They come from the unexplored cave of the unconsciousness, emotional turmoil born out of the lava pit of the unexpected, unleashed into your far too convenient and comfortable world of self-contentment. Those foul hellions are sent with one purpose: to haunt you, to morph into suffering, tragedy, fear, anger and the seed of corruption: change. You run away to escape the chaos of this experience, only to find out that the stress, the umbilical cord of tension, cannot be cut, and will pull you back into the cesspool of psychological agony.
Then along comes a notorious savior: the deceitful succubus, with her whip of obsession, whispering sweet promises of blissful escape, through a tunnel of forgetfulness, away from the chaos, luring you to what seems the perfect order of ecstasy and fulfilled desire. Only then do you find out that no paradise lies on the other side, and the tunnel transitions into a loop of reinforcement, keeping you stuck in the same nightmarish cycle with ever-increasing desperation, and ever-decreasing relief.
Is there a way out? The grasp of the whip is tight, and the charms of the succubus are hard to resist, but once you figure out that all the shimmer and shine are actually chaos and stress incarnate, you can embrace the tension of this instrument of chaos and, knowing you cannot really fight this supernatural creature, you just endure, allowing the corruption to spread and threaten to overwhelm you, but holding on to the idea that this grotesque being may have manipulated you, but never truly owns your very core.
Sooner or later, the succubus will grow bored and tired of seducing you, and you will have to face what you had been trying to escape all your life: your true antagonists. These hellions threaten to lay waste to your mental landscape, but now you know that they are no true enemies, as they are simply the harbingers of change, who have come to urge you to get out of your self-imposed prison of comfort and convenience, and to embrace chaos, to grow into the great human being you are destined to become. You bow politely, and gladly let yourself be taken away, on the endless voyage towards the magnificent unknown.
The flame of hope can never be extinguished unless you surrender her to the long, cold night of forgetfulness.
It is the first day of a new beginning. Time for celebration, or to follow up on resolutions made?
How about we make a toast to pain? What we might be celebrating is in fact a life that haunts us every step, a life that enslaves us rather than sets us free: we try to fit in with our social circles, keep up with the Joneses (or Kardashians), stay up to date through social media, follow our “true” passions, make needed career changes, get married, ask for that promotion, become an entrepreneur, listen to our parents, surround ourselves with comforts we think we need, escape sorrow by means of indulgences, try to change the world, or go on a quest to find our true self.
I say, let the the sirens of today’s madness sing of wants and needs, let the ghosts of yesterday wail of regrets and the demons of tomorrow threaten with fears. I say, sit down and let them howl, rage, pull at you, and attempt to tear you to pieces. Could this instead be the moment you choose change, and through change freedom?
All those voices from inside your head and from the influential social environment, telling you what to want and what to need in order to achieve happiness, assert themselves as being indispensable to a free life, yet they are the very opposite: they are Machiavellian creatures seeking domination over you by exploiting your biggest weakness: pain.
There, I said it. Suffering. Let it summarize all that you try to avoid and fear to acknowledge: guilt, tragedy, insecurities, trauma, fear, loss, mistrust, loneliness and other psychological turmoil. Breathe it in, bravely endure it, and even embrace it like you would your true soulmate. Let all hell break loose in your head but do not identify with any of it: it all comes, makes an awful lot of noise, but eventually passes. You are NOT your pain, but it is crucial that you go through it. I am not just telling you, I am urging myself to do the same, as it has always been my challenge too.
Then do something wild and creative: write, draw, paint, sing, dance, or do whatever makes you feel a free soul for the moment it lasts – as long as it does not harm yourself or others. Let all the pain be the energy that drives you to new extremes, until a thing of beauty emerges, a rare gem that would otherwise have been lost to mankind. Do not rationalize it, choreograph it, formalize it, describe it, or in any other way allow it to confine the untamed primitive flame: just go wherever it guides you. And when the dust has settled, exhaustion has finally caught up with the wild intoxication, and wet pearls trickle down the worn landscape of your tormented face, only then start trying to make sense of it all, and the result, a true masterpiece beyond any externally imposed standards – as it just IS – should be the perfect equilibrium between that wild untamed freedom that lies behind all that pain and the orderly form of you that exists in a relatively orderly universe.
Do not fear your pain, as the world is full of those who cannot handle their own pain and therefore seek to exploit your pain, and your pain will set you free, raise you to new heights of creativity and self-realization. And again, you will not need to dwell in pain indefinitely, but the sea of sorrow must be crossed to reach the other side.
forest sets me free. Among those solemn wooden beings I find myself again, innocent
curiosity and utter bewilderment leading me along the path, toward the great
unknown. My footsteps in a world oblivious to them make me feel insignificant,
yet this is a liberating experience. It humbles me, restores the child-like
nature stolen from me by life, a nature driven by asking bold big questions
with too much of an imagination to be able expect reasonable answers.
in the middle of a lavish nothingness, surrounded by the boisterous silence of infinity,
I remember seeing the world as an unsolvable puzzle. It often just dumbfounded
me. I was struck with sudden perplexity, admiring the intricate beauty of the
universe, while at the same time abhorring it for its horrible tendency to defy
Growing up, understanding came as a manipulative trickster, taking on ideas as disguises, answers by too many people to too many questions that all begged answering. Soon my mind became soaked with thinking, the sickness of endless cycles of self-defeating ideas that traverse generations like an ineradicable epidemic. No matter how many answers were administered as medicine, it was never the cure I was looking for.
answers did provide some comfort, though. The scientific method taught me to
better approach questions and answers, question what needed to be questioned,
but also came with the relief of realising that many of the tragic things
happening to us humans are due to psychological, genetical, and epigenetical
histories, a cause-and-effect dance from which it is often hard to escape.
Perhaps that meant I should not hate myself for my wrongs, but rather try to
understand the causes, learn from them, and show forgiveness.
Still, there remained this uncharted land, the great unknown of the unexplained. Consciousness, especially self-consciousness, seemed to be one of those logic-escaping demons: The Great Defier of Scientific Understanding. And the darkness, the emptiness, the bewilderment which was both a great joy and terror to me in my younger years, kept making itself known, through mere whispers and, as I failed to pay attention, it became symptomatic instead, resurfacing as everything it was actually not.
Along came a fresh wind of religion and the spiritual, inviting the unknown in a more purposeful way into experience. However, in many instances, there seemed to be too many attempts to deny the void of the unknown as well, by offering alternative answers, moral ones, or pseudo-scientific explanatory ones, and institutionalised rituals of dealing with questions, or rather refraining from asking questions altogether but rather surrender to the answers revealed, and those only. Revelations which, however, came in various flavours, just as many as there seemed to be people claiming to know answers, and it almost seemed a sin to just crave again that innocent bewilderment, that wonder, to just admit not having any answers. Is it a terrible mistake to question default answers to unasked questions about the divine? Or to question the logical fabric of reality when the weirdness of nature at the deepest quantum level makes questionable those scientific frameworks that no longer seem to allow any place for mystery?
the middle of a forest that asks no questions nor has all the answers, I stand,
wondering whether the wilderness that bewilders me is telling me a profound
truth: that the true path is to surrender to the eternal questions, the
questions that defy answering, as they are beyond answering, forcing us to let
go of the need to find answers. That we, spiritual people, religious people and
science-minded people, should all stay bewildered, and marvel at how questions
unfold by themselves, without expecting reasonable answers, when we submit to
“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.” Words attributed to Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.
Sleep seems a vague reference to a faint idea masked as a memory of what should
have been a real thing. Now wakefulness is your reality, your ONLY reality.
Family, friends and sanity have long abandoned you, as you lost touch with
hope. Days and nights you spend glued to the luminescent screen of that
relentless monstrosity of a laptop, doing ghostwriting jobs – receiving zero
recognition – by the virtue of which you can continue paying the bills and that
pitiful excuse for a condo
you call home. You are nothing more than a machine, just waiting for the
latest updates in order to be allowed to shut down . . . forever.
imagine fear. You are a fugitive, on the run for the long arm of the law,
representing the ignorance of the crowd. Only you know the true value of the
secrets they are trying to take from you. Who can you trust, with assassins
lurking behind every corner? Even your once formidable reasoning skills are
starting to desert your cause, leaving you high and dry. And all of a sudden
the men in white coats finally take you by surprise, wrestle you into a van,
and with vicious intent bring you to their agency, which they euphemistically
call “mental hospital”. When they force dangerous chemicals into your
bloodstream, and you are sure it is a truth serum that will allow them to
finally get the information you had been protecting all this time, they call it
“treatment.” You wake up after a rough night of sweating, swearing, and
screaming. What that so called psychiatrist calls “schizophrenia” is now
starting to become a state of total confusion, fear, and desperation.
Everything is falling apart . . . even your conception of self, your identity as
a world-class spy.
can all imagine such scenarios because of the movies we see and, I would say,
more profoundly due to the novels we read. Though it is not likely that our
lives resemble those of the main characters in these two short narratives, I assume
that you have had periods in life when your felt “stuck”, and periods when you
felt “confused.” You might have had a monotonous job with no perspective, but
which you could not give up because of financial reasons. Or you might have
been overwhelmed by all the new responsibilities and challenges as a new
the case, and whatever the extent, those fluctuations between what I would call
“order” and “chaos”, are very common.
concept of chaos has its roots in Ancient Greek philosophy, possibly starting
with Orpheus introducing the term, “Chaos condenses into the giant Cosmic Egg,
whose rupture resulted in the creation of Phanes and Ouranos and of all the
gods who symbolise the creation of the Universe.”
they have a nature that can be interpreted, for in all chaos there is a cosmos,
in all disorder a secret order, in all caprice a fixed law, for everything that
works is grounded on its opposite,” Carl Jung said in Archetypes of the
concepts of chaos and order are also familiar to physicists, like for instance
in thermodynamics where it is referred to as entropy. There is a distinct field
called Chaos Theory, which has been very helpful to me in more methodologically
describing the ideas which I have already wrestled with philosophically and
Let’s describe it in more imaginative terms, as I have done in an earlier blog post. On the extreme left side of the spectrum you may imagine a perfect block of ice, completely inert. On the more extreme right visualize a wild stream, a ferocious river, a waterfall if you will. The block of ice represents order, a static state of being, unchangeable (for the sake of the argument, refrain from thinking about the possibility of melting or other exceptions). The wild river represents chaos, it is never the same, ever changing.
if you would carefully examine snow flakes from up-close, you might marvel at
their wonderfully complex pattern, which is unique and intricate, but with a
sense of order to it that clearly distinguishes it from randomness. That
snowflake represents complexity, the optimal mean (resplendent, as it is so
miraculous, if you think about it) between order and chaos, between inertia and
flakes are just snow flakes, however, ice blocks are nothing more than ice
blocks, and rivers, however important for the sustenance of life, are merely
rivers. Complexity in our universe is infinitely more profound – and I think it
even describes things like intelligence and conscious growth – so why should we
care about the different states of H2O? Because it can help us understand the
three concepts which I want to use to describe not only natural phenomena, as
is the domain of physicists, but also psychological growth, the dynamics of
society, and the spiritual – though the latter requires quite a leap of faith.
in a static universe is just that: complexity. However, movement, and change,
are an inextricable part of existence. In a system that allows for change and
movement, order might also mean “cyclic”, “linear”, “predictable” or
“continuous”, whereas chaos (which I intellectually conveniently, but perhaps
incorrectly, equal to “disorder”) might also mean “random”, “alinear”,
“unpredictable”, or “discontinuous”. In the same way, complexity might be
called “growth” or “dynamics” in such a system.
dynamics, and growth are, as I said, the optimal mean (a moving equilibrium if
you will) between order and chaos (between continuity and discontinuity). This
is the hot spot where miracles happen: intelligent life that evolves, and all
else that is complex and dynamic. In its most optimal form, it is the ideal
path, the resplendent path (Yes, I know it sounds like your average new age
fluff, but bear with me).
you use such denominations, it is easier to apply them to other fields, like
the ones I mentioned earlier – which is, of course, a mere intellectual
exercise of imagination, if not warranted by sound argumentation and proof. In the
book which I am currently working on, I will establish more sound reasoning to
back up my claims where possible and desirable. Backed by science and
philosophy or not, I am confident that such intellectual exercises are very
helpful in approaching the many challenges which people, from individuals to
societies as a whole, are facing every single day.
I will just share various examples for the three different aspects of complexity, for different fields: psychology, sociology, the spiritual. Just the terms, as I want you to draw your own conclusions.
I write is not new or revolutionary, it might even be rooted in the very
ancient foundations or western culture and philosophy, like for example the origins
of the concept of chaos I have referred to earlier.
what I do hope to have demonstrated through this writing – and I will do so in
much more details in my upcoming book – , is that these ideas, although à
première vue they might seem overly
simplistic, are an amazingly helpful framework to approach the complex issues
in psychological development (and pathology), in the dynamics of society, and
perhaps even spiritual growth.
might even go as far as to say that the ancient question “What is the meaning
of life?” may simply be answered with: “To find and follow the golden mean
between order and chaos: the resplendent path, where miracles happen and
everything falls into place.”
seems fairly fashionable to fantasize about the future. A regular
appearance in the reality show of wild futuristic foretelling is Ray Kurzweil,
whose predictions are said to come true with exciting, or, if you are a
pessimist, frightening accuracy, give or take a few decennia.
mysterious abyss between mind and body will, if we follow his optimism, be
bridged by many body-mind integrating technological developments, perhaps even
leading to eternal life, a metamorphosis into a digitized entity.
will then also become smarter itself: “2029 is the consistent date I have
predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve
human levels of intelligence.”
modern philosopher Sam Harris shares this idea that superhuman intelligence
will emerge, but is perhaps a tad less hopeful in stating that “it’s the
most worrisome future possible because we’re talking about the most powerful
possible technology.” He fears that AI will improve itself, leading to a
entrepreneurial and technological prodigy Elon Musk, on similar lines agreeing
that there should be constraints on AI to prevent such a runaway effect, keeps
building his brave new world of automated cars, affordable Lego brick houses,
flying cars, Starlink global internet through satellites, increased solar
power, Neuralink implants and SpaceX reusable rockets, with serious intentions
of colonizing Mars.
else, if we may believe the digital prophets of our time, are marvels of
science just waiting around the corner?
and augmented realities that cannot be distinguished from the real thing?
3d printers that can create just about anything?
we see a decline in simple jobs that can be automated and an increasing demand
for “deep work”, as Cal Newport argues in his book of the same title,
all in an age of increasing distractions?
we embrace an era of peace, because “the decline of violence is a fractal
phenomenon,” as Steven Pinker has argued?
can see it over millennia, over centuries, over decades and over years.”
man be able to take (epi)genetical manipulation to the next level, a salvation
from illnesses and handicaps – or creating its own kind of threats?
robotics help advance our society, make us inferior and dependent, or will it,
together with the parallel development of AI, lead to a Terminator Judgment Day
style of apocalypse?
will the sciences advance, will they help increase our understanding
beyond what our fallible minds and senses allow us to currently experience, or
will they become corrupted by market forces, or perhaps turn into instruments
of death, as had been forseen during the creation of the atomic bomb?
we see the end of our planet, solar system, universe, or just our
will we finally unequivocally uncover the fabric of a final reality, beyond
current scientific and spiritual reach, something that will unite us all and
disprove the assumption of individual existence?
am no futurist or storyteller. Nor do I have an outspoken opinion about the
“good” or “evil” of future phenomena and inventions. New
technology has always raised suspicion, and that must have been the case even
in the Stone Age. And now we are comfortably reading this post on a digital
screen, a technological feat made possible by the manipulation of electricity,
a force of nature which frightened our dear ancestors so.
My concern is of a different nature: the search for meaning and our true humanity. Cal Newport warns of shallowness in work and focus, I warn of shallowness in existentialism, in spiritual experience, in morality, in wisdom, in philosophical inquiry, and in the critical thinking and intuition required to distinguish the truly beneficial from the irrevocably harmful. Whatever the conditions, whatever the substrate of reality we will inhabit, let us not abandon the path toward realization of our greater selves, and by that I am not referring to physical or technologically greater selves, but spiritually greater selves – however that expresses itself in your own unique experience!
On November 18, 1978, the charismatic cult leader Jim Jones successfully convinced hundreds of cult members of the People’s Temple to commit “revolutionary suicide” through the intake of a mixture containing, as one of the lethal ingredients, cyanide. Victims included more than 200 hundred children. Hence, it became known as the “Jonestown Massacre.” More information about this man-made tragedy can be found online, including audio recordings of the final moments before the suicide. However, I do want to caution you: they will be shocking.
The mind is an awe-inspiring phenomenon, beautiful yet terrible. It is the most dangerous weapon in the world. If wielded benevolently, it may lead to Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, the internet, or frozen yogurt. If wielded malevolently, it may lead to the Spanish Inquisition, the atomic bomb, or the Jerry Springer Show.
mind which can turn evil and cause catastrophes is an extremity, but the core
problem is the difference between what I call “the higher self” and “the
thinking mind.” The thinking mind might also be called “the ego”, however there
are so many conceptions and definitions, that this would be misleading. The
higher self has spiritual connotations, which relate to the ideas I discuss in
other writing, be it blog posts or books.
thinking mind is a unity of self, or rather an experience of a consistent perspective
of perceptions and concepts related to a sense of self and identity, which
involves believing in the narratives told about this self.
mind is what it believes it is, what it thinks itself to be. It is like an
impostor, claiming to be the creator of its own existence and narrative, even
if those narratives (science may have proven this) are derived from other
people’s narratives about the applicable person.
Acts like a “god” within, a divine “I”,
originator of its own unique self and ideas;
Takes credit for ideas which come
from beyond the thinking mind, like a boss who writes his name under the work
of an employee;
Manipulates and deceives for gain
like a con artist;
Is self-righteous and charismatic,
like the leader of a cult;
Forcibly supresses opposition and
brutally resists change like a narcissistic dictator.
thinking mind, however, fails miserably, like a clown with Alzheimer, in
perfectly performing its tricks. It suffers from biases, is fooled by optical
illusions, falls pray to stereotyped and irrational thinking, follows flawed
heuristics, has a low capacity short term memory, and an unreliable long term
memory storage and retrieval system which is susceptible to suggestions.
powers are mainly derived by conviction and belief: as long as the higher self
believes the (self-)narratives and identifies with the constructs of the
thinking mind, it grows, like a totalitarian state with propaganda.
things may happen when beliefs are taken too far in the direction of
glorification of the individual self, for instance when the spiritual,
pantheistic idea of “everything is identical with divinity” leads the self to
identify itself as a god, mixing intuitive spiritual experiences with
individuality, a sense of self, and other dualistic ideas. That’s when the ego,
the thinking mind, takes over as divine soevereign. That might even be the
origin of evil, although this would be a very bold statement.
higher self is indeed majestic, however, it is not a self in the sense of an
individual entity with a clearly defined identity. It is not a godly figure, not
the “divine I,” but rather something beyond the world of individual forms of manifested
existence, the great indescribable mystery, or the void of emptiness in which
everything dissolves, but from which everything also emerges, in endless possibilities
of limitless conceptions, with infinite characteristics.
you allow yourself to be sucked into that black hole of apparent silence,
inertia and nonexistence, showing the willingness to sacrifice your noisy,
pretentious souvereign called the thinking mind, including everything it is
identified with, you will be struck with horror upon disintegration, after
which you will reemerge integrated with a smile on your face, as you have then
looked into the eyes of truth, the higher reality of your higher self.
than being lured into a trap set by your thinking mind, allowing yourself to be
convinced to consume the cyanide of ignorance, you will awaken with a clear
awareness, steering clear of the manipulated realities and conceptions of the
thinking mind, with absolute confidence.
Image: The Death of Caesar, by Jean-Léon Gérôme [Public domain]
has supposedly said something along those lines. In Ancient Greek: Ἓν
We live in an age of strong beliefs, values, and judgments, fiercely fought over on battlefields real and digital.
Social media are engineered to transform healthy communication into addictive connection and appraisal seeking; and rational into irrational, highly emotional decision making. Even to the extent that it influences voting outcomes.
Beauty standards taken to extremes, with digital retouching creating demigods and goddesses setting unobtainable goals for unfortunate souls who seek to resemble them.
wealth and the prestige of fake selves and fake lives are forming the
foundations of a new religion, lacking, however, meaning and purpose, damaging
the environment, and increasing the gap between the rich and poor.
increasing disconnectedness of digital connectivity and the meaninglessness of
many 21st century endeavours create a void that is filled by fake
news, fake beliefs, unfounded claims, and fancy cults that pretend to aid
humanity but in fact hide a network for sexual abuse and exploitation.
religious people dressing like religious people, without the heart of virtuous people, promising those who do follow
them extrinsic rewards before or after death, but preaching hell and damnation
for those skeptical minds who seek the intrinsic reward of pure truth and
virtue by becoming virtuous for the sake of becoming virtuous.
void of meaninglessness is also filled with the claims of spiritual people who
pretend to be “scientific”, without really understanding science.
even scientists seeking prestige or needing funding commit intellectual sins by
publishing “fake” science funded by stakeholders, or science without meeting proper
The lonely voice voicing rare truths cries out but is overwhelmed and silenced by the majority of voices who seek only the confirmation of beliefs they are invested in too much.
We are deafened by the shouts and noises of irrational manifestations, the suppressing totalitarian regime of the fake and judgmental, and the pretensions of ignorance.
in the silence of the acknowledgment of ignorance, the knowledge of not knowing
or pretending to know anything, do we find the clarity of consciousness to
answer the question: what do we truly know? For although we may well be
inclined to believe many things – and to some extent rightfully so – we are
ignorant of many, if not all things predicating by truthfulness and reality.
might have known a thing or two, but never claimed to know what he did not
actually know. He challenged people with fixed beliefs who claimed to know what
they did not know. And he was, if we may believe Plato’s narrative, poisoned
Descartes came to cogito, ergo sum. Only knowing that he existed through his thinking, starting from an almost nihilistic standpoint of not knowing anything.
may learn many things, but shouldn’t we be skeptical, be humble about what we truly
world is full of stakeholders that want us to belief something, because they
make money out of it, because it increases their status, or because it makes
them feel more elevated as a social, religious, or spiritual idol.
return to the void, and keep asking yourself the question: what can I truly
know, and how does it – whatever it is – truly benefit me and others?
Painting: François-Xavier Fabre – Museum of Art and History, Geneva
loses his job, then, feeling quite the loser, instead becomes a boozer.
escapes abusive relationship, then falls prey to exactly the same type of
misogynistic, masochistic monster.
Our true selves know. They have always known. They are knocking on our doors, yet we do not open, as if they were pertinacious Yehova’s Witnesses or relentless debt collectors.
dread the ill news they bring, the news of hope and change, of purpose, the
real news we need to hear.
we are naturally inclined to revolt against needs which cause such dismay and
unrest, we are tempted to follow wants instead of needs.
list of wants may seem endless: consumer goods, drugs, alcohol, sex, enchanting
sights, squishies, seductive smells, self-serving ideas, intellectual
achievements, Girl Scouts Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies, comforts, repetition,
instincts, emotions, depression, patterns, and familiar, but horrific types of (abusive)
good news – and I do not mean Yehova’s Witnesses here – knocks gently on our
doors, we often crawl back under the safety of our blanket of familiarity.
it bangs on the door and adversity strikes, we dig deep into the seemingly rich
soil of those wants, which develop into extremities, monstrosities of addiction
and derealization, anything that can numb the pain.
Tragically, even at the bottom, when we realize that none of the tempest’s promises have come true, we are often unwilling to exchange wants for needs, and grow bitter in contempt or denial.
And the more we deny, eventually, the louder our true selves will come knocking at the door. It is us who have to find the courage and strength of will to open it, for it will never open by itself. And once the door is opened, something majestic happens, that humbles us and makes us wish we could take back all our wrongs. Why didn’t we choose needs rather than wants, why didn’t we submit to purpose and fulfillment rather than to denial and escapism?
is the key to life, it covers most of the Earth’s surface, it is one of the
main ingredients for the recipe of our body, and we need to drink plenty of it
in order to survive. It is used in spiritual rituals, cools us comfortably during
hot summers, and also dampens the spirits of forlorn creatures in autumn, when
it pours down relentlessly for days on end.
can also be a destructive force, for instance when a massive tsunami wave
crashes down onto a hapless coastal settlement, ruining the forsaken coast
can be a perfect ice cube, all it’s power and virility seemingly contained.
evaporated, it becomes like a ghost, unseen yet present, transforming into
raindrops or even snowflakes if conditions allow it.
is the versatility of the phenomenon called water, and what does that tell us,
at least as an analogy? Much, but let’s focus on the different states.
ice cube. Frozen water. On first impression flawless and motionless. In reality
more complex than that, but for the sake of my argument, let’s assume it is in
a perfect state of order. Fascinating as it might be, it is also rather
lifeless. Imagine being turned into a statue, like in a fairy tale, frozen in a
certain state, never able to get out of it. Or, if you still want to allow for
some mobility, being stuck in a day, a day that keeps repeating itself in exactly
the same order and manner in an endless cycle. Both the static and cyclic state
seem rather miserable, right? Let that be the extreme of perfect order.
let’s zoom in on the tsunami again. A huge wave creating havoc. Death, destruction,
despair. Only miracles of a spiritual nature, or marvels of a scientific origin,
could heal what was hurt, and restore what was lost. Some will be traumatized
for life, others will be financially ruined. Such is the cost of chaos, the
extreme seems desirable. Neither the state of order nor the state of chaos can
sustain life. And yet both are necessary. The magic happens at a very small
area in the middle, a kind of “golden zone”, where chaos provides the degrees
of freedom, and order helps maintain some kind of continuity, an equilibrium. Not
a static equilibrium, but one that is fed by chaos, adapts, grows, and even
learns. This is where complexity occurs, where all that makes existence
beautiful and lively emerges, and where intelligence comes into existence.
is like total freedom, randomness, meaninglessness, unpredictability, and instability.
It is movement without purpose, without direction.
is the opposite: it is control, rigidity, predictability, and stability. It is
either static or cyclic (though the latter seems more apparent in this
universe, which seems to be always in motion).
is the moving equilibrium between those two extremes, a delicate balance where order
maintains form, but chaos allows it to grow more complex and better adapt to
the conditions of its context of existence. Going to either of these extremes
will lead to either stagnation and maladaptation (too much order) or decay and
These ideas of order, chaos, and complexity, if you ask me, can be used, to describe things that happen in the universe, from the smaller scales of particles (like in thermodynamics) to the larger scales of galaxy formation. They can be used to describe the dynamics of the human mind, and those of human society. Something I am trying to do in my book, which is still in progress.
the conditions of the early universe would have been too random, or rather too
rigid, galaxies, and life as we know it, would probably never have evolved.
concepts of order, chaos and complexity seem to be very useful in describing
what I see and experience, what I rationalize about, whatever their scientific
worth may be.
what does all of this tell us about the more spiritual side of existence, on
which I have been writing stubbornly for the last few years?
consider the ocean: vast, seemingly endless, borderless, shapeless, humbling,
inspiring, majestic, and remorseless. If you behold her like a poet would, not
a scientist, she takes no definite shape, but incessantly flows and brings
forth waves. She consists of countless individual drops, yet those drops are
part of the whole and have sacrificed their stricter individuality, they are “one”.
Everything that could be formed out of the ocean’s water, either as a whole or as
a part of her, is in a way already there, like ice cubes, snow flakes, or even
ice sculptures. However, none of those forms are manifested, they remain latent
yet are always potentially there.
water evaporates from the ocean, cooling down and eventually transforming into
hailstones, these hailstones are like “manifested order”. Like Erwin
Schrödinger’s proverbial “cat”, from the Quantum Mechanics thought experiment, which
seems to be in two conflicting states: alive and dead, suddenly coming alive as
a manifested creature, as in the collapse of a quantum wave describing the
possible states of existence.
ocean, the unmanifested, called Brahman in Hindu philosophy – the Absolute, the
pure and formless ground of being from which creation and manifestation arise –
is NOT chaos, or change. It is absolute flow, but as it is formless, it is not
change. Change and chaos (the extreme version of change) only occur when there
is order, when something has already been manifested, when something has arisen
out of nothingness. So when the tsunami wave crashes down onto the coastal
settlement, it causes chaos because the coast and the settlement were already
there in the first place.
the unmanifested ocean which I will now call the “higher reality”, and to which
I have referred many times in earlier writings, all those things that can be
described using the concepts of chaos, order, and complexity also exist, but
not as a manifested form, as they are always in motion, and always “whole”,
divided yet one. As it seems impossible to fully comprehend, let alone clearly describe,
what this vast ocean of the unmanifested actually is, we mortal manifestations
of that higher reality might refer to it in various abstract or comforting
terms, and from a religious perspective that could be what is meant by “God”.
the drops in the ocean, at the deepest level, we are part of this higher
reality, and yet we experience existence as something that is manifested in a
certain mold we refer to as the physical universe. We experience a distinct
self, related to a distinct body, in a world full of other distinct forms and
other distinct, conscious beings, behaving as if separated, following sets of physical
rules which may be uncovered through the various sciences, within a framework
of space and time which, at least at the macroscopic level, to the conscious
mind, seems to unfold as a one way deterministic trip from past to future; and
even science, probing this manifested universe only, has a thing or two to
teach about this seemingly unidirectional movement of time and space –
especially at the smallest scales, where past and future states, or rather even
time itself, seem nonexistent.
order must be manifested in order for chaos to emerge, and growth (complexity)
arises due to the interplay of those two extremes, at a very specific, optimal
intersection. Complexity, therefore, must seem nonexistent too in the formless
ocean that is unmanifested higher reality, right? It is like everything you
will ever be, and everything you ever can be, already exists. What is the point
of growth? In manifested reality, you might want to find and embrace the ocean,
which you had forgotten when you embraced (or were determined to embrace) mortal
life. Then the whole journey toward spiritual enlightenment would just be an
uncovering of what was lost, and finally overcoming that amnesia fully, forever
forsaking the distinct self that had forgotten its true origins.
is my belief, therefore, that through life in the manifested world, something
is gained, a way of perceiving the unmanifested that would otherwise have been
impossible. And I am confident that we are each on our own personal quest to
find our own purpose in this bewildering enrichment of consciousness, to find
our own true voice in the all-encompassing, time and space-independent heavenly
choir of meaningful experience, a unique unity which may only be achieved by
overcoming all our shortcomings, and our egocentric self, as those lead to the
state of duality which traps us in the illusion of conflicting manifestations,
in its most extreme form a kind of hell of separateness and isolation.
embark on this journey, defy the odds, embrace the ocean fully, and, once
discovering your true sound, add your own fabulous voice to the orchestra of
Image: Albert Bierstadt – The Shore of the Turquoise Sea