Reality 101: Excerpt
©2001, Dana Gaynor
The PSRI Press
It is somewhat sobering to consider how easy it is to take reality for granted. We operate under tacit assumptions as to its nature, having direct effects on our behavior, sense of self, and worldview yet so often we take these assumptions at face value. Reality 101 was designed as a primer and course on the natures of reality, consciousness and psychospiritual transformation. It utilizes an interdisciplinary orientation integrating a wide range of material drawn from philosophy, quantum physics, chaos theory, and psychology as well as nine of the world’s great spiritual traditions.
In Part I, a variety of contemporary approaches to understanding the relationship between the constructs of reality and consciousness will be considered. Our journey begins with a brief sojourn into Western philosophy for a glimpse of three historic positions on the fundamental nature of reality. These positions will suggest there is an irreducible interdependence between reality and consciousness. Contemporary quantum physics will substantiate this relationship demonstrating that simply being conscious-of-something affects it, thereby removing the illusion of boundaries between the observer (consciousness) and the observed (reality). With this illusion surrendered, a single complex dynamical system, a single universal process become visible. We will come to see that this process is self-directed and self-similar at all orders of magnitude in certain key ways. Using the lens of chaos theory we will identify this process as a fractal.
With philosophy, physics, mathematics, consciousness studies, and psychology, we will observe countless expressions of this fractal process, representing all aspects of reality and consciousness. These findings will suggest that reality is a transformation process emerging from nothingness as a volitional energetic field/state in which thresholds of increasingly complex interrelationships and potentials self-organize. This process ultimately produces what we typically consider “individual consciousness.” We will discover the latter is likewise also well modeled as a volitional energetic field/state in which increasing thresholds of potential and interrelational complexity self-organize. Because reality and consciousness are so interrelated, at all orders of magnitude, they cannot be operationally separated and appear to reflect alternate aspects of a single complex dynamical system.
Within individual consciousness, the self and universe emerge as the poles of our (interrelationally defined) experience. We will come to see that psychological development operates through: a) the internalization and contextualization of increasingly complex self/universe interrelationships; b) the increasing awareness of the implicit potential these relationships express; and c) the release of attachment for lower order expressions of potential (in the form of repetitive interrelational patterns) through the awareness and expression of higher order or more complex potentials.
In Part II we will consider the relationship between our findings and the perennial understanding of spirituality and spiritual development. We will suggest that, to the extent individual consciousness experiences the ultimate universal process and/or the pure universal potential from which it emerges, it accesses its ultimate nature and is spiritually transformed. As the awareness of potential is implicit at all thresholds of psychological growth, we will see that all successful developmental transitions are, to the extent they reflect awareness of implicit potentials, spiritually transforming. In considering how cognition, or our way-of-knowing, changes in association with spiritual development, we will use the term psychospiritual. In this section, we will uncover significant similarities between the models of reality explored in Part 1 and the beliefs of many of the world’s great spiritual traditions including and to some extent predating the ancient Egyptians.
In discussing multiple traditions simultaneously, we have to acknowledge at the outset, the complexity of the task. It is probably most important to note that the content of each tradition provides issues regarding translation that relate to cultural mindsets and the implicit biases of practitioners. There is often much resistance to comparison, especially with regard to the meaning associated with ultimate states of consciousness. For these reasons we will restrain ourselves from comparing ultimate states except when absolutely pertinent to our discussion. Rather we will focus directly on the nature of reality, consciousness and psychospiritual development.
Through a variety of orientations and traditions we will come to see that our understanding of reality mimics our understanding of consciousness in that both reflect variations of a single dynamical and hierarchical process. We will refer to this hierarchy of interrelational processes, as a holarchy because each process, operationally speaking, is a whole in itself and embedded within the greater whole. At the same time each reflects an particular order of magnitude of potential and interrelational complexity. Within the holarchy of reality, each order of magnitude participates in the emergence of the next. The process is therefore self-directing and produces self-similarity at all orders of magnitude. As such it demonstrates the key qualities of a fractal.
We will describe this complex system in three ways: process, content and context. The patterns of interaction, within and between thresholds, reflect reality’s process. The dynamical interrelationships existing in each moment are realities contexts; while the fundamental meanings consciousness derives from each interrelationship or set of interrelationships, form the contents of subjective reality. We will focus most of the time on how content and context express universal process.
While reflecting what is ostensibly one of many alternative views on the subject matter, my hope is that this work will equip one with the necessary background to seek out other positions and then draw one’s own conclusions. My main direction is to have fun with the material. Think of it as an adventure. Consider your own beliefs as you read each section. At the end of each chapter you will find a reading list and several questions for focusing your thoughts. Because we will move from topic to topic far too quickly, I recommend you follow up by reading at least some of the books listed in each reading list.
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Designed by Dana Gaynor
Copyright © 1999 by Dana Gaynor Ph.D.. All rights reserved.
Revised: 19 Nov 2012 21:24:05 -0500.