Main Pages

By Region



Self Organization

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Self Organization?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Self Organization

A Condition of Being where there is Personalness, Self-Organization, Individuation, Cohesive Functioning and Will but No Hint of Anthropomorphizing

These characteristics of the personal essence now appear in the new integration of boundless personal Being. Therefore, in the experience of this wholeness, we realize there is a sense of individuation, which is more like a feeling and recognition of organized and coherent functioning. We experience this oneness as a sense of individuated and personal wholeness, whose actions are coherent, self-organized, and organizing. This is almost like being a person, but a person with no particular form. We arrive here at a condition of Being where there is personalness, self-organization, individuation, cohesive functioning, and will, but with no hint of anthropomorphizing. This personal Being is not a form, it does not have arms and legs, or a white beard, and does not premeditate and discriminate in its actions. Personal Cosmic Being acts in total spontaneity, for its action is the dynamic creativity of the logos. It acts with total attunement and responsiveness for it possesses infinite intelligence, the boundless intelligence of true nature that appears in the orderly flow of the pearly logos. We find this condition of Being to be the closest, in our experience, to the concept of a personal God. God is not something different from Being, or true nature. It is one significant potential of the wholeness of Being, a particular way that this wholeness can manifest itself in our perception and understanding. Being can be impersonal, simply the true nature and ground of all; it can also be personal, as the creative Reality that is constantly generating manifestation and relating to it in a personal way. Furthermore, God is not separate from creation. The world is the creation of the personal God, but it is also the face of God. The world, in all its dimensions and forms, is simply the appearance of the body of God, and also God’s mind and heart. The world is a theophany.

Appreciating the Characteristics of Self-Organization and Autopoiesis Can Help Us Understand Some of the Difficulties We Encounter on Our Inner Journey of Development

The soul is actually the prototype of self-organizing systems, which can be experienced directly as a self-organizing Riemannian manifold. Appreciating the characteristics of self-organization and autopoiesis can help us understand some of the difficulties we encounter in our inner journey of development. It shows that the flexibility and malleability of the soul are necessary for her self-renewal, for her to continue to function as an autopoietic system, rather than a machine. Consequently, the rigid and fixated structures created through ego development can be seen as barriers to the function of autopoiesis. For the soul to mature, she cannot retain the same structures that she develops at any particular stage of her evolution. To become attached to these structures, which is the hallmark of egoic life, means active resistance to self-renewal. The hallmark of egoic existence is the permanent identification with structures created in early life. Through this attachment to established structures the soul tries to remain in static equilibrium, antithetical to her nature of open nonequilibrium. She attempts to maintain order through fixation, which necessitates isolation, while her nature is to be open, which means she needs to find order through fluctuation, i.e., through change. Or as Jantsch puts it: “Autopoiesis and evolution, global stability and coherent change, appear as complementary manifestations of dissipative self-organization.” Hence, egoic life constitutes an attempt to turn the soul into a machine, a closed and relatively isolated system. The rigidity and fixity of the ego-self point to how the soul has become mechanical and isolated, and explains the primary reasons for its lack of vibrant living unfoldment. Furthermore, the second law of thermodynamics will impel the rigidly structured soul toward entropy, toward less order, more disorganization, and hence ultimately toward disintegration. This accounts for the continual suffering of ego life, and its hopeless and incessant attempts at balancing itself. Egoic life is bound to lead toward disorganization and breakdown, not renewal and evolution.

Consciousness, in Its Purity and Ontological Presence, is the Basic Ground and Self-Organization is One of Its Properties or Dimensions

<p>This understanding has developed to a whole field of scientific research that studies open self-organizing systems on many levels of existence. This theory is applied to the development of the whole universe since the big bang, to the development of galaxies, stars, planets, atmospheres, weather systems, chemical compounds and processes, life forms, cities, the human body, the mind, and so on. In other words, it was not an unusual accident that life emerged at some point in the evolution of the universe. Even granting that it is rare, biological life shares some basic characteristics with many other physical phenomena. The self-organizing properties of open systems, which science believed characterized only life, turn out to be common and in fact inherent to the whole of our universe. Our universe developed into its present state largely through this self-organizing property. From the perspective of systems theory, organic life emerged when self-organization reached a particular level in cosmic evolution. Our question is, where does this self-organizing property of the universe come from? The soul is the self-organizing open system par excellence. Is it possible that when we understand the wave side of the universe, the complement to the particle side, we might find it to be responsible for the self-organizing properties of open systems in the universe? This has already been posited by many thinkers. The understanding we come to is that neither life nor consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter. Using the complementarity principle of quantum theory as a metaphor, we find that the wave complement to our physical universe is a field of consciousness that, similar to the soul, possesses self-organizing properties. Consciousness, in its purity and ontological presence, is the basic ground, and self-organization is one of its properties or dimensions. Consciousness emerges later in evolution because it is more basic and fundamental, meaning less differentiated, and life emerges earlier because it is a property of this consciousness, an inherent part of its potential. It seems that if we take the evolution of the universe as the action of spirit or consciousness, as Hegel and others did, then we can recognize that the more primordial and less structured dimensions of spirit emerge later in cosmic evolution. </p>

Continuous Morphogenic Transformation of the Soul

We have seen that all these changes are the outward manifestations of the changeability of the soul. These forms are manifestations of the same field, a single medium. These changing forms reflect the continuous change in the field as a whole. Our field of consciousness is itself constantly changing, and this change is what we perceive as the string of inner events, as the current of consciousness, the flow of presence. In other words, the changeability of the soul is more fundamental than the passage of forms. It is a transformation, a transubstantiation. The very medium that is the soul is transforming its qualities and characteristics. The soul is not changeable; it is a changeling, like certain forms that appear in some science fiction movies and TV shows. It is in a continuous condition of morphing. When we see this continuous morphogenic transformation of the soul directly, in ourselves or in others, we see that it is so amazing and miraculous relative to our conventional notion of ourselves that it is far beyond what can be envisioned in fiction. The fictional portrayals of this phenomenon merely approach the truth of the continuous transformation that we can recognize as we learn to see the soul directly. The soul is continuously and spontaneously changing its phenomenology, its topography, its shape, its texture, its color, its feel, its luminosity, its depth, its clarity, its viscosity, its momentum, its force, its power, its level of consciousness, its perceptivity, and so on. The inner multidimensional Riemannian manifold is in a constant state of organic self-organization, not through one form passing and being replaced by another, but through morphing, by one form dissolving, melting boundaries, and this dissolution merging continuously into the emerging boundaries of a newly arising form. Dimensions interpenetrate each other, transform into each other, overlap with each other, coalesce and separate, all in a nonlinear, non-discontinuous manner.

Inner Work is a Matter of Liberating and Expanding the Autopoietic Function of the Soul, Optimizing Her Capacity for Self-Renewal

Liberation, then, is not the attainment of a static state or ground. It is rather the freedom of the soul to fully engage in autopoiesis, that is, to reach the flexibility and impressionability, combined with mature autonomy, that allow her to be transparent to the fullness of her potential, in a dynamic responsiveness to her environment. Her self-renewal becomes a continuous dynamic morphogenic process, where she constantly and spontaneously restructures herself, expressing the richness of her potential in attunement with the demands and needs of her environment. We see that egoic life basically does not respect the autopoietic nature of the soul; it tends to make the open, living system that is the soul into a closed and isolated one, more like a machine. The difference between the egoic and the essential life is not absolute, for the soul cannot become completely a machine. She is inherently an open and dynamic system, and hence rigid ego structuring only limits this openness and constrains her dynamism; it cannot completely eliminate them. When the soul is extremely closed and isolated, she will generally move toward breakdown and disorganization. More accurately, the more rigid and fixed is the ego structuring of the soul, the more she will be subject to the second law of thermodynamics. In contrast, greater self-organization and autonomy are the natural outcome of dissipative autopoiesis, with its dynamic self-renewal. Therefore, inner work is a matter of liberating and expanding the autopoietic function of the soul, optimizing her capacity for self-renewal. This freedom is a central part of liberating the soul’s creative dynamism.

Seeing Life as Inherent in the Universe Rather than Merely Being a Potential that Arises when Self-Organization Reaches a High Level of Complexity

This means, first of all, that life is inherent in the universe; it is one of its potentials. It arises when the right circumstances evoke it, as part of the ongoing cosmic unfoldment. The second and more important point is that systems theory views the whole cosmic process of evolution upside down. It continues to participate in the modern scientific philosophic position that matter is primary, a position that results from and embodies the triadic dissociation we are trying to challenge and heal. This perspective sees life as a certain level of self-organization. Looking at the question from the perspective of the complementarity of matter and consciousness, it becomes possible to see self-organization as the particle view of life, where the wave view is that life is self-organization on the consciousness side. More accurately, the appearance of self-organizing systems in matter is the same thing as the appearance of a certain level of life, but viewed from the perspective of an atomistic universe. We observe then disparate elements that form a group or system with self-organizing characteristics, instead of beholding a medium that can self-organize itself. This is similar to experiencing the inner forms and events of the soul as having self-organization instead of seeing the actual field that is alive. In our view, life is inherent to the universe, rather than merely being a potential that arises when self-organization reaches a high level of complexity. In our view the universe is alive, and has always been alive. More precisely, when we investigate the universe from the perspective of its wave side, from its ground of consciousness, we find that life is a property inherent to the universe, characterizing some of its dimensions and forms. When we see the cosmos evolving through the development of self-organizing open physical systems, we are actually witnessing the life inherent to the universe, but from the particle side. The universe is not only alive; it is growing. This growth is what we see as cosmic evolution, which is explored by astronomy, astrophysics, physics, chemistry, biological evolution science, biological science, and now systems theory. However, these disciplines see the evolution of the universe in its particle aspect. As this life grows, an important stage of its maturation is the emergence of biological life. In other words, the emergence of biological life is the stage at which the universal life manifests explicitly and specifically. This lays the ground for the universe to experience its life consciously, which in turn prepares universal life to be conscious of itself, at the stage where introspecting consciousness finally emerges.

Self-Organization and Personal Contact/Engagement Seen as Somehow Inherently Related

What is perhaps most interesting is that the essential aspect that functions as the prototype for self-organization—the Pearl or Personal Essence—also happens to be the aspect that is the basis for contact, personalness, and involvement. This indicates that these two elements—self-organization and personal contact/engagement—are somehow inherently related, if not coemergent: It is as if one cannot occur without the other also occurring. Perhaps this is why some theistic religions conceive of God as personal. Since the evolutionary movement of the soul is toward greater organization, self-integration, and wholeness, the capacity provided by the Personal Essence is required for inquiry. Inquiry is an expression of that evolution, since the unfoldment of the soul is a movement toward individuation. As the potentials of the soul unfold, they become organized and integrated into our sense of who we are. Obviously, this process of integration is an important element in the guidance of the unfoldment, the guidance that expresses itself in our inquiry. In this context, it is interesting to see the ways in which a human being is an expression of the universe.

Self-Organization Exists at All Levels of Evolution

The Pearl aspect is the essential prototype of integration and organization, specifically of self-integration and self-organization. This capacity, or process, is inherent in life in general, in consciousness in general. Natural science has discovered that self-organization is also inherent in physical matter. It can be seen throughout the natural world. Even on the simplest of biological levels, life is self-organizing and self-activating. We see this in an amoeba as well as in a single cell in the human body, and even in a star or a planet. This integration and organization exists on all levels within the human being: The body, the mind, and the soul are all self-organizing. Similarly, groups of people such as families, tribes, and neighborhoods are self-organizing. The same is true of cities and countries, as well as of ecosystems and planetary weather patterns. The concept of Gaia refers to the same principle at work in the earth as a whole. The more we look, the more we see that the whole universe is self-organizing, self-activating, and self-acting. Self-organization also exists at all levels of evolution. On the soul level, it occurs when the Pearl is realized, at which point self-organization becomes specific and clear as the culmination of the soul’s development from the earliest stages of primitive formlessness. The fact that the universe as a whole is self-organizing means that it too is moving toward individuation and integration, toward being the universal Pearl. On the universal level, complete self-organization is sometimes referred to as God.

Soul’s Intrinsic Self-Organizing Properties

As a self-organizing (autopoietic) system, the soul has the following intrinsic properties:

  1. She is a dynamic continuous system, a field.
  2. She is an open system in interaction with an environment, not a closed or isolated system.
  3. She renews herself through the interplay of what she receives from the environment with her inner potentials, which results in output into the environment.
  4. She is not a static structure, but a dynamic and evolving consciousness. In other words, it is inherent to the soul that she is both presence and process, inseparable as presence in dynamic self-renewal.
  5. She is an evolving system of consciousness.
  6. She evolves through the dissolving of older structures as new ones develop. In other words, her development involves constant restructuring.
  7. She is self-organizing, developing through the evolution of more complex higher-order organization. This means that new structures do not simply replace old ones, but include them in a higher order of organization. This inclusion involves temporary dissolution of structures preceding the emergence of higher structures that include in their constituents the developments of the early structures.
  8. She is a non-equilibrium open system, which allows her to maintain a coherent order with openness, through fluctuation or change. 

The Personal Essence is the Prototype of the Self-Organized, Cohesive and Individuated Functioning that We See in Living Organisms

Such cosmic personal functioning has a sense of being integrated and organized. In other words, it has a sense of self-organization that makes us feel that all the cosmic action is integrated into an interconnected coherent whole. This is due to the integration of the personal essence into the wholeness of Being. As we have discussed in chapter 4, and in The Pearl Beyond Price, the personal essence is the aspect associated with individuation, which means it is related to autopoiesis, self-organization, and coherent integration, which amounts to autonomy. The personal essence is the prototype of the maturation of the soul from being a formless and unstructured individual conscious presence to being an autonomous person with unique development, capacities for original functioning, and the ability for personal contact and communication. It is the prototype of the individuated soul, the true meaning of personhood. Thus the personal essence is the prototype of the self-organized, cohesive, and individuated functioning that we see in living organisms. It gives the mature soul the sense that she is the source of her actions, and that her actions are truly hers, original to her, even though the soul recognizes that she is an inseparable cell in the oneness of Being. This is the essential counterpart to the ego sense of being the agent and center of one’s action.

Thresholds of the Self-Organizing Properties of Open Systems

We see at this point that the self-organizing properties of open systems simply express the optimizing dynamism and unfolding order of the logos. When such self-organization reaches a particular threshold it becomes biological life; when it reaches a further threshold it becomes conscious life; and when it reaches the threshold of consciously and knowingly integrating the timeless truths of true nature it becomes realized life. Therefore, life, consciousness, and realization are the inherent properties of the logos. Such appreciation of the optimizing force and intelligence of the logos may help us understand its role in the inner journey, and why the wisdom traditions have seen it as the savior. The inner journey is basically the action of the optimizing intelligence that unfolds the experience of the soul toward maximization of her openness to and realization of her true nature. Such optimization can appear through the agency of shakti and its kundalini, grace and its love, guidance and its compassion, or any other force that the particular wisdom teaching employs, but they are all dynamic methods that utilize the wisdom of the logos.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach

See past editions of the Diamond Approach newsletter