ABSTRACT: Experiential therapy sessions have shown that as consciousness
journeys deeper and deeper into the psyche, it eventually encounters a
state characterized either as "chaotic" or void of images. Those
emerging from this non-ordinary state of consciousness report an increased
sense of well-being ranging from mood alteration to profound physiological
changes. We known that research has shown that imagery can affect
the immune system. Imagery journeys in the autonomous stream of consciousness
may activate psychosomatic healing forces, such as the placebo effect.
Science thus brings us to the threshold of the ego and there leaves
us to ourselves.
...the attractor does not consist of a simple point, curve or higher
dimensional manifold, but contains an infinite complex of manifolds.
CHAOS IN DAILY LIFE
Both the shamanic view and modern depth psychology embrace an integrated
view of psyche, soul, and nature. Sometimes this worldview is easier
to achieve as an abstract thought than as an on-going perspective about
life itself. Try as we might, we are so ingrained with the old mechanical-materialistic
fantasy that we find our thoughts and attitudes slipping back toward causal
models, perpetually denying the true nature of reality as we experience
We have been conditioned since birth towards a conformist, orderly behavior
that is deemed good for society, but is the death-knell of individuality.
Much of the distortion in our worldview comes from our outmoded view of
who we are, in terms of consciousness, awareness and perception.
Consensus reality doesn't represent any universal truth -- so-called "normal"
consciousness is more of a cultural trance state (Tart, 1992).
Integrating the new science of chaos theory can help us expand our understanding
of reality. It impacts our sense of self as well as our concept of
"how things work" in the universe. Allowing chaos back into our lives
in a positive way also fosters the healing process. We have observed
in experiential therapy that clients naturally gravitate in their inner
journeys to a de-structured place. While there, they report feelings of
rejuvination and well-being.
There are certain primary characteristics of chaos and chaotic systems
(complex dynamic systems):
6) intrinsically unpredictable
7) yet boundaried
8) and geometric
9) and sustained by complex feedback loops
CHAOTIC SYSTEMS ARE:
1) sensitive to initial conditions
2) disproportionately responsive to stimuli
3) translatable from micro- to macroscopic proportions
Each of these aspects can be literally or metaphorically illustrated by
a consciousness state, particularly if we include dreamlife. In fact,
they are all present within each and every one of us when we turn our attention
inward. We have observed many dream journeys to which these descriptors
For example, the quality of shuffled time/space is seen in the precognitive
or prophetic dream. An attractor-centered dream might focus around
a specific psychological complex, which acts like a magnetic center [strange
attractor] for emotional conflict. Chaotic systems are also complex,
as are dreams. They represent systems that are far-from-equilibrium.
Jung contended that dreams help maintain psychic balance.
The scientific metaphor provided by chaos theory allows us to describe
the psyche in terms congruent with physical reality as presently understood.
Old psychological models have placed emphasis on order, and the overcoming
Yet chaos has a perhaps unrecognized value, in our psyche and physiology.
Just as a healthy heart sometime goes into a chaotic pattern, turbulence
and chaos help us break down old, outmoded structures in personality.
Even the deterioration of mental illness is quite purposeful in that it
is the individual's attempt at healing and finding a new emergent order.
Chaos theory provides a comprehensive metaphor for uniting physical, emotional,
mental, and spiritual realities. It has been said that "any supreme
insight is a metaphor." It has also been said that "the better the
idea, the more likely it is to have been extremely vague."
While this may not hold true in all cases, it is true that there is a certain
quality of ambiguity in chaos and chaos consciousness which must simply
be tolerated. For example, this description of imaginative
consciousness and "turbulence" from artist Naum Gabo in OF DIVERS ARTS;
The artist's mind is a turbulent sea full of all kinds of impressions,
responses and experiences as well as feelings and emotions. Some
experts on art assert that the artist does not really have more of these
emotions and feelings and impressions than the ordinary man who is not
an artist. This may be true or false, but what they apparently fail
to see and assert is that in the artist these feelings and responses are
in a more agitated state. He is more concerned with them, and the
urge to express these experiences is more intense in him than it is in
the ordinary man. And that, I suppose, is the reason why the artist's
mind is not only more turbulent but sometimes, alas, troublesome also...
The chaos of our human lives is re-iterated from the subatomic through
the cosmic level. Chaos is the matrix of creation. It provides
a bridge for unfolding "heaven on earth", a means of manifesting and grounding
spiritual energy, that is not only creative but healing.
A state-of-the-art empirical foundation is essential for any well-grounded
philosophy of life and a realistic self-concept. We create limited
subjective fantasies about ourselves and the nature of the universe all
the time. Usually we do not examine our a priori beliefs which condition
We grasp our beliefs as though they were the most precious of gemstones,
rather than just models or constructs. The true nature of perception
dictates that we experience only a simulation of ourselves and the world-at-large
(Tart, 1992). From our worldview come symbols and images which a
small part of our brain, and an even smaller part of our mind and consciousness
clings to, attempting to structure reality out of chaos.
By clutching these beliefs, we then limit our experience of reality to
that defined by them. For the most part, these underlying beliefs
are rooted in notions about the nature of reality which are derived from
17th century physics and philosophy. The old mechanistic view asserts
that mind and matter are separate.
Newton's discoveries bolstered the notion that reality is a universe consisting
of separate objects interacting with one another according to fixed laws
of cause and effect. The laws are learned through objective observation
and measurement. Causal laws fit with our direct experience of the
universe and are therefore supported as feeling "right" by intuition.
Einstein said our language requires coordinates.
Since we live in a culture which is mostly based on this science and its
technology, we generally accept these notions as a given, as axioms too
basic to be questioned. We may know about the irrational, counter-intuitive
concepts of quantum mechanics, yet it hardly seems to affect us.
Our beliefs are still largely rooted in cause-and-effect. From these
axioms we also construct our ego and personality which is a collection
of secondary beliefs about what we are and how we can relate to and control
It seems to work. Using this system of thought and belief, we are
able to control much of the physical world around us. That is, until
catastrophic chaos intervenes in our lives. It may come in the form
of natural disaster, random victimization, the bifurcation of a love triangle
[paramour as strange attractor], or a crisis in transition from one phase
of life to another.
Sometimes the intrusion is a spontaneous unusual psychic or spiritual experience
which can neither be integrated nor assimilated into daily life.
It also will not be ignored. It may come, therefore, in the form
of a recurrent dream, or other means of hailing the conscious mind from
Spiritual emergencies, ranging from addiction to near-death-experiences,
call for a breaking down of the old system to the primal or fundamental
(or chaotic) level. Disintegration is the direction of these processes,
which create opportunities for us to "get it back together' at a healthier,
more enriched, enlarged level, with a new primal self-image.
As powerful as the scientific approach seems to be, it leaves many phenomena
unexplained. There are strategic holes in the fortress of classical
scientific doctrine. For example, objective observation and the principles
of cause and effect In 1938 Einstein wrote, "Physical concepts are
free creatures of the human mind and are not, however it may seem, uniquely
determined by the external world."
Quantum mechanics further attacks the principles of objectivity and separativity.
The implications of this theory take us into a strange reality in which
we not only influence reality but actually create it from our minds and
expectations. Realities exist as possibilities which come into being through
our consciousness and intentionality. To put it in other terms, apparently
the universe exists only within the context of our relationship to it.
John Wheeler, a physicist from Princeton University, writes, "May the
universe be 'brought into being' by the participation of those who participate?...The
vital act is the act of participation. 'Participator' is the given
incontrovertible new concept given by quantum mechanics. It strikes
down the term 'observer' of classical theory, the man who stands safely
behind the thick glass wall and watches what goes on without taking part.
It can't be done, quantum mechanics says."
Henry Pierce Strapp, another quantum physicist, states that the world is
a structure built out of existing analyzable entities, but rather a web
of relationships between elements whose meanings arise wholly from their
relationship to the whole."
In the field of medical science, there are many cases of healing which
conventional or classical medicine or psychology cannot explain.
These gaps have been labeled placebo and spontaneous remission. Yet,
this does no more than hide our ignorance behind words. There is,
however, a striking parallel between healing and the new physics.
As in the new physics, healing too occurs in a realm of connectivity and
mutual creation. Healer and "healee" are not separate objective entities
following fixed laws with the former manipulating the physical components
of the latter. They are partners in a process of creating a universe
in which mind and body are no longer separate. They establish a flow
in harmonious accord with each other and the rest of creation, a state
of ease rather than dis-ease.
The new paradigm helps us evolve out of the body/mind or nature/spirit
split instilled by our culture during the era of mechanistic science and
the industrial revolution. We now live in an information society.
Information theory describes the fundamental quality of information as
an agent of change.
Great minds have been moving in these systems-theory directions for some
time, but there seems to be a lag-time in the psyche of the general population.
Even though some may comprehend it mentally, it rarely transforms into
a truly transformative, deep knowledge on all levels of awareness, much
less what it could mean in terms of mental health.
Chaos theory gives us a visual mathematical language for charting strange
attractors in dynamical systems. They can be applied within an individual
psyche or to interactive relationships. This technology has already
been applied to human behavior. Order and chaos in the emotional
realm have been studied by mathematicians and psychiatrists.
Their studies produced models of a person's chaotic or unstable behavior
in comparison to their stable behavior. Stable behavior can be imagined
as being like the sky, unstable behavior like mountains, with little pockets
or "caves" of serenity within them.
These little sanctuaries could be fostered through therapy. Stability
can be increased through therapy within a broader landscape of chaos and
pathology. It may also lead to new ways to individualize psychotherapy,
like dreamhealing. [see DREAMHEALING: THE HEART OF DREAMS, Miller and Swinney,
Even mental illness may relate to the phenomena of strange attractors in
the brain or emotional field. Some researchers believe, for example,
that a number of mental disorders, such as manic-depressive illness and
schizophrenia, occur when biological regulatory systems cease to operate
at their normal, fixed point and change suddenly to another stable but
In chaos theory, when an attractor disappears due to sudden catastrophic
change, the system becomes structureless and experiences a term of "transient
chaos" before another attractor is found.
The primal image is the attractor and it forms based on the organism's
interaction with the "Not-I" or environment. An individual's personal
myth or mytheme might be conceived as an activated chaotic attractor.
In another phase of life, the focus could change to others. Sometimes
transitions are fairly smooth, other times catastrophic, sweeping the old
structure away in an uncontrollable fashion.
The ego can suffer greatly from this jerking around by the deep forces
within, especially if it doesn't have enough information about its purpose
to derive meaning from the experience. For some, the disruption leads
to a nervous breakdown or psychotic break, while for others it opens the
doors into a new freedom and expanded sense of self.
Chaos is part of a greater structure/process, for want of a better title,
called evolution. Order emerges spontaneously from chaos, and order
tends to degenerate into chaos when forms are obsolete.
Chaos is also the root of the creative process. In chaos, the search
for information is open. As soon as you think you "know" something,
you close down the search for new information and solutions.
There are many questions which arise within the model of human development
based on chaos theory. We can conjecture why certain attractors or
complexes form. We really don't know why some may become prominent
and others fade into the background. But we do know that when two
or more are competing for divergent behavior and attitudes, the resulting
psychic split can be painful, setting up a deep conflict which is not be
easy to resolve. If it is extreme, it leads to psychological fragmentation.
Free choice may be a factor, but our choices are limited by our attitudes
about what we believe is possible for us. The only solution is to
dive to the deepest levels, seeking evolutionary transformation -- a quantum
leap in consciousness that can contain opposites within paradox.
The first step in understanding how these attractors affect us has to do
with our personal filters, our distorted experiences of raw archetypal
CONSCIOUSNESS AND CHAOS
In our studies of healing, and an attempt to synthesize them into a consistent
ideal, we have developed a model. Consciousness may be viewed as
a field interacting with other fields. In physics, a field is a medium
of connectivity, an extent of space within which lines of force (magnetic
and electrical) are in operation. It is also called a field
When two fields, like electricity and magnetism, interact they create electromagnetic
waves which include all forms of radiant energy from light and radio waves,
to gamma and cosmic rays. Electromagnetism is magnetism developed
by electricity. EM fields interact with the smallest units of matter
energetically exciting the components of the fundamental geometry of space
in fields which are in a constant state of fluctuation.
The consciousness field is not limited to the conscious awareness of human
beings, as in the Jungian concept. Rather, it is the creative dynamic
matrix behind all life and inorganic manifestation. It is self-generating.
Consciousness begets consciousness. It is self-iterating (or repeating--chronic),
When consciousness interacts with the space/time field or electromagnetic
(EM) fields, then individual consciousness emerges. Since the consciousness
field represents all potential, its qualitative nature must be paradoxical
for it encompasses the opposites. Still, once it begins interacting
with other fields and begins to "make psyche matter," certain boundary
conditions are imposed. The determinism of a chaotic system guides
the growth and maturation process.
The original site interaction of consciousness with time/space creates
not only the material basis, but the organism's strange attractor, which
we refer to as the "primal image." It is the blueprint of the entity.
Jungian psychologists are exploring the possible relationships between
strange attractors and archetypes or complexes [see PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES].
In our view these attractors or complexes are secondary formations, even
though the concept of a primal guiding image shares much with the Jungian
concept of self. They are merely similar.
This view is neither archetypal nor complex-oriented. Rather than
limiting exploration piecemeal to a few select archetypes or specific complexes,
it approaches the individual as a whole, not as a collection of fragmented
Human beings reflect the qualities of chaotic systems. As living
creatures we are sensitive to the initial conditions of our genetics and
conception. We can easily respond disproportionately to stimuli.
A child's actual brain chemistry and neural patterns can be changed by
childhood trauma. This creates a rigid structure through the process
of conditioning. The trauma may come from an insignificant incident
such as parents yelling, for the child perceives them as gigantic, all-mighty
gods essential for survival. Needless to say, severe trauma inflicts
an even deeper imprint or distortion of the personality.
Seeds of change (for good or bad) planted in our lives can quickly grow
later to transformations of vast proportion. For example, any choice
point we face in life where we leave an alternate "road not taken," leads
to a wide variety of different life experiences and opportunities.
We are attractor-centered, whether we conceive of that primal attractor
as divinity, the higher self, the core self, the Jungian self, the Gestalt
self, or that deepest sense of self--our primal self image (including its
unconscious aspects). As an attractor, it contains an infinite complex
of forms and images. Elsewhere, we have delved into this more deeply
[see EGO AND THE PROCESS OF HEALING, Miller and Swinney, 1991].
Our consciousness is capable of experiencing shuffled space/time.
It happens during dreams, deja-vu, precognition, and other psychic experiences.
We also experience apparently acausal phenomena, termed synchronicity by
Physicists (Bohm, 1980) call enfolded information "implicate" when it is
enfolded in a latent state of potential. It is called "explicate"
when it is unfolded or actualized (observable).
Our entire lives are encoded in the initial moment of conception, yet the
details of that unfolding potential are inherently unpredictable.
Our lives are the explication of the initial conditions present at conception.
That initial blueprint is subject to many perturbations along the way.
Chaotic systems are qualitative. Even physics proves it is impossible
for us to comprehend anything but subjective perceptions. When it
comes to human life, quality is generally valued over quantity faced with
We adapt to changing circumstances in our environment because we are flexible
and creative. Because of this we have covered the globe with civilization.
Our physical bodies and our societies are sustained by complex feedback
loops. Our moods are controlled by excitatory and inhibatory brain
hormones. The political process is part of the social feedback system.
The consciousness field is that which relates us to the entire universe.
It may be viewed as chaos, or energy in a primal chaotic state, prior to
any solidification into matter. It is a field of energy, not a "thing."
It is able to take on infinite forms, including images.
Time is also a field. Consciousness may intersect with time at a
90 degree angle, in which case a linear flow seems to emerge. Or,
it may fold over in a contiguous way, producing a "bending" or folding
In far-from-equilibrium conditions, this folding or kneading would create
layers of time/space that are simply connected, like pieces of layered
pastry dough. Points in time widely separated in the linear sense,
become intimately juxtaposed. In this model, consciousness
would have the ability to "pop" around in time.
The site interaction with other fields by consciousness is what we view
as the intrusion of the strange attractor. Where two fields interact,
that is the strange attractor, which then attracts and forms the consciousness
around it. The other field, whatever it is interacting with, attracts
the energy around it too. And this is what we create our experience
The strange attractor is the intersection of the fields. We can view
it linearly, or in non-linear fashion. This is speculation, on the
touching of fields creating reality at a profound level. When consciousness
intersects with other fields it seems to create matter, or the illusion
of matter, and we can manipulate that, change forms, etc.
Consciousness evolution equals the process of chaos moving into structure,
dissolving back into chaos, and reconstituting into structure. It
requires a breaking up or dissolving of old forms back into the primal
For some reason in dreamhealing sessions, each new structure that comes
out of the primal chaos seems to be an evolution beyond, or a superior
structure, or a better structure than the previous one that went into the
chaos. Now we don't know why this should be, but it does seem to
be that way consistently.
We can speculate that this generalizes to the whole process of evolution.
In any event, it has been observed specifically in dream journeys which
move deep into the psyche. Of course, it pre-supposes that the journey
gets to the depth where chaotic consciousness is experienced to begin with.
Whenever we begin with a structure (the currently defined personality),
we commit it back to the chaos (the primal chaotic state of consciousness).
The new structure, the new image that emerges is always better, always
more healed, more whole, evolved beyond the old structure that was so limiting.
Rigidities seem to dissolve and reform in that state of consciousness,
like a modern equivalent of the old alchemical maxim--"solve et coagulatio."
This may relate to a deeper, unknown law of chaos. What is known
is that we observe it repeatedly in the dreamhealing process.
If you take any portion of a fractal and expand it, you find it is self-similar.
This reveals a harmony with shamanic law--that organization repeats itself
at all levels of organization. Patterns repeat at all levels of organization.
It is much like finding the universe in a grain of sand.
Evolution in consciousness comes with a quantum shift in awareness.
That quantum shift occurs during the period in which the evolving structure
is in chaos. So if you are in a dreamhealing process, experiencing
for example, the multiple consciousness of the Earth Mother as decay, you
may follow that to the point of total disintegration.
Since you are identified with that state of consciousness at the time,
your personal awareness dives down into the chaos, journeying to the most
fundamental or primal state of consciousness--chaos.
That is when the shift in primal image of self becomes possible, because
it is totally de-structured. During that period of chaos is when
it (and you with it) are changed from this to that, in a non-linear state.
From that, you can see that you can consign your bound-up rigid energies
(whether it is fear, pain, or whatever) to their primal state so that the
transformation of that energy frees it to take on a new quality.
Again, this is an alchemical notion: "Only that which has been separated
can be properly joined."
Consciousness healing takes place in quantum shifts. The old model
of psychological integration changed and integrated a little piece at a
time, building toward a "strong coping ego." The personal experience
of the quantum shift is in the imagery of dreams and dream journeys.
It appears spontaneously.
For example, here is how one client described the journey to the inner
healer in self-guided session:
First the dream: I am in a sunny field of green grass. I see an
old college friend coming toward me across the field. His name is
Mark. I'm also trying to set up a screen to watch a movie on.
The screen is two pieces of painted green wood.
With the dream in my mind, I choose to become the dream. I am
the field of grass. I notice how close to the earth I am, indeed,
how I am the earth. I feel an aliveness as grass that I have forgotten
as myself. I take in the sunlight to nourish me.
I feel drawn into the roots of the grass. I have a sense of the
rootedness of the grass, so I let myself go into the earth through the
roots. This leads me into a series of colors and textures which I
discover as the journey continues underground.
I let myself go on, and I arrive eventually at the center of the earth,
where a vibrant orange lava surrounds me and penetrates me with its heat.
With this main sensation in my body, I find myself settling into the flow
and resting, taking in the heat all around me.
The journey has come to a momentary ending, but the ending brings movement
and flow into my awareness. I have found a place of transformational
energy. From the bright green field, I've come to rest in a warm,
embracing lava-energy deep inside me. I have contacted the inner
healer, the healing state of my dream.
The real healing IS this quantum shift in mental, emotional, even physical
structure. The approach is one of wholeness and following the image.
The dreamhealing process is aimed at addressing this very profound level
from the beginning.
Progress comes unpredictably in quantum leaps in consciousness. Carl
Simonton's work using imagery with cancer patients touches on this.
The use of imagery with the intent of bringing about healing seems to mobilize
forces deep within us that were formerly unaccessible.
Nature as structure is reflected at all levels of organization just like
fractal math shows. If you look at a tiny piece of a fractal, the
whole structure is reflected within it, much like a hologram. This
is because it is self-similar and self-iterative. Any tiny piece
reflects the whole. It is much the same in holography where a tiny
piece of the negative can produce the whole image, though the detail may
This happens in human systems also. Applying Transactional Analysis
to corporations shows that if you look at the pathology of the organization,
it is related to the pathology of the individuals within that organization--and
very often most to the founder or director. And vice versa.
We re-encounter the "holographic notion" in shamanism. The worldview
is that we are reflections of the great Mother Earth. What happens
to us is reflected in Gaea in the rocks and the trees, etc. At any
level of organization nature repeats herself.
As you watch the cycles of nature, you observe that things go into life
and death and rebirth, as energy changes form. If that is happening
all around you, what is to make you think you are any different than that.
You are part of nature, unlike in the "civilized" or "scientific" views
which set us apart.
If you are truly not separate, you can expect, quite naturally, to go through
the same cycle yourself, in consciousness as well as in biology.
Further, you can trust that and embrace that flow of life, death, and rebirth.
Mystics and scientists show us that "change is stability."
This is very much part of the shamanic perspective. We find that,
in therapy, people get into "earth consciousness" and they perceive that
they are healing the earth as well as themselves. This idea may be
subjective, but not necessarily grandiose or delusional. It is unusual
and perhaps unpredictable from their presenting problem.
For example, in one experience a woman became a throbbing like the heartbeat
of the entire planet. She felt the healing within herself as that
of the planet. From the shaman's perspective, the healing of any
component contributes to the healing of the whole, though it may be difficult
to substantiate for the rational mind.
To some extent this view becomes less subjective if we look at fractal
theory in which any change in a part also changes the whole. As further
evidence of dream's chaotic nature, a case can be made that dreams are
holograms. In using dream symbols for healing work, it seems that
"all roads lead to Rome."
A person can enter the dream through any of the symbolic doorways and derive
a very different experience of consciousness along the way. Still,
following the symbols deeper and deeper one arrives at that healing, primal
As long as the image is followed back faithfully, the connection can be
made from any beginning point in any dream, old or new. That is one
reason we never need to go back to a particular dream symbol that has not
been worked, but can pick up the process entering through a fresh dream
The deeper mind always presents the best departure point for current conflicts
and turmoil, that which seeks healing. The part is contained within
the whole, but the whole is also contained in each part, according to the
holographic model of reality.
Therefore, by changing the part, therapy changes the whole. So philosophically,
it makes sense to approach the whole person, rather than the part which
contains less-detailed information. If the therapist chooses the part to
work on, it is limited. Psyche has many options to choose from its
Small changes in therapy can translate into exponential changes over time,
since chaotic systems are sensitive to initial conditions. They quickly
pump up small changes to larger changes in awareness. Part of the
overall healing model is that WE ARE NOT SEPARATE. And, to the extent
that we can embrace that model, it becomes more of a reality in the most
CHANGE IS STABILITY
The difference between inanimate and animate life (or consciousness) is
only a reflection of the interaction of the conscious field with the time
field, or based on the level of observation. Inert matter is alive
with subatomic activity. If you look closely enough, or remove the
time-bound aspects, the similarity is there.
Inanimate objects have a capacity to reconstitute just as organic systems
do. Any definition of the difference between animate and inanimate
existence is time-bound within a given period of time. Because of the conservation
of energy, our constituents will participate in many animate and inanimate
processes over the aeons.
For example, all the elements within our bodies were cooked in the crucible
of some ancient star, which exploded in a supernova millennia ago.
When you remove the dimension of time, the definitions "star" and "human"
do not hold. We share the same essence. Maybe this is why mystic
Aleister Crowley said "Every man and every woman is a star."
The similarity of archetypes (pervasive patterns which seem to repeat in
nature and the psyche) may be a function of genetic structure. Genetics
provides a sense of universality amongst all humankind of senses and experiences
of structure. Jung proposed a psychoid nature, (beyond and independent
of human experiences), for archetypes. In the deepest sense, these
archetypal energies are trans-human, transpersonal.
Nevertheless, out of chaotic systems, we see self-similar, though not identical,
patterns emerging. This is a property of chaotic systems. Our
perceptions of these forms, our sensory patterns, may simply create archetypes
out of them. There is that deeper structure of forms that arises
spontaneously from chaos. The limitations of our perceptions and
senses, based on genetics, conditions what "archetypes" we tend to perceive
and live out.
Perhaps Jung mistook human perception of archetypes for those being "common"
archetypes; whereas chaos may not be bound to that. A tree, for example,
has the ability to experience its existence in its own way, at least from
the shamanic perspective of animism. We can speculate about trees,
or rocks, or fish with their different perceptual apparatus.
They naturally will experience different perceptions of so-called archetypes
based on their forms of "perception." They may also "notice" and
create archetypes of their own out of persistent patterns. But, these
will be very different from the kind of perceptions our intellect and genetic
organs are capable of focusing on. Therefore, an archetype may be
a function of genetic commonality.
Strange attractors in this view are based on the genetic structure that
attracts the conscious energy around it. Out of chaotic systems we
see self-similar patterns emerging. Our perceptions create archetypes
by adding words and concepts.
When it comes to creating a human being, one of the first things that is
created out of that consciousness field interaction with EM fields, gravity
and time, is the genetic structure which is the blueprint around which
our physical structure evolves [see EMBRYONIC HOLOGRAPHY, Miller and Webb,
Our physical structure, as dictated by DNA, in turn determines emotional
structure, sensory structure, and perceptual structure. Our sensory
apparatus arises out of the genetic structure. The strange
attractor is that touching of fields which then forms the physical and
psychic structure. The relationships of our physical and emotional
structure come out of their interaction, that interface, or nexus point.
Chaos may also be related to certain forms of divination, based on so-called
chance, such as the I Ching, Tarot, or the Rune Stones. Divinatory
procedures help us extract personal meaning from the chaotic jumble of
divinatory elements. They mirror our subconscious and environment
at that specific moment of observation.
The structure of divinatory instruments also reveals much about the nature
of the human psyche. There may be an infinite number of archetypes
in the universe, but a select number are most influential in the lives
of humanity. These are what get encoded into our divinatory systems
as most relevant.
For example, let's examine a just a couple of rune stones, relevant to
our theme: "Disruption" and "Odin." The rune for disruption seems
like an ancient statement of the laws of chaos -- disruption is where evolution
comes from. Disruption is what heralds and brings about change and
growth. Dynamic change is actually a more stable condition than the
inertia of the status quo. Nature reveals this lesson to us daily,
personally and in complex dynamic systems. Without disruption there
is no change.
"Odin," the blank rune, is NOTHING, and at the same time ALL. When
you draw "Odin," you have essentially drawn all the runes and none of the
runes. That blankness is the crucible of all and the matrix of creativity.
This seems to relate to chaos, also. "Odin" and chaos are also qualitatively
THE SOCIOLOGY OF CHAOS
At all levels -- personal, societal, and so-forth -- we come back to the
idea that chaos/order reflects the same structure and problems. All
the structures we are, have or experience are constantly in a balance between
chaos and structure (order). Moving in and out of that, bathing in
that chaos and emerging again, that is our re-creation.
One of the main implications of that for our history as a species, as a
culture, is that we are moving into a place of intense chaos in our political
systems, our social systems, and our financial systems. In reality
it always has been that way. There isn't much new about the so-called New
That is part of the point -- we are moving into a new order which is unpredictable
since it is not logically thought out. It is really nothing new,
but we have been enculturated to worship order (through the primary religion
of science), and to fear or distrust chaos. Even anarchy doesn't
have to imply lawlessness if each individual is consciously self-governing
The so-called "Aquarian Conspiracy," popularized by Marilyn Ferguson, can
be seen as an introduction of social chaos to break up old forms of thought
in an iconoclastic way to make way for rebirth on many levels. So,
there is a message of hope for positive change even though things seem
chaotic and are becoming more so. It is part of a larger order of
evolution. There is going to be a quantum-shift and the new emergent
structure hopefully is better. If we trust nature and trust ourselves,
we realize this is true.
If we re-embraced chaos within our culture, like the old nature religions
of ancient times, what qualities would it have? How would this new
paradigm--chaos is okay, and even "good"--impact the individual?
Another aspect of modern life is that with the population explosion there
is naturally increasing stress. How do we learn to live with that?
Behaviorists have shown that packing too many rats into a small area leads
to increased competition, aggression, and unpredictability.
Stress also leads to unpredictability in human behavior. We may need
to find new, creative methods of decreasing population density so that
stresses are held to a level where quality of life is still attainable.
This may come through birth control, or territorial expansion into space,
or combined with other solutions as-yet-unknown. But we had better
take action. This decade determines whether twice as many, or three
times as many people inhabit the planet as it can sustain.
Patriarchy suppressed the old chaos cultures, but the return of the Feminine
to social importance may herald a new era of co-existence between chaos
and order in our culture. The truth is we always have been a chaos
culture, but in a state of extreme denial. We tend to see ourselves
as ordered, responsible, reliable. This "control fantasy" probably
springs from neurotic roots. It may feel safer, but is not necessarily
Scientific notions of chaos may be difficult for some people to grasp,
but not the notion of chaos pervading their daily life--we see it everywhere.
Lorenz tells us that an attractor contains an infinite complex of manifolds.
It is a complex interaction of fields which forms the attractor and which
forms the complex around the structure. It is not a "thing" at the
center of a bunch of orbits. Rather, it is a complex infinity of
interaction. Field interaction may be the strange attractor.
This may be hard to understand -- but not the first-hand experience of
chaos in our lives affecting our fixations, fascinations, attention, and
Some of us think that science started out with things we could perceive
and that it is getting further and further from things we can grasp with
our senses. The limits of our observation have been extended down
to the void, and out into the far-reaches of the cosmos.
As we got into quantum mechanics, physics no longer described our daily
experience, so there is difficulty in understanding it, even for the experts.
Understanding or comprehending laws or principles, doesn't really tell
us what things are.
Chaos doesn't imply a complexity beyond human understanding and everyday
experience. Because we all perceive the inherent chaos in our mortal
lives, we understand it at a deeper level -- even more than quantum mechanics,
relativity, or even Newtonian physics.
We understand how chaos could be fundamental in reality. Chaos not
only relates to the cosmic level of the physical universe and the subatomic
world, its effects are obvious on the human levels of perception, experience,
and understanding. We may not get the mathematics of chaos, but we
get the gist of its fundamental role in our lives. No one can deny
Chaos need not be part of the mystification of reality and nature by science.
We understand it at a deep, personal, profound level. Physicist Joseph
Ford has said that, "to accept the future we must renounce much of the
past..." This helps us move toward an evolutionary inclusion of chaos
science into our worldview, displacing the outdated mechanistic-materialistic
This is not a petty rebellion against the established order, but a quantum
leap in awareness which brings our concept of "I" and "Not-I" closer to
reality. Everything is of one fabric, seamless and whole.
Basically, this involves a "letting go" or "emptying" which frees one up
to move into the future. We need to empty ourselves before we can
be re-filled. Devolution (regression), revolution, and evolution
are three different, related processes.
We are not dealing with a revolution in science from chaos theory.
The tone is evolutionary. Chaos theory is not overthrowing any old
notion, but extending and opening up what was formerly incomprehensible
and often incompatible.
Mandelbrot [who discovered them] has said that "nobody is indifferent to
fractals," and that seems to be true. Because they are based on chaos,
they are a deep expression of chaos. The surprise is that they are
so beautiful. We see our own essence reflected in them, and they
become expressions of ourselves.
That is our relationship to fractals. Of course we are not indifferent
to them because they reflect ourselves, and all we perceive around us.
Their referent is the dynamics of our everyday life and the world about
us. We are in a constant battle to hold form and structure (survival)
and keep chaos at bay (disintegration).
Our bodies and mental processes are based on fractal anatomy or fractal
architecture. There is an inherent fascination in that linking.
Chaos is the foundation of health in the body, as well as creativity and
It is healthy to be chaotic sometimes, both mentally and physically.
The healthy heart needs to go into that chaoticness and come back out again
to remain healthy. We need to do the same with our mentality; it
is how we learn and grow. In both the body and the mind dis-ease
= too much order = being stuck.
Studies of pre-schoolers have shown that they thrive and learn better in
a less-structured environment where they can be loud and enthusiastic without
the characteristic repression of traditional school. This does not
mean an environment that is devoid of structure, but one that minimizes
repression and encourages exploration and challenges.
Why do we fear chaos so much both in the world and within ourselves?
In both religion and government there seems to be a mandate for control--to
get away from chaos and cleave to law and order. Sometimes, there
seems a certain sort of desperation in it, indicating acute fear over loss
The compulsion to control generally arises from trauma in situations where
we feel helpless and hopeless. We try to compensate by rigidly maintaining
order in any domain which we can rule over. For example, a disgruntled
housewife who was abused as a child may not be able to control her drinking
husband or her wild children, but her house MUST remain immaculate at all
Ernest Rossi, Jungian psychologist, has said that "chaos is often seen
in terms of the limitations it implies, such as lack of predictability."
We are afraid of that non-predictability. This is the fundamental
basis of science which, in essence, functions as the prevailing religion
of our times. We virtually all "believe" it.
Both science and religion are heroic defenses against chaos. We are
afraid of chaos, and yet what a dull world it would be if everything was
predictable. We would have dull relationships if we could totally
predict one another. What a dull life if we could see our entire
developmental progress predetermined and predictable. Not to mention,
knowing the hour of our death.
We live in a world governed by deterministic laws. But reality also
involves randomness, fluctuation, and irreversible processes. In
terms of the human psyche, this bears directly on the concepts of choice
and free will.
There is a fairly direct flow from consciousness to action which involves
perception, awareness, attention, free will, purpose, goals, intention,
resolution, creativity, choice, and decision. All these lead us toward
irrevocable action and perhaps the results of action: karma, or natural
Fractal images are new models of creative process. Chaos is really
the seat of creativity -- the basis from which all of our creativity comes.
Einstein would frequently daydream, letting his mind go into the state
of chaos, and ultimately came the idea of relativity. Also, there
was Newton sitting idly under the tree, and suddenly the apple falls on
his head. From that incident he got his notion of gravity.
Only small fluctuations in mental processes are required initially to amplify
over time into major changes or re-visioning of reality. Chaos doesn't
have to be frightening. It can be very beautiful. It is where
we create the new structure, the new order.
We have been brainwashed out of that by both the religion of science and
traditional religion, the patriarchal, left-brain approach to life.
They are all defenses against that lifestyle that is in harmony with nature.
It is the place of no thoughts, random neural firing patterns, the empty
mind, or "beginner's mind."
Another reason we fear chaos may be that essentially chaos equals death,
i.e. death is a return to chaos. Decay [entropy] is the process of
becoming chaotic again. Structure decays into non-structure.
It touches on our mortality issues.
The return to death happens on many levels. If you simply watch your
breathing you can notice a "little death" at the bottom of the breath.
Each time we make a change in our thinking, we have the death of the old
concept for a new idea. When we go into therapy, there is the death
of parts of ourselves, part of our ego, so we can heal. There is
no real need to be so afraid of either ego-death or physical death.
It rarely changes the dynamics of the process.
Sleep equals dreams, and even sleep is a form of death, of going into chaos.
This may be why we need to sleep. We become unconscious, we become
blank, and our mind has no pattern. Then, out of that arise the dreams,
which help us to heal.
We move between the delta state and rapid eye movement (REM), indicating
the dream state. We are constantly moving into the structure of our
dreams, which are healing and balancing, and then into the chaos of deeper
sleep where there is no structure to the mind, and back again. This
may be why dreams are so healing, since they are tied to that chaos.
The same may be true of the healing power of sexual love, and the "little
death" of orgasm.
THE QUALITATIVE vs. THE QUANTITATIVE
Throughout the centuries the rational mind has developed the language of
mathematics as a way of conceptualizing order in the world. It is
a way of approaching reality from a quantitative perspective. This
ultimately lead to a society based in technology which is dehumanizing
("we are cogs in the great machine").
The qualitative aspect was secondary, so for centuries people hardly stopped
to consider whether they liked their job or loved their spouse--it was
just the way things were. Now quality of life and lifestyles are
important issues for many people who are operating above the gross survival
level, or merely existing.
Once again the bastions of science are crumbling in regard to this aspect
of existence. Consider the statement of Sir James Jeans:
The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.
Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter;
we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator
and governor of the realm of matter - not, of course, our individual minds,
but the mind in which the atoms, out of which our individual minds have
grown, exist as thoughts.
And Arthur Eddington:
I assert that the nature of all reality is spiritual, not material nor
a dualism of matter and spirit. The hypothesis that its nature can
be, to any degree, material does not enter into my reckoning, because as
we now understand matter, the putting together of the adjective "material"
and the noun "nature" does not make any sense.
Our quantitative consciousness came from the fact that we learned how to
count. It worked well for everything from keeping count of herding
animals to the rise and fall of rivers in ancient times. It fit a
materialistic world, which functioned based on the concept of scarcity
of goods, and an "I'll-get-mine-first" mentality.
But the development of numbers and the ability to count may have been one
of the most destructive things we have ever done in the development of
our culture. Its value is paradoxical--both good and bad. It
caused us to focus on quantity rather than quality.
We have chaos and chaos always seems to go full circle into structure and
through decay back into chaos. Coming into structure is the process
of counting, its is a process of number, the process of ordering, the process
of thinking, the process of manipulating nature until we reach a point
This is reflected in the consciousness model which begins with the universal
collective consciousness, moving into increasing ego structure and body
ego structure. We hit a point of order and then we move into a process
of decay. This is just a part of natural order, part of the karmic
cycle, part of the consciousness style.
Counting, numbering is a human invention. Numbers, even though they
describe or symbolize universal dynamics are not fundamental in the cosmos.
They are not archetypal in the Jungian sense, of existing apart from humanity.
Numbers, rather than BEING numbers, ARISE from archetypes, as ordering
In our model of the ego [see EGO AND THE PROCESS OF HEALING, Miller, 1991],
they are the behavioral, thinking, emotional pattern side of the belief
system, rather than on the deep imagery side. They are a function
more of the intellect, emerging from the belief system.
It has to do with the archetypal theme of the loss of innocence--the Garden
of Eden story. Our belief is that numbers are a way of understanding
or ordering reality. We started out in the Garden as beings of emotion,
open to our intuition and extrasensory perceptions. In the Garden,
we were basically in a state of chaos.
The Fall implied the arrival of the age of intellect, mind, thinking, and
language. And mathematics is simply a form of language, information
transfer, which addresses its own structure. Therefore, numbers are
no more archetypal than letters or words. This doesn't mean they
lack a mystical dimension--just ask a Qabalist.
Numbers are a different way of expressing ideas--a different translation.
Numbers are a function of the space/time continuum, not really a function
of chaos itself, or an archetype itself. They are a function of our
Zero and infinity are just different symbols for chaos. The two different
faces of chaos that we see are really one and the same thing. They
are non-ideas. You get infinity when you divide anything by zero.
Zero is inherently a part of zero, one and the same thing. Just ways
of describing a chaotic thing you can't really grasp.
Jungian, Robin Robertson says, "we think the world is filled with matter
and energy (with "stuff"), but it is equally filled with "structure,"
and that structure is dependent on emptiness, nothingness.
Magician Aleister Crowley reflected the same thought as "Infinite space
is the goddess Nuit", who represents all and nothing., as primordial
matrix. The truth is there is no end to infinity even though we try
to quantify it.