Tag Archives: corona

In These Times of Chaos: The Resplendent Path

We are faced with our own contemporary form of chaos: the unpredictability and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the civil and political unrest following the death of George Floyd.

 

We may feel that we are steering toward the dramatic end of the comfortable narrative of normality and social order.

We may experience helplessness when struck with illness or economic disaster.

We may not know what sources or experts to trust.

The inability to predict the outcome of these horrible events, coupled with the lack of control over most of our circumstances, is a profound stressor.

 

If we cannot control or predict our circumstances, should we just surrender to the crushing waves of our inevitable demise?

I beg to differ. We can change the way we mentally (and spiritually) respond to these circumstances. We can “embrace chaos.” We can follow what I, in my upcoming book, call “The Resplendent Path.”

For those of us who are in a position of influence, this Resplendent Path may also point the way out of the actual issues faced, not just the psychological response to them.

 

I have written about this Resplendent Path, related to chaos theory, in an earlier post.

 

Imagine a dimension. On the extreme left of that dimension we have the pole “rigid order,” on the extreme right the pole “absolute chaos.”

A wide range of psychological as well as social phenomena can be grouped under “rigid order”: strict rituals, obsessive thoughts, repression, anorexia nervosa, risk avoidance, depression, boredom due to extreme predictability, helplessness, and absolute control, but also totalitarian regimes and inefficient bureaucracy.

 

An equally wide range of phenomena can be grouped under “absolute chaos”: insanity, impulsiveness, binge eating, extreme risk taking, fear, uncertainty and extreme unpredictability, stress, and a lack of control, but also anarchy, war and revolts.

 

What should interest us most are the phenomena to be found at the golden middle between those two poles (The Resplendent Path): creativity, open-mindedness, growth, positive change, learning, curiosity, reasonable risk taking, meeting challenges, states of flow and diffuse control.

 

None of those lists are exhaustive, but nevertheless they serve to illustrate the usefulness of applying a framework of chaos theoretical concepts to explain physical, psychological, political, social and even spiritual phenomena. If this approach is embraced, we can also start thinking about using it to come up with solutions to problems stemming from inclinations toward either too much order or too much chaos. Fine tuning the system toward the optimal Resplendent Path is a daunting task, and may best be visualized by the metaphor of walking a tightrope.

 

That’s why I have sacrificed a lot of my precious time into writing a book, out of passion and without seeking any material gain, with the intention to make it available to all who may be interest (for free).

 

In this book I also dig a little deeper into more profound questions, such as “What is consciousness?” and “What is the ultimate reality?” while trying to maintain a balance between scientific considerations and sources on the one hand, and less scientific, more fantastical ones on the other. I will also expose my vulnerability by relating to my own experiences and failures, and how I learned from them – and am still learning from them.

 

I expect this book (I am, at the time of this writing, doing the final revision) to be finished before the end of this year, and it will first be available as a PDF file, which is the most accessible and workable format.

 

© 2020 Marcel van Delft

Image: By Adi_Holzer_Werksverzeichnis_850_Lebenslauf.jpg: Adi Holzerderivative work: Snaevar (talk) – Adi_Holzer_Werksverzeichnis_850_Lebenslauf.jpg, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12390712

Troubled Times or Great Opportunity: Embracing the Unknown

Image: By Hans Thoma – cyfrowe.mnw.art.pl, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28406642

Many of us are plagued by the violent whispers of fear and apocalyptic visions of death, loss and economical demise. We are imprisoned in our own homes, condemned to utter solitude and sentenced to isolation and helplessness. The seemingly contradicting messages sent out by either experts or politicians do not bring relief either. And then there are those who believe that panic is the true pandemic, rather than the true malefactor: the lethal adversary that cannot even be seen with the naked eye.

There are times when there is nothing we can do to change our fate, and when we do not know what is going to happen.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist who had survived the holocaust and had to deal with both the suffering in a concentration camp and the loss of his loved ones, wrote that in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Were his circumstances more severe than ours? It most certainly appears that way. Yet, he found a purpose and meaning where most others could not find it, and because of that he persevered.

So, what can we do in these troubled times? I would say that this is the perfect opportunity to learn how to embrace unpredictability, uncertainty and the unknown. We are forced to face things we most likely can neither predict nor prevent, and more importantly, as we are no longer distracted by normal life’s many attractions, we are forced to face OURSELVES. Furthermore, as our natural tendency is to follow habits that lead us away from facing hard truths, changing ourselves is of paramount importance. There are certainly methods that help, from counselling and meditation to mindfulness and breathing exercises, but at the core, I believe, it all comes down to learning how to sit with the chaos of our own emotions and uncertainties, non-judgmentally and without trying to avoid the experience of suffering. There is simply no better way, and we will come out of it stronger and wiser, not just individually, but as a people, of that I am very certain.

© 2020 Marcel van Delft