The title of this article suggests we should hate this guy. But you know what? I love him as one of these rare friends one has in a lifetime. And I do love that he brings chaos into our lives.
Indeed, Bruno has become one to the greatest experts on this new science, the chaos theory, as we name it.
The chaos theory –the latest conceptual tool we have to map reality around us– emerged after researchers made similar observations in their respective disciplines. Researchers observed chaos at play in their own field without knowing that these same phenomena happened in other disciplines such as biology, medicine, meteorology, physics, economics or sociology. It took quite a transdisciplinary understanding to see communalities between a heart beat, the forming of a thunderstorm, the erratic behavior in the stock exchange, the vortexes in a fluid under specific states, the amazing shapes in nature or the unpredictability of a pendulum. Then the mathematician Benoît Mendelbrot discovered (and invented) the fractals, i.e. the mathematics that describe complexity, life, chaos, like never before. Euclidian geometry describes elements that exist in our minds, but not in nature. Where in nature will you find a straight line, a perfect sphere or circle, a square square, a right-angled rectangle or a perfectly flat plane? Nature generates infinitely complex and often chaotic forms such as trees, landscapes, weather, movements, vortexes, behaviors, that don’t have much to do with those perfect idealized forms that we learn at school. Better than a long discourse, just enjoy this wonderful short video below.
For the past 30 years, this science has made tremendous progress in almost every field we can imagine, from building realistic 3D imaginary worlds in the movie or computer games industry to understanding climate change or social complexity. You will find lot’s of good literature and online content that popularizes chaos and complexity theories.
Bringing chaos into our lives
Bruno Marion literally brings chaos into our lives in a practical and concrete way, for the benefit of all. In his conferences and his next book (coming in a few days!), he shares how our current world views still use old maps that don’t reflect the reality anymore. These old maps relate on Newtonian physics for the most part –the science of inert objects that our senses can see (planets, solids, stones, etc). This physics works well to explain causal and mechanistic events in the world. We can definitely predict how fast a stone will hit the floor depending on gravity, or where a planet will shine in the sky next year. The Newtonian physics copes well with the way our natural language operates by seeing objects and interactions between them (the dog runs after the cat, the moon shines during the night, and so on). Newtonian physics and causal/dual language works well in a stable world, a world that doesn’t change much, in which we can mostly make reliable predictions. As for relativity and quantum physics, they mostly address objects and scales that don’t operate in our human scale and that our biological senses can’t grab. Hence, even after 100 years since they appeared, they still don’t really help understand our daily reality, unless you have a good abstract mind.
Chaos, the transition space for emergence
Bruno articulates his work around 2 powerful assumptions:
Our world has left the stable state (ecological balance, season cycles, predictable climate, etc) to enter into a phase of chaos. In this phase everything becomes possible, from a big collapse to a new, higher, more complex and more conscious order
Chaos theory provides us with super powerful tools and methods to understand what happens, and to take real action in our lives
Here comes the real juice. Bruno Marion doesn’t talk much about “theory” (again, you’ll find very good online content and books on this part). He offers a practical ways to look at the world and navigate through it with the lenses of a fractal world. Through many concrete life situations, he shows how this applies to governance, economy, politics, sex, everyday life, building a company, organizing your time, building your relationships, designing technology, embracing your identity, etc. Reading his book or listening to his conferences will help you see that the old mental maps mislead us because they don’t match the field anymore. In a metaphoric way, would you use a static paper map if you knew the ground changes its configuration all the time? Of course not. But we do it with our old mental maps. We need inner dynamic maps, or to say it with my own words, a language of flows.
So, whether you want to understand why your sense of self doesn’t match social reality anymore, or why your company doesn’t work anymore, or why politics can’t do it anymore, go read and listen to Bruno Marion.
Physics and mysticism work like oil and vinegar, you have to shake them hard together to make a decent vinaigrette. Do we need vinaigrette to season our life? Does quantum physics explain consciousness?
“I wave therefore I am”
Today’s post-modern Western spiritual language uses a lot of verbiage taken from science, mostly quantum physics: frequencies, vibrations, energy, vacuum, waves, fields, quantum this, quantum that… Since the rise of rationalism, contemporary spirituality, especially in New Age movements, has made many attempts to bridge and reconcile the outer objective reality with the inner subjective world. As quantum physics lays down a non-linear and non-deterministic approach to reality, it didn’t take long for people to decide that the unmanifest and manifest meet at the quantum level by an act of consciousness, particularly as interpretations of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and Schrödinger’s cat. The infinite potential of consciousness and creativity operate at the level of waves and particles. Movies like “What the bleep do we know?” (2004) made quite a spicy vinaigrette of this notion.
When I find myself in the middle of a QWBC’s (read “quantic wanna be conversations”), I stand aside and observe quietly (turning myself into a discreet wave rather than a punchy particle). In general participants prove they have no idea about what energy, a wave, a frequency, a probability or differential calculus really mean. Many even confuse a sound wave with an electromagnetic wave. They of speak quantum physics with a Newtonian mind. How could they not? Our common language has built itself on describing separated objects and causal relationships between them. Hence the fact one can access the deep understanding of quantum physics only through mathematical equations, not through everyday language.
Every time new scientific paradigms have appeared in the past, people have twisted them in order to legitimate their current understanding of reality, from politics to spirituality to economics. When Newtonian physics appeared, many thought we could explain the whole universe through deterministic equations. If we could predict where a planet would appear next year, and at what speed an apple would hit the floor depending on which branch it falls from, didn’t it prove our capacity to forecast everything in a deterministic universe? Yet, people didn’t have access to the infinitely small (inert and living) that has quite different behaviors. They didn’t know Newtonian physics only applies to big, dead, inert objects. Determinism became a model for industrial society. When Darwin’s theories entered the main stream, natural selection turned into a motto in economics, claiming the natural domination of the fittest and that markets follow natural laws.
A few years ago I came across an ad from a 1917 newspaper. It promoted “pills of radioactivity” that could heal almost every forms of disease, from diarrhea to gout to malaria to whitlow. The article described radioactivity not as a physical phenomenon but as a thing you can eat, just like mashed potatoes or broccoli. Matter, time and energy had just unveiled some of their most intimate secrets. Well, not for everyone yet… 🙂
As you can see, history has shown how ideologies tried to legitimate themselves with the current scientific models, since the Renaissance. This same pattern applied to spirituality.
I don’t claim that science cannot ground or correlate our spiritual experience. Actually it does, and this should even remain one of its main objectives. However correlating and proving mean two different things. We lose science, rationality and spiritual insight each time we select some external objective phenomenology to prove the meaning of our inner subjective experience. We start with the conclusion –our experience– then we pick the relevant scientific material and discard the irrelevant one, to make our point. This cartoon on the right says more than a thousand words. Many contemporary spiritual movements do exactly the same as creationists (yet another spiritual movement), in their own way.
“Does Quantum Physics Prove God?”
So let’s go deeper now. Here comes an interview of Ken Wilber from Corey deVos: Does Quantum Physics Prove God?
I really enjoy this interview. Ken nails down the flaws of today’s spirituality pseudo-scientific verbiage. He brings up 3 core arguments:
None of the original founders of quantum physics –all pure mystics!– claimed that individual consciousness has control over the duality wave/particle. They just talked about probabilities, waves, collapse… Actually their mysticism came from the abyssal untouchable nature of the reality they could sense under the veil of their equations. Science describes the manifest and tries to predict it, it leaves us in awe of that which produces the manifested reality (the field of meta-physics). Mystical experience infuses us not because of a solved mystery, but because of an unsolved one. We face the Great Mystery not because of the finite maps that science provides, but because of the uncharted territories and dimensions that our mind can sense without the capacity to embrace them. Only a wider consciousness can, beyond the mental. We then have to enter in meditative techniques.
2. Claiming that quantum vacuum equals spirit and gives rise to the manifest world through intention creates a duality. We fall back into phenomenology, with objects and causal relationships between them. Spirit becomes a “doer” doing something, in a dual world. It contradicts the very essence, suchness, is-ness of spirit. I like Wilber’s metaphor when he says wetness of the ocean has nothing to do with waves. Wetness exists everywhere, indifferent to the manifest, to waves, to storms, to streams. Spirit remains neutral with matter, energy, waves, states, collapses and so on.
3. Understanding quantum physics doesn’t make you an enlightened person. Physics offers an “it” – 3rd person – dual approach to reality whereas mystical experience flows in the “I”, the subjective non-dual self. Indeed, the “I” and the “it” can mutually inspire each other: I can have a mystical experience contemplating Schrödinger’s equations, and I can have a mathematical illumination during meditation. However science in general, and quantum mechanics in particular, because of their very duality, cannot offer the proof of consciousness, no more than a wave can explain wetness.
Last but not least, if spiritual experience needed physics as an explanation, then we would have to trash our spiritual practices each time a new scientific paradigm emerges. Spiritual experience does not, and cannot depend on our temporary maps of external reality. Spiritual experience needs its own ontology, its own phenomenology for the “I” inner world. Indeed spirituality takes most of its words from the manifested world in a metaphorical way. It involves the use of scientific words. Things start to get bad, really bad, when people confuse the metaphor with an explanation.
Let me offer an example here. Does saying “I have pins and needles in my legs” mean that I literally have pins and needles in my legs? Do I provide a scientific explanation? Of course not. I just expressed an experience with a metaphor that speaks to all of us. But when we use expressions such as superposed states of consciousness, waves, vibrational level, energies… which make sense metaphorically, many people don’t hear them or speak them metaphorically. In their own way, they literally mean we have pins and needles in our legs 🙂
So, anything special about quantum physics?
First, quantum physics releases us both from our familiar 4-dimensional universe of time and space, and from the trap of viewing the world as a collection of objects. It reveals a whole pluridimensional non-causal universe that quivers beyond the veil of reality built by our senses and mind. Every spiritual tradition has acknowledged the deeper infinite reality that pulses behind the veil. I don’t know any serious meditation practitioner that has not had this direct experience himself/herself. The Allegory of the Cave says it precisely.
Second, quantum physics reveals the connectedness, the unity, the non-local property of the universe (quantum entanglement and quantum non-locality). This means that every single object, wave, phenomenon, has a connection with every other object, wave, and phenomenon. Everything has an influence on everything, regardless the distance. Nothing happens in isolation and separate from all else. However this doesn’t imply that phenomena happen exclusively through causal relationships, which leads to the third point.
Third, quantum physics transcends (and includes) causality. Its phenomenology does not describe a deterministic, linear reality that appears to us as its surface. Causality still happens in the material world, but something more complex, multidimensional, non-causal, happens behind the scene. A big challenge arises here: human language has built its structure on depicting a dual world composed of objects and causal interactions between them. Yet it doesn’t have the capacity to describe and put in the social field a non-linear, non-causal, multi-leveled, ever transforming flow of reality. Words freeze objects, just like a picture. Today, only complex equations can describe the deepest levels of reality, it takes quite some metaphors to give a taste of this via conventional language. Most of the time, conventional language describes quantum physics in a causal way. Back to the veil.
These three points about quantum physics depict an objective reality that meditation naturally reaches subjectively, beyond the mental and its language limitations.
Let’s just not forget something: consciousness does not exist as a product of quantum physics. Quantum physics exists as a product of consciousness, both in the form of mathematical equations and in the form of conventional language. Our expressions (written, spoken, symbolic, artistic…) come from our experiences, just like the map comes from the territory it represents. As far as I know we have never seen a map create the field.
The Power of Mind over Matter
Do we need quantum physics to prove that mind can control matter? Up to you to say…
In this video, I will show you how, by using the power of my mind, I can move a squash from one place to another (I love playing squash). Yes, I can move and influence matter, and you can too! It involves Newtonian physics, relativity, quantum physics, biology, chemistry, Darwinian evolution, genetics, thermodynamics, information and complexity theories, pataphysics, and many other “things” that will exist in the future. I swear that I used no tricks and that you see an unedited raw image. I can repeat this experience in any lab in the world, under full scientific scrutiny.
Yes, we kind of forget this very simple fact that our mind and will (or whatever you want to call it) move and influence matter all the time. Every single moment, I can enter in this ecstatic state feeling the aliveness of my body, I can enjoy my “matter in motion” device, I can play my musical instrument, I can move and assemble my Legos with the creative impulse of my soul.
Why not just enjoy this very radical power every single moment of our existence? Do you remember how amazing it felt when you landed in this plane of reality? Did you need quantum vinaigrette?
Truth doesn’t mean to remain serious. On the contrary, it takes a great deal of humor to embrace it.
I hear lot’s of people affirm clearly and loudly that “no absolute truth exists!“. Big smile here. At the very moment they say this, don’t they state some absolute truth? Here comes the mental biting its own tail.
I won’t do an essay on truth here, many have done it across the millennia. I just mean to clarify my own approach. When I commit to truth, I talk about the truth of what springs up from me: ideas, thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, inspiration, drives, desires… all these raw experiences, in their primordial naked truth, and that I contemplate and welcome unconditionally. I don’t claim that these inner events manifest any truth about the outer world. For instance, if I think of a Centaur, it doesn’t have a true existence in the animal world (until we prove the contrary), however no one can deny the truth of the presence of this thought inside me, and I can share it if needed. Therefore, when listening to you, if images or associations of ideas appear, I can make them available for you if you want. I can offer the subjective mirror of my inner truth, with your permission, of course. Not altering or toning down this inner truth implies I don’t subdue myself to what social codes, morals, or reserve impose. Expect that if you meet me. I will feel grateful if you do the same.
Once more, the gift economy enters the dance. Truth presents itself naked, it cannot come dressed up with conditions and intentions. Without judgment and censorship, truth fulfills us.
Collective intelligence: what space for truth?
As a research discipline, collective intelligence raises the question about the relationship to truth in collectives, if not in entire societies. What role does truth play? At which moment does it threaten the underpinning of a collective? By extension, what role do the beliefs have in the uphold of a collective?
These beliefs have a name: doxa. If refers to the reality built on assumptions or postulates that no one has put to the test. In order to understand this principle, we just have to examine old doxas. An easy exercise since we don’t live inside these old paradigms anymore. For instance, ancient doxas put the Earth in the center of the universe, or declared that men with black skin don’t have a soul and can serve as slaves, or affirmed that we descend from Adam and Eve. Let’s not delude ourselves: today like in the past we live in a very, very, very sticky doxa. I will write more about it in the future.
For now, let’s just remember that collectives grow up in a hodgepodge of doxa and truth, and I feel quite interested in analyzing this.
In pyramidal collective intelligence societies (that shape the most part of humanity today), humans maneuver in a matrix that shapes them from the outside. Why? Because pyramidal collective intelligence relies on chains of command, and it needs predictable humans for this. Without predictability of its members, what chain of command can work? So, school teaches little humans to separate what they experience inside with what they have to do. At the cost of years spent sitting in a classroom, kids learn how to break away the being and the doing. The humans of pyramidal collective intelligence develop extraordinary capacities in the doing, while not knowing themselves inside. Because it takes such an effort for truth to dawn deep inside ourselves, it faces the same issues to find its way in the society. Since birth, without realizing it, we learn many strategies of lie. Strategies of avoidance, decorum, social codes, sense of duty… The “how are you” followed by the automated answer “well!” look like a ritual that seals the disconnection between the inner world and the external social world.
Holomidal collective intelligence, in a full eclosion today, offers a strong incentive for humans to build their individuation. Furthermore, the mutualistic economy invites us to a new social practice of truth. Mutualism requires radical transparency for the broadcasting of knowledge and open source, for underwriting the visibility of resources and wealth, for the thriving of collective governance… Holopticism calls for the forming a collective truth as a condition for functioning. The relationship to truth evolves: it becomes a prerequisite.
Truth, the quintessence of art
Lying requires a practice, truth requires an art: we need to know how to give consistency to the intuitions that enlighten us, then learn how to formalize them in the world, while we welcome the flow of an erotic joy.
Art means techniques. Education has taught me the techniques of lying, I decided to learn the techniques of truth. What practice do I need to make the truth bloom inside me? How can I bring it beyond the stage of vague intuitions so that, very quickly, it can take a consistent form in my inner universe? In what form should I manifest this truth? Language? Music? Images? Gesture? Silence? Emotions?
The technique of truth has also taught me not to deliver a truth if I feel it dressed with an intention, for instance the urge that the person “understands” such or such thing, or that he/she needs to make such or such decision. Similarly, I would never say something like “You are this or that” to someone. I the person asks me, I say “I feel this or that inside me“. By doing so, I can offer an objectivized truth that reflects what happens in my subjective self. I make it a work to contemplate, a work that doesn’t force itself on people.
Truth does not come from deduction, truth springs up. Even when we think we deduced it, our creative impulse strikes sparks of evidences, lighting up a new reality that the being wants. An artistic act, again. I see this happening even in a forensic investigation. Investigators look for a truth deduced by means of objective proof (fingerprints, DNA, etc). Through this obstinate quest for objective facts, a new reality wants to manifest, a world with a clear line between the guilty and the victim, a world with the narrative of a human story where the collective myth can beat. Criminals of an epoch sometimes become the heroes of another epoch, and vice versa. The doxa hides itself not far… Yes, even the material and objective truth worded by scientific proof comes from the subjective self.
In the end, it doesn’t matter which truth we speak about — express a reality in our consensual way to perceive the world, make a logical deduction or a scientific inductive reasoning— it always leads to the creative self that calls for a new reality. I wish to make truth an artistic practice, it starts by uncompromising observing and sharing about what manifests in my deepest self. Even if it seems obvious on the paper (or the screen), it attracts spaces and situations that challenge what usual social codes and norms.
What about you? What relationship to truth did you decide to have in your life? Do you have a moment when you say “stop” to truth? Until which point do you think we can go, individually and collectively?
[stextbox id=”info” bgcolor=”F8F2EF” bgcolorto=”F8F2EF”]I wrote this text in e-prime. As a non-native English speaker, it takes a lot of efforts for me to write like this. No matter what, it needs some improvements and corrections from a native English person. If you feel like helping on this, please contact me![/stextbox]
Here comes below a crucial text from Satprem that a friend of mine from Auroville gave me while I spend a whole month there. I can’t resist to share this text in which I see so much force and visionary power. It resonates with the words I share during my conferences on the evolution of our species. The difference? He wrote it in 1969.
The Great Sense
This is the time of the Great Sense.
We look to the right or to the left, we build theories, reform our Churches, invent super-machines and we go out in the streets to break the Machine that stifles us – we struggle in the small sense. When the terrestrial ship is sinking, does it matter whether the passengers drown to the right or left, under a flag black or red, or one of celestial blue? Our Churches have already sunk: they are reforming their own dust. Our patriotisms are crushing us, our machines are crushing us, our schools are crushing us, and we build more machines to break out of the Machine. We go to the moon, but we do not know our own heart or our terrestrial destiny. And we want to improve what is – but the time for improvements is past: can one improve rot? – This is the time for SOMETHING ELSE, which is not the same thing with improvements.
But how shall we proceed?
They preach violence to us, or non-violence. But these are two faces of the same Falsehood, the yes and the no of the same impotence: the little saints have gone bankrupt with the rest, and others want to seize power – what power? That of the statesmen? Are we going to fight over the prison keys? Or to build another prison? Or do we really want to get out of it? Power does not spring from the barrel of a gun, neither does freedom flow from the belly of the dead – for thirty million years now we have been building on corpses, on wars, on revolutions. And the drama is enacted over and over again. Perhaps the time has come to build on something else and find the key to true Power?
So let us look at the great Sense.
Here is what the Great Sense tells us:
It tells us that we were born so many million years ago – a molecule, a gene, a bit of quivering bit of plasma – and we have produced a dinosaur, a crab, an ape. Had our eyes stopped half-way along the road, we could have said with good reason (!), that the Baboon was the summit of the creation, and nothing better could be done, except perhaps to improve our simian capacities and create a United Kingdom of Apes… And we may be committing the same error today in our jungle of concrete. We have invented enormous means at the service of microscopic consciousnesses, splendid devices at the service of mediocrity, and still more devices to be cured of the Device. But is man truly the goal of all these millions of years of striving? – The secondary school for all and the washing machine?
The Great Sense, the True Sense, tells us that man is not the end. It is not the triumph of man that we want, not an improved version of the intelligent dwarf – it is another man on the earth, another race in our midst.
‘Man is a transitional being’ Sri Aurobindo said. We are right in the middle of this transition, it is bursting forth on every side: in Biafra, in Israel , in China , on the Boul’Mich. Man is uncomfortable in his skin.
And the Great Sense, the True Sense, tells us that the only thing we can do is to set to work to prepare that other being and collaborate in our own evolution instead of going round in circles in the old dead-end humanhood and grabbing false powers to rule over a false life.
But where is the lever of this Transmutation? It is within.
There is a Consciousness within, there is a Power within, the very power that strained and strove in the dinosaur, in the crab, in the ape, in man – it strives still, presses farther on, clothes itself in a more and more perfected form as its instrument grows, and creates its own form. If we grasp the lever of that Power, it will create its own form, for it is itself the lever of the Transmutation. Instead of letting evolution unfold through millennia of fruitless, painful attempts and useless deaths and fake revolutions that revolutionize nothing, we can shorten the time, we can make a concentrated evolution – we can be the conscious creators of the New Being.
In truth, it is the time of the Great Adventure. The world is closed, there are no more adventures to be had outside: only robots go to the moon and our frontiers are guarded everywhere – in Rome or in Rangoon , the same functionaries of the great Machine are watching us, punching our cards, checking our faces and searching our pockets – there is no more adventure outside! The Adventure is within – Freedom is within, Space is within, and the transformation of our world by the power of the Spirit. Because, in truth, that Power was always there, supreme, all-powerful, prodding evolution on: it was the hidden Spirit growing to become the Spirit manifest upon earth, and if we have trust, if we want that supreme Power, if we have the courage to descend into our hearts, everything is possible, because God is in us.