Syntropy
Spirit - at the core of our lives, at the core of Nature, at the core of the Universe.

And, I would also suggest, at the core of science.
 

Extract from Journey into the Future

by Guy Dauncey (unpublished)

2005 : The Syntropy Revolution

Narrated by Jonah, a fictional character in the book, writing from the year 2016

It is with some trepidation that I start this chapter, since its subject matter takes me beyond the realms of my own expertise - but it is an essential part of the story, and a key to the changes that have been happening.

In the ten years since Jean Marc Kharoun and Elizabeth Mitchell published their papers, the cultural and intellectual world has been in upheaval. You would have thought they were proposing the abandonment of all civilization, instead of a simple adjustment to the way we perceive matter and consciousness.

I think the reason they caused such ructions is that the world of ideas is far more important than we like to let on. Most of us don't spend much time asking 'Where do we come from ?' or 'What is Life ?'. We are content to know there are scientists and philosophers answering those questions for us. On the other hand, we want the answers. You've only got to gaze at the stars to realize how little we know. For a thousand years, until the Renaissance and the scientific revolution, the church explained everything by saying that God was in his heaven and the Earth was the centre of the unchanging and unchangeable universe. This was their story, and they went to great lengths to enforce it.

These stories matter to us - so when Kharoun and Mitchell came along and rewrote the story, it was quite an event.

To understand the significance of what they did, you have to understand the origins of the story they displaced. In the 16th century, the Catholic church used to torture and burn people who disagreed with their story. This wasn't like a simple disagreement over supper : that was being imprisoned and tortured, and then being dragged to the market square, tied to a stake and burnt alive, flesh by screaming flesh, in front of a crowd of jeering people. This posed a problem for people who wanted to question what the church said, or who, like Galileo, had started to look at the unchangeable universe through a telescope to see what was actually there, and saw that it changed.

In response to the difficulty, the French philosopher René Descartes proposed a new story. He declared that the world consisted of two separate but linked realities, res mens (things of the mind) and res extensa (things extended in space). The church could say what it wanted about res mens, but from this time on, science would focus its energies solely on res extensa, where the truth could be determined by observation and measurement, not the dogmas of paranoid priests.

The implications of the new story were profound. Slowly at first, and then with increasing speed, it liberated people from the morass of beliefs, fears and superstitions which had kept them in darkness, and made them hang onto ancient beliefs. It opened the dusty trapdoors of the mind, inviting them to explore the incredible universe that surrounded them. The light of day poured in, displacing the gloomy recesses of the medieval age. It led to discoveries and inventions that we take for granted : telephones, computers, space stations - and the three day week.

The story as it was originally written didn't deny the place of spirit, or God. In Descartes' mind the two realms existed side-by-side, like a married couple who have stopped speaking to each other but who still live together in the same house. As the years went by from the 17th to the 18th and 19th centuries, however, the husband gradually exiled his wife to the basement, covering the trap-door with a mat and later placing a heavy table on top of it. He began to deny altogether the existence of the spiritual world, the silence people prayed to as God. In its purest form, the new story gave no credence at all to the world of spirit. The universe was strictly a place of matter and energy, out of which life had sprung by the fortuitous chemistry of chance.

The new story was very powerful. From one discipline to another, the scientists unraveled the secrets of the physical universe, from gravity to quasars. Today, we can sit by the ocean at night and watch the stars, then open a solar laptop, click on the home page for the Hubbell Space Telescope and watch a galaxy being born.

There have always been scientists who believed in God. By the 20th century, however, they had learnt to keep their belief to themselves. The new story said that we were material beings in a material world. Wonderful, awe-inspiring, even, but still material. Even the mind with all its dreams and wild journeyings was simply a material process which would be fully understood just as soon as the complete chemistry of the brain had been deciphered.

In the hands of this new story, the forest ceased to be a place of wonder : it became a stockpile of timber, waiting to be turned into lumber or pulp. Church membership declined, and western culture began to build its purpose around material progress. Nature became something to be exploited, not revered. For those who suffered illnesses, there were miraculous drugs and medicines, but for those who were dying, there was nothing. Black holes and supernovae, but no soul. That had been locked away three hundred years ago.

As long as the story held excitement, it held people's imagination. An end to poverty and sickness; an end to tedious work. New homes, new cars, new highways - these were great promises in the 1950s, with the horrors of war behind us.

By the 1990s, however, after the knife-edge fear of nuclear destruction, the near extinction of the whales, the assault on the rainforests and the domination of mass culture by tawdry commercialism, the dream was falling apart. The story was still alive, but without any joy. A hundred years before, music and art had been full of excitement, capturing the confidence of the time. By the 1990s, post-modernism in the arts and culture was widely viewed as a joke, mocked for its emptiness.

The first rumblings of change started in 1962 with Rachel Carson's eerie vision of a world bereft of songbirds, poetically expressed in her book Silent Spring. As the 20th century ended, increasing numbers of people started to find their way into the forbidden basement, including some scientists, where they spoke to the long-silenced wife, and asked questions about such long-suppressed things as spirit and soul, and made serious explorations into the world of consciousness.

The wheel had turned full circle. The material world of the modern scientists had taken a shaking in the 1930s, when the world of matter dissolved into uncertainty. Nothing was ever quite so clear, from that time on. Einstein hated it, saying 'God does not play dice with the universe.' In the late 20th century, physicists like David Bohm and Fritjof Capra were describing the universe as patterns, fields and living systems. The whole was more than its parts, and it was the process of relationship that gave the parts their meaning, that made the whole a whole.

As the century ended, these scientists came closer and closer to opening the trap-door, re-uniting matter with the long-silenced spirit. They recognized mind as a process of self-organization that was present in all living matter, and came close to saying that consciousness was an inherent part of living matter - but they defined consciousness as self-awareness, requiring abstract thought and language, not as something that could shared by everything. To their eyes, they had broken the Cartesian spell (after Descartes), re-uniting mind and matter. They were like Copernicus, who understood that the Sun was the centre of the solar system, but who thought the planets circled the Sun, instead of travelling in ellipses. They were almost there - but not quite. They were still awaiting their Kepler.

In the spiritually starved 1990s, the talk of connectedness and interrelated wholes was like living water after a diet of pop. Many people shared the thoughts of Chief Seattle, who said, on surrendering his people's lands to the Commissioner for Indian Affairs in 1854 :

"We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and human beings - all belong to the same family."

One of the essential new insights of the 1990s was the realization that indigenous peoples all over the world had stories which told them that all beings were connected. Connection, back to the land, to the place where we lived, to the Earth, instead of striving for dominance, breaking the web. We needed to come home to the long sealed-off basement, and the feminine within.

At a time of healing, when the pain and guilt of separation are being acknowledged, people need to accept the wounds and come to terms with the damage. When the Polish composer Gorecki poured out his heart for so many who had died in the 2nd World War and the Holocaust, in his Symphony of Sorrowful Psalms, millions responded, embracing the sorrow as their own, coming home to the awful pain of the 20th century, acknowledging the connection.

After the pain and healing, there comes a re-affirmation of life, a bursting to go. Once the connectedness had been re-affirmed, new questions arose, challenging the stasis of modern thought. Where now ? What next ? There was a need for new direction.

During the years of pain, many ecologists went so far as to say that humans were a cancerous plague on the Earth, and better they should die, than the tropical rainforest, that pinnacle of evolutionary stability, be destroyed. Biological stability was viewed as superior to the frenetic complexity of homo sapiens, over-running the earth with his wild ideas. To this way of thinking, there was no need for direction. Stability alone was enough, as long as it enabled a species to survive. Evolution might one day throw up a new direction, but what mattered was the return to eco-stability - that was the spiritual homecoming of the time.

The theory of evolution is a relative newcomer to the modern story. The great scientist Sir Isaac Newton, living in the 1600s, had assumed that the world was created in 4,600 BC, as described in the Bible. It was only in the early-1900s that people began to realize that the world was not four thousand but four thousand million years old. Darwin's subsequent discovery that all life was connected through evolution shocked the Victorians like a thunderbolt, placing us as direct descendants of the apes, cousins to every living being.

Writing in the 19th century, it was only natural that Darwin should set his book The Origin of the Species in the context of the modern story, in which spirit was still locked away. Darwin's was a material story, describing the evolution of physical form only, from the fish to the humans; he did not think for a moment to include anything to do with consciousness.

It did not trouble Darwin that the human brain had stopped evolving a hundred thousand years ago, at a level of complexity which enables it to pass on its genes. According to the modern story, therefore, all significant evolution among humans had stopped 100,000 years ago. All civilization, all progress - these were just ephemera, which had nothing to do with evolution. Common sense said this was absurd, but science ignored it.

There was a second problem with evolutionary theory, too. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that entropy is the measure of the disorder of a system, and that the total entropy of a closed system can never decrease. It can never grow more orderly - only more disorderly, like a house that has been abandoned, left to gather dust and eventually fall down. According to the Second Law, the entropy of a closed system will always increase with time.

Ever since the appearance of life, however, two thousand million years ago, nature has been growing steadily more complex and more ordered. In thermodynamic terms, the whole of evolution is anti-entropic : it breaks the Second Law. When pushed to explain this small anomaly, scientists used to say 'Oh, this is just a temporary reversion of the law. Just wait until the sun blows up,' meaning that one day, entropy will re-assert itself and all life will collapse, because the sun will go supernova.

The fact remained, however, that the whole of evolution as explained in the neo-Darwinian synthesis was in breach of this supposedly fundamental law of the universe. For science, that should have been a problem - but since the problem seemed insoluble, most scientists preferred to ignore it.

*

Jean Marc Kharoun was one of the exceptions. Born of a Pakistani diplomat father and a French biologist mother, raised in a village on the plains of the Punjab, he grew up among the cosmopolitan company his parents kept, travelling with his father to the troubled northern states where he experienced a melting pot of cultures, and travelled with his mother to the rivers and fields of the delta, where he marveled at the richness and diversity of nature. He took his biology degree at Hyderabad and went on to complete his Ph.D. in consciousness studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he came across the work of the French physicist Jean Charon, and his studies of consciousness within the atom.

It was while he was studying in Paris that Fritjof Capra was doing his seminal work on systems theory in California. From Capra, Jean Marc understood that mind was an organizing force which directed and coordinated complex biological wholes from within, and that it was present in all living forms, right down to the cellular level. From Charon, he absorbed the possibility that consciousness existed at the atomic and in all likelihood the subatomic levels. From the British biologist Rupert Sheldrake, he took the possibility that certain dimensions of mind express themselves across time and space as 'morphogenetic fields', capturing patterns laid down by mind and replicating them instantly elsewhere in the universe. From the American spiritual medical scientist Larry Dossey, he understood that healing energy could be projected by consciousness from one life form to another, and that it had positive, anti-entropic qualities which could heal wounds and restore sick patients to health. Had he been able to meet René Descartes, his French compatriot on his mother's side, he might have said "René, mon ami, ce dualisme - c'est un petit problème, n'est ce pas ?"

If dualism was a problem, however, and if the exiled wife was creeping back from the basement into the household, what was happening ? If consciousness was present in all matter, and if it could project energy from one cell or organism to another, it must have played a role in evolution. But what ? What was consciousness ? What was healing energy ? On these questions, as on the critical question 'What is an electric charge ?', the scientists were silent.

These were the problems that Jean Marc wrestled with as he alternated between teaching at the Sorbonne and spending time in the Himalayas, deep in thought. He observed the growing ecological crisis as the forest cover was stripped from the Himalayan foothills; he saw the farmers struggling with the changing climate and the increasing severity of annual floods. He watched the forces of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan and Afghanistan conduct an all-out battle to crush the modern story, with its materialism and moral pollution; and he pondered massive, far-reaching forces.

It was in France that he did his most seminal work. It was there that he came across the work of a mysterious woman known simply as 'The Mother'. She was a Parisian, born in the early 1900s, raised in an intensely spiritual atmosphere. After travelling the world, she settled in spent in India in the French colony of Pondicherry, where she spent the rest of her life in southern India living and working alongside a sage called Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo, like Jean-Marc, had grown up in two cultures, growing up in India, studying Goethe and Darwin at Cambridge, then returning to India to re-translate the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas and the Upanishads. It was from this transcultural fusion that Sri Aurobindo developed his understanding of evolution.

For Sri Aurobindo, the problem of dualism was only a problem when seen through western eyes, which had driven spirit and consciousness into exile. Seen through eastern eyes, all life is imbued with spirit - a point of view Kharoun absorbed with his mother's milk. God is everywhere, in every flea, every mountain. Walk for a hundred years, and you will never escape God. Go to the ends of the Universe, and God will be there. Go to the most microscopic level of your bodily cells, and God will be there. To Kharoun, understanding this was as easy as listening to the flute before dawn. Spirit was everywhere, the Vedas said - concurring with Charon, Sheldrake, and Capra's more poetic work. The only problem was - what was spirit, in scientific terms? And how did it work in evolution? These were the questions Kharoun sought to understand, as he read Sri Aurobindo's voluminous works late into the night.

Evolution is yoga, Sri Aurobindo said - it is the longing of the parts to unite with the whole, just as the self longs to unite with God. Yoga means union, from the Sanskrit yuga, a yoke. Generation after generation of Indians, unaware of geological age, saw the world as a constantly turning wheel of suffering and illusion which could only be escaped by the practice of yoga and by enlightenment, the conscious realization of the divine. Much like the Christian Church in Europe's medieval age, they took it for granted that life was full of suffering, and through their story, they plotted their escape, never to return to Earth again.

When Sri Aurobindo retranslated the ancient Indian texts with modern eyes, however, he saw a different story. For Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the whole of evolution was a form of yoga. The entire universe was straining to reach union with the divine, unfolding into ever greater unity as individual consciousness slowly burnt away its grief and came progressively closer to the whole, growing ever wider and more compassionate.

To Kharoun, the presence that we call 'spirit' is the universal field of consciousness that penetrates everything. Being part of the universe, it exists within us too, but we acknowledge it only in its trapped individual form, as if tiny dewdrops of spirit had been collected and dropped into each human form, and told to forget what they were. The universal longing for religion expresses the instinctual seeking by the individual spirit to reconnect with the whole - for the dewdrop to merge with the ocean. We personalize it, because we can only experience that small part of it which we know within our being, but in reality, it is all-pervasive.

Kharoun also credits the influence of the French priest and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit paleontologist who spent much of his life in China, while working to integrate his often clashing spiritual and scientific understandings of the world. Like Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard devoted his life to unraveling the mysteries of evolution, and like Sri Aurobindo, he came to the conclusion that matter and consciousness evolved together, each enriching the other. He believed that evolution would continue until it reached total wholeness, when everything merged in full consciousness with the divine.

The seeds had been lain. From 2001 to 2004, while others were struggling with food shortages, unemployment and increasing climate chaos, Kharoun was immersed in study, supported over the Internet by like-minded thinkers.

The concept that bound it all together, and which rocketed Kharoun and his colleague Elizabeth Mitchell onto the front page of Time Magazine in December 2005, was syntropy. In Kharoun's words,

'Syntropy is an omnipresent evolutionary tendency which propels all mind, all consciousness and all matter towards organization and wholeness.'

With these nineteen words, he rewrote the modern story. To the horror of his colleagues, he often appeared to write as if spirit and syntropy were co-existent. Where the spirit (meaning the individual expression of the universal syntropic field) is weak, he wrote, entropy will prevail. Where it is strong, it will express itself through syntropy as the tendency to seek greater organization and wholeness. It is syntropy that has propelled evolution towards more complex and conscious expressions. The force that we call entropy only occurs when the spirit in matter weakens, and starts to die.

With the arrival of syntropy, evolution's entropy problem disappeared, in the same way that Copernicus's problematic maths dissolved when Kepler demonstrated that the motion of the planets was in elliptical, not circular. Entropy did not exist at all, Kharoun declared - it was simply the withdrawal of syntropy. Syntropy explained evolution's progress towards ever more complex and psychically rich expressions of life, with or without the biological evolution of living matter.

It was this that really upset the traditionalists. To the mainstream scientists, it smelt of vitalism, a long rejected 19th century theory that proposed a vital spark within matter, giving it life. The idea that evolution could continue without any parallel physical change was impossible to swallow if you had grown up in the scientific establishment, and your instinct for the spiritual had been suppressed.

Kharoun and a growing army of syntropic scientists worked night and day to integrate syntropy into physics, chemistry, biology, sociology, psychology, medicine, consciousness studies. With syntropy, they could all be brought together. Einstein would have loved it ! It was paradigm-change time, when the story of the world is turned upside-down. For a short while, simplicity reigns, as the clarity of the new paradigm percolates into the minds of scientists, philosophers and ordinary people the world over. Psychotherapists, futurists, policy planners, sociologists, theologists and cosmologists all worked overtime, exploring the implications of syntropy for their professions. Spirit and matter were re-united, after the long divorce. Evolution was reconfigured as a journey towards ultimate wholeness, for humans, for nature, for all life - both here and throughout the known universe.

When TIME Magazine published Kharoun and Elizabeth Mitchell's work as their cover story, the editors wrote :

'The implications of this discovery for science, and for the cosmological foundation on which science has been based since the 17th century, are nothing short of stupendous. We have entered a new era of human knowledge and discovery.'

The first wave of reviews were very favorable :

'This would seem to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that consciousness has a real and active role in biological processes that were previously thought to be self-governing.'

New York Times

'If this is true, we will have to rewrite every book of science.'

Nature

'The challenge facing young scientists today is stupendous : it involves the re-thinking and the re-formulation of every known theory in the scientific cosmology. Nothing - and everything - should be seen as sacred : the sacred itself must now be included in the scientific endeavour.'

New Scientist

The bizarre thing was the reaction of the Church, which might have been expected to welcome the reconciliation between matter and spirit. It took the Pope a year to decide what he thought, but when he did, he did so in style :

'The holy divinity rests with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is a total heresy to suggest that it lies within matter, or within we frail sinners. It is the role of the mother church to raise sinners to salvation through the knowledge of God. Scientists should restrict their study to the world of matter where scientific principles prevail, not to the realm of Spirit where only the informed soul can know the mind of God. I warn all true Catholics against paying any attention to the idle fantasies of philosophers which have no place in science.'

Christianity Today joined in with its own brand of judgement :

'This [syntropy] demonstrates the danger of meddling in the works of God. The leaders of the scientific community must take great care not to endorse every crackpot piece of new age nonsense. The time has come for responsible Christians to stand up and say 'Enough!'. We should render unto God that which is God's, and unto science that which is science's. Science has no business meddling in the affairs of God.'

The Journal of Biological Sciences was equally harsh :

'This mixing of religious foofaroo with the rigor of science has produced a bastard : a mish mash of new age beliefs masquerading as science. Scientifically speaking, Kharoun's work is as good a candidate for burning as any we have recently seen."

*

Jean Marc Kharoun's work was only half the breakthrough. The other half belonged to Elizabeth Mitchell, who co-featured with Kharoun on the cover of TIME magazine.

Elizabeth is a Greek American, who was raised in New York. Her parents met in Athens while her father was hitching around Europe in the 1960s. Both were excited by the new thinking that was going on, especially in science and religion, and Elizabeth recalls sitting in on her parents' weekly discussion nights, reading Marilyn Ferguson's The Aquarian Conspiracy at the age of 12. Her father is now an ethics attorney with a major biotechnology company and her mother is a widely regarded poet, who is always taking off for six month sojourns in the mid-west, seeking the place, as she puts it, where heaven and earth collide.

Elizabeth grew up in a free thinking household where she and her sister Anna joined their parents on month-long hikes into the wilderness, and wrote their own plays in a TV-free environment. She was the only kid at high school who had never seen a single episode of the Simpsons. At college, she became absorbed in the environmental movement, majored in geography and climatology, and then spent three years travelling in the developing world, producing radio documentaries for the BBC World Service. In Nepal, she witnessed the devastating power of mudslides caused by deforestation and unusually intense rainfall, and in Thailand she lived through a typhoon when half the village she was staying in was swept away.

The longest and most formative period of her travels was the year she spent in the Kalahari desert with a group of nomadic Bushmen. Elizabeth has a personal magic which gets her accepted in the strangest of situations. She even had a Bushman husband, which amused them enormously since she was a foot taller than him. It was while living with the Bushmen that she began her seminal work in ethnoclimatology - the study of the influence of native cultural beliefs and practices on the climate. The bushmen had an ability to commune not only with nature but also with the wind and rain.

Elizabeth had always been very psychic, which she inherited from her mother. In her biography, she describes how while she was living in the Namib desert, she dreamt one night that she was walking on a mountain top with her sister, Anna. They lit a fire, and then Anna said 'farewell', and hugged her. She saw Anna's soul fly up into the clouds, and knew that she was gone. She left the next day for the seven-day walk to National Park warden's office, where she learnt that her sister had died of a sudden unexplained chest infection on the very night she had dreamed about her.

When she returned from her travels, Elizabeth worked with Greenpeace on their climate change campaign. She was restless to pursue her own studies, however, and won a fellowship at the New York Academy for Integrated Studies, where she used the time to write her pioneering study on ethno-climatology, which was published in 2003. In many parts of the world, she showed, indigenous people had traditions and skills which they regularly used to influence the weather. By burning their drums and sacred objects and banning their rituals and dances, as they did in so many parts of the world from South Africa to Canada, Christian missionaries had all but destroyed a source of knowledge that was tens of thousands of years old, which might yet be able to save us from the worst effects of climate change.

Her book was a best-seller, but her colleagues in the climatological sciences were embarrassed by it. Undaunted, Elizabeth pressed on, exploring the 'how' of psycho-climatic interaction, delving into the realms of parapsychology and the new physics, taking seriously such questions as 'How can some animals sense an earthquake before it happens ?' and 'How does a dog know that its owner is coming home before there is any physical evidence of arrival ?' Like Kharoun, she knew the work of Rupert Sheldrake, who had asked the same questions in an attempt to provoke the scientific community to address these ordinary anomalies in the modern story. The facts were irrefutable : study after study had shown that dogs did know of their owners' imminent return - but since there was no theory that could give the data logical coherence, the data was ignored.

Elizabeth had no difficulty accepting the evidence. She knew it to be so from her own experience. From her observations of wild animals in the Kalahari, from the way the bushmen related with the animal world, and by observing her own mongrel, Kasha, it became clear to her that all plants and animals participated in a shared telesensory field. Humans did also, she observed, but when the human brain evolved language as a more effective way of communicating, our telesensory awareness was pushed into the subconscious, where it still sits, where it operates as what we call intuition, and as an emergency signal in times of crisis, but which is otherwise unavailable to us.

There is a field of consciousness, she hypothesized, from which humans are shielded by their advanced mental processes, which provides a telesensory connection between all forms of consciousness, including natural elements such as rocks, water and the weather. Consciousness, she concluded, is not something that happens only inside the body, as it seems to us in our barriered mental state; rather, it is a field that exists throughout the universe. As humans, we are aware only of that small part of it that is captured inside our bodies - but in reality, it is all-pervasive throughout the universe. By overcoming the limits of perception, we can access the larger fields of consciousness, hear the messages that are there to be heard, and send the messages we need to send.

Elizabeth's breakthrough, which won her the Nobel Prize for Earth Sciences, lay in relating her findings to the Anthropic Principle. The Anthropic Principle argued that the mathematics of chance and probability made it impossible for humans to have evolved in the time available, and that there must therefore be a 'directedness' in the universe that is intent on producing mind, or conscious thought. Elizabeth's genius was to assume the presence of the universal field of consciousness, and to show how it could be used to communicate and acquire new evolutionary and behavioural traits, speeding up the whole process of evolution. At the atomic and molecular levels, she reasoned, the telesensory sharing of perceptions would be almost total. An atom did not have consciousness, as the French scientist Jean Charon had earlier argued : consciousness had it.

In humans, Elizabeth observed, this field of consciousness exists at the bodily level through the presence of 'chi', or 'prana', the energy which acupuncturists, reiki and pranic healers use in their work. On the cellular and the total systems level, we participate in the field. We are one with the whole cosmos, and it can never be otherwise.

Elizabeth's contribution was to take the anthropic principle, extend it to include the universal field of consciousness, which she termed the ch'i-anthropic field, and show how syntropy used the telesensory potential of the ch'i-anthropic field to achieve its results in the time available.

Appearing on its own, Elizabeth's work might have been lost in the welter of new age spiritual theory. It was the close parallels between her work on the ch'i anthropic field and Kharoun's work on syntropy that propelled her ideas into the mainstream of scientific discussion, transforming our understanding of evolution, creating a whole new story for our time.

END OF CHAPTER

Extract from beginning of Chapter 14, 2006

The full implications of the breakthrough took a while to sink in. On the surface of things, the world carried on as normal. Within a couple of months, however, popular magazines started to pick up the new ideas, and there was a week in May 2006 when no fewer than six magazines ran cover stories on syntropy. Throughout the world, ripples of excitement ran through people's mental and spiritual arteries.

The implications for science were almost too much to conceive. Up until then, the understanding that there might be fields of consciousness wider than the limited experience of consciousness we carry within our skin was limited to mystics, poets, artists and healers. For serious scientists to be saying that we had to adjust our picture of reality to take in the notion that consciousness was all-pervasive was incredible. The Buddhists say the self is like a drop of water in the ocean, and that if we let go of the boundaries, we will experience the whole ocean. Now science was saying the same thing - that consciousness was a field, an ocean, in which the separated self shields us from our awareness of the whole.

This alone was quite enough, with its thousand implications. But then to absorb the second idea that this field of consciousness had an internal pull, a process of syntropy which acted like a kind of spiritual magnetism, pulling the parts towards wholeness - and that it had been doing so throughout evolution, and was still doing so today - was amazing.

For those who were prepared to ride with it, it was a thrill a minute, new perspectives all the time. The field of consciousness is two-way - it influences us, and we can influence it. Thoughts count : they go out like waves into the field, shaping the landscape before we arrive. Feelings and intentions colour the field around us. A dying mother sends a message to her daughter across the world; her daughter receives it. An architect designs a building without care; its occupants feel it. A suffering teenager sends out a prayer for help, and the wholeness responds, placing fortunate coincidences in her path. If you were prepared to ride the waves, it was wild.

The backlash wasn't long in coming. In June, a consortium of academics declared that they would not be teaching syntropy or ch'i anthropics in any of their classes. Progressive universities rushed to set up departments of consciousness studies, while conservative colleges declared themselves syntropy-free zones. One Dean of Physics went so far as to declare the whole subject 'mind-buggery'.

In Boston, a medical research team announced a research program to see if they could capture ch'i energy on biosilicate for implantation into cancerous tissue. The immediate applications of ch'i were more straightforward, however. For several years, studies had shown that patients who received prayers recovered faster than those who didn't. Now there was evidence that doctors and nurses who brought a sense of love to their work also achieved better results. In the new terminology, they enriched the field of consciousness surrounding their patients, who were able to absorbed the energy directly into the cells of their bodies.

It was fascinating to see the scientific old-guard joining forces with the religious right to oppose the new thinking. The world had been a simpler place when science and religion had their separate places - at least they knew what they were each dismissing. The fusion of spirit and matter had them all at sea. At Oxford University, an elderly professor of philosophy had a heart attack when pressed by his students to discuss the implications of syntropy theory for logical positivism.

[Arbitrary end. Chapter moves sideways into another topic]

About the author

Guy Dauncey is an author, organizer and sustainable communities consultant who specializes in developing a positive vision of an environmentally sustainable future, and translating that vision into action. He is the author of Stormy Weather : 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change (New Society Publishers, July 2001), and ‘A Sustainable Energy Plan for the US’ (Earth Island Journal, August 2003). He is also the publisher of EcoNews (a monthly newsletter), co-founder of the Victoria Car-Share Cooperative, and a consultant in ecovillage and green building development. He lives in Victoria, on the west coast of Canada.

His website is www.earthfuture.com.