Elisabet Shahtourist Dialogue in ICAS

Hari Ahad/Minggu, 7 Desember 2009 kemarin, Prof.Dr. Elisabet Shahtourist dan Prof.Dr. Osman Bakar, hadir di ICAS Jakarta dalam sebuah Dialog tentang: “Intelegensia dan Creativitas: berevolusi atau Permanen?”.

Dialog ini  juga dihadiri oleh Prof.Dr. Mulyadhi Kartanegara, Dr. S.M. Tabatabei Yazdi (Direktur ICAS Jakarta), dan Husain Heriyanto, M.Hum (Direktur ACRoSS-ICAS), serta sekitar 20-an hadirin dari kalangan peneliti ACRoSS, Dosen-dosen ICAS dan beberapa Peneliti dari Universitas Indonesia serta para mahasiswa ICAS.

Sambil menunggu berita lengkap tentang dialog ini, maka inilah foto dan informasi tentang Mrs. Prof. Dr. Elisabet Sahtorius, yang ingin mengabungkan pendekatan saintifik dan spiritualitas dalam sebuah harmony ibarat harmoni musik yang dihasilkan dari keyboard piano/organ. Tuts keyboard nada-nada rendah ibarat Sciences, keyboard Nada-nada pertengahan ibarat pendekatan intuitif puitis dan tuts keyboard nada-nada tinggi adalah kunci nada-nada spiritualitas, yang kesemuanya harus dimainkan dengan seluruh jari tangan, akal dan perasaan dengan harmonis untuk menghasilkan lagu yang indah.

Prof.Dr.  Osman Bakar dan Prof.Dr. Elisabet Sahtourist, sebelumnya (Sabtu, 6 Desember) mengisi acara International Seminar tentang “Science and Islamic Education: Toward Curriculum Reform in Islamic University” serta Launching Center For Islamic Epistemology (CIE) di Gedung Diorama Auditorium Utama UIN Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta. Launching CIE itu juga sekaligus menjadi Re-Launching bukunya Prof.Dr. Osman Bakar: ‘TAUHID DAN SAINS” Edisi kedua.






Bio………………………………………………………   P 1

Statement of interest……………………………  P 2

Article: A Tentative Model for a Living Universe…P 3


Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris

Pasaje de Marimon 18, 3-1

Barcelona 08021, Spain

Tel: +34 93 414 0273




Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris is an internationally known evolution biologist, futurist, author, business consultant and speaker. She is a citizen of the USA and Greece, living in Spain, fellow of the World Business Academy and member of the World Wisdom Council.

She graduated from Syracuse University with a B.A., from Indiana University with an M.S. and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia with a Ph.D., going on to a post-doctoral NIH fellowship at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Dr. Sahtouris taught at MIT, the University of Massachusetts and the California Inst. of Integral Studies, was a UN Consultant on indigenous peoples, a science writer for the NOVA-HORIZON TV series, and currently teaches in the Bainbridge Graduate Institute’s MBA program for Sustainable Business, while lecturing on all continents to show the relevance of biological systems in evolution to the reorganization of humanity’s unsustainable institutions and organizations from economies and governments to education and healthcare. Living economies are her special interest, especially those that will enable us to live better on a hotter planet.

Dr. Sahtouris is working to develop a new model for a living universe integrating physics, biology and spirituality. She sees solutions to our social, economic and climate crises in the evolution of Earth’s ecosystems, with the oncoming Hot Age as an evolutionary driver to our species maturation as a healthy and cooperative global family. Her books include Earth Dance: Living Systems in Evolution, A Walk Through Time: from Stardust to Us and Biology Revisioned, w.Willis Harman.

Her venues include The World Bank, EPA, Boeing, Siemens, Intel, Tokyo Dome Stadium and Tokyo International Forum, Australian, New Zealand & Netherlands government agencies, Sao Paulo’s leading business schools, State of the World Forums (NY & San Francisco), the World Parliament of Religions in South Africa, First Rand Bank Group S. Africa, Caux Business Round Table, Switzerland, Round Table of Free Voices, Berlin, as well as many international business and cultural conferences, radio and Television appearances.

The Hokkaido Science Symposium Series is her pet project.

Her books include EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution, A Walk Through Time: from Stardust to Us and Biology Revisioned (with Willis Harman). Her DVD, Crisis as Opportunity: Living Better on a Hotter Planet, is available at www.createspace.com and her websites are www.sahtouris.com and www.ratical.org/lifeweb

Statement of interest in the Hokkaido Science Symposium:

As the initiator of this event, which I consider extremely urgent in our world, my rationale was as sent in my original invitation to participants:

A Call for an Integral Global Science

Every society has had a creation story about who we humans are, where we came from and how to conduct ourselves in that context.  In contemporary secular states—both western and westernized— that story was mandated to be told by western science, which considers itself to be the only science possible, having rejected all other past and parallel sciences to be inadequate, misled or downright false.  Its universal story is two-faceted, physics describing an accidental (therefore lifeless and meaningless) material universe running down by entropy; biology adding the competitive Darwinian struggle in scarcity as the inevitable way of natural

evolution. This story not only gives the world a depressingly hopeless and consumerist “get what you can while you can” view of life in our universe, but no longer adequately sums up the data of science.  A far more hopeful view of the universe may better fit contemporary scientific findings—a view of a conscious self-organizing universe in dynamic balance, with evolution from hostile competition to peaceful collaboration the norm as Earth’s species mature.

Many qualified western scientists have rejected the official materialistic conceptualisation as misleadingly inaccurate in its very foundations, which in turn has skewed experimental results and/or interpretations of them.  In their search for more adequate foundations for science, which are not demonstrable experimental

results but fundamental belief systems, no few of them have turned to eastern philosophies and sciences, such as Vedic science, Taoism and Buddhism, as well as to diverse indigenous sciences, for alternatives.  Having met with many of them, it is my firm conviction that the world deserves to know of these philosophical/scientific

inquiries into the foundations of science and how they can lead to the development of new foundations for a global science drawing from many cultures while preserving the best of western scientific inquiry and the knowledge derived from it.

The pivotal dividing line among scientists and philosophers seeking new foundations for science is concerned with the question of consciousness that early divided quantum physicists within academia itself: Is consciousness the fundamental nature of a self-organizing, participatory universe or a late emergent process of accidental, material—therefore objectifiable—evolution? The latter view is

a foundational belief of western science, while our dialogue is for those who have made the 180o shift to believing consciousness is primary—the source of material evolution.

My intention is not that we debate grand unification theories, but that we strive to address this crucial matter of foundational beliefs in ways that lead us to proposing how they can most effectively be changed to better reflect scientific results and give humanity greater hope by positing a living universe, rather than a non-living one, balance in place of one-way entropy, and an evolutionary trajectory leading towards ever greater cooperation.

To ensure that the symposium is not just one more fascinating dialogue on this subject, but takes a serious step in actually changing the worldview of science, we will also create a media statement and strategize about what kind of PR campaign can take our message to the global public as well as to academics and other science-related professionals.


A Tentative Model for a Living Universe

Developed from the presentation

Consciousness-based Biology; Biology-based Science

Unified Science Conference

September 21st to September 27th, 2002

Los Angeles, California, USA

Abbreviated version published in VIA-VisionInAction Journal,

(see www.via-visioninactiin.org, Articles section)

Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D.


Dedicated to Jonas Salk

The ancient Greek word for science was philosophy—philos sophias, the love of wisdom. This name intended to set science on a course of searching for wisdom, for practical guidance in human affairs through understanding the natural order of the cosmos to which we belong.

It was precisely this search that motivated me to study science and continues to motivate me though only the rarest of western scientists I encountered shared it, most having abandoned that search in the belief that science should be neutral—i.e. free of values and social intent—or that the ever new technologies spawned by western science are all humanity needs to solve its problems and continue its “progress.” Jonas Salk, one of the rare scientists who never stopped pursuing wisdom and guidance for humanity through science, was marginalized in his own prestigious scientific institute. He sought me out as a kindred scientific spirit on the remote Greek Island to which I had retreated to work on my own, feeling a similar marginalization by my peers. I shall always be grateful for his recognition and encouragement.



A holistic view of Life in which biology, physics and consciousness studies are mutually compatible and consistent is attempted in order to provide a framework for understanding, and more consciously creating, our own human trajectory within its greater process. New axiomatic definitions and assumptions are given for this model of life, not as a collection of accidental biological entities evolving in a non-living universe through the mechanics of natural selection, but as a holarchic, evolving, intelligent, process intrinsic to the cosmos—in short, as the natural process of the cosmos itself.

This provides a framework for proposing a new Integral Science with a self-consistent, evolving model of life as self-organizing expressions of a cosmic field of consciousness. Cosmic autopoiesis—the self-creation of a living universe—promises to become an elegant view of the whole, with essentially the same production and recycling processes at all scalar or fractal levels. The highly complex life forms familiar as ‘biological’ are seen to emerge uniquely at a scalar or holarchic level halfway between microcosm and macrocosm. This model is consistent with the original Greek intent to develop scientific understanding of the Cosmos to find guidance in human affairs.

Prologue: The Scientific Context

Science and philosophy, originally one and the same pursuit, were separated when western science adopted its materialist stance of positivist reductionism, yet the first part of the Cambridge English Language Dictionary’s definition of philosophy is still “the use of reason in understanding such things as the nature of reality and existence” (including epistemology and moral judgment). Thus, over the past several centuries, science and philosophy have remained inextricably intertwined on the subject of understanding reality, though philosophy shared morality with religion and got exclusive rights to epistemology—“the study of, or a theory of, the nature and grounds of knowledge, especially with reference to its limits and validity,” in other words, “what can we know and how do we know that we know?”

From my perspective, this separation of science and philosophy such that science was no longer concerned with how it knew what it knew or with exercising moral judgment about the consequences of its discoveries and pronouncements has led to fundamental scientific errors in the first case and a misplaced lack of accountability in the second.

Western science assumed the existence of an objective material universe that can be formally modeled through objective observation and measurement. Thomas Ehrich describes objectivity as follows:

Objectivity is commonly taken to mean, “freedom from idiosyncrasies.” An idea is objective to the extent that it is unpolluted by the individual’s beliefs or presuppositions; a critique is objective to the extent that the person making the criticisms and suggestions ignores their own personal feelings and biases. Objectivity in this sense is often defined as the negative of personal subjectivity, or as the opposite of personal opinion.1

Science set out not only to eliminate idiosyncrasy and bias by decreeing the separation of subjectivity (our inner world) from objectivity (our outer world), but to create a comprehensive and detailed model of the outer world as a universe independent of any individual human conception of it (whether revelatory or observed) and independent of human participation within it—an undisputed, public model of a “reality” entirely independent of our thoughts and actions.

This heroic exercise (never seen as an act of creation) depended in both conception and practice on the prior creation of two formal languages abstracted from natural language. It was mathematics and logic, together with their “translation” into physical machinery, that inspired the western scientific model of a physical universe.

Mathematics and logic are not sciences themselves, but rather the art of making complex but coherent, consistent formal patterns from basic symbols and axiomatic (given) rules of relationship. Mathematicians can keep finding new patterns to make from the basic symbols and rules they have adopted, but they can also change those symbols and axiomatic rules to develop new mathematics with wholly different sets of patterns. The same holds for logic.

Mathematicians eventually came to recognize logic, with its axiomatic rules of orderly classification and combination of elements, as the true foundation of mathematics. Axioms are usually defined as self-evident truths or universally accepted principles or rules. Euclid’s axioms, which set the standard in mathematics for more than twenty centuries, were self-evident to him once he had formulated them, and became self-evident to his followers because they led to such elegant consistency in the patterns that could be generated by them, as well as to endless practical applications in architecture and engineering.

Although a mathematical or logical language is designed to remain unchanged over time or culture (e.g. by any particular natural language in which it is taught), its axiomatic rules are not set in stone and can be changed to create a new language. Altering just one of Euclid’s axioms, for example, led to the creation of whole new (and more dynamic) branches of mathematics. Once this was recognized, chaos theory, dynamics, complexity, fractals and new geometries sprouted like mushrooms after a rain. Computers, with their vast capacity for performing calculations and reprogramming rules, have also greatly increased possibilities for modeling complex systems in new ways.

In logic and mathematics, symbols have no intrinsic real-world meaning, even though Aristotle devised logic for ordering human thought around the same time that Euclid devised geometry (literally, the measurement of Earth) to order the physical world. Engineers assigning real-world meaning to mathematics made it possible to translate that formal language into physical buildings, bridges, ships and all sorts of mechanisms, or machinery. Similarly, European scientists, heirs to Arabic and Greek math and logic, found mathematical patterns to be very useful in modeling those aspects of nature they could quantify (measure).

European scientists thus adopted the positivist stance that reality is made up only of measurable things, and that their description as natural mechanisms provides the only possible uncontaminated knowledge of reality. Machinery, having been invented and assembled from parts by man, could be totally understood by man. Formalizing natureas machinery was intended to make it equally understandable.

The task of positivist science was thus twofold: to discover what the parts of natural mechanisms are, and to see how the mechanisms work through the movement of these parts in relation to each other. Scientists took things apart in order to see how they were constructed as well as how they ‘ticked’ within the great Cosmic Clockworks. This method of reducing things to their parts came to be known as the reductionist method of positivist science.

Renaissance and Enlightenment Era mathematical models of the cosmos followed from Plato’s insistence that God was a mathematician and from Descartes’ conception of God as more than mathematician, as the Grand Engineer of Nature’s mechanisms. Although Descartes, in his famous recognition “I think, therefore I am,” came very close to recognizing consciousness as fundamentally self-evident, therefore axiomatic to any model of the universe conceived by humans, he became a ‘double dualist’ by seeing God as the external Creator of Nature’s mechanisms and Man as the external creator of his own simpler machinery by virtue of God’s gift to him of godlike consciousness. (I call this kind of creation allopoietic to distinguish it from self-creation, which is autopoietic; see later.) Descartes claimed that man could eventually learn to make his bejeweled wind-up nightingales as complex as God’s feathered ones. This belief underlies the whole of robotics, man-machine interface, artificial intelligence (AI) and artificial life (AL) today, holding up the understanding of life as autopoietic.

Logically complete, if not satisfying in a contemporary world, Descartes’ scheme was adopted, though its logic was soon destroyed when scientists decided they had no need for the hypothesis of God in their conception of Nature. It was utterly illogical to eliminate the inventor engineer while keeping the concept of nature as mechanism. Any dictionary defines mechanism as the purposive (invented) assembly of parts. Having no inventor for the mechanical universe, scientists were forced into the bizarre stance that nature’s complex machinery had arisen accidentally, that the universe is a vast purposeless mechanism filled with smaller purposeless mechanisms, all running down by entropy (as machinery does). Western science is still devoted to rationalizing this illogical model taught to new scientists in every university.

With Nature reduced to mechanism, and no proposal of some life force deemed acceptable in lieu of God, positivism arrogated to the physics of non-life the responsibility for modeling the universe. The fundamental assumptions—the ‘self evident truths’ or axioms—underlying this positivist science include a) that the universe exists objectively (not subjectively) as matter located in three-dimensional space and linear time, b) that the universe is non-living, measurable and describable in familiar mechanical terms of matter and energy, c) that the universe has linear causal order discoverable through the science of physics, using mathematical measurement and logical reason (including induction and deduction), d) that the material universe is accidentally assembled from the smallest physical units into larger structures and interactive patterns through the workings of discoverable natural laws, e) that large structures can be understood by reducing them to their component parts, and f) that life is a rare and peculiar emergent phenomenon in a non-living universe, possibly restricted to a single planet’s surface and ultimately subject to the laws of physics.

The most fundamental laws of physics were formulated (on the basis of these axiomatic ‘truths’) in contained laboratory experiments and then extrapolated from laboratory to cosmos. They are well known as Newton’s laws, including inertia, energy conservation and entropy—the dissipation of working energy, and with it the disintegration of order, along the “arrow of time.”

Much, of course, has happened in the world of physics since these axioms were formulated and the laws ‘discovered,’ but despite later understanding of light and the broader electromagnetic spectrum, Big Bang theory, Einstein’s equivalence of matter and energy and adjustments to laws of time and motion, the dissolution of hard particles into quantum waves, string theories, multi-dimensional worlds, zero point energy, non-locality and many candidates for a Grand Unified Theory, all together seeming to push for a fundamental change in worldview, a true paradigm shift in physics is yet to happen (or at least to be accepted).

The word physics is taken literally from the Greek word for nature: physis. European scientists from Galileo on assumed that physics in its modern meaning, including astronomy, was the true science of nature, while life sciences from organic chemistry to biology, evolution biology and psychology, were (and still are) deemed secondary. Natural laws are still limited to the physics of a non-living universe, into which biologists are expected to fit their explanations of life. Toward this end, the concept of negentropy was coined as a kind of swimming upstream that could increase order locally within the overall river of entropy. Negentropy is credited with the descent of man, according to Darwin, his predecessors and his followers, as the natural creature of an evolutionary process billions of years long.

Biological evolution has become virtually axiomatic in the scientific worldview, though its recognition of man as a naturally evolved creature has had questionable social benefits, giving him scientific license to exploit fellow humans, often cruelly, along with the rest of the natural world now suffering a degree of devastation that threatens even human survival. The lack of moral accountability of science for social interpretations of Darwinian descent by natural selection, along with its failure to see the grave errors in the Darwinian hypothesis, has led to social ills from chaining children to machines for the sake of profits to the Holocaust and even to the current capitalist tyranny of the quarterly bottom line competition. The entrenched belief that man is doomed to perpetual hostile competition—the scientific belief underlying these social ills—is, as I will attempt to show, a serious misinterpretation of the evolutionary record.

The fundamental concept of a cold and lifeless, meaningless universe running down by entropy made decidedly poor inspiration for man to become the good and moral creature Darwin personally hoped he would become by overcoming his evolutionary heritage. One can argue that the marvels of engineering this mechanical scientific worldview did inspire had a great deal to do with the social attitude of scientific industrialism to “get what you can while you can” as things deteriorate. It is interesting to note that the one species that believes in the prevailing rule of one-way entropy has visibly created such entropy by destroying ecosystems and degrading Earth’s atmosphere, waters and soils to the level of previous extinctions. Man standing on the Moon sees, as the only mark of his presence on Earth, its deserts. Biologically, we are a desert-making species.

An alternative scientific worldview or model cannot be justified on moral grounds, but what if we can construct a model of the universe that fits the data of human experience, including scientific experiment, better than the prevailing one and leads to morality, wisdom and health for humanity and other life forms, as in the original Greek intention?

Consider what might have happened had Galileo looked down through a microscope into a drop of pond water teeming with gyrating life forms instead of up through a telescope into the heavens, already conceived in his time as celestial mechanics? Might biology, rather than physics, have become the leading science into whose models all others must fit themselves? Might scientists then have seen life not as a rare accidental occurrence in futile struggle to build up syntropic systems against the inevitably destructive tide of entropy, but as the fundamental nature of an exuberantly creative universe?

Instead of projecting a universe of mechanism without inventor, assembling blindly through particular, atomic and molecular collisions a few of which came magically to life and further evolved by accidental mutations, I propose that there is reason to see the whole universe as alive, self-organizing endless fractal levels of living complexity as reflexive systems learning to play with possibilities in the intelligent co-creation of complex evolving systems.

I propose that it is actually more reasonable to project our life onto the entire universe than our non-living machinery, which is a derivative of life, a truly emerging phenomenon, rather than a fundamental one. I propose that it is possible to create a scientific model of a living universe, and that such a model is not only scientifically justified but can lead to the wisdom required to build a better human life on and for our planet Earth as the ancient Greeks intuited it should.

New Assumptions for an Integral Science

The current revolution—the impending paradigm shift—in science is forcing reconsideration of its most fundamental assumptions, that is, of the worldview described above, of the basic beliefs supporting the current scientific model of our universe or cosmos and ourselves within it. Cosmos is defined as “the universe as an orderly construct,” so because I am proposing an orderly model of the universe, I will usually prefer the word cosmos.

As said earlier, western science set itself the task of describing reality. In eliminating those aspects of the perceived world that are not measurable, it relegated them variously to subjective, mental, mythological, imaginary, storytelling, fictional, spiritual and other categories identified as unreal. A few aspects of our world, such as taste, smell and electromagnetism were shifted from unreal to real as ways of measuring them were discovered.

To contribute to an Integral Science, my model of the cosmos must include all human experience. The goal of this new version of science is proposed to be a) to model a coherent and self-consistent cosmos as a public reality conforming as much as possible to necessarily private individual realities, and b) to interpret this model for the purpose of orienting humanity within the cosmos and thus permitting it to understand its particular role within the greater cosmos.

Toward that end, I propose:

a) The scientific definition of reality should be the collective human experience of self, world and universe as inner and outer worlds perceived from individually unique perspectives. (We have no other legitimate basis for creating cosmic models.)

b) Consciousness (awareness) shall be axiomatic for the simple and obvious reason that no human experience can happen outside it.

c) Formal experiments have as their purpose the creation of publicly shareable models of reality that permit common understanding and prediction.

d) Autopoiesis (continuous self-creation) shall be adopted as the core definition of life. Since galaxies, stars, planets, organisms, cells, molecules, atoms and sub-atomic particles all fit this definition, this implies that life is the fundamental process of the cosmos, a self-creating living whole with self-creating living components in co-creative interaction.

e) Nature shall be conceived in fractal levels of holons in holarchy, holons defined as relatively self-contained living entities such as those listed in d) and holarchy defining their embeddedness and co-creative interdependence on energy, matter and information exchange.

Beginning with these few assumptions and definitions as a conceptual framework for an Integral Science, we can reassess the past findings of science based on previous models, discover past errors and redesign experiments as necessary. We can also look for new patterns of regularity. (I shall avoid the term laws because of its implication of a lawgiver.)

Reality as direct human experience

The idea of defining reality in terms of human experience may seem strange to any western scientist accustomed to firm belief in a firm firmament that includes our Earth and humanity but exists separately from human experience of it. Yet the whole edifice of a separate, objective world has been built on a belief in objectivity that has been discredited by philosophers of science and increasingly by scientists themselves (see below). If the claim of basing science on reason—on experiment (a word derived from experience) and rational argument—is to be upheld, then we cannot postulate a world that is not within human experience as long as we have no way to be outside human experience.

The simplest case for conceiving reality as human experience, as stated above, is that we have no other legitimate basis for creating cosmic models. Note that this definition happily eliminates the need to define nonreality.

Merriam Webster defines reality as

1 : the quality or state of being real, 2 a (1) : a real event, entity, or state of affairs (2) : the totality of real things and events; b : something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily.

The first three definitions tell us nothing as they define reality in terms of real. Only the final definition begins to tell us something meaningful, that reality “is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily.” The only thing fitting this latter definition is direct perception, for once any perception is reported to another, whether by a three-year-old, a scientist or a theologian, it clearly becomes derivative.

The Cambridge English Language Dictionary adds “existing in fact; not imaginaryto its definition of reality, but a perusal of its definition of fact tells us:

fact: something which is known to have happened or to exist, esp. something for which proof exists, or about which there is information

The only way to truly know that something has happened or exists is to have direct experience of it, as we just determined. This clearly implies that truth can only be subjective. Unfortunately, western science has denied subjective (direct) experience as a valid reality in maintaining that the objective practice of science is the only way to demonstrate it. This belief is still strong among scientists though philosophers of science have long held that science cannot reach truth but only useful hypotheses.

The way in which hypotheses are determined to be useful or not lies, of course, in testing them experimentally. If the experimental outcome predicted by the hypothesis is found, they are considered useful. The validity of extrapolation beyond the experiment itself can only be judged in terms of consistency with our direct experience of the world.

It has now been shown in very careful research, for example by Elisabeth Targ2,3 and Marilyn Schlitz3,4 that remote intention and experimenter expectation clearly influence experimental outcome despite laboratory controls. The repercussions of such research have only begun to be felt, but certainly threaten to undermine the basic premises of western science if not its results.

More generally, the objectivity so sacred to western science has proved logically impossible. As Gregory Bateson noted decades ago, philosopher of science Alfred Korzybski warned us (in discussing the relationship between scientific models and reality) that “the map isn’t the territory and the name is not the thing named.” As Bateson himself put it, “there are no pigs or coconuts in the brain.”5 In a Metalogue with his daughter Mary Catherine Bateson, they put it thus:

GB: …one thing you can be sure of is that the conversation isn’t about “something solid and real.” It can only be about ideas. No pigs, no coconut palms, no otters or puppy dogs. Just ideas of pigs and puppy dogs.

MCB: You know, I was giving a seminar… and Wendell Berry was arguing that it is possible to know the material world directly. And a bat flew into the room and was swooping around in a panic, making like Kant’s Ding an sich. So I caught it with somebody’s cowboy hat and put it outside. Wendell said, “Look, that bat was really in here, a piece of the real world,” and I said, “Yes, but look, the idea of the bat is still in here, swooping around representing alternative epistemologies, and the argument between me and Wendell too.”6

No human has ever had a direct (real) experience except in the eternally present Now moment; all the rest can only be stories that weave particular and more general past experience into the present. We cannot directly experience the past or the future. Whatever we are experiencing, from whatever combination of inner or outer sources, is our in-the-moment reality. Esoteric traditions have made much of this fundamental truth—the only truth there can be—while western science has totally ignored it until now. The only exception I have found was on a scientific delegation to China (in 1974), where a Chinese scientist defined science as “the summation of people’s experience.”

The task of Integral Science, accepting this fundamental truth, is to sort and order reports of direct experience into an abstract public model of reality, using tools of reason, math, logic, experiment and narrative to construct it.

Consciousness as axiomatic

Sooner of later a certain truth is brought home to you [namely, that consciousness] is the inner side of the whole, just as human consciousness is the inside of one human being…Although it makes sense to inquire how and when consciousness developed into what we now experience as such, it makes no sense at all to inquire how and when mind emerged from matter…Once you have realized that there is indeed only one world, though with both an inside and an outside to it, only one world experienced by our senses from without, and by our consciousness from within, it is no longer plausible to fantasize an immemorial single-track evolution of the outside world alone. It is no longer possible to separate evolution from evolution of consciousness.

—Owen Barfield7

The fundamental assumptions of my model, as listed above, have to do with human experience of the universe and human conjecture about the universe based on, or derived from, human experience of it, because these are all we have to go on in creating models—scientific or other—of that universe. Human experience includes the perception of a tangible, substantive world, but this experience of a material world, even if coming through sense organs, lies entirely within human consciousness, or awareness.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines consciousness as “the quality or state of being aware” and awareness as “having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge.” The Cambridge International Dictionary of English calls consciousness “aware, thinking, knowing” and awareness as “knowing that something exists, or having knowledge or experience of a particular thing”.

Consciousness and awareness are usually listed as synonyms of one another, though awareness is more often linked to the concept of knowledge than is consciousness.

The problem with this link to knowing is that knowledge is clearly culture bound. I shall therefore distinguish cosmic consciousness, as a universal field of awareness such as that to which Owen Barfield refers, from human consciousness in its broadest, most fundamental, cross-cultural understanding as awareness of self-in-world and world-in-self.

This human awareness of having an internal and external life perceived in images, sounds, touch, smells, feelings, thoughts, stories, etc. can be shared with others to a certain extent through verbal and other forms of language, thus giving rise to a broader cultural, or public, shared awareness of many-in-world. Once humans acquire language, this awareness arises in large part as verbal thought, which is why Descartes’ stated his bottom-line of knowing as: “I think, therefore I am.”

Taking Descartes’ lead in seeking my most basic observations, they are:

· I experience myself and others as alive.

· I experience myself at the center of an apparently spatio-temporal “outer reality” or universe.

· I experience myself as an inner self of perceptions, feelings and thoughts.

· I/we have no experience of the apparently spatial “outer world” outside of our conscious awareness.

· I/we have no direct experience outside of an eternal present or Now, yet I perceive my experience as though it lies on a continuum from past through Now to future.

· We can share our experiences in stories that transcend direct experience because of this timeline and our ability to communicate.

Thus we clearly perceive ourselves as existing in a physical time-space world, and are able to describe it, model it symbolically and create other sharable stories of past (memories, histories, evolutionary trajectories) and future (forecasts, projections) anticipations) experience within it. But we have no way of knowing whether any of it exists apart from human experience.


· Science can only order and model human experience within consciousness as communicated among humans;

· We cannot prove any “true” reality other than that composed of both uniquely personal and collectively shared experience;

· Recognizing our formalization of spacetime as a model of perception, rather than an objective reality, it becomes an important way of ordering shared experience.

That human individuals can and do share considerable (though far from perfect) agreement on external reality and varying degrees of agreement on internal reality is of very significant interest as it both makes society possible and produces a larger reality than any one individual can experience independently.

The best argument we have for the existence of a “real” vast universe is the limitlessness of human conscious awareness, whether it is focused inward or outward. Every scientific or spiritual discovery can be contained within its expansive capacity. Inner focus, when sufficiently practiced through meditation and other spiritual practice gives rise to the experience of ultimate truth in a limitless Source, called I AM, Cosmic Consciousness or God by many names across all cultures and felt as loving bliss. Outer focus, when sufficiently practiced through scientific study and reasoning gives rise to the experience of a coherent, comprehensible, though limitless universe or cosmos and recognition of arrival at its truth also produces “breakthroughs” felt as bliss. Those who practice both disciplines come to recognize the unity of these end results as a non-dual cosmic reality.

Thus, building a scientific model on the fundamental assumption of consciousness as the source of reality does not shrink the cosmos one whit. But it keeps us within that cosmos as co-creators of it, as reflections of cosmic creation at all other levels. For reality co-created by humans through a private and public collaborative process suggests a greater holarchic universe of collaborative process. All Nature can thus be elegantly conceived as conscious collaborative process, as I will try to show.

Sophisticated ancient cultures such as Vedic, Taoist and Kotodama, along with many indigenous cultures, recognized the fundamental consciousness of all Nature, the entire Universe or Cosmos, and much in the findings and conceptualizations of physics today leads us in that direction, as I will show shortly.

Note that as we have found no limits to human conscious awareness, our awareness is (necessarily) coextensive with any models we build of the entire universe. Anything we “discover” scientifically about the universe becomes part of our conscious awareness, and therefore of our experience.

Physics meets Biology

One of the important requirements for an Integral Science from my perspective is to end the sharp distinction between physics and biology, to avoid having either one forced into the mold of the other. Rather, I seek out new models of cosmic physics that are naturally compatible with seeing the universe as embedded living systems. Since familiar biological life forms—from nucleic acids to bodies—take on fundamentally toroidal (vorticular) structure, which is the simplest structure meeting the definition of autopoiesis and is evident in proto-galactic clouds, galaxies and planetary energy configurations such as Earth’s electromagnetic field and surface weather patterns, I gravitate toward cosmic physics models that begin with this elementary living geometry.

For me the beauty and usefulness of autopoiesis as a definition lies precisely in helping us see beyond our narrow focus on familiar life forms to their relationship with both smaller and larger entities from subatomic to galactic. The simplest entities I could find that fit the definition were a whirlpool in a river, a tornado, a proto-galactic cloud. I reasoned that any differential gradient, whether in water, our atmosphere, the supernova dust cloud that gave rise to Earth or the earliest universe itself, would cause things literally to curl in on themselves—to form vortices that held their form as matter/energy was pulled into and spat out again by them.

This concept became extraordinarily clear to me one day on the Greek island of Kos, considered the birthplace of the twins Apollo and Aphrodite. Walking across a flat field of sand with a friend, I was contemplating the universe and the concept of autopoiesis, picking up various seed pods and small shells as examples, each another version of the same spiraling form, musing aloud to the friend with me at how prevalent it was in the universe. My reverie took me deep into a cosmos of wheeling galaxies when suddenly the sand some twenty yards from us lifted into the air and formed a perfect funnel that swept a graceful curve and smacked directly into us.

As the day was otherwise completely calm and windless, my friend, getting the connection, asked in amazement “How did you do that?” I replied, “I didn’t!” and then, on further reflection, added, “But I may have attracted it.” He looked at me strangely and asked, “Does the motion in a vortex go inward or outward?” Without having thought about it for a moment, I shot back “Both ways!” I knew this with a certainty—that it had to be centripetal and centrifugal at once. Never having taken a single physics course, even in high school, I could not explain it; I simply knew it, and it surfaced in my consciousness then and there on the island of the Twins. I was sure the vortex was the real key to how the universe worked.

Gregory Bateson, speaking of a conch shell, gives us a sense of how such structures play our at the familiar biological level in saying:

This that you see is the product of a million steps, nobody knows how many steps of successive modulation in successive generations of genotype, DNA, and all that. So that’s one story, because the shell has to be the kind of form that can evolve through such a series of steps. And the shell is made, just as you and I are, of repetitions of parts and repetitions of repetitions of parts…This conch is what’s called a right-handed spiral, and spirals are sort of pretty things too—that shape which can be increased in one direction without altering its basic proportions. So the shell has the narrative of its individual growth pickled within its geometric form as well as the story of its evolution.5

As a torus is a self-contained rotating vortex, continually turning itself inside out, I was delighted, not long after, to discover the “smoke ring universe” of Sir William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, the father of thermodynamics, who was buried next to Newton in Westminster Abbey. Dissatisfied with the prevailing theory of atoms as hard material objects, Thomson, like myself so much later, saw the essence of his vortex theory of the universe and his vortex atom in a flash, as described in a contemporary book on updated vortex theory by David Ash and Peter Hewett.8 His famous demonstration to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1867 involved the actual creation of smoke rings from a special device to demonstrate their remarkable integrity.

Thomson’s next breakthrough came when he learned that his friend Herman von Helmholtz, working with vortices in liquids, had realized that vortices would be permanent in a frictionless liquid. Thomson reasoned that the ether, believed in at that time, must be such a liquid and could therefore support permanent vortex (rotating toroid) atoms. With this model, Kelvin developed a unified theory of matter and light. His vortex theory attracted leading British physicists, including James Clerk Maxwell, who developed electromagnetic theory, making possible radio, television and radar. But the popularity of vortex theory was largely forgotten in the heady excitement of the explosive new developments in physics at the beginning of the 20th century.

Nevertheless, having come to a vortex theory of an autopoietic living universe—a universe of self-creating living geometry—I continued to seek out physicists working with vorticular, toroidal models of macrocosm and/or microcosm, especially looking for models with two-way (centripetal/centrifugal) motion. It is apparent that more and more physicists are coming to see inwardly and outwardly spiraling waves as the very essence of cosmic creation.

Gary Schwartz has made an interesting model of the universe as a giant intelligent memory-encoding device based on recurrent (circular) feedback loops of radiation among objects in the universe.9 In essence it points out that everything in the cosmos continually emits its wave pattern of radiation (in-formation) outward to everything else, each object absorbing information reaching it from others, its own radiation thus being continually modulated. Any two objects “reflecting” each other in positive feedback loops store their own histories or memories including these interactions.

Everyone is familiar with the example of looking into the night sky, absorbing historic photons from stars of different ages past in the same moment as our own radiation, however much weaker, goes continually outward toward them. Carl Sagan played with the same idea in having Hitler’s historic radio speech picked up again on Earth by a radio telescope in his book and movie Contact.

Milo Wolff states that there are no spherical solutions for e-m waves but posits spherical quantum waves to build a very similar and much more formal geometric picture of the interactive Wave Structure of Matter10,11 in which quantum objects emit spherical outward waves the interactions among which actually generate the zero point energy field that gives rise to them in turn—an elegant model of co-creation at the quantum level from which he derives the classical laws of physics, though there is no mention of consciousness.

Nassim Haramein, building on Walter Russell’s12,13 and others’ models of spherical interactive wave models, extends them significantly by positing a universe of galactic, stellar, planetary, cellular, molecular, atomic and particulate “wholes” that are simultaneously dynamically rotating white holes radiating (electromagnetic energy) infinitely outward from their centers and equally balanced dynamic black holes collapsing (gravitationally) infinitely inward through that same center.14,15,16

This perfect balance of radiation and gravity in all universal objects of all size levels including the universe itself permits us to see all objects as continually and dynamically re-creating themselves in the zero point energy field, and is a strong candidate for the long-sought unification of gravity with electromagnetic energy. It also eliminates the need to postulate strong and weak nuclear forces, dark matter and dark energy, all of which Haramein proposes were invented to fill gaps in previous models.

His solution to the problem of the one-way degradation of entropy lies in balancing it with gravity’s generoactive centropy (close to my biological term, syntropy), thus eliminating the need for the imbalanced concept of negentropy to explain life. This model permits me to compare radiation/gravity or entropy/cen(syn)tropy with the biological metabolic process of anabolism/catabolism toward an integral science model of a self-creating universe filled with self-creating entities.

Further, Haramein provides a living geometry of wave interactions that co-creatively build complex entities and their histories-as-memory similar to Schwarz’s “living energy universe”, but in the more complete framework of creative recycling dynamics at all scalar levels of size. He sees the feedback looping quantum wave interference among co-creating objects at all fractal levels of size (read holarchy) up to the whole universe as both the source of scale generating structure in the vacuum (from microcosm to macrocosm) and as consciousness itself (private communication).

In the next section I shall refer to Haramein’s model with parallels to a living systems model of the universe built up from human experience because it is the most complete and most compatible physics model I have encountered.

The basic data of experience I listed above imply that “I” exist as a kind of boundary between infinite inner and infinite outer worlds—a boundary Haramein would call, in the language of physics, the “event horizon” of the black/white whole generated by my singularity. Since I observe that this seems true of every other human “I” as well, while each of us has an apparently different perspective on these inner and outer worlds, we seem to be both boundaries (event horizons) and unique points of perspective, quite as is required by Haramein’s model.

This biological perspective on the universe beginning with any particular observer agrees very well with Haramein’s abstract physical model of an integral omnicentric universe that extends both outward and inward via every object’s singularity in the vacuum.

Changing concepts of life

In 1985 a scientific conference was held at the University of Massachusetts entitled, “Is the Earth a Living Organism?” Can you believe the pomposity of that title? The fact that anyone would posit such a question is mind boggling. Even now in 1998 many members of the human race are so emotionally, spiritually and intellectually dissociated from the Earth that they still question whether or not the Planet of our Nativity is Alive or whether it makes economic sense to remediate the damage to Earth! No wonder our future viability is in question! —Adam Trombly17

Observing the macrocosm in greater depth and detail using space technologies such as the Hubble telescope and the actual exploration of nearby planets, we are discovering ever more about the structures and processes of our universe. In physics, astronomy and cosmology, a multitude of new theories of universal nature and organization proliferate. In light of all these new ‘windows’ and speculations, our prevailing concepts and theories of life and its evolution certainly demand reconsideration at least as much, if not more than, the cosmological models of physics.

Classifying Earth’s fauna, flora, fungi and microbes primarily by their structural features has taught us to see life in terms of individual organisms against the background of what came to be called their environments. This structural view, with its separation between organism and environment, leads to a particular understanding of life that long obscured other possible perspectives and conceptualizations.

After a long period of rigorous reductionism, supported by such structural classification, we have at last learned to see life more holistically—as ecosystems and even as a planetary phenomenon. The concept of ecosystem integrates individuals into systemic relationships and processes including biological, geological, atmospheric and hydrological features. This is a big step away from seeing individuals separately, but there is much further to go. A truly pioneering integrative leap was made by the Russian geologist V.I. Vernadsky, who saw life literally as a “transform of rock,” working out many details of life’s transformational metabolic role as the most powerful geological force of our planet.16 Elements of early Earth’s crust, for example, packaged themselves into bacteria in ever increasing numbers to the point where they changed the chemistry of seas and atmosphere, created soils, rearranged minerals into veins of pure copper, uranium, etc, and otherwise prepared Earth effectively for the later like forms they evolved into. Vernadsky was one of the first scientists to work out and promulgate the concept of the Biosphere.18,19

More recently, English atmospheric scientist and engineer James Lovelock showed life’s profound influence on Earth’s thermal and chemical equilibrium, leading him to formulate his Gaia Hypothesis. Lovelock cited Scottish scientist James Hutton, whom we honor as the father of geology, as calling the Earth a living superorganism in 1785 and saying its proper study should be physiology. In Lovelock’s own model, life and non-life are tightly coupled into a cybernetic system that maintains Earth’s physiological balance.20,21,22 Evolutionary microbiologist Lynn Margulis partnered with Lovelock to work out the first three-fourths of Earth’s evolution, throughout which Earth’s organisms were exclusively microbial (single-celled creatures), yet far more diverse and inventive than the later multi-celled creatures on which evolutionists have focused almost all their attention.23,24

Lovelock, as a NASA advisor to the first Mars Mission, got his breakthrough from comparing the stable atmospheres of Mars and Venus with the highly volatile and yet continually balanced atmosphere of Earth, asking himself what unique features Earth had that made it different and enabled it to evolve and support life as we know it?

It appears that life survives only within a fairly narrow temperature range. The Earth’s life depends upon surface heat and light coming from its star, our Sun. To evolve life, Lovelock reasoned, a planet had to be within a certain range of distance from the Sun. He called this “the Goldilocks effect”—Earth was not too hot, not too cold, just right. I believe that radioactive elements generating tremendous heat from below Earth’s crust also play a vital role in the generation of life on the surface. Haramein and I are currently working on the nature of this interaction.

Life also requires materials mobility. Living systems must have continual access to the resource materials they need to build and maintain themselves as well as a safe way to dispose of excess used materials and by-products (which we call wastes). Earth’s bleeding magma, atmospheric gases, waters and developing weather systems constituted transport systems for materials that were underway even before organisms added to transformative mobility by packaging minerals and moving them about.

Three great interwoven systems developed early in Earth’s life history. In the first system, magma erupts from below the cooled crust to the surface. Pouring through cracks (now seafloor rifts) and volcanoes, it cools to form new rocky crust, as well as steam and gases made of Earth’s lighter elements. As the crust thickened from uncountable eruptions, it broke up into great tectonic plates whose outlines are defined by belts of earthquake and volcanic activity. While some plate edges spread, others are pushed under each other, melting crustal rock back into magma to complete the cyclic process. A mobile crust made it possible for the entire planet to distribute its heat and the chemical compositions of its components.

Almost no rock on the surface of the Earth today is original rock. Most granite, a very early form of rock, as well as most later forms, have been recycled. Continents—the highest portions of tectonic plates—move at an average rate of twenty miles in a million years. This means that the continents all together may have traveled more than one hundred thousand miles in the course of Earth’s history, ever recycling and renewing themselves at their changing edges. Scientists estimate that as many as four times they have formed a single great land mass called Pangaea, which repeatedly broke up to form continents such as those which exist today.25

The second great recycling system began with the steam released from magma, which poured into the atmosphere. The more the Earth’s crust cooled, the more the steam liberated from erupting lava condensed into torrential rains, forming rivers and pooling into surface seas. As they pooled, the surface waters also evaporated, creating a cycle of weather driven by solar energy, core energy, magnetic fields in and around the Earth, gravity and temperature differentials, all of which combined to keep the waters flowing on the surface and through the atmosphere.

Later in Earth’s evolution, as Lovelock showed, biological systems assumed a very active role in weather cycles. Hydrogen sulfide gas produced by plankton over large ocean surfaces, for example, forms nuclei around which raindrops condense, thus seeding rain clouds that not only move water but affect Earth’s temperature through their reflection of sunlight. Whales, as huge consumers of plankton, may be very important in keeping cloud cover in check so that Earth will not reflect off too much of the Sun’s heat. Many more interactions need to be identified.

Vast rainforests in the equatorial regions of Earth take rainwater captured from ocean winds and pump much of it high into the atmosphere, where it recycles to polar regions and falls as snow, which melts into streams and rivers coursing back into oceans. The role of rainforests as pumps driving the toroidal weather systems of both hemispheres from their central location around the equator makes them critical to the stability of planetary weather, as we only begin to understand. These are only a few examples from the complexity of Earth’s climate systems.

The toroidal form of Earth’s weather patterns and magnetic fields should be noted here, as their role in an integral science model will become clear in later sections. Organisms as well will take on toroidal forms.

Earth’s atmosphere was originally hotter than now and almost certainly loaded with gases such as methane, ammonia, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water and probably hydrogen cyanide. Organic molecules are thought to have assembled from these elements and compounds by the intense energy sources of Sun, erupting magma and lightning storms set up by gradient differentials (also central to an integral science). There is also evidence that the large organic molecules of proteins and nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) could have arisen from hydrogen cyanide polymers which can form easily in extraterrestrial space and may be abundant on many extraterrestrial bodies such as asteroids, comets, moons, rings and planets in our own solar system, as chemist Cliff Matthews argues.26,27

Today’s atmospheric composition is certainly dramatically different from that of early Earth, especially due to the activity of biological systems, but it continues to cycle its gases as they pass through biological entities and are transformed by them. Every lungful of air we breathe has very recently been recycled through other of our planet’s life forms. These life forms, from bacteria to trees and large mammals such as ourselves, continually transform the minerals and waters of Earth’s crust into their own bodies and their communally-built infrastructures with the aid of solar energy, either directly or indirectly, depending on the nature of their metabolic cycles (the way they make their livings as microbes, plants or animals).

The mobility of biological entities moves crustal elements into ever new distributions and formations in both local and larger patterns, such as the building of coral reefs and continental shelves, the incorporation of silica into diatoms, which ultimately become sediments and diatomaceous earth, and so on.

Quite recently, microbiologists have made major progress in understanding the complex infrastructure, organization and communications of the microcosm, its bacterial technologies from electric motors and solar collectors to nuclear piles and polyester, its bacterial micro cities complete with high rise architecture, bridges, canals, materials transport systems, divisions of labor, etc.25 The startling similarity of these technologies and infrastructures to those of our own vastly larger and more recent human social evolution is inescapable and also relevant to an integral science.

Vernadsky, cited above, showed the phenomenal rate at which geobiological processes can cycle in pointing out that a locust plague of a single day has been estimated to fill six thousand cubic kilometers of space and weigh forty-five million tons! This can be seen as forty-five million tons of soil and water converted into the same amount of plant matter and then suddenly into almost as much animal (insect) matter, which is shortly afterwards recycled back into soil. Vernadsky gave this example as one of the most intense energy transfers in nature after volcanoes. In his view, life is rock’s way of moving and transforming itself.

Understanding these great recycling systems of the Earth gives us decidedly new possibilities for our models of life and its evolution. We can no longer see Earth as an assembly of parts with biological systems separate from geological systems, living creatures against non-living crustal backdrops. Instead of seeing rabbits in habitats, we truly begin to see rhabitats.

We can no longer see even the nations we humans have created as separate entities, for our very breath is interchanged around the globe while our pollution and other damage to atmosphere, waters and soils also spreads everywhere, as do our raw materials and manufactured products, our toxic wastes, diseases, communications and our selves. Earth is a highly mobile geobiological or biogeological planet that continually changes itself in the process we call evolution.

While Lovelock in his earlier writings, following Hutton, stated that the Earth was alive, his model of a “tight coupling” between the biota (life) and the abiotic environment (non-life), made it clear that he saw life as part of the Earth and not as the whole. In this sense he stayed with the traditional distinction between biology (his biota) and geology (the abiotic environment). My own work, however, points out the illogic of calling life part of a living whole and proposes that we see life as the process of whole entities.28 Certainly we could not call life a part of our bodies; they are either alive as wholes or not. So the question then becomes: is the Earth itself a living entity?

I will argue, that looking at Earth as a single biogeological process, not confined to the “biosphere,” leads to seeing it as a planet alive in its own right.


The question of whether Earth is a living planet can only be decided if we have a clear definition of life, but scientists are still not agreed on defining life. Lists of attributes that characterize many visible life forms—irritability, motility, growth and reproduction, for example—are generally called up in place of a core definition. As the fields of microbiology and organic chemistry developed, it was not even clear at what level we may best define life and the task of doing so was pushed back and forth between organic chemists and biologists. The Swiss botanist Walter Pankow pointed to the difficulty in being objective about life by saying, “It takes a living system to know a living system.”29 Nevertheless, we need working definitions, even while we recognize that they may continue to change over time.

My own predilection lies with the concept of autopoiesis, introduced as a core definition of life a few decades ago by Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela30 who were affiliated with M.I.T. and the University of Paris, respectively. Autopoiesis literally means self-creation, or self-organization. As a formal definition it states that a living entity is one continually forming and maintaining itself, including its boundary. Note that this definition leaves growth and reproduction as possibilities for any given living entity, but they are not necessary conditions of life. This becomes extremely important to my model.

Autopoiesis does distinguish very clearly between organic and mechanical systems, as mechanisms do not continually form and maintain themselves, and they operate only by rules programmed into them by their inventors, as discussed earlier. I call the process of inventing and assembling mechanisms allopoiesis (literally, other created) to contrast it with autopoiesis. This distinction clarifies why mechanical metaphors are inappropriate and misleading when used to describe living entities and systems. There simply cannot be mechanism” in nature without inventors, as they are incapable of self-construction and self-maintenance. (Even a third-generation reproducing robot, should we ever be able to build one, would never have existed without the initial invention and assembly.)

The concept of autopoiesis as a definition of life is rejected by some because they feel it is too broad. Even its author, Varela, was uncomfortable with my arguments for seeing Earth as an autopoietic (living) entity. He countered that while my other arguments were indeed persuasive, the Earth’s atmospheric boundary was insufficiently well defined, though this argument evaporated when I suggested considering a photo of any single-celled creature next to a photo of Earth to see which had the fuzzier boundary.

It was Lewis Thomas, former dean of Yale Medical School, who first gave me the hint to make this comparison, when he said, in his first wonderful book of essays, The Lives of a Cell 31:

I have been trying to think of the Earth as a kind of organism, but it is no go. I cannot think of it this way. It is too big, too complex, with too many working parts lacking visible connections…I wondered about this. If not like an organism, what is it like, what is it most like? Then, satisfactorily for that moment, it came to me: it is most like a single cell…. It has the organized look of a live creature, full of information, marvelously skilled in handling the sun.

James Lovelock has pointed out that redwoods are 99% non-living matter with a thin skin of life on their surface, yet we consider the entire tree to be alive.

As we have seen, Earth continually creates itself anew from the inside outward, including the formation of the tight atmospheric skin we see hugging it closely in photos of Earth from space. Lewis Thomas’ suggestion that Earth is most like a giant cell is especially interesting given that single cells are the most common life forms of Earth and that even multi-celled creatures are complex colonies of single cells that go back to single cellhood to reproduce, with few exceptions.

Almost all attempts to define life have focused attention on individual organisms, as stated above, with the exception of Vernadsky’s view of life as “a disperse of rock.” Vernadsky’s uncle, the philosopher Korolenko, had seen Earth as alive, but Vernadsky restricted himself to defining life as a geochemical process transforming slow-acting rock into highly active living matter.

In this view of life as a planetary metabolic activity packaging crustal components into cells, speeding up their chemical changes with enzymes, turning cosmic radiation into bioenergy, etc., Vernadsky includes core and solar energies, as well as air and water into the life process. As rock, either solid or eroded into sand and dust, transforms metabolically into ever evolving creatures, they in turn break up more crust, consuming and moving its components around. Eventually, living cells and the multicelled creatures into which they evolve are reduced back into soil and sediments, completing the cycle as they return to rock.

G. E. Hutchinson at Yale University promoted Vernadsky’s view that life is a geochemical process of the Earth and in 1937, ten years after the publication of Vernadsky’s book The Biosphere, British geochemist V. M. Goldschmidt wrote about the influence of the biosphere on geology. It is Goldschmidt’s work alone that contemporary Canadian environmental chemist William Fyfe cites in pointing out that the scale of this influence is only now being appreciated.32,33 Fyfe does not adopt the idea that Earth is alive, but he comes closer to it than most scientists outside Lovelock’s following.

Fyfe tells us, as did Vernadsky and Lovelock well before, that many ore deposits clearly show the important role of microorganisms, actually existing because microorganisms coaxed minerals out of water, ingested and left them behind as they died in huge numbers within colonies. Thus he acknowledges that living beings rearrange and concentrate minerals over geologic time. In Fyfe’s words, “For many elements… there is a good chance that they have spent part of their lifetime on the planet inside a living cell.” Colonies of microbes are found down to a depth of 4.2 kilometers inside the Earth’s crust:

As deep scientific drilling is developed, a host of observations show the products from the deep biosphere. Indeed, if there is a cavity of appropriate size with sufficient water life will be present… We must understand the deep biosphere if we are to correctly describe the carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur dynamics of Earth.33

Fyfe’s observations of the same elements found successively in rock, soil, plant, animal, microbe, sediment, or dissolved in water—i.e. as part of any biological or geological entity or substance is of special interest. If a carbon or silicon atom migrates in this way over time—say from soil to plant to dinosaur to coal to grass to buffalo and so on—does that atom belong to the domain of geology or to that of biology? Will it ultimately serve us to maintain these distinctions so sharply, or are we evolving a more holistic view of nature in which they may be seen more as complementary aspects of living nature than as its separate domains?

We now see that just as magma is constantly transformed into crust, the crust in turn is transformed into microbes and organisms, which eventually recycle back into crust and magma. Vernadsky and a few followers attempted to classify organisms themselves by their metabolism, beginning with the observation that the energy and carbon needed to synthesize bacteria and all other life forms comes from only two kinds of source: direct (primary) or indirect (secondary).

The direct source of energy is light (giving the prefix photo), and its indirect source is chemical oxidation reactions (giving us the prefix chemo). The direct source of carbon is CO2 (carbon dioxide) and creatures consuming it are classified as autotrophs.’ The indirect source of carbon is in more complex chemical compounds and those who rely on them are called heterotrophs. This gives us four categories of lifestyle, identified by what a life form consumes in the way of energy and carbon:

· Photoautotrophs live off light and CO2.

· Chemoautotrophs live off chemical oxidation reactions and CO2.

· Photoheterotrophs live off light and complex compounds.

· Chemoheterotrophs live off chemical oxidation reactions and complex


While bacteria come in all four types, only two of these lifestyles get passed on to multicelled creatures later in evolution. Plants evolve as photoautotrophs; fungi and animals as chemoheterotrophs.

This classification of what Vernadsky called living matter, as a continually cycling metabolic chemical transformation of crustal matter, is very obviously different from the classification of life as an assembly of structural organisms evolving in their own right on the surface of a nonliving planet. Yet it bridges the gap between geology and biology beautifully and applies to all Earth’s creatures as well as too the Earth itself, making it easier to see autopoiesis at different scalar levels.

Further Integration of Biology and Physics

Earlier I said that the vortex was the simplest autopoietic entity and pointed out how widespread it was from protogalactic clouds to biological creatures to the tiniest particles. It has long been intuitively obvious to me that the fundamental geometry of the living universe must be based on self-organizing vorticular and self-contained toroidal forms.

Many biological creature forms—from rotifers to ammonites to all animals, are toroids with digestive tubes through their centers and toroidal circulatory systems, reflecting the same geometry as at other scalar levels, and thus suggesting a naturally fractal model based on the vortex. As soon as I encountered Haramein’s cosmic physics model, I knew I had found the basis for the unification of biology with physics, though many details would have to be worked out.

Even nuclear DNA may be organized in rotating toroidal or double-toroidal configuration to be able to bring particular genes to the nuclear surface for transcription into RNA and then protein. This would be the only way, in fact, to permit the appropriate movement without breaking the double helical molecule.

Nucleosomes, the most basic units of double helix DNA organization into chromosomes, are composed of

core particles, each consisting of a length of DNA containing 146 base pairs and wrapped toroidally around an octamer of proteins called histones. When the genomes of bacteriophages—viral packets of DNA equipped with ejection devices—are ejected into a bacterium, the genomes of as many as ten bacteriophages ejected at once aggregate naturally into a single toroidal condensate.34

It is thus entirely likely that nuclear DNA is organized as toroids within toroids, just as are our bodies, and as may be our cells, though I have not found evidence for the latter as yet. This is not so surprising given how very recently the cellular tensegrity structures that are the scalar equivalent of our bodies’ bone-ligament-muscle systems were discovered by Don Ingber of Harvard and M.I.T.35 Previously they had simply been dissolved by the agents we used in preparing cells for study. Only now can we actually watch what goes on in relatively undisturbed living cells and their nuclei. Ingber also discovered direct microtubular connections between the nucleus and the cell’s outer membrane or wall. These suggest direct communications between the complex gating functions of the membrane and the nuclear hub. They could also be related to Haramein’s description of sunspots as “holes” through the sun at that scalar level, and their equivalence with electrons at the atomic level (personal communication).

In dialogue with Lovelock in the 80s, I proposed to him that the outward radiation of Earth’s core must interact with incoming solar radiation to create standing interference waves in which molecules naturally “curl up” and build vorticular life forms just as Earth’s waters and atmosphere at certain density differentials visibly curl into vorticular whirlpools and vorticular or toroidal storms within the larger toroidal weather patterns of each hemisphere, all reflecting the forms of galaxies. Lovelock did not believe that Earth’s own radiation played a significant role in creature evolution, but I later found its confirmation in Haramein’s physics.

Note that I earlier made the connection between his radiation/gravity as entropy/centropy and the fundamental physiological process of anabolism/catabolism (biological syntropy/entropy).

In Haramein’s model of black/white wholes as the fundamental nature of all entities in the universe at all scalar levels—i.e. particles, atoms, cells, bodies, planets, stars, galaxies and the entire universe—fluctuations in the density differentials of the vacuum or ZPE (zero point energy field) at the event horizons of particles change their geometries and thus those of their atoms in turn, giving rise to the different elements of the chemical table. If the dynamic entropy/centropy balance shifts too far towards centropy, particles disappear back into the vacuum; if the balance shifts too far in the other direction (away from the centropy holding them together) the particles composing atoms become increasingly radioactive. The table of elements ends just before the dynamic balance is lost altogether, dissipating particles as unfettered radiation.

Cosmic objects never exist in isolation, so their internal dynamic balance must be held within the complex sea of wave interactions among all objects at all scalar levels. These interactions must surely affect the internal dynamics of any entity, either disrupting or enhancing them. The work of Wolff and of Schwarz cited above, as well as that of Haramein, has already made this clear.

Bacteria, protists (single nucleated cell creatures), multi-celled creatures, ecosystems and the Earth itself can be seen as five fractal levels of biological systems. The scalar location of all Earth’s

creatures—from bacteria to baleen whales—at a size level halfway between the microcosm and the macrocosm cannot be accidental. Rather, it can be seen that they evolved precisely in the most complex possible region of entropy/centropy dynamics in the universe. Earth’s surface (or event horizon) must also be subject to standing waves produced by the interference patterns of colliding Earth and Solar radiation, Earth and Galactic radiation, Earth and Supercluster radiation. If the vacuum energy gradients prove to be particularly steep at Earth’s surface, where temperature, water, carbon and materials mobility provide other favorable conditions, toroids within toroids within toroids can curl up into complex life forms as nowhere else in the universe, except other planetary surfaces with similar conditions.

This model thus holds out the possibility of a completely new approach to explaining the origin of the biological creatures of Earth—to which science has, until now, restricted the category life (opposed to non-life). From a physical perspective, we may be able to see planetary creatures as a special case of autopoietic complexity arising through the unique interaction of energy gradients in patterns of wave interference at the surfaces (event horizons) of planets with particular compositions and conditions determined by their energetic relationships with their star and universal bodies at other scalar levels.

Cosmic autopoiesis—the self-creation of a living universe—thus promises to become an elegant view of the whole, with essentially the same production and recycling process at all scalar or fractal levels, and uniquely complex life forms generated at planetary surfaces.

The Planetary Genome

The human genome project made it clearer than ever before that our DNA is part of a planet-wide genomic language common to, and interchangeable among, all Earth’s life forms. Scientists involved in the project expressed surprise at how close our genomes were to those of “vastly lower life forms,” at how much “biological activity” goes on in our genomes, and at discovering ancient bacteria living within them.36

Much of what we know about bacterial evolution comes to us from the work of microbiologist Lynn Margulis and her research teams and students. Among their discoveries are that the diversity of form and function in the microbial world is far greater than that of all fungi, plants and animals put together.23,24 Bacteria are still the first and last steps in the complex food chain—more properly called a recycling food cycle—that came to include all single and multi-celled creatures. This is because bacterial metabolism includes both the ability to live directly on minerals and the ability to break complex molecules down to simpler ones.

Half of Earth’s life was devoted solely to the evolution of bacteria, in which they not only experimented with countless versions of themselves and their lifestyles, inventing amazing technologies and infrastructures in the process, but also rearranged the Earth’s entire crust dramatically, creating everything from pure mineral veins to continental shelves as they moved minerals about, oxidized metals, ate into rock, created soils and altered the entire chemistry of seas and atmosphere. A living planet can make huge evolutionary progress without ever going beyond bacterial life.

As part of their massive and complex role in evolving Earth’s life, ancient bacteria set up what may be appropriately called the first WorldWide Web of information exchange.25 To this day, as Lynn Margulis and her followers demonstrated, every bacterium of Earth can exchange DNA directly with any other, for which reason they cannot be classified as species, but only as genome shifting strains.37 In addition to exchanging DNA by direct contact, bacteria seem to have devised plasmids, bacteriophages and viruses for launching DNA snippets and genome packets abroad in a world that is literally permeated by a vast system of exchangeable DNA information.

The staggering pervasiveness of DNA in the biological world is memorably depicted by Jeremy Narby.38 Narby pointed out that if the six inches of DNA packed into the invisibly small nucleus of each of our one hundred trillion cells were stretched out end to end, a jet plane traveling one thousand kilometers per hour would fly more than two centuries to reach its end. After this surprising result, Narby calculated that a single handful of living soil contains more DNA than that of our entire bodies, bacteria being packed far more closely in soil than cellular nuclei are in us. The human genome project results, however, update Narby’s DNA measurement to six feet of DNA per human body cell, which leaves the jet pilot flying continually for over 21,000 years! If we revise the handful of soil accordingly into something between a handful and a garden wheelbarrow load at the most, we still see that literally everything in the natural world is permeated by a living DNA web of unimaginable complexity (mostly living, some fossilized), extending via the bacteria into the deepest seas, beneath polar ice, as far into the crust as we have been able to drill and high into the atmosphere, as well as throughout every cell and body in all “kingdoms of life.”

The giant nucleic acid molecules RNA and DNA can be seen as the means that the complex protein structures of cells and bodies use to encode and reproduce themselves, while RNA and DNA can be seen as using protein to express themselves as cells and bodies. These life forms found as part of the living Earth almost certainly exist on countless other planets that succeeded in coming to life for the same reasons—just described—that Earth did.

Like cosmic seeds, planets that come to life will be those found under similarly favorable circumstances. These life forms, as just proposed will thus occur midway between the microcosm and the macrocosm, a scalar level as critical to their evolution and continued existence as are the Earth’s distance from the Sun and the composition and mobility of its crustal materials. In any case, the nucleic acid and protein partnership is universal among all Earth’s creatures.

Little was known about DNA when its basic structure was deciphered in the in the mid 20th century. In time it became apparent that only a small portion of DNA (now measured as a mere 1 ½%) could be identified as different genes—sequences coding for specific proteins. Together with their copies, the genes account for about 5% of DNA, though we continue to refer to the entire DNA sequence in any cell as its genome.

Still in the mid 20th century, a vastly larger portion of DNA was identified in Nobel laureate Barbara McClintock’s pioneering work on transposable elements (TEs). McClintock showed that TEs not only move about, but also do so in response to stress on the organism.39 Her results have been supported by many later researchers, including Temin and Engels.40

We now know that our human genomic system of DNA and proteins can edit and repair itself, and that it has huge numbers of genes available in its own nuclear libraries. It is not impossible that it could even draw on the flow of plasmids, viruses and bacteria available, through our lungs and digestive tracts, in our blood streams should it need genes it has not stored over its long evolutionary history. Certainly it behaves as an intelligent hive of activity.

Nuclear DNA twists, turns, shimmies and is constantly rearranging into hugely complex loops, knots and other yet undocumented configurations. In addition to packaging and structural proteins that are involved in creating these configurations, DNA-binding proteins travel rapidly along DNA throughout the nucleus seeking sequences to be copied, then helicase proteins unzip the relevant DNA sequences so that RNA polymerase proteins can transcribe the DNA to RNA, after which still other proteins provide transport around the cell to where new proteins are actually to be synthesized.41

Even in its standard, helical form, DNA is throwing up surprises. The molecule has long been known to form intimate relationships with proteins that help it to fold, and trigger or subdue gene activity. Until recently, these liaisons were thought mostly to be fixed, or to change only slowly with time. But this idea has collapsed, as improved cellular imaging technology has allowed biologists to watch living cells in real time…The resulting videos exposed an unexpected hubbub in the activity of proteins buzzing around DNA…Many researchers now believe that almost all nuclear proteins are scuttling constantly back and forth, moving at speeds that would allow them to traverse the nucleus in as little as five seconds.42

All of this activity continues to be seen as sheer mechanics, some proteins being described as motors because science has no way of seeing them as living entities in their own right. There is no sense that a fast-moving, gene-seeking protein could possibly know what it is doing, and no alternative explanation is offered.

Genetic expression—the translation of genes into proteins—is also far more complex than scientists expected when depicting it in neat textbook models. One-to-one correspondences between genes and proteins is a fiction of these models and is probably rarely, if ever, the case in reality. There are several levels of rearrangement and editing (‘editing’, is a metaphor implying intelligence) of the DNA code in the process of creating messenger and transfer RNAs for final protein production. The same genes have been shown to express in as many ways as the number of contexts in which they have been placed experimentally, just as the cloned seeds of one plant produce very different looking plants in different soils and climates. Even Gregor Mendel pointed out that flower color and one seed coat characteristic were the only traits he ever found in his pea plants that gave reliable predictions on inheritance.43

The worldwide organization, repair, rearrangement and trading of DNA suggests that evolution is based on something far from the Darwinian model of genetic changes through mutations selected along ancestral genetic lineages. In her latest work, Margulis documents how the evolutionary record is revealing the apparent trade of entire genomes, most obviously in cases of metamorphosing creatures such as many insects.44

Half a century of evidence, since DNA’s discovery, indicates that evolution does not proceed on the basis of selected random gene mutations. Rather, genomes have the capacity—and no doubt the imperative—to detect and repair such accidental changes, just as they have the ability to choose appropriate genes as needed to build complex new metabolic pathways in response to the challenges of stress on their organisms.25

Once we comprehend the extraordinary complexity of nuclear and cellular activity, we begin to see that it requires at least as much intelligence as it takes to run human technological societies. In fact, cellular technologies are more sophisticated than our own. Each of our one hundred trillion cells requires some 30,000 recycling centers, which feed obsolete or damaged proteins in at one end and issue healthy new proteins to replace them.45 Even beyond individual cells and organisms, the planetwide DNA system is clear evidence of self-organizing intelligence, for if genomes did not know what they were doing, life would quite likely revert to chaos in very short order (more on intelligence below).

Holarchy and The Evolutionary Vortex

Our understanding of the world is built up from innumerable layers. Each layer is worth exploring as long as we do not forget that it is one of many. —Erwin Chargaff46

The fifth and last of the assumptions I listed for an Integral Science stated that Nature shall be conceived in fractal levels of holons in holarchy, with holons defined as relatively self-contained living entities such as galaxies, stars, planets, organisms, cells, molecules, atoms and sub-atomic particles. Holarchy defines their embeddedness within each other, as well as their co-creative interdependence on energy, matter and information exchange.

The Holarchy of a body could thus be depicted as in the first diagram.

Holons in Holarchy__________________


Organ System




A more inclusive holarchy would show the body within a family, community, ecosystem, nation, planet etc. as well holarchy within the cell down to particles. In any holarchy, the situation at any level is co-determined by other levels through interactions among them. This distinguishes holarchy from hierarchy with its unidirectional command and control organization. To understand a holarchy’s evolutionary process, and see the essence of biological evolution as a whole, one further concept is required.

In studying evolution, I was able to abstracted a cycle that appears to hold for all levels of cosmic holarchy—a cycle of evolution. This cycle may be seen as a vortex with angular momentum. Each turn of the vortex is an open loop along which some unity individuates and the individuals go through successive stages of tension and conflict that may involve aggressive competition, then some tentative negotiations, followed by conflict resolution, cooperation and collaboration up to the weaving of a new unity if the cycle is completed, as shown in the second diagram.

Cycles of Evolution_________________








This cycle played out on early Earth as cellular evolution from individual archebacteria (which had differentiated from a uniform crust) to the formation of cooperative nucleated cells, the greatest leap we know in all biological evolution. In the course of their tensions and conflicts, the ancient bacteria were pushed to creativity and a diversity of lifestyles by various crises they created, including global hunger and later global pollution, but eventually they negotiated their way into cooperative ventures culminating in colonies with a division of labor so successful that they evolved into the nucleated cell—the only kind of cell other than bacterial ever to evolve on our planet, the very cell that gave rise to the whole world of animals, plants and fungi visible to us.

This evolutionary cycle is especially apparent in different types of ecosystems. Immature ecosystems (called Type I ecosystems) are populated by immature species, while mature ecosystems (called Type III ecosystems) are populated by mature species that have learned to feed their competitors, thus turning them into collaborators. This makes it easy to see that all species not extinguished in their youthful competitive phase can mature from evolutionary competition to collaborative maturity. In the case of our human species, if we see the cycle reflected in our current struggle with today’s crises, we seem to linger in the tension/conflict phase while engaging in many negotiations and some cooperative resolutions in the forms of global communications, transport and travel, international treaties, etc. with more in negotiation among religions, scientists, economists and so on.

Seeing evolutionary events mirror each other at different holarchic (fractal or scalar) levels thus helps us see that the process of creating the nucleated cell through collaboration following a long competitive phase is the same process humanity is now going through in seeking ways to build global community in place of political and economic rivalries.47 French chemist and computer scientist Joel de Rosnay also sees a cellular fractal biology of bacteria, nucleated cells and a currently forming planetary human/technological cybiont,48 the latter in place of my concept of emerging global community. The cycle can also be compared with human developmental models, both individual and cultural, such as self-actualization or Spiral Dynamics.49

De Rosnay uses the term “symbionomic evolution” for a general theory of self-organization and the dynamics of complex systems, in particular the evolution of human societies toward his “cybiont”—a hybrid biological, mechanical and electronic superorganism that includes humans, machines, networks and societies. His big question concerns the organization of our planet for the good of all, which he sees as requiring “regulating the regulators, monitoring the cybiont’s real-time functions” in a world where “politics has been appropriated by those with a desire for power.” Religion and science have not escaped the same motives, yet he feels that the vision and construction of this new “life form” can unite us if our religion, too, evolves into something new with values that guarantee human freedom and encourage us to take on responsibility to make the cybiont serve human needs.

This is, at least, a refreshing switch on the “sci-fi” predictions of others that it will take over its designers and force our species into its own service or even destroy us and take over the Earth. Like Darwin, de Rosnay seems to feel that humans must go beyond Nature’s struggle-for-survival issues into a more ethical mode, which I propose is not new to Nature, but is its normal maturation mode.

Current evolution theories have all centered on competition, but have become divided about the ‘locus’ of competition. As described in my book EarthDance28, Darwinian evolution itself is assumed to happen through random mutation and natural selection among competing organisms, but observations of within-species altruism led to an alternative neo-Darwinian view in which species compete in the search for ecological niches. A third alternative, proposed by Richard Dawkins, proposes that evolution is driven by competition among selfish genes seeking maximum expression in the gene pool.

My holarchic variant includes all of these positions in a single model proposing that self interest at each level of organization—genome, organism, species and ecosystem—causes tensions among the levels. The self-interest of every level at once is the evolutionary driver that pushes the system in one of two directions: self-destruction of the holarchic system or negotiations and cooperation toward the mutual benefit of all levels—the thrival of the system as a whole, a unity. Thus currently competitive evolution theories can be reconciled by seeing them holarchically. If the dynamic negotiations result in holarchic balance, the system survives, as in mature ecosystems such as rainforests and prairies. The same dynamic process occurs within the mature cellular ecosystems of bodies, among the levels of cells, organs, organ systems and bodies as wholes, most notably in our own one-hundred-trillion-cell collaborative bodies. .

The Darwinian model of descent, or evolution, persisting as neo-Darwinism since the discovery of DNA, still prevails, but is stuck in the competitive phase of the evolution cycle. Though Darwin himself believed humans should go beyond the “lower creatures” and practice ethics in human relationships, as mentioned earlier, that part of his thought was not scientifically persuasive because it ran counter to his whole theory that Nature was set up as nothing more than a ruthless competitive game. He failed to see the evolutionary maturation cycle, with its inherent natural ethics.

Certainly it is necessary for all elements of a healthy living system to be in good health. In the holarchy of a body, its economy cannot remain healthy if significant numbers of individual cells lose their health. (Nor can a human world economy be healthy at the expense of local economies.) We now know that mutations in DNA are identified and repaired in very complex and specific ways, that 30,000 recycling centers keep every cell clear of damaged proteins and that cells in which either DNA or protein is damaged beyond repair and threatens other cells’ health will commit cell suicide, known as apoptosis, to promote the survival of the body as a whole.50,45

One would expect a similar system at the level of ecosystems—a system working to promote each species’ health. Predator-prey relationships are one obviously cooperative means to this end, with prey feeding predators that maintain their prey species as a healthy food supply by recycling the least healthy, rather than going for the ‘prime rib.’ Indigenous cultures that depend on a single species, such as caribou in the far north, for food, clothing, housing, snowshoes, kayaks, sacred objects, etc., actually worshipped such species or at least respected and honored them as brothers, doing everything possible to ensure their health.

Indigenous peoples recognize consciousness to be inherent in all aspects of Nature and participate in their communion at non-physical levels. An Integral Science that understands this will promote better understanding of predator-prey relationships, not to mention all the other co-creative communications of Nature. It will also help us change our attitudes, for example, honoring the creative intelligence of the recycling centers in our cells, rather than referring to them as “Cellular chambers of doom,” as did the Scientific American in announcing their discovery,45 or referring to the huge portions of our DNA we do not yet understand as “junk” or “desert” DNA.36

In seeing competition among individuals as the sole driving force of evolution, Darwin was seeing ‘rabbits in habitats’ rather than ‘rhabitats’. Perhaps ecosystems as wholes were not yet understood well enough to recognize their evolution into mature cooperative systems. Darwin also failed to see that the Malthusian analysis of human reproduction and farming on which he had based his scarcity model was very unlike the rest of Nature. In human food production and consumption, one species grows and consumes the others of its choice with tremendous wastage, while in Nature all species together are balanced reciprocally as food producers, and food consumers, including recyclers. What we call a food chain is actually a loop in which the bacterial ‘bottom’ of the chain consumes the ‘top’ species upon death, and predator-prey relationships insure health. Nature’s complex scheme permits awesome diversity and newness together with equally awesome health and stability.

While young species indeed compete hard for their ecological niches, mature species give up antagonisms in favor of cooperation. Had this lesson not been learned long ago in early Earth evolution, there could never have been any evolution of nucleated cell cooperatives or multi-celled creatures functioning as huge collaborative collectives. Mars may have been a case of a planet coming to life at the bacterial level, but without completing the cycle to build larger life forms. Earth, having come to the point of human evolution, now risks her life because of our own destructive species immaturity.

Consciousness, Intelligence, Life

Franklin Harold, in bringing us up to date on cellular biology with a good deal of soul searching on the meaning of what we have learned, says:

There can be no simple answer to the question of “What is Life?” It is an invitation to explore the successive levels of biological reality… It would be a gross mistake to brush off the higher levels of biological order as if they were secondary or derivative; on the contrary, how the parts come together must be key to any inquiry into the nature of life. 51

Harold epitomizes the contemporary situation in biology without an Integral Science. His “successive levels of biological reality” are limited to the scientific framework provided by a physics of matter and energy now extending into the ZPE realm, but falling short of recognizing consciousness and the intelligence of life throughout the cosmos. His quest for “how the parts come together” is based on a model of assembly from the bottom up, in which accidental particle collisions—rather than intentional particle collusions—must ultimately account for the emergence of life from non-life, intelligence from non-intelligence and consciousness from non-consciousness. Yet Harold recognizes that something is missing in this science, when he says:

…the problem remains that entities capable of converting energy into organization are not predictable from laws established by classical physics.

This suggested to Schroedinger that organisms stand outside physics in some essential respect; or else, that physics contains additional principles that pertain to organized systems, which remain to be discovered.51

Schroedinger speculated that the study of life would uncover other laws of Nature than those of physics, but that these would then be incorporated into physics itself. But if Schroedinger was right in suggesting that organisms stand outside of physics, perhaps the error of science lay, and still lies, in making biology subservient to physics—forcing the investigation of life into a non-living, entropic framework—rather than beginning with a science of life and seeing physics as a way of explaining life’s cosmic order, as I proposed in the Prologue. What we need is a very serious and open-minded collaboration of biologists and physicists within the new framework of Integral Science, where they can see each other’s work as complementary.

Many scientists are religious, with a strong belief in God as Creator of the physical universe. They are less likely than Descartes to conceive God as the Grand Engineer, and may leave their description to terms as vague as Mystery, but with only rare exceptions they are dualists separating religion from science, God from Creation.

Very few prominent western scientists have acknowledged something like conscious intelligence or mind as inherent and ubiquitous in the cosmos. Harvard University’s Nobel laureate biologist George Wald assumed cosmic mind operating throughout biological evolution as he could make sense of it in no other way, and he cited several of his predecessors and colleagues including astronomer/physicist Sir Arthur Eddington and biologist Carl F. von Weizsäcker, as having reached the same conclusions.52,53,54

More recently, physicist/biologist Eshel Ben Jacob, studying bacterial colonies responding to stress as wholes, concluded that the genomes of bacterial colonies function like group minds able to respond intelligently to stresses on their colonies.55,56

While this statement is far from assuming mind inherent in all Nature, it is a big step for a microbiologist. Similarly, on completion of the human genome project, Gene Myers, the Celera computer scientist who actually assembled the genome map, said:

The system is extremely complex. It’s like it was designed. There’s a huge intelligence there. I don’t see that as being unscientific. Others may, but not me.57

Physicist David Peat, who has long studied and written about the history of physics and collaborated with David Bohm58 noted, in a seminar on the letters exchanged by psychologist Carl Jung and physicist Wolfgang Pauli, that a number of the great pioneers of 20th century physics were frustrated in their own deep quests to comprehend the true Source of the physical universe—the deeper meaning of things they intuited but could not bring into their grasp. In a sense, they were going back to Newton’s quest to harmonize physics with alchemy and kabbalistic mysteries, which were ultimately about soul transformation. Even Einstein tried to integrate consciousness into his theory, acknowledging his deep faith in an intelligent universe by saying that what he really wanted to know was what God thinks, the rest being detail.

Wolgang Pauli attempted to create a neutral language for physics and psychology with the express hope this would lead to bringing soul back into science, but died with a sense of failure and serious regrets. Werner Heisenberg, too, was depressed by his sense of failure to understand the quantum world’s deep mystery. Neils Bohr, trying to relate complementarity in physics and in psyche concluded that our language, developed at the level of the visible world, was simply inadequate for understanding the quantum world. David Bohm spent many years in closest collaboration with the mystic Krishnamurti on the assumption this would help him gain direct access to Source, beyond language, but eventually he despaired of doing so and fell into his own deep depression before he died. All of them sought an intelligence they were certain lay behind the appearances of the physical world; none finding it to their satisfaction.

Contemporary physicist Fred Alan Wolf explicitly defines that source as “primal consciousness” and traces its creative actions in the “temporal”59, while engineer/physicist Norman Friedman draws on the Perennial Philosophy and the highly unusual “channeled” Seth material of Jane Roberts, now archived at Yale University, to expound a model of the conscious universe expressing in electromagnetic energy and matter.60,61

A major inspiration in the development of both Milo Wolff’s and Nassim Haramein’s physics was the extraordinary scientific work of Walter Russell, a painter, sculptor, musician, architect, philosopher, corporate consultant and scientist known as The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe.62 Russell worked out a very detailed and elegant model of a wave universe in which a spiritual “field of knowing”—a pure unitary light of ultimate truth, life, love, power, intelligence—gives rise to the universe as a duality of “simulated light” in its opposite extensions of expansion and contraction, radiation and gravity:

In this two-way universe, light which is inwardly directed toward gravity charges mass and discharges space. When directed toward space it charges space and discharges mass. All direction of force in Nature is spiral.63

Russell’s wave universe, with its duality springing from divine unity reflects the ancient Vedic, Taoist and Kotodama philosophies of the East. His physics model of continual creation, through the inward and outward motions of contraction (gravity) and expansion (radiation) with angular momentum, is reminiscent of the vortex model first proposed by Lord Kelvin and takes it to new levels. In turn, Russell inspires further development of the model in physicists such as Wolff and Haramein, cited earlier.

Of fundamental importance in Russell’s work is the absolute conviction that the universe can only arise from a deeper intelligence that gives it life and that this source Oneness remains within the individuated Universe, appearing as a longing of everything in it to return to this source. Further, everything from the smallest particle has the desire, the intelligence and the power to create harmony with all else. In Russell’s words:

Every…thing in Nature reflects the vibrations of every other thing, to fulfill its desire to synchronize its vibrations with every other thing…This is an electrically conditioned wave universe. All wave conditions are forever seeking oneness. For this reason all sensation responds to all other sensation.63

Where Newton, Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr and Bohm failed, Russell succeeded. Not only did he tap directly into the “spiritual universe of knowing” (as opposed to the wave universe of matter and motion), but also he demonstrated this direct connection in his own life by achieving unparalleled feats of creative genius in every field he touched, including those in which he had no prior training and achieved immediate acclaim.62

Russell’s universe of ‘desire’ for synchronization and oneness among mutually reflecting things (individualized being) in our universe is very close to Jane Roberts’ Seth material in which consciousness units (CUs, conscious singularities expanding infinitely outward and inward at once) express their free will in associating with other CUs to build intentional patterns by transforming into electromagnetic energy and matter in turn.64

In ancient eastern cultures, scientific techniques for merging individual consciousnesses not only with each other but also with the ultimate field of Cosmic Consciousness were developed over many centuries; some of them have now gained acceptance in western culture as meditation and yoga. Integral Science will look seriously to these inner ways of exploring the cosmos.

My own experience with non-western philosophies and indigenous cultures has made it very clear that western culture took an unusual turn in human history when its science—the authority of which replaced religious priesthoods—decreed an objective and non-living universe in which such natural human experiences as telepathy, dreams, communion with angels or the dead, remote viewing and dialogue with other species were simply dismissed as unreal. J. Allen Boone, an early film producer and correspondent for the Washington Post put it elegantly:

It is interesting to recall that people of certain ancient times appear to have been great virtuosos in the art of living, particularly skilled in the delicate science of being in right relations with everything, including animals. These people recognized the inseparable unity of Creator and creation. They were able to blend themselves with the universal Presence, Power and Purpose that is forever moving back of all things, in all things and through all things…They refused to make any separating barriers between mineral and vegetable, between vegetable and man, or between man and the great Primal Cause which animates and governs all things. Every living thing was seen as a partner in a universal enterprise…. Everything lived for everything else, at all times and under all circumstances. Those were the days when ‘the whole earth was of one language and one speech… and all was one grand concord.’

—J. Allen Boone, Kinship With All Life, author’s Foreword65

The tentative Integral Science model presented here holds the promise of restoring the birthright of such communion to all humanity, with all the explanatory power of scientific reasoning and evidence behind it. A truly Integral Science, of course, will have to include far more (e.g. philosophy, logic, psychology, economics, etc.) than the physics and biology for which I have suggested a path toward unification.

In an Integral model, the cosmos is a conscious intelligent self-organizing system in which all entities are alive, autopoietic (self-creating) and creatively collaborative. From smallest to largest, whether relatively simple or complex, they function by metabolic dynamics of radiation/ gravity, cen(syn)tropy/entropy, anabolism/catabolism. Further, all living entities are self-reflexive, conscious, able to learn and inextricably connected within an overall field of Consciousness within which each exists with a unique perspective and a unique role. Familiar cellular and multi-cellular Earth life forms, as well as the living Earth itself, are a special case of particularly complex living entities in the mid-size range between the microcosm and macrocosm of a conscious, intelligent self-creating living universe.

In such a science, specialties would focus on various physical levels or temporal spans (e.g. chemistry, astronomy, evolution) and particular research areas (e.g. behavioral psychology, spiritual psychology, ecological psychology) with a view to evolving such categories into more meaningful ones as the science itself evolves. The cosmic model would be learned by all new scientists and would always provide the context for their specialty as well as providing a framework for studying its interconnections with other areas of specialty and with the cosmic whole.

By building our science on the assumption of a conscious rather than non-conscious universe and seeking in it the patterns of life rather than non-life and intelligence rather than non-intelligent accident, we stand to gain nothing less than a scientific model that conforms better to human experience and offers guidance in building a thriving and sustainable human future. This would fulfill the ancient Greek intent to find guidance in human affairs through scientific understanding of the natural cosmos.



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