SPECIAL EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION
DISCRIMINATIVE INTELLIGENCE AND THE SEVEN STAGES OF LIFE
“The liability in the third stage of life is attachment to abstract and independent mental states, based in an experiential state of undifferentiated unity with the verbal and lower mental dimension of the world and the body-mind. It is the tendency toward a mental consciousness and a willful manipulation of merely physical or elemental conditions, without intuitive and feeling submission to the Transcendental Consciousness and Radiant Current of Life. It is the tendency toward superficial or merely objective awareness, or attachment to the waking state as if it were without a psyche.”
The Way of Translation of Man into God
The Third Stage of Life
In the third stage, the lower functions of mind, reactivity, and destructiveness in relation to himself including will, intention, and self-control, and general integration of the living being in its relations should begin to develop. The weakness of this level of development, or the absence of the cultural demand for it, is the basis of the conflict that commonly appears at puberty. Not only has the individual physically but has also developed an emotional, and sexual presence. Then suddenly the suggestion of the functions of will and intention arise in him, accompanied by the social demand to be responsible, to control himself, and to develop himself mentally. The conflict between his readiness to throw himself into a life of self-indulgence (the habit of wasting Life-Energy) and the new demand for a life of self-control is the conventional theatre of puberty. The third stage of life should be a cultural moment in which the individual is clearly confronted with the obligation to be responsible, independent, and loving. Otherwise, the relative dependency of his earlier life will become a source of weakness, withdrawal, negative reactivity and destructiveness in relation to himself and others.
By the time an individual is about twenty-one should be ready to grow into what is more than “human” in the conventional sense. But the usual man is hardly even equipped to be human. He has gone through this twenty-years, but he has not come to the point of integrated functional responsibility. He cannot control the Force of Life in himself and use it in creative ways. He is full of fear, continually subject to negative emotions and touts of self-indulgence, and always looking to be consoled by the things of life and beyond life, rather than being responsibly and pleasurably integrated with the Great Process into which he was born.
Master Da Free John – The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, pp. 266, 271.
Whereas the first stage of life is most directly concerned with the physical aspect of our being and’ the second stage with ‘ the emotional-sexual dimension, thought and intentionality are within the province of the third stage of life.
Thinking is a complex process. Some researchers distinguish between ‘logical” and “paleological” thinking. The latter is a form of thought which is still deeply embedded in emotion, and is thus closely associated with the second stage of life. In this; kind of primitive thinking, the thought/feeling “I hate you,” for instance, is typically related to the simultaneous thought / feeling “You hate me.” The possible detrimental consequences of this style of thinking are evident in the whole egocentric and ethnocentric dynamics of international politics.
A higher form of mentation, which is more characteristic of the third stage of life, is logical, conceptual, or analytical thought. Ever since the days of Socrates and Plato and, more pointedly, since the European “Enlightenment” movement of the eighteenth century, this form of reasoning has dominated our Western culture. It has given rise to, and is continually reinforced by, what Master Da Free John calls the “culture of doubt,” as epitomized in modern scientific materialism.
Because of the widespread and baneful effects of the cult of scientism, or scientific materialism, this section of The Laughing Man is exclusively devoted to a critical examination of this powerful force which is, today, shaping all our lives.
The three contributions – by G. Spencer Brown, Master Da Free John, and Fritjof Capra – which we have selected, are all strong critiques of scientism, and energetically point out its inherent limitations and the restrictions it imposes on human creativity and spirituality.
G. Spencer Brown is well known for, among other writings, his book Laws of Form, which is an important work on the theoretical foundations of logic. The passage below is excerpted from his lesser known volume Only Two Can Play This Game, published under the pseudonym of James Keys.
In this humorous but stimulating piece, the author argues that whatever we perceive or cognize is not what it appears to be; there is no such thing as a thing, which may remind one immediately of the Buddhist philosopher-sage Nagarjuna who, having a practical bent of mind, declared: “The feeling of suffering is experienced by picturing a thing where there is no-thing.” (Mahayana Vimshaka, vs. 10)
Twelve years have elapsed since the publication of G. Spencer Brown’s book, Yet his criticism is as pertinent today as it was then, because “thingification” (the philosophical “reification”), in its many guises, is still rampant in all areas of human endeavor, notably science. We include this excerpt here as a witty reminder of this fact.
In the whole science of physics there is no such thing as a thing. Hundreds of years ago we carefully forgot this fact, and now it seems astonishing even to begin to remember it again. We draw the boundaries, we shuffle the cards, we make the distinctions. In physics, yes physics, super-objective physics, solid reliable four-square dam-buster physics, clean wholesome outdoor fresh-air family entertainment science-fiction superman physic , they don’t even exist. It’s all in the mind, If you separate off this bit here (you can’t really, of course) and call it a particle (that’s only a name, of course, it’s not really like that, more like waves really, only not really like that either, not really like anything really) surrounded by space (space is not what you think, more a sort of mathematical invention, and just as real, or just as unreal, as the particle. In fact the particle and the space are the same thing really (except that we shouldn’t really say ‘thing’), the sort of hypothetical space got knotted up a bit somewhere, we don’t know exactly where because we can’t see it, we can only see where it was before we saw it, if you see what I mean, I mean even that’s not what it was really like, it was waves (or rather photons) of light carrying a message that may well be very unlike the thing, sorry, particle (remember this is only an abstraction, so that we can talk about it (it? sorry, we don’t have an it in physics)) it (sorry!) came from. After all, we don’t know that a thing (pardon!) is telling the truth about itself (would you mind looking the other way while I change into something formal?) when it emits (excuse me!) a blast (do forgive me!) of radiation, do we?), THEN (if you have followed the argument so far) this (I mean all these mathematical formulae, of course. What did you think I meant?) is how it happens to come out. Of course, if you start in a different place (no, I’m afraid I can’t tell you what a place is, although I could of course draw you a graph) and do it a different way (do please stop interrupting, darling, or we shall never get done), it (it? What we are talking about, my dear. It is convenient to at least pretend we are talking about something otherwise there would not be much point in doing physics, would there?) would naturally come out different.
The significance of this way of talking, which, as everybody knows, is called modern science, is maintained by means of a huge and very powerful magic spell cast on everybody to put us all to sleep for a hundred years, like that nice Miss Sleeping Beauty, while the amusements are being rigged up. We don’t want people strolling all over the place asking awkward questions and making it collapse before it is ready do we? All in good time, when we have carefully finished building ourselves this nice big house of cards, we can, if we all keep our eyes shut tight and, hold our breath and wish hard enough, we can all play this nice game of houses and all go and live in it before it all falls down. Except of course, there isn’t enough room there for everybody all at once, so we all have to not be too greedy and take it in turns.
It, is no to everyone’s taste, of course. Some don’t seem to care for it much. Others try to change it when they get there. But if, for example, you want to change the big dipper, the time when you are least equipped to do so is the time when you happen to be taking a trip on it. They forget that. Some buy another. ticket and go round again.
Well, Reader dear . . . we have to be a bit careful ‘about doing it this way round, the authorities are none too keen on letting every Tom, Dick and Harry behind the scenes, we built all these amusements you see and of course we want them to be used. Come along, ladies and gentlemen, god and goddesses, your last chance to visit the Universe, unbelievably realistic, have your tickets ready! Our representative on the course is waiting to greet you, so hurry along please, stand clear of the gates, mind the doors, be good, see you all again soon!
From Only Two Can Play This Game, by James Keys. Copyright c 1972 by The Julian Press, Inc. By permission of Crown Publishers, Inc.
THE ASANA OF SCIENCE
Master Da Free John, in the following clarifying talk, examines from a seventh stage point of view the raison d’etre of the whole scientific enterprise. Science, he explains, postulates an objective world of “things” extraneous to the observer and then presumes to acquire information about that supposedly independent universe. It confines its definition of “the world” to the sensate, physical dimension of existence. In other words, science reinterprets the nonphysical dimension in terms of its own reductionistic materialistic program. It does not entertain any concern for transcendental Reality. –
Master Da poignantly observes that the “activity of science may not be natural at all.” He characterizes science as a “pose” (hence the Sanskrit word “asana” in the title of his talk) or as a “gesture” or “mood” more precisely, it is a third stage preoccupation, As Master Da affirms, this is not anything detrimental in itself, but when science becomes a totalitarian ideology-as it has become in recent history – it forgoes any positive influence it might otherwise have.
Master Da continues that, those looking for an antidote to modern. hypertrophied science will not find it in any oriental flight from-the-world tradition or cult, which is merely another-the contrasting – “pose,” To redress the balance, we must transcend these historical alternative, of both the Western scientistic-extroverted approach and the Eastern mystical-introvertive disposition.
MASTER DA FREE JOHN: Science is commonly described as a way of observing the natural world, a method of excluding or abstracting the viewer from the process of observation, so that what is observed is a “reality” untainted by the presence of the viewer. This process of acquiring knowledge is concerned not with transforming the viewer but with learning about the so-called objective or natural world independent of the viewer,
Now this is an interesting notion of human activity. We are so used to the presence of science and technology in our culture that we accept science as a natural. activity, a sort of professionalization or technical elaboration of something that everybody is already doing. But the activity of science may not be natural at all. It is something’ we are already doing when’ we conceive of the objective world’ or the natural world apart from, ourselves; yet, if we become sensitive to the real Condition of our existence, can we truly say that we ever experience or have anything whatsoever to do with an objective world? Do we ever contact anything objective or independent of ourselves?
The common presumption of our daily lives is that there is an objective world, but this presumption is simply a convention of egoic life and of the society wherein we live.
Science bases its sophisticated activity upon this conventional view of life. It seems natural enough to say that we live in the physical world. We are all sitting around here in this, physical world, right? But to speak of a physical or objective world is simply a convention of our existence, whereas in fact we do not have any actual experience of an objective or independent world. Our actual experience is much more complex or undefined than that convention suggests.
You refer to yourself as “me” or but if you were asked what “I” is, how could you ever come to the end of the description? Obviously you have not entered into an exhaustive self analysis or observation of yourself before using the term “me” or “I” as a self-reference. If you understand how you presume the reality of a so-called objective world, you will not find an “I” that could possibly have so much as a foot inside a physical world or that can be so defined and confined. This “I” which is ultimately only conscious awareness, this being that is aware of phenomena, has no direct connection to an independently objective world.
The conscious being is related to a so-called objective world through the process of conception and perception. We conceive and we perceive and therefore we presume an objective world, but we do not in fact have any actual contact with the world itself. We are associated with perceptions but not with the world. Thus, we never directly experience a “world” as an independent reality. Yet as we experience this ‘whole affair of perception and conception, we make certain conventional judgments. We establish certain conventions of thought, communication, and action whereby we say things like, “There is this external world here,” and, “I am me, and you are you.” We say these things, but they are purely, conventional statements with no ultimate philosophical stability. The notion of a physical world in which we exist is a conventional notion, an idea, a presumption on which we can act, but a presumption we need not even share. It is not universally accepted that there is an independent gross physical world. Many other cultures have had totally different views of reality, and they have used other conventions to determine their behaviors, relations, and ideas.
Science presumes to seek direct knowledge about a world that is independent of Man. In doing so it has created other effects that have cultural, psychological, and even spiritual significance. Science has become the dominant point of view of our society and thus has established a way of life wherein human beings universally presume that the “real world” is the physical world and that the world of the self, the so-called internal realm, is unreal or merely caused by the external world. Thus, science abandons the primary feature of our condition as human beings. In fact, you could even say that science is not a truly human activity because in its pursuit what is specifically human in us-the inherence of our consciousness in the Divine Reality-is fundamentally suppressed, abstracted, and separated out.
According to the philosophy of science, we are supposed to pursue knowledge about the external world, rather than participate in a total world wherein Reality includes not only the objects of perception and conception but the process of perception and conception and the being or consciousness in which perception and conception are experienced or recognized. Science does not presume Reality as the total human condition. It presumes reality to be external to the human condition and in its study of that reality it suppresses the human condition as a medium of association with phenomena. The mood of science, therefore, has chosen the so-called external world as the real world and presumes that all the other dimensions of existence with which human beings are directly associated are unreal or simply caused by the “real” world, which is the gross, physical, material, external universe.
In Truth our Condition of existence includes more than the so-called external world. We are always simply existing, simply conscious. Every other feature of our existence is an object to the conscious being. If a thought arises, it is witnessed in consciousness. If a sensation arises, it is witnessed. If a room is perceived, it is witnessed. The fundamental aspect of our Condition, therefore, is spontaneously existing consciousness, which has no features of its own. Everything arises as an object to consciousness through a spontaneous process of perception and conception.
That process of conceiving and perceiving notices and experiences various forms, some of which are related to what we call the external, gross world and others of which cannot be found there at all. For instance, you cannot always find the environments of your dreams in the gross world. At least according to the conventions of our thinking you could say that you cannot find them there. We associate different levels of conceived and perceived objects with different dimensions of experience. Therefore, there is this existing being or existing consciousness, and there are the processes of conception and perception, and then there are various forms, gross and subtle, that we interpret and evaluate according to various conventions. But our actual situation includes all three of these fundamental conditions existing consciousness, conception and perception, and forms-in dynamic association with one another.
Science is an invention of Man and a development of one specific convention of interpreting reality exclusive of other possible conventions. Thus, in the scientific convention, existing consciousness in association with the process of the conception and perception of forms becomes a single conventional presumption at the level of human relations in space and time. The conception of “me” or “I” is basically the process of conception and perception referring to itself. This body-mind, or the process of conception/perception, calls itself “I.” It refers to itself as if it has thoroughly investigated itself and thus knows exactly what it is meaning when it says “me” or “I.” But the “I” is just a convention of reference, not necessarily the product of a thorough analysis of its true nature. “I” is a rather intuitive gesture, but it is also just a convention that permits ordinary communication and activity.
Therefore, if the process of conception and perception is uninspected, it conceives of itself as an independent self over against all possible forms that arise. Once this presumption is made (and it is made for very ordinary reasons) it is possible to say things like, “There is the external universe.” But to call the realm of conceived and perceived forms an “external universe” does not signify that we understand anything profound or that we have understood the true nature of that realm, any more than to say “I” or “me” means that we have thoroughly analyzed and understood the self. It is simply a convention of reference.
Scientific activity is not inherently evil, but it does become an evil or destructive force if it is permitted to dominate our world view and to remain unaccountable to our total realization of existence. In our time science has been permitted to take a convention absolutely seriously, as if such conventions had ultimate philosophical force, and it has been permitted to do great psychological harm to humanity. By divorcing reality from the realm of our actual existence, science has attributed reality to that which is apparently outside our existence. It has made the so-called physical universe the realm of reality and it regards everything else to be an effect of the material world.
But science itself tacitly admits that we have no direct connection to an objective universe. If we had a direct connection to an objective universe, we would not have to go to such lengths to find out about it scientifically. We must create tools that abstract Man either mentally or technologically just to find out about the external world. In order to do science, you must “machine” Man, you must define and discipline Man in a particular way, because Man is not naturally habituated to knowing about things in the way that science requires. This discipline can be useful in acquiring certain kinds of knowledge, but if that discipline is permitted to become an absolute point of view to the exclusion of the total reality of Man, then human existence becomes an alienated aberration within the physical universe.
The reality of the external world to which science points has no psychic depth, no depth of being. It is a plastic mass of events. When scientists study Man, they want to prove that the mind, the psyche, the being of Man ‘ the effect of bodily existence and thus an effect of matter. They conclude that if the mind is caused by matter, then it is basically unreal, secondary, not a primary reality. From that point of view, however, to pursue knowledge about reality one must dissociate from one’s own being and find a way to become involved with a so-called external, objective world. Science as such a discipline of knowledge can be of value, but as a point of view about existence it is destructive and psychotic.
We do not exist merely in a physical universe, you see. We exist in a multidimensional condition, every aspect of which is totally real and mutually related to all other aspects. These many dimensions condition one another and bring one another into existence. As a matter of fact, we never observe anything’s ever being brought into existence. Existence is an inherent Condition of Transcendental Being. All these appearances are just transformations or changes. Nothing ever comes into existence. Nothing ever passes out of existence. Things only change. They become apparent and unapparent, identifiable in one moment and unidentifiable in the next. This truth is demonstrated in the law of the conservation of energy conceived by modern physics, which states that energy is never destroyed but is, rather, ceaselessly transformed.
In the ancient world essential human existence, as well as social and cultural existence, was not created and defined by the point of view of science or anything science. Even though some science-like enterprises may have developed in those times and places, the fundamental conceptions or presumptions that created the model of human existence and established the circumstances and processes of daily life were often based on a total and fully human presumption about the conditions of existence.
Science is a dehumanizing adventure when made into an absolute philosophical point of view, because it chooses a reality independent of Man as the subject of its investigation and makes that reality the force that defines Man and makes the physical universe senior to, superior to, or more real than the being of Man and the subtler dimensions in which Man participates constantly. Science excludes the subtle dimensions of energy, the dimensions of psyche, and the dimension of being or consciousness. But all these conditions are our true Condition. The mere external or objective physical world, which is only a conventional notion anyway, is a fraction of the total Condition of which we are directly aware in every moment. The physical universe, which science wants to investigate, itself represents only a portion, one dimension, of a much wider, broader scale of dimensions in which we participate.
We exist simultaneously in many dimensions. We fluidly move attention through these dimensions. Our attention can pass from gross physical phenomena into thinking, into visions, into every, into a state transcending all gross consciousness, into psychic awareness of what appear to be environments or worlds that have nothing whatever to do with this one, into existent being or consciousness that has no references whatsoever, and then back again through all of these dimensions one by one. We can, therefore, presume a Condition of existence wherein all these dimensions are simultaneously existing, simultaneously real. But since science is not founded upon the observer but upon the observed, it does not have this flexibility of movement through many dimensions, and it is not possessed by the paradoxes of our actual human existence.
Many scientists and people sympathetic with the scientific world view do not seem capable of thinking about what they are doing. They have no more insight into their presumptions and motives than enthusiastic religionists or “creationists” possess in their domain. Scientists do not rigorously understand that science itself is a chosen, specific development of a single aspect of conventional human understanding. In the enterprise of science the mind and body are used to do a specific kind of work. But apart from that, all the dogma about the total universe and about reality and existence itself, and science’s anti-spiritual, anti-religious, anti-psychic point of view, and its Victorian, archaic materialism, and its prejudices against other kinds of knowing, all of this is insidious, not merely nonsensical, because it has such a profoundly negative effect on human beings.
Meanwhile, many scientists who adopt this dogmatic approach act as if they were superintelligent people with their tweedy, pipesmoking, slow-talking, complicated linguistic minds. This is the archetype of intelligence, right? This is the way you are supposed to be if you are intelligent. Well, this archetype does not necessarily represent intelligence. It is just a pose. Real intelligence must be fiercely capable of investigating every aspect of existence, including the very process’ of knowledge that we call science.
Science has now become so legitimized, and we have become so serious about it, that we are beginning to forget that, on a very basic level, we feel there is something ridiculous and even threatening about science. When it first appeared, science was considered heresy by the Church. Then it became thought of as just craziness, and scientists were always depicted as mad. Madness and science were considered the same thing in those days. When science first began to become prominent, before it became really official-at that crossover point from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance into the so-called Age of Enlightenment and Romanticism of the nineteenth century-science was considered to be possibly aberrated. Many stories, such as the tale of Frankenstein, appeared during that time. Science was considered to be a kind of balminess or madness.
In some level we are still very humorous about science. We know that the left-brained, tweedy character is a poseur and we know that science is a pose, an “asana.” Apart from the specific enterprise for which this asana or pose of science was invented, it does not represent the disposition wherein we are Enlightened, free, happy, totally associated with all of the factors of our existence.
To do science one must take on a pose that is not the disposition of Man contemplating Infinity. When science begins to propose that this asana is the disposition we must assume relative to everything, then it becomes mad. We must be able to reconnect with our humor, our primitive sense of the poseur that we can be and of the ridiculousness of our postures. To live all of life in the pose of science, to make the asana of science a style of living, is like trying to eat dinner while standing on your head! There are certain things you cannot do in the posture of science, and when you are seen trying to do them in that pose, you must be laughed at. We must recover our humor by regaining a more complete understanding, appreciation, and awareness of our existence as a whole and understand science as an aspect of existence, a tool, that we can develop as a conventional exercise with ordinary importance but which, if it is developed otherwise, could be very destructive to our human existence.
The true alternative to the extreme pose of science, however, is not the traditional option of orientalism. The pose and activity of science that we are criticizing is an enterprise of Western man. And it is necessary to begin to see the limitations of that essentially Western exercise and begin to feel the threats to human life that are created by the absolutism of that pose. Yet, if you only react to the presumptions of science, you start looking to the opposite pose as a solution.
We can clearly see, particularly in recent decades, a developing interest in the oriental approach to life. That interest really represents a nostalgia for the oriental disposition, but we must understand that the oriental asana is also a partial development of Man, an exploitation of only one aspect of our total Condition. If you take the oriental asana too seriously, you deny reality to the conventional relations of human existence. You deny positive value, therefore, to being born and to the conventional responsibilities-of being alive as a human being. The oriental disposition of inwardness and withdrawal from life ‘promises infinite regression into security from all the limiting effects of the perceived and conceived universe.
Both the oriental and the occidental views, in their extremes, are reductive. They reduce reality to only one of its features. The oriental disposition attributes reality exclusively to the fundamental self-nature, and the occidental disposition attributes reality exclusively to the objective relations of the self. But when you become dogmatically inclined to attribute reality exclusively to one or another primary feature of our total Condition, you are engineering your consciousness into an illusion, a fault, a dilemma.
The oriental disposition is regressive toward self, but the occidental disposition is progressive to the exclusion of the self. It makes Man into a moral robot whose only significance is the accomplishment attributed to the few individuals who have made scientific discoveries at critical moments. From the point of view of scientific dogma, those are the only human beings who have really done anything other than be confined to illusions. Everybody else is sort of babbling along in fear, believing all kinds -of nonsense. Here and -there we find some character in a tweed coat with a pipe who is able to break free of all that and see how objects move in space!
In terms of the ability to observe and comprehend, there is something remarkable about such individuals. But likewise other people have accomplished just as many remarkable things in relation to a totally different way of knowing, a more comprehensive or total way of knowing or realizing our existence. Even so, _there are many babbling, frightened people, but you can babble and be frightened as a scientist just as much as you can babble and be :frightened as a conventionally religious person.
The oriental enterprise-which not only developed in the East but which has been a feature of humanity all along, East and West has provided the domain for religion; spirituality, mysticism, magic, and all the elaborations of the psyche. Because oriental enterprises attribute reality only to the fundamental depth of the subject and not to the world of forms, they tend to be ineffectively related to the world of forms. Therefore, if the domains of religion, spirituality, mysticism, and magic are not held accountable to real processes, they can develop all kinds of illusions and create views that are purely imaginary, suggestive, or archetypal. Those views may be unified, but the. phenomena they ate- unifying can. be totally imaginary, merely psychic and subtle, and only partially objective in,: relation to the material world-Thus, the mind of Man and the culture of Man, when-permitted to develop exclusively along oriental ‘lines, tend t6 create a culture of illusions.
Science as we know it appeared historically at a time, when religious enterprises (particularly Christianity), dominated by orientalism, had; become so filled with illusions that early scientific observations. were arbitrarily condemned and anathematized, just as science now arbitrarily condemns and anathematizes non illusory, real features of psychic and Spiritual realization. Scientific discoveries were declared heretical because they did not square with the assumed imaginary cosmic picture that had been created by religionists. Then, as science itself began to achieve more and more dominance because it was discovering some real facts, the Church, the religious point of view, the. oriental disposition itself, began to be viewed as wrong. Not only some of its presumptions or ideas were presumed wrong, but religion itself was presumed wrong.
Now we are at the opposite end of this historical pendulum. At one time even the Western world was profoundly associated with the religious consciousness of orientalism (in the form of Christianity, specifically), but now that whole enterprise is presumed to be false. And another world view, another way of knowledge, another kind of cult has achieved power and has become associated with the State and the machinery of worldly power, and it is using that position to dominate its. opposite.
DEVOTEE: Now even some meditation groups try to prove their effectiveness scientifically.
MASTER DA FREE JOHN: Yes. In order for religion to remain legitimate in our time when it is so much out of favor, it has to associate with what is in favor – the dominant persuasion and mass of information on that, has been generated in the cult of scientific’ materialism. Thus, what in another, setting , would be called a religious, mystical, of spiritual practice is now called scientific yoga and the like. But science itself is just a conventional expression of the current stage of humanity. The cure for all of this is not to be found in the disposition or enterprise of science itself, nor is it to be found in the disposition and orientation of the oriental asana” or point of view. Neither of these two represents the fullness of human realization. They both have, in their extreme and exclusive form, been dominant in one or another time.’
To transcend the limitations that are obvious at the present time, we must transcend all of the historical alternatives. We must transcend the limited disposition of science that now dominates as well as the limited disposition of the oriental view that seems to be its primary alternative. In order to transcend all these limited features we must simply and directly observe and consider our condition as a whole prior to making any of these limited presumptions, prior to assuming or engineering our existence as a choice between the occidental and the oriental dispositions. We must conceive of our condition, our existence, as it is altogether. We must witness it and see that it is altogether existing and real in every dimension, not just in one dimension or feature. And our real existence, our free and happy existence, is to be realized only in the asana, the attitude, of our total Condition rather than in our choice of a single aspect of that Condition.
With the publication of The Tao of Physics in 1976, physicist Fritjof Capra touched off a widespread interest in the similarities between the quantum view of the world developing in modern physics and the world view of ancient mysticism. In his latest book, The Turning Point (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982), he shows how the new paradigm first conceived to explain the realm of subatomic particles and energy events is now beginning to reshape our view of biology, medicine, psychology, sociology, and even economics.
The following article, prepared for The Laughing Man, traces the influence of the older Cartesian-Newtonian world view and shows how the current shift in scientific thinking could produce a new perspective on reality – a new way of looking at, and hence also relating to, the world.
Fritjof Capra describes the world view of modern physics, which spearheads the renaissance he is talking about, as essentially “holistic” and “ecological.” He perceives certain striking parallels, and even a fundamental consonance, between this revised model of reality and the visionary interpretations of the world in the mystical traditions. He does not, however, elaborate on these cursory observations. The reason for this lies, perhaps, in the fact that his faith in the scientific project has not been shaken by the collapse of the Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm.
CRISIS AND TRANSFORMATION IN SCIENCE AND SOCIETY
BY FRITJOF CAPRA
During the first three decades of this century, atomic and subatomic physics led to a dramatic revision of many basic concepts and ideas about reality, which brought about a profound change in our world view; from the mechanistic world view of Descartes and Newton. to a holistic and ecological view, a view that turns out to be very similar to the views of mystics of all ages and traditions.
The new view of reality was by no means easy to accept for physicists at the beginning of the century. The exploration of the atomic and subatomic world brought them in contact with a strange and unexpected reality. In their struggle to grasp this new reality, scientists became painfully aware that their basic concepts, their language, and their whole way of thinking were inadequate to describe atomic phenomena. Their problems were not merely intellectual, but amounted to an intense emotional and, one could say, even existential crisis. It took them a long time to overcome this crisis, but in the end they were rewarded with deep insights into the nature of matter and its relation to the human mind.
I have come to believe that today our society as a whole finds itself in a similar crisis. We can read about its numerous manifestations every day in the newspapers. We have high inflation and unemployment, we have an energy crisis, we have a crisis in health care, pollution and other environmental disasters, a rising wave of violence and crime, and so on. I believe that these are all different facets of one and the same crisis, and that this crisis is essentially a crisis of perception. Like the crisis in physics in the 1920s, it derives from the fact that we are trying to apply the concepts of an outdated world view-the mechanistic world view of Cartesian-Newtonian science-to a reality which can no longer be understood in terms of these concepts. We live today in a globally interconnected world, in which biological, psychological, social, and environmental phenomena are all interdependent. To describe this world appropriately we need an ecological perspective which the Cartesian world view does not offer.
What we need, then, is a new “paradigm” – a new vision of reality; a fundamental change in our thoughts, perceptions, and values. The beginnings of this change, of the shift from the mechanistic to the holistic conception of reality, are already visible in all fields and are likely to dominate the entire decade. The gravity and global extent of our crisis indicate that the current changes are likely to result in a transformation of unprecedented dimensions, a turning point for the planet as a whole.
To discuss the various aspects and implications of the current paradigm shift, I shall first describe the old paradigm, the Cartesian world view, and its influence on science and society, and shall then discuss the new holistic and ecological world view and its implications.
THE MECHANISTIC CARTESIAN WORLD VIEW
The mechanistic view of the world was developed in the seventeenth century by Galileo, Descartes, Newton, and others. Descartes based his view of nature on a fundamental division into two separate and independent realms: that of mind and that of matter. The material universe was a machine and nothing but a machine. Nature worked according to mechanical laws, and everything in the material world could be explained in terms of the arrangement and movement of its parts. Descartes extended this mechanistic view of matter to living organisms. Plants and animals were considered simply machines; human beings were inhabited by a rational soul, but the human body was indistinguishable from an animal-machine.
The essence of Descartes’s approach to knowledge was his analytic method of reasoning. It consists in breaking up thoughts and problems into pieces and arranging these in their logical order. This approach has become an essential characteristic of modern scientific thought and has proved extremely useful in the development of scientific theories and the realization of complex technological projects. On the other hand, overemphasis on the Cartesian method has led to the fragmentation that is characteristic of both our general thinking and our academic disciplines and to the widespread attitude of reductionism in science – the belief that all aspects of complex phenomena can be understood by reducing them to their constituent parts.
While Descartes postulated the fundamental division between mind and matter and outlined his mechanistic vision of reality, Galileo was the first to combine scientific experimentation with the use of mathematical language. In order to make it possible for scientists to describe nature mathematically, Galileo postulated that science should restrict itself to studying the essential properties of material bodies-shapes, numbers and movement – which could be measured and quantified. Other properties, like color, sound, taste, or smell, were merely subjective mental projections which should be excluded from the domain of science. This strategy has proved extremely successful throughout modern science, but it has also exacted a heavy toll. A science concerned only with quantity and based exclusively on measurement is inherently unable to deal with experience, quality, or values. Indeed, ever since Galileo scientists have evaded all ethical and moral issues, and this attitude is now generating disastrous consequences.
The conceptual framework created by Galileo and Descartes was completed triumphantly by Newton, who developed a consistent mathematical formulation of the mechanistic view of nature. From the second half of the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth, the mechanistic Newtonian model of the universe dominated all scientific thought. The natural sciences, as well as the humanities and social sciences, all accepted the mechanistic view of classical physics as the correct description of reality and modeled their own theories accordingly. Whenever psychologists, sociologists, or economists wanted to be scientific, they naturally turned toward the basic concepts of Newtonian physics, and many of them hold on to these concepts even now that physicists have gone far beyond them.
INFLUENCE OF CARTESIAN-NEWTONIAN THOUGHT
In biology the Cartesian view of living organisms as machines, constructed from separate parts, still provides the dominant conceptual framework. Although Descartes’s simple mechanistic biology could not be carried very far and had to be modified considerably during the subsequent three hundred years, the belief that all aspects of living organisms can be understood by reducing them to their smallest constituents, and by studying the mechanisms through which these interact, lies at the very basis of most contemporary biological thinking.
The influence of the reductionist biology on medical thought resulted in the so-called biomedical model, which constitutes the conceptual foundation of modern scientific medicine. The human body is regarded as a machine that can be analyzed in terms of its parts; disease is seen as the malfunctioning of biological mechanisms which are studied from the point of view of cellular and molecular biology; the doctor’s role is to intervene, either physically or chemically, to correct the malfunctioning of a specific mechanism, different parts of the body being treated by different specialists.
To associate a particular illness with a definite part of the body is, of course, very useful in many cases. But modern scientific medicine has overemphasized the reductionist approach and has developed its specialized disciplines to a point where doctors are often no longer able to view illness as a disturbance of the whole organism, nor to treat it as such. What they tend to do is to treat a particular organ or tissue, and this is generally done without taking the rest of the body into account, let alone considering the psychological and social aspects of the patient’s illness.
Like biology and medicine, the science of psychology has been shaped by the Cartesian paradigm. Psychologists, following Descartes, adopted a strict division between mind and matter. Based on this division, two approaches were developed for the study of the human psyche, thus creating two major schools of psychology. The structuralists studied the mind through introspection and tried to analyze consciousness into its basic elements, while behaviorists concentrated exclusively on the study of behavior and so were led to ignore or deny the existence of mind altogether. Both these schools emerged at a time when scientific thought was dominated by the Newtonian model of reality. Accordingly, they both modeled themselves after classical physics, incorporating the basic concepts of Newtonian mechanics into their theoretical frameworks.
Meanwhile, working in the clinic and the consulting room rather than the laboratory, Sigmund Freud used the method of free association to develop psychoanalysis. Although this was a very different, revolutionary theory of the human mind, its basic concepts were again Newtonian in nature. Thus the three main currents of psychological thinking in the first decades of the twentieth century-two in the academy and one in the clinic-were based not only on the Cartesian paradigm but also on specifically Newtonian concepts of reality.
To conclude this brief survey of the influences of Cartesian-Newtonian thought, I shall now turn to the social sciences and, in particular, to economics. Present-day economics, like most social sciences, is fragmentary and reductionist. It fails to recognize that the economy is merely one aspect of a whole ecological and social fabric. Economists tend to dissociate the economy from this fabric, in which it is embedded, and to describe it in terms of simplistic and highly unrealistic theoretical models. Most of their basic concepts – efficiency, productivity, GNP, etc.-have been narrowly defined and are used without their wider social and ecological context. In particular, the social and environmental costs generated by all economic activity are generally neglected. Consequently, the current economic concepts and models are no longer adequate to map economic phenomena in a fundamentally interdependent world, and hence economists have generally been unable to understand the major economic problems of our time.
Because of its narrow, reductionist framework, conventional economics is inherently anti-ecological. Whereas the surrounding ecosystems are organic wholes which are self balancing and self-adjusting, our current economies and technologies recognize no self limiting principle. Undifferentiated growth economic, technological and institutional growth-is still regarded by most economists as the sign of a “healthy” economy, although it is now causing ecological disasters, widespread corporate crime, social disintegration, and ever increasing likelihood of nuclear war.
The situation is further aggravated by the fact that most economists, in a misguided striving for scientific rigor, neglect to acknowledge explicitly the value system on which their models are based. In doing so, they tacitly accept the highly imbalanced set of values which dominates our culture and is embodied in our social institutions.
I have found the Chinese terminology of yin and yang very useful for describing this cultural imbalance. Together with the development of the mechanistic world view, our culture has consistently favored yang values and attitudes and has neglected their complementary, yin counterparts. We have favored self-assertion over integration, analysis over synthesis, rational knowledge over intuitive wisdom, science over religion, competition over cooperation, expansion over conservation, and so on.
From the earliest times of Chinese culture, yin was also associated with the feminine and yang with the masculine, and in our time l feminists have repeatedly pointed out that the values and attitudes favored by our society are those of patriarchal cultures. The Cartesian j world view and the yang-oriented value system have thus been supported by patriarchy, but like the Cartesian paradigm, patriarchy is now in its decline, and the feminist perspective will be an essential aspect of the new vision of reality.
THE NEW PARADIGM
The new paradigm emerged in physics. at the beginning of the century and is now emerging in various other fields-biology, medicine, psychology, economics, politics, etc. It consists not only of new concepts, but also of a new value system, and it is reflected in new forms of social organization and new institutions. It is being! formulated largely outside our academic institutions, which remain too closely tied to they Cartesian framework to appreciate the new ideas. To describe the new paradigm, I shall begin with the view of matter that has emerged from modern physics, and I will then discuss the extension of this view to living organisms, mind, consciousness, and to social phenomena
The material world, according to contemporary physics, is not a mechanical system mad of separate objects, but rather appears as complex web of relationships. Subatomic particles cannot be understood as isolated separate entities but have to be seen a interconnections, or correlation’s, in a network of events. The notion of separate objects is an idealization which is often very useful but has no fundamental validity. All such objects are patterns in an inseparable cosmic process, and these patterns are intrinsically dynamic. Subatomic particles are not made of any material substance. They have a certain mass but this mass is a form of energy. Energy, however, is always associated with processes, with activity; it is a measure of activity. Subatomic particles, then, are bundles of energy, or patterns of activity.
The energy” patterns of the subatomic world form stable atomic and molecular structures which build up matter and give it its macroscopic solid appearance thus making us believe that it is made of some material substance. At the everyday, macroscopic level, the notion of a substance is quite useful, but at the atomic level it no longer makes sense. Atoms consist of particles and these particles are not made of any material stuff. When we observe them, we never see any substance; what we observe are dynamic patterns continually changing into one another-a continuous dance of energy.
THE SYSTEMS VIEW OF LIFE
The world view of modern physics is holistic and ecological. It emphasizes the fundamental interrelatedness and interdependence of all phenomena, and also the intrinsically dynamic nature of physical reality. To extend this view to the description of living organisms we have to go beyond physics, and there is now a framework which seems to be a natural extension of the concepts of modern physics. This framework is known as systems theory, sometimes also called general systems theory. Actually, the term “systems theory” is somewhat misleading, since it is not a well-defined theory, like relativity theory or quantum theory. It is rather a particular approach, a language, a particular perspective.
The systems approach is concerned with the description of systems, which are integrated wholes that derive their essential properties from the interrelations between their parts. The systems approach, therefore, does not focus on the parts, but rather on the interrelations and interdependencies between the parts. Examples of systems can be found in the living and nonliving world, and I shall concentrate here on living systems. Every living organism is a living system-a single cell, a plant, an animal, or a human being. But living systems need not be individual organisms. There are social systems, such as a family or a community, and then there are ecological systems, or ecosystems, in which networks of organisms are interlinked, together with various inanimate components, to form an intricate web of relations involving the exchange of matter and energy in continual cycles. All these are living systems which exhibit similar patterns of organization.
An important aspect of living systems is their tendency to form multileveled structures of systems within systems. For example, the human body consists of organs, each organ of tissues, and each tissue of cells. All these are living organisms, or living systems, which consist of smaller parts and, at the same time, act as parts of larger wholes. Living systems, then, exhibit a stratified order, and there are interconnections and interdependencies between all systems levels, each level interacting and communicating with its total environment.
We see that the systems view is an ecological view. Like the view of modern physics, it emphasizes the interrelatedness and interdependence of all phenomena and the dynamic nature of living systems. In the systems view, all structure is seen as a manifestation of underlying processes, and living systems are described in terms of patterns of organization.
What, then, are the patterns of organization that are characteristic of life? They include a variety of processes and phenomena which can be seen as different aspects of the same dynamic principle, the principle of self-organization. A living organism is a self organizing system, which means that its order in structure and function is not imposed by the environment but is established by the system itself. Self-organizing systems exhibit a certain degree of autonomy; for example, they tend to establish their size according to internal principles of organization, independent of environmental influences. This does not mean that living systems are isolated from their environment; on the contrary, they interact with it continually, but this interaction does not determine their organization.
The relative autonomy of self-organizing systems sheds new light on the age-old philosophical question of free will. From the systems point of view, both determinism and freedom are relative concepts. To the extent that a system is autonomous from its environment it is free; to the extent that it depends on its environment through continuous interaction its activity will be shaped by environmental influences. The relative autonomy of organisms usually increases with their complexity, and it reaches its culmination in human beings.
This relative concept of free will seems to be consistent with the view of mystical traditions that exhort their followers to transcend the notion of an isolated self and become aware that we are inseparable parts of the cosmos in which we are embedded. The goal of these traditions is to shed all ego sensations completely and, in mystical experience, merge with the totality of the cosmos. Once such a state is reached, the question of free will seems to lose its meaning. If I am the universe, there can be no “outside” influences and all my actions will be spontaneous and free. From the point of view of mystics, therefore, the notion of free will is relative, limited, and-as they would say-illusory, like all other concepts we use in our rational descriptions of reality.
A theory of self-organizing systems has been worked out over the last decade in considerable detail by a number of researchers from various disciplines under the leadership of the Belgian Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine. One of the most important characteristics of self organization is the fact that self-organizing systems are “always at work.” They have to maintain a continuous exchange of energy and matter with their environments to stay alive. This exchange involves taking in ordered structures, such as food, breaking them down and using some of the components to maintain or even increase the order of the organism. This process is known as metabolism.
Another important aspect of the continual activity of living systems is the process of self renewal. Every living organism continually renews itself cells breaking down and building up structures, tissues and organs replacing their cells in continual cycles. In spite of this continual change, the organism maintains its overall structure and appearance. Its components are continually renewed and recycled, but the pattern of organization remains stable. Other aspects of self-organization which are closely related to self-renewal are the phenomena of self-healing, regeneration, and adaptation to environmental changes.
In all these processes, fluctuations play a very central role. A living system can be described in terms of interdependent variables which oscillate between certain limits, so that the system is in a state of continual fluctuations. Such a state is known as homeostasis. It is a state of dynamic balance which displays great flexibility. When there is some disturbance, the system tends to return to its original fluctuating state by adapting in various ways to the disturbance. Feedback mechanisms come into play which tend to reduce any deviation from the balanced state.
The aspects of self-organization I have described so far can all be seen as processes of self-maintenance. What makes the understanding of living systems quite difficult is the fact that they have not only a tendency to maintain themselves in their dynamic state but, at the same time, also show a tendency to transcend themselves, to reach out creatively beyond their boundaries and limitations to generate new structures and new forms of organization. This principle of self-transcendence manifests itself in the processes of learning, development, and evolution.
According to the systems view, the Darwinian theory of evolution represents only one of two complementary views which are both necessary to understand the phenomenon of evolution. The other view sees evolution as an essential manifestation of self-organization which leads over time to an ordered unfolding of complexity. The two complementary tendencies of self-organizing systems – self-maintenance and self-transcendence-are in continual dynamic interplay, and both of them contribute to the phenomenon of evolutionary adaptation.
A NEW CONCEPT OF MIND
In order to apply the systems view of life to higher organisms and, in particular, to human beings, it is necessary to deal with the phenomenon of mind. Gregory Bateson has proposed to define mind as a systems phenomenon characteristic of living organisms, societies, and ecosystems. He has listed a set of criteria which systems have to satisfy for mind to occur. Any system that satisfies those criteria will be able to process information and develop various phenomena which we associate with mind-thinking, learning, memory, etc. In Bateson’s view, mind is a necessary and inevitable consequence of a certain complexity which begins long before organisms develop a brain and a higher nervous system.
Bateson’s criteria for mind turn out to be closely related to the characteristics of self organizing systems. Indeed, mind is an essential property of living systems. As Bateson put it, “Mind is the essence of being alive.” From the systems point of view, life is not substance or force, and mind is not an entity interacting with matter. Both life and mind are manifestations of the same set of systemic properties; a set of processes which represent the dynamics of self organization. This will be my definition of mind: the dynamics of self-organization.
The new concept of mind will be of tremendous value in our attempts to overcome the Cartesian division. Mind and matter no longer appear to belong to two separate categories, but can be seen to represent merely different aspects of the same phenomenon. For example, the relationship between mind and brain, which has confused countless scientists ever since Descartes, becomes now quite clear. Mind is the dynamics of self-organization, and the brain is the biological structure through which this dynamics is carried out.
I shall follow Bateson completely in his concept of mind, but shall use a slightly different language. In order to remain closer to conventional language, I shall reserve the term “mind” for organisms of high complexity and will use, “mentation,” a term meaning mental activity, to describe the dynamics of self organization at lower levels. Every living system-a cell, a tissue, an organ, etc. .- is engaged in the process of mentation, but in higher organisms an “inner world” unfolds which is characteristic of mind. It includes self-awareness, conscious experience, conceptual thought, symbolic language, etc. Most of these characteristics exist in rudimentary form in various animals, but they unfold fully in human beings.
The fact that the living world is organized in multileveled structures means that there also exist levels of mind. In the human organism, for example, there are various levels of “metabolic” mentation involving cells, tissues, and organs, and then there is the neural mentation of the brain which, itself, consists of multiple levels corresponding to different stages of human evolution. The totality of these mentations constitutes what I would call the human mind, or psyche. In the stratified order of nature, individual human minds are embedded in the larger minds of social and ecological systems, and these are integrated into the planetary mental system, which in turn must participate in some kind of universal or cosmic mind. The conceptual framework of the new systems approach is in no way restricted by associating this cosmic mind with the traditional idea of God. In this view the deity is, of course, neither male nor female, nor manifest in any personal form, but represents nothing less than the self-organizing dynamics of the entire cosmos.
SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY
The new vision of reality is an ecological vision in a sense which goes far beyond the immediate concerns with environmental protection. It is supported by modern science, and in particular by the new systems approach, but it is rooted in a perception of reality that goes beyond the scientific framework to an intuitive awareness of the oneness of all life, the interdependence of its multiple manifestations, and its cycles of change and transformation. When the concept of the human spirit is understood as the mode of consciousness in which the individual feels connected to the cosmos as a whole, it becomes clear that ecological awareness is truly spiritual.
Indeed, the idea of the individual being linked to the cosmos is expressed in the Latin root of the word religion, religion (“to bind strongly”), as well as in the Sanskrit yoga, which means “union.”
It is thus not surprising that the new vision of reality is consistent with many ideas in mystical traditions. The parallels between science and mysticism are not confined to modern physics but can now be extended with equal justification to the new systems biology. Two basic themes emerge again and again from the study of living and nonliving matter and are also repeatedly emphasized in the teachings of mystics-the universal interconnectedness and interdependence of all phenomena, and the intrinsically dynamic nature of reality. We also find a number of ideas in mystical traditions that are less relevant, or not yet significant, to modern physics but are crucial to the systems view of living organisms.
The concept of stratified order plays a prominent role in many traditions. As in modern science, it involves the notion of multiple levels of reality which differ in their complexities and are mutually interacting and interdependent. These levels include, in particular, levels of mind, which are seen as different manifestations of cosmic consciousness. Although mystical views of consciousness go far beyond the framework of contemporary science, they are by no means inconsistent with the modern systems concepts of mind and matter. Similar considerations apply to the concept of free will, which is quite compatible with mystical views when associated with the relative autonomy of self-organizing systems.
The concepts of process, change, and fluctuation, which play such a crucial role in the systems view of living organisms, are emphasized in the Eastern mystical traditions, especially in Taoism. The idea of fluctuations as the basis of order, which Prigogine introduced into modern science, is one of the major themes in all Taoist texts. Because the Taoist sages recognized the importance of fluctuations in their observations of the living world, they also emphasized the opposite but complementary tendencies that seem to be an essential aspect of life. Among the Eastern traditions Taoism is the one with the most explicit ecological perspective, but the mutual interdependence of all aspects of reality and the nonlinear nature of its interconnections are emphasized throughout Eastern mysticism. For example, these are the ideas underlying the Indian concept of karma.
The systems view of life has many important consequences not only for science but also for society and everyday living. It will influence our ways of dealing with health and illness, our relation to the natural environment, and will change many of our social and political structures. All these changes are already taking place. The paradigm shift is not something that will happen some time in the future; it is happening right now. The sixties and seventies have generated a whole series of philosophical, spiritual, and political movements which all seem to go in the same direction; they all emphasize different aspects of the new paradigm. There is a rising concern with ecology, expressed by citizen movements that are forming around social and environmental issues, pointing out the limits to growth, advocating a new ecological ethic, and developing appropriate “soft” technologies. They are the sources of emerging counter economies, based on decentralized, cooperative, and ecologically harmonious lifestyles. In the political arena, the antinuclear movement is fighting the most extreme outgrowth of our self-assertive, “macho” technology and, in doing so, is likely to become one of the most powerful political forces of this decade.
At the same time, there is the beginning of a significant shift in values-from the admiration of large-scale enterprises and institutions to the notion of “small is beautiful,” from material consumption to voluntary simplicity, from economic and technological growth to inner growth and development. These new values are being promoted by the human-potential movement, the holistic-health movement, and by spiritual movements that reemphasize the quest for meaning and the spiritual dimension of life. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the old value system is being challenged and profoundly changed by the rise of feminist awareness, originating in the women’s movement, which may well become a catalyst for the coalescence of many other movements.
So far, most of these movements still operate separately and have not yet recognized how their purposes interrelate. Thus, the human-potential movement and the holistic health movement often lack a social perspective, while spiritual movements tend to lack- ecological arid feminist awareness. However, coalitions-between some movements have recently begun to form. As would be expected, the ecology movement and the feminist movement are coming together on several issues, notably that of nuclear power, and contacts are also being made between environmental groups, consumer groups, and various ethnic liberation movements.
I believe that during this decade the various movements will recognize the communality of their aims and will flow together to form a powerful force of social transformation. This may seem an idealistic picture, in view of the current political swing to the right in the United States and the crusades of Christian fundamentalists promoting medieval notions of reality. However, when we look at the situation from a broad evolutionary perspective, these phenomena become understandable as inevitable aspects of change and transformation.
Cultural historians have often pointed out that the evolution of cultures is characterized by a regular pattern of rise, culmination, decline, and disintegration. The decline will occur when a culture has become too rigid-in its technologies, ideas, or social organization-to meet the challenge of changing conditions. This loss of flexibility is accompanied by a general loss of harmony which inevitably leads to the outbreak of social discord and disruption. During this process of decline and disintegration, while the cultural mainstream has become petrified by clinging to fixed ideas and rigid patterns of behavior, creative minorities will appear on the scene and transform some of the old elements into new configurations which become part of the new rising culture.
This is what we are now observing in our society. The Democratic and Republican parties, as well as the traditional Right and Left in most European countries, the Chrysler Corporation, the Moral Majority, and most of our academic institutions are all part of the declining culture. They are in the process of disintegration. The social movements of the 1960s and 1970s represent the rising culture… While the transformation is taking place, the declining culture refuses to change, clinging ever more rigidly to its outdated ideas; nor will the dominant social institutions hand over their leading roles to the new cultural forces. But they will inevitably go on to decline and disintegrate while the rising culture will continue to rise, and eventually will assume its leading role. As the turning point approaches, the realization that evolutionary changes of this magnitude cannot be prevented by short-term political activities provides our strongest hope for the future.
SUGGESTED READINGS RELATED TO THE THIRD STAGE OF LIFE
Adler, Mortimer. How to Think about God: A Guide for the 20th Century Pagan. New York: Macmillan Pub. Co., 1980.
Burtt, Edwin Arthur. The Metaphysical Foundation of Modern Physical Science. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1955.
Dasgupta, Surendra Nath. Religion and Rational Outlook. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1974.
Feyerabend, Paul. Science in a Free Society. London: NLB, 1978.
Garg, R. K. Upanishadic Challenge to ” Science. Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan, 1978.
Ghandi, M. K. Service Before Self. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1971.
Horrobin, David F. Science Is God. Aylesburg, England: Medical and Technical Publishing Co., 1969.
Olson, Richard. Science as Metaphor: The Historical Rise of Scientific Theories Informing Western Culture. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub. Co., 1974.
Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, ed. History of Philosophy: Eastern and Western, 2 vols. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1952-3.
Russell, Bertrand. Religion and Science. London: Oxford University Press, 1978.
The Seven Stages of Eternal Life – Laughing Man Magazine Table of Contents