This Science News report, When Networks Network (1), hints at humanity’s gradual cognitive slide toward a small ‘t’ Taoist point of view. I say slide, rather than climb, because humanity’s great climbing phases eventually reach dead ends, in a manner of speaking, followed by a slide back to reality. This endeavor, along with quantum theory, nudges the secular towards the spiritual in a wonderfully non-sectarian way.
I can’t help but feel that science will end up with a ‘taoist’ worldview as its Great Unifying Principle. Don’t hold your breath though; it may take many millenniums. Of course, by then it won’t be called ‘Taoist’, for that word probably carries too much secular baggage. Heck, the word now may even carry too much baggage for true ‘taoist’. It would for me, if I actually cared that much.
Seeing what appears to be separate as an interconnected whole essentially, is the Taoist principle of profound sameness. Correlations can also pull the mind toward that seamless whole. The networks of networks view reminds me of chapter 47…
Without going out the door we can know all under heaven.
Without looking out the window we can see Nature’s way.
He goes out farther, he realizes less,
Accordingly, the wise person goes nowhere yet knows.
Sees nothing yet understands.
Refrains from acting yet accomplishes.
Seeing Nature’s way doesn’t mean that you know all the bits and pieces, mind you. Knowing the process is the key. Rain offers us a good example. Without knowing the water cycle, one might think that rain comes from the rain gods that live up in those puffy white pillows in the sky. By knowing the water cycle, I can sense the natural flow of ‘Nature’s way’: it evaporates from a warm ocean, it rises, wind blows it, it cools, it condenses and falls upon my head. No, I don’t know the history of any particular drop of water that wets my head, but in knowing the process, I ‘need not look out the window’.
This parallels the case I make for a symptoms point of view. I don’t need to trace back each cause and effect, symptom by symptom, to some ancient origin. I simply need to maintain a living awareness that what I am experiencing are symptoms of deeper layers of the indistinct and suddenly, among which exist a shape.
Look at this image of the body (right) from a network point of view. Maintaining some awareness that this is going on all the time under my skin, (and even more importantly, under your skin) helps ground me. My lazy mind just wants to see the surface and make its quick judgment (one which is actually just a projection of my needs and fears). Sensing there is infinitely more than meets my eye, gives my eye ultra-sight. Truly knowing I don’t know is infinite knowing, or as chapter 10 puts it,When understanding reaches its full extent, can you know nothing? Sure, this is fleeting. It comes and goes because at the end of the day, my emotions rule the roost. I’m just grateful for the occasional peek at Nothing. A network of networks point of view offers another way to open up perception to that ‘biggest picture’.
(1) This article is so striking in its implications, that I’ll link it to a PDF, Networks of Networks, so it will be available when the Science News link expires. Initially I was just going to post this and say a sentence of two. Oh well…