Integral Thinking: Consciousness and the Cosmos


Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

As a very young child I had a fascination with the ‘being’ of all thoughts and things and the apparent endlessness of everything. It was a topic that I spent hours pondering on in silence from around the age of 4. For reasons I can’t explain I have always held a belief in the interconnectedness of everything and that a God, consciousness, or some kind of creator had, from no beginning somehow manifested everything including itself. All comments/ arguments for or against the below would be most welcome…

I was recently emailed an article on Integral Thinking, the sender knew that that this topic would interest me from the consciousness perspective. http://s3.amazonaws.com/integral-life-mailers/Content/IntegralPost_8-7-12.html. The article references Ken Wilber, a contemporary philosopher, author and teacher who is  credited (or self credited) with popularizing the field of Integral Thought, a synthesis of the world’s psychological, philosophical, spiritual and scientific thinking into a unified theory of consciousness.

I recently listened to 12 hours of Kosmic Consciousness Interviews through the night flying home from Asia since I was not in the mood for sleeping… Wilber puts forward his idea which categorises psychological and cultural and spiritual development into a hierarchical structure which he compares to the structure of matter. On the DVDs he said something along the lines of: ‘One must attain the lower levels before the higher levels because the higher levels are constituted by the lower level components’ While this may over objectify things and look a bit like the business worlds ‘Balanced Scorecard’ (Yawn!) but reconstructed for Spiritual and Psychological subjects the logic is sound. My problem is that when it comes to Consciousness, this effectively puts the ‘creator’ at the bottom of the hierarchy, i.e. the ground is less important than the tree. It is not that I think that the ground is more important than the tree it is that I see them as ‘simultaneously’ important, and although this may seem the ‘incorrect’ word to use I am attempting to convey the idea of the importance of symbiosis between the two while removing the concept of time. The potential for the tree exists in the ground simultaneously to the actual tree and the potential for new earth always exists within the tree, representing the oneness of everything in consciousness that realizes and re-realizes itself in a timeless and endless cycle.

I also refer to Shamanism here and later to the Physicist David Bohm. The word “Shaman” means “one who knows” and is believed to be the origin of every traditional spiritual practice and religion and can be traced back to the Stone Age. Putting aside Magical thinking Shamanism is the original Integral theory and teaches that everything is alive and has a spirit, that means humans, animals, trees plants, earth and rocks, and that we are joined with earth and life via our interconnectedness. Physicists may describe a field of energy that connects all of life. Shamanism teaches that a web of life connects everything. As a person who has experienced out of body states (OBE) and auras of energy flowing around everything in early childhood, this practice has always made a lot of sense to me along with the some of the theories within Quantum Mechanics mentioned below.

Since the earth on which we stand, and our selves are made of vibrating atoms and molecules which consist of particles all interacting with each other by creating and destroying other particles it makes sense to me that the intelligence behind this electromagnetic relationship is conscious and not at a basic second class level. My belief is that this is an intelligent system where each part amplifies information via what physics calls the quantum wave. Not only does every piece of matter appear to exchange information by coming into awareness by observation, in the case of earth or vegetation or water it also gives life to sentient beings such as ourselves while also generating some form of energy. Every aspect of nature appears to me to evolve intelligently in symbiosis with every other aspect within this universal and interconnected consciousness superstructure, this includes all types of being and matter as well as mind, which by its intent can evolve physical reality and infinitely expand itself. Today this also includes the stream of consciousness coming from social media including blogs (like this one) which enable the virtual connection of consciousness. This is not the artificial consciousness being discussed by neuroscientists, it is human consciousness being spread and realized more efficiently by machine. This ability to more rapidly bring information into the superstructure must surely for better or worse accelerate the realisation of the intent of the overall consciousness system? Good examples of intent spread and later realised by the stream of consciousness coming from social media and the rapidity at which this can occur were The Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, along with the The Occupy movement which used the slogan ‘We are the 99%’

This overall interconnectedness is something that Tom Campbell captures perfectly in his My Big Toe Trilogy which is truly integral and written with wisdom, sincerity and humility. Also Douglas Harding who graciously references Ken Wilber when he had written about the concept himself far earlier and David Bohm on whom I believe Wilbers work is mostly based.

Referenced in the article is Christof Koch a world renowned neuroscientist who wrote In Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist (MIT Press, 2012), Koch puts forward the following:

‘The universe is constituted by a hierarchy of integrated systems that not only have an exterior but an interior as well. The universe is conscious—that is, has some measure of experience or interiority–all the way down’

By far my favourite essay on this subject is from the work of David Bohm (1917 – 1992) an American-British Quantum physicist. Extracts from the essay below:

Within Bohm’s Implicate Order everything is connected; and in theory, any individual element could reveal information about every other element in the universe. The *hologram* is Bohm’s favourite metaphor for conveying this structure.

Bohm’s view on consciousness: The individual is in total contact with the Implicate Order and is the “focus for something beyond mankind.” Using the analogy of the transformation of the atom ultimately into a power and chain reaction, Bohm believes that the individual who uses inner energy and intelligence can transform mankind. Bohm goes on to suggest that an intense heightening of individuals who have shaken off the “pollution of the ages” (wrong worldviews that propagate ignorance), who come into close and trusting relationship with one another, can begin to generate the immense power needed to ignite the whole consciousness of the world. In the depths of the Implicate Order, there is a “consciousness, deep down–of the whole of mankind.”

Bohm also talks of “Holiness” having existed since the foundation of the cosmos. It is present in the cyclical process of the universe. It is pure, active intelligence from which all that is manifest in the cosmos comes. It acts through inwardness in consciousness. It enfolds information into the many levels of consciousness, into all of life. It is the Implicate Order which is the Ground of All Existence.

The full essay can be located here: http://www.bizcharts.com/stoa_del_sol/plenum/plenum_3.html

About these ads

13 thoughts on “Integral Thinking: Consciousness and the Cosmos

  1. Not knowing enough, or really anything at all about anyone mentioned in this article except Douglas Harding, I have not much to say. The field of consciousness, is all fun and games, there are all sorts of systems that can be used to makes sense of the world and our experience. But at the end of the day, the mystery of life is always left one step away from language, in the thrill of being alive we must be close to death, such that all the theories and knowledge boil down to experience as it is, in this moment. The thrill of riding the wave, is not these words describing them, swim in the sea, don’t ponder on swimming… Hierarchies of consciousness don’t make sense to me, with total honesty all I can say about this is that I am totally baffled… In this mystery, all happens, is, has and will be. Really, Who Knows? Fiona, I am baffled by being and can say nothing…

    • Yes Matt, indeed…

      A child asked his father what supports the world in space. The father answered:
      It rests in the back of a turtle
      And what does the turtle stand on?
      On the back of another turtle.
      And on what does that turtle stand?
      Seeing where this is going, the father replies:
      You see son, it’s turtles all the way down!

  2. I like the turtles, the wave rider analogies. I suppose I believe that 50% or more of our minds capacity is accessible only through metaphor. Words alone, however well chosen cannot penetrate the mind fully. As Dante suggests in the inferno, academia can only paint part of the picture the other part is made up of cultural, religous and individual metaphors.
    As art has evolved through developements in media and the relentless pursuit of ideas, so too has the collective conciousness of man. So that God keeps getting bigger. In my lifetime alone the proliferation of complex ideas accessible to the common man has been phenomenal. I find however that the depth to which metaphor can touch one however is closely related to the degree to which life is lived and embraced and not merely studied. In fact that is the very core of my personal philosophy. Embrace life and all will be made clear to you. There is one big catch though. When all is finally clear to you, when all doubt has vanished, you will inevitably lack the necessary metaphors to pass it on to others, and when your vanity drives you to trying to do so, using words alone, (whether in boldly academic tones or mild and loving ones) you will sound none the less like a wolf baying at the moon..

  3. Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for coming back to the blog. You can follow the blog by email if you put your address in the box on the top righthand side of the home page.

    Well, I think it is very refreshing that you are so able to live in the moment, something which unless I empty my mind and meditate, I struggle to do. My problem is always the word ‘why’. Even when my belief in something is absolute I still have to ask myself ‘why’ I believe in it rather than simply accepting that I do.

  4. Pearse, I read something recently which may resonate with you.
    ‘Knowledge is no substitute for wisdom’
    I think what you may mean is that you have to ‘live’ your understanding rather than just ‘learn’ about it. There is a lot of wisdom in this.
    Personally I love learning but I do not always use the knowledge acquired and turn it into the wisdom of true understanding.

    • Hi Fiona.
      I first saw Renoir’s “Les Parapluits” when I was 15 in the Municipal Art gallery in Dublin Ireland.
      Dr Joe could very well have been with me, (I knew him well then) The painting gripped and disturbed me, but I had no idea why, none, at all. 40 years later I can view the same painting and behold the utter genius of the man. Without a doubt, I can see into Renoirs very soul. No fine art degree here either, just trudging through the days, swimming towards Friday and trying to keep my head above water. Is it knowledge, wisdom or maybe the soul awakening within from its long sleep. I dont know. I have begun to see art, music, philosophy, scripture, science and math as simply metaphors. All colorful reflections of the very same truth, so that a man selling pencils on a street in Calcutta has the same ability to comprehend our universe as the operator of the large Hadron collider that produced Higgs bosons at CERN lately.

    • Fiona,
      your quote reminds me of some lines from Frank Zappa:

      Information is not knowledge
      Knowledge is not wisdom
      Wisdom is not truth
      Truth is not beauty
      Beauty is not love
      Love is not music
      Music is THE BEST…
      Wisdom is the domain of the Wis
      (which is extinct).
      Beauty is a French phonetic corruption
      Of a short cloth neck ornament
      Currently in resurgence…

      from Packard Goose on Joe’s Garage

  5. Pearse, your comment takes this discussion off at a nice tangent…I am very familiar with Les Parapluits. Art of course is subjective and I could talk a lot about this…To me this is beauty in truth. The young girl at in the foreground is simplicity itself without the adornment of ego that those around her have…blah blah- this could start sounding a lot more pretentious if I carry on….

    I think the gallery in Dublin you may be referring to is the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, the account below is not in my words: http://www.renoirgallery.com/gallery.asp?id=177

    While all the other figures in the painting wear hats, the assistant, a mere shop-girl, wears none, nor does she carry an umbrella to protect her from the rain. Her dress is drab and unadorned in dramatic contrast with the elegant finery of the other figures, who all clearly come from a much higher social strata.

    Yet she is the beauty and the main focus of the painting. She has just caught the attention of the man immediately behind her, who may be Renoir himself, the likeness is not dissimilar, and looks away modestly from his gaze.

  6. Pingback: My Big Theory Of Everything: Thomas Campbell « Dr Joseph Bray's Blog

  7. Nature Knowledge as the third fabric of Universe instead of Matter and Energy, attributed with consciousness

    Based on the following postulates and /or assumptions :
    • …..“We are Knowledge Management (KM) – regulated by Nature, and by nature we are Knowledge Management (KM) model”….
    • …..we are working at the intersections of Knowledge Management (KM) – Complexity – Philosophy of Science – Theoretical Physics – Organizational Learning (OL) to implementing Nature Knowledge Theory……
    • …Our critical “conditio-sine-quanon” of this effort is to believing the paradigm of “Universe with three fabrics (Energy – Matter – Nature Knowledge)” rather than “Universe with two fabrics (Energy – Matter)” as commonly believed…
    • …To avoid or at least to minimize the assumption “what we can understand today it is all theoretical” as the “weakness” of Theoretical Physics, let’s try totally new within inverted paradigm, practical science (Knowledge Management / KM) applied to basic science (Theoretical Physics)…,

    We had been doing a very systematic study in practice to linking up Physics with Consciousness through Knowledge Management (KM) since 2009. The following is one of our most current article you could read at URL http://mobeeknowledge.ning.com/forum/topics/universe-with-three-fabrics-energy-matter-nature-knowledge-treate -“Universe with three fabrics (Energy – Matter – Nature Knowledge) treated with Nature Knowledge Theory : Consciousness redefined and Knowon (the 5th fundamental force) discovered”

    Or you can access our Knowledge-base on “Consciousness related with Nature Knowledge Theory9NKT (NKT)” at http://delicious.com/mobeeknowledge/consciousness+natureknowledgetheory

    In brief, the following important clarifications cited from our Nature Knowledge Theory (NKT) glossary featuring Universe with three fabrics (Energy – Matter – Nature Knowledge ) :

    Consciousness – is the attribute of the output of knowing tools or Knowledge, covering Human, Nature and Organizational Knowledge respectively, evolved as emergent property, within complexity ecosystem and functioning as life traits derived from Consciousness Element Factor (CEF). Further, Knowledge actually is infinite differentiated form of acted consciousness within quantum physics level through classical mechanic bio – physics level

    Consciousness Element Factor (CEF) – factor inside ”duo-entity-factor” (DEF) Knowon (our proposed 5th force) – Graviton (4th force) boson particles considered as obtaining consciousness element with Knowledge Value (KV) Measurement = 10-38 (Planck Number) within psycho – somatic Universe

    Consciousness level of Human Knowledge – See “Human Knowing Tools”, within relative scoring value, “Knowledge with Lower Consciousness” (KLC), Knowledge with Medium Consciousness” (KMC) and “Knowledge with Higher Consciousness” (KHC) are given weighting score (WS) by (inter) subjective judgment as 1 : 3 : 5 respectively. Within Nature Knowledge continuum, the relative scoring value by means of Thurstone method converted into absolute scoring value called as “Knowledge Value (KV) measurement”, where KLC = 1.0, KMC = 3.0 and KHC = 5.0 Hypot hetically, maximum possible score for human = 1.0 + 3.0 + 5.0 = 9.0

    Nature Knowledge Theory (NKT) – is a theory developed and based on adoption to paradigm of “The Universe or the Nature Knowledge is the source and center of Consciousness” rather than “Mind Brain or Human Being is the source and center of Consciousness” Nature Knowledge Theory (NKT) considers the Universe as a psycho-somatic entity. We believed the development of NKT model framework and its derivatives will facilitate the processes on how we will be able to unify general relativity and quantum mechanics toward Theory of Everything (TOE).

  8. TWO DEFINITIONS OF MIND

    “Mind is not only the result of the interaction of the organism with the environment, from the uterus until death, but also the reflection of the basic organization of the universe: holokinesis, which from the implicit order of the universe becomes explicit as matter, mind and cosmic energies.”

    Dr. Rubén Feldman González.
    Starter Holokinetic Psychology.
    Candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 through 2011

Feel like replying? Go for it.....!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s