Reviews Written by Bhavana Dee "Bhavana" (Lantana, Florida, USA)
Connecting Inner Power with Global Change: The Fractal Ladder (Response Books) by Pravir Malik
How Fractals can help you save the world, December 11, 2009
Here's a sincere but informal sort of introduction to a new book, Connecting Inner Power to Global Change, by Pravir Malik who has been a teacher at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram School in India, as well as a very successful big business consultant in America.
I like reading books written by friends, especially if my friend happens to be especially smart as well as wise. I had read Pravir's previous two books on management, and what i liked best about them was the prevailing sense that the higher state of consciousness which would be needed is in fact available, so despite its dauntingly dense writing style i read Connecting Inner Power to Global Change through to the end, jotting down again and again people i thought would like to read it - came to 18 by the time i'd finished, and i was so enthusiastic i posted it on facebook.
Essentially, this book uses the ultra-modern concept of "fractals" to explain how, on many levels, ones individual efforts can "save the world". For those who may not be familiar with the term, French-American mathematician, Benoit Mandelbrot, has proved to the scientific community's satisfaction that one way of understanding the universe is to see it as a repetition of basic patterns (fractals) at all scales, smaller and larger, like cauliflower, or broccoli. In this book, Pravir poses the essential pattern, the fractal which underlies our existence, as physical-vital-mental. Aurobindonians will recognise this immediately.
He then goes on to point out in detail how it appears again and again wherever we look: in the sky: morning day night; in the individual: body emotions mind; in evolution: plants animals humans; in culture: agricultural-age industrial-age information-age; in business: factory employees management or raw-materials production profit; in thought: pragmatism hedonism idealism; in digital economy: brochure-ware e-commerce re-conceptualisation; in the energy industry: carbon-based maximising-energy-flow alternative-renewable-energy; in global politics: physical-prowess cold-war globalisation; in the exchange rate: gold-standard balance-of-power real-time-creativity; in physics: atomic-view quantum-view unifying-view; in bio-mimicry: form-and-function imitation-of-processes whole-systems-view; in organisational design: silo-mentality process-view raison-d'etre. If we look around and notice its ubiquity enough to be convinced, then we may notice also that there is an inherent order of the three parts, a progression from one to the next, a fractal compulsion to complete the pattern, and that a failure to complete the order, a stagnation or diversion, produces disharmony, discomfort, ....
Very meticulously over several chapters, the author points out other inherent qualities of the three parts of this ubiquitous fractal, and also shows how each part of a fractal contains within it the three fractals. So the physical part of a business, for instance, will have a physical-physical part (the tangible assets), and physical-vital part (the tangible energy such as cash), and physical-mental (intangible assets such as goodwill). The same is true of the vital and mental parts. Every fractal is part of a larger fractal, and contains the smaller fractals. The picture on the cover of the book is very helpful in opening the mind to the stupendous complexity and yet utter simplicity of the idea, and the author has also provided many charts to illustrate the ideas as they apply to business. As one reads, one can experience how coming to know and recognise this pattern is itself an act of participating in the progression in ones own self, strengthening the mental appreciation of our situation, completing the pattern.
There were two places where the book particularly lighted me up: 1. The description of the world economy and its stuck-ness in the vital stage; and 2. The personification of Progress and our possibility of identifying with her, completing the fractal triad in oneself, and in so doing influencing the movement of completion on all levels of fractal.
1. We are presently in the last trenches of the Vital Phase of global economic growth. The writing style of this book is extremely careful - ideas are introduced slowly and very elaborately, and are always posed politely, introduced with "perhaps" or "may". This can be a bit ponderous, but sets an appropriate seriousness of mood; new ideas which might be dismissed lightly are given their proper weight. So, i was pleased and excited when the focus turned to global economics, and i began to see the very aspects of it that i find so drastically "off" and threatening clearly comprehended and explained by this theory. The global economy, in this view, is in its vital phase, about to transition into the mental. The "progress" vaunted popularly is within the vital, whereas the progress which is needed is to move into the mental. Within the vital phase we have seen the agricultural-industrial-digital sub-fractals following each other spontaneously, evincing progressively more successful achievement of physical, energetic and purposeful service of the vital aim of freeing flows of energy by maximum expression of all the parts. The excesses which we see today, the exhaustion of the physical basis, the rampages of the irresponsible corporation, the reduction of human values to serve the profit-motive, signify that this phase has reached its completion, and it is time to move on to a mental phase of economy, in which the physical and vital tendencies serve the higher ideals of humanity, not the aggrandisement of business. And how is this is to be accomplished? As more and more of the people driving the economy have themselves completed the physical-vital-mental fractal within their individual beings, and hence make the appropriate shifts in the business realm. Most of us have experienced in our individual lives the inertia and laziness which impedes personal development, the satisfaction of greeds which does not bring mental peace, and how in order to truly succeed we need to overcome these backward tending impulses and move toward our ideals. The same has to be done on the level of business and global economy, and will be done only as the individual decision makers are completing their own fractal progressions which then reflect in their policy decisions.
2. Progress as Mother: And here we move into the personification of Progress and Her help in this endeavour. To me, in reading this book, i have felt that it is aimed at an Indian audience. For one thing, the level of intellectuality would be lost on most American businessmen; it would take the Indian mind to enjoy the complexity, and also the sly introduction of traditional concepts in new language. (It's fun finding the gunas, or the ashramas, or Boomadevi peeking their impudent heads up in a wry peek-a-boo amidst the dry logic.) The personification of qualities is common to the Hindu mind, as it was to the ancient Greek, and most non-scientific cultures - myths in fact are fractal, assuming that metaphor is true and what is so above is so below. However, for the sake of globalised secular science and impersonal logic, the author has pointed out the quality of progress as inherent in the sequence of physical-vital-mental. It is recognised as the driver of the process, and when so understood can be called upon to assist in resisting the backward-tending influences of the status-quo and wild expansions.
Progress, "like a mother," he says, wants to see her children, at every scale, find their fulfilment in completing the sequence, and is always there to help. The logical materialist part of my mind really appreciates this take on the matter [sic]. And this evolutionary Force, Progress, can be tapped into through Her four qualities: perfection, adventure, knowledge and harmony. We can nurture the uniqueness of our deepest self by attaching to and encouraging any and all of these four qualities in ourselves. When we dare to stand for and live by perfection, adventure, knowledge and harmony, when we see our mental-intuitive questioning and harmonising prevailing over the inertia and indulgence of the physical-vital, we are completing the fractal pattern, and freeing our unique self to make decisions which will change policy in all the organisations and systems of which we are part.
For a book written for businessmen by a business consultant, the depth of the description of the misguided and depraved nature of the effect of the physical-vital orientation of business on the global scene is both surprising and welcome, and its lethal power is not understated, despite the faith in fractal pressure which ensures that the inevitable transition into the mental-intuitive will occur - either later or sooner. The possible times and natures of the transition, be it resisted and painful or welcomed and smooth, are as carefully described as had been the fractal theory and the wake-up calls of ecological disaster and social upheaval. The possible scenarios of what life will be like when we've Progressed into a society led by the mental-intuitive fractal are recognisable and inspiring, and it becomes clear that the key to the change is with us and our own efforts to progress with the physical-vital-mental sequence as a guideline.
An encouraging sign of the truth of what is being proposed by this book is that the ideas of evolutionary spirituality, conscious evolution, and integral progress are now widespread among the thinking young worldwide. They know about Sri Aurobindo, they know about Teilhard de Chardin, they have Barbara Marx Hubbard, Andrew Cohen, Ken Wilber teaching them and they are not only connecting the dots, they have their own powerful experiences and sense of evolution within them, driving them. When they write and speak, they are not overawed devotees, but co-creators of the new world foreseen by the older visionaries. There are numerous websites offering downloadable talks, and on-line week- and month-long seminars bring in 15,000+ participants. They can already see the evidences of the new consciousness coming into focus in quantum physics and microbiology, in alternative technologies and renewable energies, in complementary currencies and ecological businesses, in social networking on the internet and the plethora of grassroots movements... Connecting Inner Power to Global Change is part of this blossoming, addressing particularly the business community, which is a crucial niche. Comment Permalink Reviewer's Tags: consciousness, fractals, healing, new age, quantum physics, spirituality, transformation
The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein
Age of Reunion and Auroville, December 11, 2009
As i read on and on in The Ascent of Humanity, i felt a rising sense of delight, of surprised recognition, and deep discovery - here was someone who was 4 years old when i joined the international city-of-the-future project called Auroville in India [[...]] where we have been attempting for the last 40 years just what he's now discovering and talking about, a guy who's never heard of the great sage and visionary Sri Aurobindo but who has through his own prolific researches, cogitations and deep personal experiences come to the same prognosis for humanity: it's time for a new consciousness, one based on a sense of the Oneness, with each other, with nature, with the cosmos.
As an Aurovilian, i live in an atmosphere created by the founders which takes the premises on which his book is based for granted. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother experienced this new consciousness at the turn of the 20th century, and in realising it deeply in their own minds and bodies, developing it within themselves, sharing it with their associates, writing and speaking about it, establishing Auroville to await it, brought it into the earth consciousness so it could be more easily discovered and realised thereafter.
The Auroville experiment has not been an easy one, we are asked to build a city of the future, a city where there would be no need of laws, no need of money, no need of religion - where we would live as willing servitors of the Truth Consciousness... As Eisenstein says, where we would reconceptualise the self, no longer as separate and competing with others in a meaningless mechanical world, but as a conscious contributing part of a universe inherently creative and purposeful, and, Sri Aurobindo would add, conscious. But as we are not yet in this new consciousness, it has been an on-going struggle, one which could be of great interest for the anthropologists of the future to investigate and document, and learn from. Eisenstein's book takes the reader on a profound intellectual journey - back to the beginnings of culture, through the history of widening the gap between man and nature to the extreme alienation of modern society which cannot seem to kick its energy habit even to save the world. And he doesn't drop us there in despair, on a heating up planet wracked with war.
In a torrent of vivid descriptions in Chapter 7 he assures the reader that despite his being fully aware of the impending environmental crises, the financial breakdown, the international political paralysis, the unstoppable momentum of economic "development," the failure of schools to educate, the threat to health of potential pandemics, toxic waste pollution and medical treatment itself, and especially the turning of science on itself, undermining certainty, objectivity, even reason....he still sees a momentous change following the convergence of crises, the dawning of an Age of Reunion, a shift of consciousness "not predicated upon any sort of technological invention, nor... on a regression in our technological level." It's about a shift in consciousness, it's about coming out of the collective delusion of a discrete and separate self on which our culture is based, and which in its multifarious manifestations in all aspects of life is taken to its extreme today, and will result in its collapse. And then, the new consciousness will kick in, the many seeds of the new forms that will emerge out of the compost of the old are already to be seen: renewable energy, wastewater recycling, eco-technologies, local currency, reforestation and wetland preservation, political reform, child-centered education, holistic healing, ubiquitous communication....
So, what Charles Eisenstein offers the Aurovilian/Aurobindonian is a brilliantly worked out detail about the times of change we are in. What Sri Aurobindo, writing in the 20s-40s, could only describe in its broad outlines, Charles can see in its manifestation, and this intellectual insight and description can help us through the catastrophic times ahead. And what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in their written legacy and Auroville in its living manifestation offer to Eisenstein is a profound context of spiritual vision and 40 years of facing the enormous practical difficulties of trying to be open to that change of consciousness which he seems to assume will be quite automatic.
I am facing here a problem which i find both Eisenstein and Aurobindo avoid by writing long erudite works - when the ideas are put too simply, they sound "new-agey", a bit too Pollyanna-ish for our sceptical, down-to-earth minds, the very minds which are being invited to consider changing.... alas, what to do? I want to recommend to Aurovilians and students of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, that they will find reading Charles Eisenstein really heartening, I want to invite Mr. Eisenstein and his followers to take a look at the writings of Sri Aurobindo and to visit Auroville...perhaps there are some really interesting ways we could work together. Comment Permalink