PROCESS STRUCTURES

“Process” or “natural systems” thinkers view nature as a complex, interconnected whole that includes consciousness rather than an aggregation of inert physical parts; a self organizing whole, moreover, that is geared to renew itself from within through the nonlinear movement of consciousness that is variously called “feedback,” “recursion,” or “dialectics.” Thus, as David Bohm explains in Wholeness and the Implicate Order, the forms of meaning unfold from the implicate order to act upon matter and change it, in a thorough going mutation wherein both consciousness and matter radically and ongoingly evolve. It’s thus critical that humans know our role in this shaping–this mediating of meaning through the physical order–because we can, and do, block the holomovement with the inert, fragmented and hierarchical forms and technologies we impose.

While Bohm has defined the deep process physics of the holomovement, Ilya Prigogine, the Nobel prize winning chemist, has provided a breakthrough understanding of the conditions that are necessary for new forms to enter the world. In his book Order Out of Chaos, he shows that even chemical structures “die” if their environments are restricted but under open, nonequilibrium conditions that permit a rich influx of energy and information from the environment, they in fact “dissipate” entropy and extract order from the chaos around them to reorganize themselves in higher level forms. Nonequilibrium or tubulence is thus an unexpected source of order.

In The Self Organizing Universe, Erich Jantsch has taken Prigogine’s notion and applied it as an evolutionary principle, writing: “the more freedom in organization, the more order.” Noting that once a dissipative structure has established its identity in its far-from-equilibrium environment, it becomes what he calls meta-stable, or “autopoietic” from the Greek word for self-producing. Such a complex system has learned how to renew itself, damping those fluctuations that threaten to overwhelm it and amplifying those that hold promise of greater development. This involves reading the clues or relational patterns in circumstances that appear to be random for the hidden order they contain. In this way, Jantsch writes, “…autopoietic structures generate their own space-time which in turn becomes a parameter for many phenomena that haven’t been explainable before, including the paranormal.” In becoming conscious of this evolutionary process Jantsch sees an unprecedented opportunity to “get directly into the 4-d experience of the unfurling of space and time.”

Further helping us understand how organisms receive their forms, biologist Rupert Sheldrake has posed the existence of subtle nonenergetic fields that resonate with and organize physical energy structures “in accordance with what we can recognize as meaning.” This is startlingly similar to the “acausal ordering” that Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli believed accounted for the “meaningful coincidences” of pychic and physical phenomena in Jung’s patients–a phenomena that Jung named “synchronicity.” In his later life, Jung wrote extensively about the workings of synchronicity that both he and Pauli believed involved the active role played by unconscious archetypes in triggering “mirror” events in the physical environment.

This spiraling-connecting is given still another new iteration in chaos mathematics, which has also, like the new chemistry and new physics, embraced the acausal and indeterminate and found in it a mirror order that twirls chaotically with the order around a mysterious evolving center of missing information, the “strange attractor.” Fractal structures–the irregular shapes left by self-reference, the folding and unfolding “beating together of order and chaos”–appear where they meet. With the notion of a teleologically directed cosmic process confirmed mathematically, chemically, biologically, and by Bohm’s depth physics, we have made a stunning leap beyond the mechanical ordering-from-the-outside which has imprisoned us since the 17th century. And learned the conditions such a process requires for its emergence in life.