chaos and laws of nature
Dec 02, 1993 08:09 AM
The field of chaos, and more particularly an approach like Chaos Magic,
has the potential of becoming another possible religion for the west.
It could be wrapped up into a package that could form an entire belief
system in its own right.
It has a way of explaining life, and how it originates. There are
higher powers controlling life (attractors) and a metaphysical realm
that directs outer life (phase space). There is the polarity of
creative and destructive forces, of chaos and cosmos, with both
considered good in the proper balance and tension.
We have a mystical connectin between man and the universe, and a
philosophy that gives us a sense of power over life, even when there is
so much that is beyond our control. We learn of magic points, places in
space and time where the butterfly effect may happen, where there is
sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where we can have hope that
what we do can influence all of life, even if we do not see any
There is a mathematical symbol of the archetypal world, where objects
are linear, behave according to classical physicals, and take on
well-defined, smooth shapes like the platonic solids. And we see how
as life in these objects quickens, as their activity intensifies and
they enter turbulance, that hierarchy is created. As their surfaces
take on a fractal nature, then a hierarchy of infinite depths, of
countless levels, has been created.
We could say that such a state represents the entering into
manifestation, when a being's manifest form comes into existance as
the organizing life that gathers together lessor beings and creates
for them the world in which they live. And they likewise create the
worlds for still lessor beings. And so on, further and further, lower
and lower, with no end to how low the worlds can be.
There is also a description of the process of life, clothed in
mathematical terms, as a process of feedback and interation. And we
are provided with a philosophy that allows us to appreciate everything
that we see as living, as an example of life, as systems subject to
the process of life.
We must not, though, in our own study of the subject, wrap it up
together too tightly, or we will end up with a self-sufficient, closed
system of thought that will explain everything, *but at the same time
exclude a lot.* Like Jungian Psychology, that neatly wraps everything
up in a psychocentric basis, where everything is understood and
explained from the point of view of the human personality, we could
find ourselves locked in a system that resolves everything to math and
A system of thought may have a word about something, an opinion on a
each and every thing, an explanation of anything that we might
observer or encounter in life. It might have something to tell us on
almost everything. But that does not mean that its perspective is a
good one to take all the time. A closed system, where everything is
neatly explained to us, leads to mental rigidity, and the loss of the
higher faculity of thought.
We must watch out for closed systems of thought, even in our
theosophical studies, and not settle for things that appear to be too
nicely explained, too complete a system, too easy a picture of life.
When what we are reading becomes too easy and obvious, we're either
reading the wrong books--wrong for us--or we've somehow gotten off
track and lost the inspiriation of our inner teacher.
There's a body of knowledge in mathematics, physics, and the other
physical sciences that could be studied for a lifetime and not be
exhausted. We could go into a library and find thousands of disciplines
that could also each provide a lifetime of learning to us. This learning
is good, it is good to develop the intellect, but we must also set
aside time for the spiritual side of life, time to explore the
The Mysteries are *not* just another body of ideas that take on value
by making a cross-discipline study. They are not just a simple set of
metaphysical ideas and psychically-derived tidbits of facts of nature,
beyond what science has yet come to. Their primary, their greatest value
is not from drawing analogies between them and other disciplines.
The Mysteries are *known* in a different way, using other faculties
in addition to the intellect, important as it is.
The study of the field of chaos, which includes nonlinear dynamics and
mathematical models of complexity, do, though, provide us with some
new keys to understanding life. We are provided with additional examples
or illustrations of concepts that we've studied in Theosophy. One
example is that of hierarchy and manifestation, illustrated by the
the onset of turbulence and when boundaries take on a fractal nature.
We are also provided with symbols that point to truths that are not
plainly stated in our literature, symbols that hint at something that
we've not been clearly told. An example would be what is revealed of
the law of cycles, as we look at the bifurcation curve.
It is important, though, to not take analogies too far, and to always
apply to our ideas certain reality checks. The ideas must *ring true.*
They must be in accord with the other Teachings and bear certain
characteristic signs that would reveal that they are special in a
certain way. Regardless of their apparent complexity, on the surface,
there should be a certain simplicity to them, a certain beauty of
form, a certain harmony in thought to them. And they should tie back
to our spiritual natures, affecting us, brightening our perceptions,
uplifting our experiences of life.
This new, possible religion of Chaos Magic, appeals to the interest
in science in the west. As a religion it would be a belief system that
has a cosmogenesis--how the world comes into being--a superphysical
order and structure to things that has the flavor of the Chinese tao,
an order based upon universal law rather that creative intelligences.
We are still left with a mechanical universe, though, since ultimately
the laws of nature rule. The laws are now more complex, creative, but
considered as abstract forces in a pure mathematical sense.
In theosophical literature we read of the laws of nature as *not* being
mechanical of whatever sort. They are not abstract but miraculous
directing powers in nature. (Miraculous in the sense of themselves not
being subject to laws.)
The behavior of the physical works is not mechanical, deterministic,
not a slave to external laws, even be they nonlinear and subject to
feedback, with models of action that include bifurcations and all the
diversity to be found in models of turbulence.
The mental picture of order arising spontaneously out of the richness
of chaos is good, a colorful metaphysical image, a nice way to think
of things, but it is still *an analogy* based upon one mathematical
way of describing things.
Life is not *subject to* mechanical processes of the physical world,
but rather *chooses to subject itself to* some laws, to pattern itself
in some way, to associate itself with certain greater beings. But at
a future time, the same life may associate itself with other great
beings, and then it would *appear* that different laws of nature were
in effect. The "laws" haven't changed, rather the being has allied
itself with, has choosen to manifest or give expression to, the
affects of different great beings.
The behavior of physical matter is itself by choice. At different times,
on different worlds, on different planes, matter can be observed
*to behave* differently, to be subject to different "laws". This is
not because the laws rule the matter, but because the matter has allied
itself with particular great beings whose affects are those apparent
When a seashell has grown according to a spiral shape, it has adopted
or borrowed from or subjected itself to the corresponding mathematics
of a spiral. There is not an abstract sense of spiralness imposed upon
it from without.
There are not mechanical forces in nature. All is alive, the expression
of beings on some level, and there is no dead, liefless, rigid,
material mechanism running the universe, even at its highest levels,
in the form of rigid mathematical rules.
When we see certain mathematics at play in our physical world, it is
because the world or its beings subject themselves to those mathematics.
The processes of nature are by living tings *being* a certain way, by
how they manifest, and not an external, rigid, mechanical application
of laws over which nothing has any say.
The field of chaos has much to offer us, many ideas that can enrich
our study of Theosophy. And by bringing theosophical ideas to it, we
may help formulate another system of thought that may benefit people,
uplifting them and helping them live a more open, aware, spiritual
life. But we should take care that we don't let any subtle biases creep
into our theosophical thinking from its study, that we carefully
distinguish the real from the mayavic in its outlook.
In reading on the subject of chaos, I've found much to think about, and
have come to feel that it is a valuable supplement to the study of
Theosophy. It does not give the complete picture, and as in any study
there is the danger of the crystalization of thought, of getting trapped
in molds of mind, but it does have many unique gems of Truth that are
worth going after.
Eldon Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application