The Imaginal Within The Cosmos: Natural Jesus (4): Prayer & Feedback Systems
Systems thinking is linked with a fairly recent philosophical movement, Deep Ecology, started by the Norwegian philosopher, Arne Naess, in the early 1970s.
"Deep ecology does not separate humans--or anything else--from the natural environment. It sees the world not as a collection of isolated objects, but as a network of phenomena that are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent. Deep ecology recognizes the intrinsic value of all living beings and views humans as just one particular strand in the web of life." [Fritjof Capra, THE WEB OF LIFE: A NEW SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING OF LIVING SYSTEMS, Anchor Books, 1996, pp. 6-7.]
For much of this post, I'll borrow from Capra's excellent work. As a matter of background, Fritjof Capra is a Phd in theoretical physics (University of Vienna) and has done research in high-energy physics in both European and American universities. When attached to the Esalen Institute, he interfaced with the Benedictine Camaldolese monastery at Big Sur discussing some of the very issues we are trying to relate in this essay. Currently, Fritjof Capra is Director of the Center for Eco-Literacy (Berkeley).
Systems thinking has included not only a novel perspective on the "hierarchies of nature," but has impacted upon the fields of Quantum Physics, Cybernetics, Ecology, and Psychology--particularly Gestalt Psychology.
"Gestalt," as used in psychology, sparks the sense of an irreducible *pattern.* And moving towards the Imaginal Realm, Capra notes: "There is something else to life, something nonmaterial and irreducible-- a pattern of organization...[and] it's most important property is that it is a network pattern." [Ibid, pp. 81-82.]
Wherever we look, when we encounter living systems, we can observe their components arranged in a network fashion. Any network goes in all directions, thus an "influence, or message, may travel along a cyclical path, which may become a feedback loop. The concept of feedback is intimately connected with network pattern." [Ibid, p. 82.]
Now let's imagine the Historical Jesus, as a specially evolved sentient being, as an integral component of the Cosmic System of Ultimate Reality. If a deep practitioner of prayer, he would surely at least have intuited how to connect naturally with the First Consciousness in this looped system.
From Cybernetics the concept of a feedback loop is as follows: "A feedback loop is a circular arrangement of causally connected elements, in which an initial cause propagates around the links of the loop, so that each element has an effect on the next, until the last 'feeds back' the effect into the first element of the cycle. The consequence...is that the first link (input) is affected by the last (output), which results in self-regulation of the entire system." [Ibid, p. 56.]
Well--when considering Jesus, historically, as a major conscious link to this Universal System, one can jump to the idea that, yes, through a deep prayer-connect, he not only drew more closely towards his own self-comprehension, but gained more knowledge and more energy from his Father (the first link, the Input).
And considering Jesus as an output link, we can begin to realize the *import* of his special life. For instance, if Jesus was truly a representative of the Logos, the "Incarnation of the Logos" as early Christian philosophers declared, than he would have been a *blueprint* upon which we must emulate--suggesting that we, too, are output links feeding back into Ultimate Reality. Yes, it's about our behavior, our learning, our evolution; but more so, because such an understanding wonderfully promotes our being a "necessity" to this overall, self-regulating Universal System. It's about our own possibilities and potentialities. And it may be, too, about our future.
What we feed into this gigantic self-regulating universal system is important! Professor of theoretical physics at the University of Adelaide (Australia), as well as a winner of religion's Templeton Prize, Paul Davies expresses a provoking view about the characteristic of the physical universe:
"It is as though, as the universe gradually unfolds from its featureless origin, matter and energy are continually being presented with alternative pathways of development..." [Paul Davies, THE COSMIC BLUEPRINT: NEW DISCOVERIES IN NATURE'S CREATIVE ABILITY TO ORDER THE UNIVERSE, Simon & Schuster, 1988, p, 87.]
Is this cosmic ability to launch "alternative pathways of development" that which is significant? Let's transfer our thinking from the material universe to that special realm, the mental universe. It would seem that if scientists are determining these alternative paths for the material world, than the same might be said for the mental world. Hence we need to return to the idea that what we do, what we say, and what we *think* may have an enormous impact as to which path the universe might take. And within such a self-regulating, feedback system an old adage might apply: "What goes around comes around."
Thus it's seemingly significant what we create both materially and mentally in this world. To further this point, let us turn to some ideas presented by Ervin Laszlo--a world-class philosopher of science. (Additionally Laszlo is the developer of Systems Philosophy-- derived from General Systems Theory. He is a member of the Club of Rome and has taught at Yale and Princeton Universities . Also the founder of the General Evolution Research group and head of the advisory committee to the United Nations University, he is currently director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.)
Laszlo makes the point that we humans are non-linear systems, those systems farthest from thermal and chemical equilibrium; consequently, we can increase our level of complexity and organization--and become more energetic. Non-linear systems are able to "import" energy to perform further work. "There can be a transport of free energy-or negative entropy-across the system boundaries." And the more dynamic and negentropic such a system can be, the greater its potential of freedom in the face of chaos! [Ervin Laszlo, EVOLUTION: THE GRAND SYNTHESIS, New Science Library, 1987, pp. 21-22.]
As *autopoietic,* self-creating non-linear systems, we humans possess a special creativity, whether employed physically or mentally, that can propel us into new (and higher) plateaus of nonequilibrium. What we are "about" is creating greater order out of chaos! And what we are about is gleaning more energy!
Scientifically speaking, what may lurk far into the depths of Jesus' blueprint, far into the depths of our own blueprints, is the *wherewithal* to create order out of chaos--and to become more dynamic and energetic. This is the lesson that needs to be learned over and over and better and better.
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