In 2006, Peter Chatalos published his work on Autopoiesis (copyright (c) John Wiley 2006) – a holistic view of the planet body’s immune shield. Our human immune system and environment are not separate, but integrated with the biosphere’s self-defense. When we chronically forget this, the planet appears to “turn against her Self”.
Peter and my conversation today, based on an earlier draft of his article Gaia Living with Aids, may shed some light on the “Ash tree die-back” crisis in this country, and on other environmental emergencies. The Ash die-back and the withdrawal of many species and bio-diversities into latency, suggests Nature’s retreat from being our plaything.
What about our worldview? Who are we?
Peter’s article mentions Autopoiesis. While it is helpful to explore the theory of Autopoiesis, we need to look within ourselves to grow up and to apply the principle at grass roots level. Mostly we dream in a narcissistic infancy. The human race is emotionally, barely eight years old.
Conscious action speaks volumes more than belief – the kind of action which confronts and exposes our unconscious lagunas. No holistic view is complete, unless we begin here where it hurts – at home: the I, the “i”: honesty. Physician heal thyself! One thing leads to another.
What is Autopoiesis?
Peter told me that Earth’s holistic capacity for self-renewing, self-restoring, self-creation, is an example of Autopoiesis. We as human beings begin slowly, yet urgently, to realise our embeddedness within nature, and the consequences of our actions. The increase in ourselves, of autoimmune disorders, echoes the same disorder in the planet eco-systems, due to our unconscious and blind exploitation. We as humanity came to think of ourselves as “disconnected” – yet the health of each part is integral to the whole system. Excess and disconnectedness damage our environmental health, and its capacity to self-renew.
A healthy and creative dynamic is defined as ‘Homeostasis. Diversity or complexity. Stability or resilience. Vigour or scope for growth. The absence of disease. Balance between system components.'”
I quickly see the analogy with our computing tools. The computer copies our working and associative mind, and by inference, our physical endocrine intelligence. How can it be otherwise? A healthy firewall works with unpredictable and flexible elegance. Anti-viral updates are refreshed and re-created constantly. This is because “easy passwords” and fixed patterns are simple for any mischievous malware to hack. Viral parasites as created in mind and body, thrive on rigid habits and reactions, whose cyberspace profiles are easy to identify and decode.
Conversely, a healthy matrix is a moving target – changeable, alert and fluid. Our gift as human beings, is our adaptability.
We are not alone. The same principle works across the board, through nature’s mineral, animal and vegetable kingdoms, through our psyche, and the body’s immune system. As any shepherd knows, sheep are susceptible to maggots and footrot. He keeps his flock attended to, and on the move. As farmers know, crop rotation revitalizes the land.
Imbalance and Dis-ease
Peter agreed that Autopoiesis is a mind-like process. Lovelock’s GAIA theory shows that Earth’s ecosystems adapt and respond mutually over time: each part is inter-dependent within the whole. An organism’s immune system does not merely act in terms of its “antibodies”, as the reductionist view would have it.
For instance, Earth’s ozone external shield does not bar the sun’s radiation. It filters it, so that what we receive is regulated to our biotic needs. Due to imbalanced human consumption and activity, the ozone hole appeared. This led to an increase in skin cancers through the interface of environment and human health.
As I see it, some cancers may occur due to an imbalance of our physical and etheric sheaths – a mismatch of frequencies, such as the sun’s intensity without an adequate atmospheric filter. Our physical organism around the core, is dense, like the bark of a tree, or Earth’s crust. We have also the more diffuse emotional, magnetic and mental bodies which constitute our aura, or psychic field. The whole is like an egg. The input through our auric shields, triggers a compensatory cellular activity in the physical location. This goes on all the time, but when it becomes excessive, the activity may turn “rogue”, and begin to cannibalize the host – as it is not self-sustaining.
I just found some notes taken during a psychology class in 2003, on the etheric/physical body interface: “The etheric body is the astral mould or template to which materiality adheres. It is only visible under certain conditions. The etheric body prevails through an entire incarnation. The physical body does not – it is a standing wave, constantly being replaced. Cancer is a disease of the etheric body. A leak in the etheric or subtle body causes inappropriate types of cell to keep on being manufactured, in compensatory excess.”
Disease is a symptom of excess and of the unconscious, and is underlined by genetic trend. Many cancers are brooded by unresolved hurts and issues in life. Additionally, cancer seems to increase due to conditioning and propaganda. The fear matrix which built up around it in our society, and the warlike remedy, keep the drug companies healthy, wealthy and …? So cancer is in resonance also with the economy, and our problems there.
A “preventive” medicine – attitude – may attend to our physical tempo, respect the way she changes from day to day, and allow her to feel ill – (as I do, right now. Go slow. I have a cold, and my lower back went ‘crick’, and feels like a broken fence. I shall have to lie down all day to write this. This is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but not my enemy !)
Unfortunately, the stress and insecurity which is now the social norm, in employment, consumption and communications, prohibits rest, prohibits sensitivity, and forces us to work like monkeys overtime. We suffer within an unregulated economy. But it is never too late to listen and to remember to breathe and stretch our toes … if for a few minutes at a time. It is never too late to sense the map of our nadis or meridians, how it hums through us. The meridians are psyche-physiological paths – they are antennae also to the collective subconscious. The body is a field. Awareness is the fluid key. Open ourselves beyond the box. This is autopoiesis?
A Teacher once said surprisingly, “Does this make the Sun, giver of life, our enemy? … The thing your scientists have spoken of as skin cancer, caused by over exposure to the sun’s rays, is a separatist fallacy. All dimensions are interpenetrating. All universes are moving closer. So what they mistakenly feel is some grand error on someone’s part, the so-called hole in the ozone layer, is a fallacy.
“There is indeed more proximity vibrationally. But it merely means, that when you stand next to One clothed in immaculate white from head to toe, should there be any blemish upon your own clothing, it is likely to show. Behold if you will, without fear, the Sun. Go to the inmost point of your pineal centre, and see there the sun, and allow your fears to melt as snow and merge with that great inner, glowing, endless being.”
This Teacher implied Earth’s self awareness, the core magma which is itself the Sun.
Peter said, “Sometimes, humanity can be so narcissistic!”
‘Our inability to appreciate nature for its own complexity and beauty, signals a deeply seated narcissism whereby we see the natural world only as resources. At best, other species are considered irrelevant.‘ (Du Nann, Winter & Koger, 2004).
There are increasing signs of global eco-system sickness, as in climate change and loss of bio-diversity. With a stepped up global trade in commodities and even populations, come many new diseases and infections, due to transport and transplantation. One might speak of human imprudence; the human self-interest in consumption, industrialisation and warfare, devastates the wildlife and the environment’s own self-restorative capacity.
‘We are like the cells in the body of the vast living organism that is planet Earth. An organism cannot continue to function healthily, if one group of cells decides to dominate and cannibalize the other energy systems of the body.’
“Yet, eco-systems have autopoietic properties, and humans are part of these eco-systems. So why do ‘symptoms of sickness’ exist? Why isn’t humanity participating in the autopoietic, health promoting processes of the planet?”
The Autoimmune Matrix …
While we, willfully unconscious of our part within the planetary field, continue to ravage it, we behave like an autoimmune disease. The Earth is an extension of humanity’s body. Humanity is an element of the planet’s autopoietic capacity.
D.W.Kidner explains: ‘If the normality of our day to day lives depends on exploiting and degrading the natural order, then psychological health will embody an intrinsic ecological pathology; and human life is defined as a form of parasitism.’
… and Peter uses the term ‘Ecological Autism’
Autism in this context, is a dissociation – the psyche’s lack of integration with the planetary eco-Mind. Considering itself apart and separate from Nature’s autopoietic process, creates an artificial barrier: a limited, unrealised notion of the self: an inability to connect.
We have to deal also with the enormous inertia-momentum of our history – the ravagings of war, torture and robber-barons; the reverberating Karmic fallout through the centuries. Putting the brakes on, for a while the juggernaut skids even faster against them.
Peter describes how:
A self realised individual’s sense of identity expands to include the biosphere and all its inhabitants. The connection to nature spontaneously deepens when a person’s self interest shifts from being egocentric, to biocentric. The Ecological Self integrates with Nature’s psyche.
Gregory Bateson in Steps to an Ecology of Mind understands ‘minds’ as processes – rather than things – at many levels of being. They are not limited to association with brains or consciousness. ‘Mind’ includes all examples of systemic process, wherever an interaction between the parts triggered by difference, requires energy and circular chains of determination. This canvas includes the life cycles of bacteria, individual cells and organs; it includes social groups, societies and eco-systems. Any given mind is a cellular function in a larger, more far reaching Mind.
‘In this way, all the phenomena in the world possess subjective inner natures. These inner natures of the world’s organic and inorganic phenomena make up the world subconscious.’ (Stephen Aizenstat).
I see a question here of Use and Ab-use. Also – in some forms of the Work – the esoteric perception of “Elementals”: invisible organisms of nightmare or of expanded perception. Castaneda called them, in a certain category, “the Allies.” They are inorganic beings, largely of a low-vibration consciousness. But they can and do form associations with organic beings: a parallel universe.
The Earth can speak through us and awaken our human sanity. Repressing the “conscious Earth” within us, damages our environment and leads to madness.
Human experience exists in a field of psychic transformations: an ontological connectedness, the whole moving always in relationship to its parts.
Where minds interact, they mutually create. Only the “autistic” perceive themselves as separate from others and from the more-than-human world. Ignoring Nature’s signs and flow of information, is ecological autism.
In a child’s first three to four years he or she experiences a symbolic unity with the mother. If this is impaired genetically, or by conditioning, it can lead to developmental difficulties. If we are engrossed in our own sensations with no sense of what they can relate to, we do not have that concept of relatedness, and are therefore autistic.
A realised individual awakens to a shared Earth-body Our relationship is that of a leaf to a tree. We are participants in this planetary system. As the focal seat of Self shifts, the notions of inside and outside merge. The world becomes a lover: the pain and despair of environmental degradation also, is acute. Systemic autism alienates from Nature and can engender compulsive behaviours, such as an addiction to technology.
These drawings (below) are by the late Douglas Harding, in his colossal thesis The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth. He goes on to explore the “extended” Earth-body of humankind. Looking from above, he observes our process with and as our global environment, as “The Creeper” – a living organism whose tentacular hands, tastebuds and interior organs are ocean, field, flower, desert, climate, termite, mountain and orchard, all interdependent, all connected to our alimentary system.
To claim our planet-Conscious birthright, Douglas demonstrated: point to where I believe I have a head, a separate shape: and look carefully, what do I actually see? – “on present evidence only. Keep on pointing to here, keep looking. Do I see a head here – a confined space, dark, small, sticky? Am I looking out of a meatball with two holes in it?” Or am I – where my shoulders fade out – an open, edgeless space for the World to fill? a window with no frame? Is not my Eye single, my body filled with light? … Keep on Seeing: keep practicing.
Since the Earth is an extension of our body, we focus on connecting to ‘active’ nature, with the deep ecological emphasis of ‘Other’ as our ‘Self’. Exploitation would less likely occur, because others are perceived as self, with equal value and worth. However, people sometimes harm themselves.
We Need to Connect Ethically …
‘We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.’ (A. Leopold)
“Language is as much a part of our functioning as our sense of touch, and as precious. Metaphors are how the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the core of being alive; the language of nature. Metaphors engage the head, heart and hand.”
“The idea of a mechanical world can hardly engender empathy. On the other hand, perceiving planet Earth as our body allows our response-ability to extend personal immunity to disease, and to develop ecological empathy.”
“‘When people consciously understand that they are part of, and intricately connected to, the natural world, they will be able to expand their boundaries of empathy to include all.’ (C.Feral)”
Earth, Air: Bull and Bird, South Africa, 1993
What can be more powerful than an idea? Like gravity, its local force appears minimal and weak; its summation holds the Universe together and is our connectivity. Contemplation through picture language, when focused, generates thought forms. It is in our power to act physically, behaviourally, and with our everyday intelligence, to influence the astral and mental planes, even as within the atom: in quantum theory, electrons of specific number-type move up into orbit, to occupy specific frequency-levels of “Jacobs Ladder”.
Peter speaks of Gaia’s Acquired Immune Deficiency
The disconnection acts like ‘the virus’ in an autoimmune disease, turning defender into adversary. The planet is immunosuppressed; humanity’s lack of ecological embeddedness and cultural autism is a factor. So Gaia lives with an acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and as we are part of Gaia, we are living with this chronic condition too.
The fully realised psyche does not need to separate human illnesses from environmental degradation. Increased pollution, species extinction and asthma in humans are symptoms of an ailing biosphere: a chronic condition. The system is under pressure. It can continue to function for a while, until it rapidly collapses – an unbalanced economy. A system diseased by parasitic human behaviour is not sustainable.
To fully participate, from a biocentric position, humanity needs to serve or be instrumental to the system as a whole … beyond the disconnected self-interest.
So where is human Consciousness? On television? Or here, closer than my breath?
Early forms of life emerging from the waters, contain in their code, our human-ness today. The Conscious whole is far beyond our horizon. In our evolutionary DNA-serpent, is codified the entire spectrum of what our human-ness is to be, as Consciousness – a future encircling shape – the unknown quantum, here and now.
“This is a wake-up call. Those who are open to an environmental reciprocity have a positive vision of the future. It is yet necessary to be aware of the despair of environmental degradation.
The planet’s eco-systems work together to protect life. Humans with this insight can consciously alter their actions and habits. There is no time like NOW to heal, protect and fully participate in the planet’s autopoietic processes.
For healing to be possible, the extended empathy must break through humanity’s ecological autism and reconnect with nature’s Mind.
“Seeing the Earth as a living being, helps us to identify with her wellbeing.”
Peter Chatalos and Jane Adams, 2013
This body, Arjuna, is called the Field.
He who knows this, is called the Knower of the Field.
Know that I AM the Knower in all the fields of my creation;
and that the wisdom which sees the field and the Knower of the Field, is true wisdom.
His hands and feet are everywhere,
he has heads and mouths everywhere; he sees all, he hears all.
He is in all, and he is.
The Light of consciousness comes to him through infinite powers of perception,
and yet he is above all these powers.
He is beyond all, and yet he supports all.
He is beyond the world of matter, and yet he has joy in the world.
He is invisible, he cannot be seen.
He is far and he is near.
He moves and he moves not, he is within all and he is outside all.
He is ONE in all, but it seems as if he were many.
He supports all things; from him comes destruction
and from him comes creation.
He is the Light of all lights, which shines beyond all darkness.
It is vision, the end of vision, to be reached by vision,
dwelling in the heart of all.
I have told you briefly, what is the Field,
what is wisdom, and what is the End of human vision.
When men and women know this, they step into my Being.
from Bhagavad Gita chapter 13 Juan Mascaro translation
“Vital Signs: Psychological Responses to Ecological Crises” by Mary-Jane Rust and Nick Totten 2012 published by Karnac
Aquariel – an angel of the waters and of the air through the woods of life. COPYRIGHT – All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2013. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeaquariel.wordpress.com/