship to fractals. Of course we are not indifferent to them because they reflect ourselves, and all we perceive around us. Their referent is the dynamics of our everyday life and the world about us. We are in a constant battle to hold form and structure (survival) and keep chaos at bay (disintegration).
Our bodies and mental processes are based on fractal anatomy or fractal architecture. There is an inherent fascination in that linking. Chaos is the foundation of health in the body, as well as creativity and flexibility.
It is healthy to be chaotic sometimes, both mentally and physically. The healthy heart needs to go into that chaoticness and come back out again to remain healthy. We need to do the same with our mentality; it is how we learn and grow. In both the body and the mind dis-ease = too much order = being stuck.
Studies of pre-schoolers have shown that they thrive and learn better in a less-structured environment where they can be loud and enthusiastic without the characteristic repression of traditional school. This does not mean an environment that is devoid of structure, but one that minimizes repression and encourages exploration and challenges.
Why do we fear chaos so much both in the world and within ourselves? In both religion and government there seems to be a mandate for control--to get away from chaos and cleave to law and order. Sometimes, there seems a certain sort of desperation in it, indicating acute fear over loss of control.
The compulsion to control generally arises from trauma in situations where we feel helpless and hopeless. We try to compensate by rigidly maintaining order in any domain which we can rule over. For example, a disgruntled housewife who was abused as a child may not be able to control her drinking husband or her wild children, but her house MUST remain immaculate at all times.
Ernest Rossi, Jungian psychologist, has said that "chaos is often seen in terms of the limitations it implies, such as lack of predictability." We are afraid of that non-predictability. This is the fundamental basis of science which, in essence, functions as the prevailing religion of our times. We virtually all "believe" it.
Both science and religion are heroic defenses against chaos. We are afraid of chaos, and yet what a dull world it would be if everything was predictable. We would have dull relationships if we could totally predict one another. What a dull life if we could see our entire developmental progress predetermined and predictable. Not to mention, knowing the hour of our death.
We live in a world governed by deterministic laws. But reality also involves randomness, fluctuation, and irreversible processes. In terms of the human psyche, this bears directly on the concepts of choice and free will.
There is a fairly direct flow from consciousness to action which involves perception, awareness, attention, free will, purpose, goals, intention, resolution, creativity, choice, and decision. All these lead us toward irrevocable action and perhaps the results of action: karma, or natural consequences.
Fractal images are new models of creative process. Chaos is really the seat of creativity -- the basis from which all of our creativity comes. Einstein would frequently daydream, letting his mind go into the state of chaos, and ultimately came the idea of relativity. Also, there was Newton sitting idly under the tree, and suddenly the apple falls on his head. From that incident he got his notion of gravity.
Only small fluctuations in mental processes are required initially to amplify over time into major changes or re-visioning of reality. Chaos doesn't have to be frightening. It can be very beautiful. It is where we create the new structure, the new order.
We have been brainwashed out of that by both the religion of science and traditional religion, the patriarchal, left-brain approach to life. They are all defenses against that lifestyle that is in harmony with nature. It is the place of no thoughts, random neural firing patterns, the empty mind, or "beginner's mind."
Another reason we fear chaos may be that essentially chaos equals death, i.e. death is a return to chaos. Decay [entropy] is the process of becoming chaotic again. Structure decays into non-structure. It touches on our mortality issues.
The return to death happens on many levels. If you simply watch your breathing you can notice a "little death" at the bottom of the breath. Each time we make a change in our thinking, we have the death of the old concept for a new idea. When we go into therapy, there is the death of parts of ourselves, part of our ego, so we can heal. There is no real need to be so afraid of either ego-death or physical death. It rarely changes the dynamics of the process.
Sleep equals dreams, and even sleep is a form of death, of going into chaos. This may be why we need to sleep. We become unconscious, we become blank, and our mind has no pattern. Then, out of that arise the dreams, which help us to heal.
We move between the delta state and rapid eye movement (REM), indicating the dream state. We are constantly moving into the structure of our dreams, which are healing and balancing, and then into the chaos of deeper sleep where there is no structure to the mind, and back again. This may be why dreams are so healing, since they are tied to that chaos. The same may be true of the healing power of sexual love, and the "little death" of orgasm.
THE QUALITATIVE vs. THE QUANTITATIVE
Throughout the centuries the rational mind has developed the language of mathematics as a way of conceptualizing order in the world. It is a way of approaching reality from a quantitative perspective. This ultimately lead to a society based in technology which is dehumanizing ("we are cogs in the great machine").
The qualitative aspect was secondary, so for centuries people hardly stopped to consider whether they liked their job or loved their spouse--it was just the way things were. Now quality of life and lifestyles are important issues for many people who are operating above the gross survival level, or merely existing.
Once again the bastions of science are crumbling in regard to this aspect of existence. Consider the statement of Sir James Jeans:
The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter - not, of course, our individual minds, but the mind in which the atoms, out of which our individual minds have grown, exist as thoughts.
And Arthur Eddington:
I assert that the nature of all reality is spiritual, not material nor a dualism of matter and spirit. The hypothesis that its nature can be, to any degree, material does not enter into my reckoning, because as we now understand matter, the putting together of the adjective "material" and the noun "nature" does not make any sense.
Our quantitative consciousness came from the fact that we learned how to count. It worked well for everything from keeping count of herding animals to the rise and fall of rivers in ancient times. It fit a materialistic world, which functioned based on the concept of scarcity of goods, and an "I'll-get-mine-first" mentality.
But the development of numbers and the ability to count may have been one of the most destructive things we have ever done in the development of our culture. Its value is paradoxical--both good and bad. It caused us to focus on quantity rather than quality.
We have chaos and chaos always seems to go full circle into structure and through decay back into chaos. Coming into structure is the process of counting, its is a process of number, the process of ordering, the process of thinking, the process of manipulating nature until we reach a point of order.
This is reflected in the consciousness model which begins with the universal collective consciousness, moving into increasing ego structure and body ego structure. We hit a point of order and then we move into a process of decay. This is just a part of natural order, part of the karmic cycle, part of the consciousness style.
Counting, numbering is a human invention. Numbers, even though they describe or symbolize universal dynamics are not fundamental in the cosmos. They are not archetypal in the Jungian sense, of existing apart from humanity. Numbers, rather than BEING numbers, ARISE from archetypes, as ordering processes.
In our model of the ego [see EGO AND THE PROCESS OF HEALING, Miller, 1991], they are the behavioral, thinking, emotional pattern side of the belief system, rather than on the deep imagery side. They are a function more of the intellect, emerging from the belief system.
It has to do with the archetypal theme of the loss of innocence--the Garden of Eden story. Our belief is that numbers are a way of understanding or ordering reality. We started out in the Garden as beings of emotion, open to our intuition and extrasensory perceptions. In the Garden, we were basically in a state of chaos.
The Fall implied the arrival of the age of intellect, mind, thinking, and language. And mathematics is simply a form of language, information transfer, which addresses its own structure. Therefore, numbers are no more archetypal than letters or words. This doesn't mean they lack a mystical dimension--just ask a Qabalist.
Numbers are a different way of expressing ideas--a different translation. Numbers are a function of the space/time continuum, not really a function of chaos itself, or an archetype itself. They are a function of our intellect.
Zero and infinity are just different symbols for chaos. The two different faces of chaos that we see are really one and the same thing. They are non-ideas. You get infinity when you divide anything by zero. Zero is inherently a part of zero, one and the same thing. Just ways of describing a chaotic thing you can't really grasp.
Jungian, Robin Robertson says, "we think the world is filled with matter and energy (with "stuff"), but it is equally filled with "structure," and that structure is dependent on emptiness, nothingness.
Magician Aleister Crowley reflected the same thought as "Infinite space is the goddess Nuit", who represents all and nothing., as primordial matrix. The truth is there is no end to infinity even though we try to quantify it.
Click here to continue Chaos Theory article 2: CHAOS AS THE UNIVERSAL SOLVENT
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