LESSONS OF CHAOS
As part of the reading material in the Doctorate Program on Pedagogical Mediation at Universidad De La Salle that I've been undertaking for over the past two years, I have luckily been assigned to read a book titled SEVEN LIFE LESSONS OF CHAOS by John Briggs and David Peat. This book has created deep changes in my life with so much insight into understanding the world of chaos.
SEVEN LIFE LESSONS OF CHAOS
I've done a lesson by lesson summary for you to read and for further discussion. Each lesson summary is broken in to three parts.
1. Summary of the lesson in my own words
2. Edvidence and examples given by the authors
3. How the lesson can be applied to my everyday life SEVEN LIFE
LESSONS OF CHAOS: Spiritual Wisdom from the Science of Change Lesson 1—Being Creative: Lessons of the Vortex Lesson 2—Using Butterfly Power: Lessons of Subtle Influence Lesson 3—Going with the Flow: Lesson About Collective Creativity and Renewal Lesson 4—Exploring What's Between: Lesson About the Simple and Complex Lesson 5—Seeing the Art of the World: Lessons About Fractals and Reason Lesson 6—Living Within Time: Lesson About the Fractal Curls of Duration Lesson 7—Rejoining the Whole: Lesson About the Tide of a New Perception
Lesson 1—Being Creative:Lessons of the Vortex 1. The first lesson highlights the nature of creativity. Chaos is nature's creativity and each of us are creative beings. Creativity is not limited to few “gifted” individuals but is inherit within all of us. Nature is chaotic but within the chaos, systems of self-organization form to create ordered vortexes. This self-organization occurs when a random fluctuation becomes amplified by creating a feedback loop that links with other feedback loops until an ordered system emerges. This is the bifurcation point—the moment when the feedback loops interconnect and transformation occurs. There are two types of feedback called negative feedback and positive feedback. Negative feedback damps and regulates activity while positive feedback amplifies activity. Society is a system of organization that sets the conditions for behavior within the system. Society creates the illusion that the system encompasses all-that-is and it should dictate the roles to be played out by individuals in order for the system to function properly. This is a negative feedback loop that holds everyone in check, so to speak. Some negative feedback loops are necessary in order to allow society to run smoothly, but it is also very limiting when we come to believe that is all there truly is. New discoveries and change come about through the positive feedback loops of creativity. When individuals descent form the confines of negative feedback and open up the creative flows of the larger whole, they initiate positive feedback loops that amplify activity towards change. This opening up to the creative flow of nature occurs when we look at the world around us from different perspectives. These new perspectives help us to escape from the confines of ordered society and put us in touch with the truth of the moment.
2. The authors give several examples of creativity and chaos at work in nature, as well as in society. The first piece of evidence presented is a model of thermodynamics. When water is heated, the hot water at the bottom of the pan rises and the cooler water at the top sinks to the bottom. The rising and falling create chaos within the pan until feedback loops form and interconnect with other feedback loops until stable hexagonal cells form a honeycomb-like pattern. Another piece of evidence can be seen in the behavior of a flock of birds. As they take off, chaos ensues as they jockey for position. They are driven by the desire to be part of the group while simultaneously trying to avoid collision. This causes a feedback loop of attraction and repulsion. The result is a transformation into a flock that appears to be a single organism. Weather patterns self-organize into hurricanes and interstellar gases self-organize into galexies and star systems. Human society is also a self-organized system. The authors refer to certain human behaviors as evidence. Our obsession with control and power, the desire to remain within comfort zones, the pursuit of repetitive actions and pleasures, and restricting ourselves to what others think of us are just a few examples of self-organization. When we let go of these restrictions and get in touch with creativity, we become aware of new perspectives and larger degrees of freedom that can eventually lead to a bifurcation point and transformation into a new self-organized system.
3. This lesson is helpful in understanding that creativity is not limited to only a few and that I am a creative being. It also helps me to understand that the systems of organization in my life are not as rigid as the appear. All I need to do in order to break free of a restrictive pattern is to get in touch with my own creativity. When confronted with challenges and frustrating repetition, I can look for a new perspective and gain a deeper understanding and ultimate truth of the moment. I can use this lesson to help me to quit smoking. By realizing this it is a mechanical habit that keeps me locked in the pattern, I can learn to let go and reach out to the creative powers of chaos for inspiration and change. I can change my perspective to see that being a smoker is only a persona and that it is not a part of my true self. I can use this new perspective to change my habitual behavior, and with creativity, set in motion a positive feedback loop that will amplify to a bifurcation point, allowing me to transform into a nonsmoker.
© 2006 Gilberto Hernández Quirós is a TEFL professor at Universidad de Costa Rica and Universidad De La Salle