The Song of Syntropy
Srinagar, Kashmir, Northern India. April 2006
Iqbal Kharoun awoke before dawn, put on his kurta, and stepped outside to greet the mystery of another day. From the verandah of the bungalow where he and Elizabeth were staying in the hills of Kashmir, five miles outside Srinagar, he could see the forest on the other side of the valley dotted with flowering cherry and apricot trees, and the lake below them, shrouded in mist. It was so beautiful, as if the world had just been born, and knew nothing of hatred, argument or cruelty.
He lay a rug across the verandah floor and settled down to meditate, folding his legs and tucking in his feet. Of all of the many places he had visited around the world in this last hectic year, there was none that could compare with this. If heaven had been allowed to settle and grow on Earth, it was here.
He closed his eyes, inhaled deeply, and observed his breath for five minutes. Then focusing on the silence within his being, he gradually entered another world, where space, consciousness and stillness took on a new geography, and where the less he did, the further he travelled. It was a ritual he had followed ever since his twelfth birthday, and yet each day was a new exploration. It was good to be back in India, after all his travels.
In her bed in the back of the bungalow, Elizabeth Mitchell was slowly awakening, stretching her limbs and luxuriating in the sensation of the clean white cotton sheets against her naked skin. Outside, the sky was slowly brightening, and the outline of the mountains was becoming an exotic purple as it emerged from its sleep under the night sky. It felt so darned good to be here, so good to be alive. Their work was going well, Iqbal's young friends were such good company - and this place was simply wild. New York was wild too, but in a different way.
They had come across each other's work through the pages of the Journal of Consciousness Research, and corresponded for several years before finally meeting at a conference in Phoenix, Arizona, and becoming friends. Elizabeth was twenty-eight years old. She was tall and leggy, with long blonde hair, a confident, New York style and a life that was colourful enough to have filled several biographies. Raised in the city by progressive Greek-American parents, she had majored in geography and climatology at McGill University in Montreal and then travelled around the world from Mexico to South Africa to Hawai'i doing her Ph.D. on ethno-climatology - the influence of native cultural and shamanistic rituals on the climate.
She had been married twice, once to a clean-cut college kid from Vermont, and once to a Kung bushman in the Kalahari desert, which had amused his clan enormously, since she was a foot taller than he was. Among most of the tribes in southern Africa, the Christian missionaries had come in a century ago, burning their sacred drums and banning their dances, destroying a source of knowledge that was tens of thousands of years old, which might yet be able to modify the worst effects of global climate change. Among this remote tribe of bushmen, Elizabeth had discovered an undisturbed tradition, and had marvelled at their ability to commune with nature.
Iqbal was twenty-six years old. He was shy and good-looking, with smooth black hair and an all-too-perfect English accent which he had picked up at Brockwood Park, a private school in Hampshire, southern England. His father was a prominent Kashmiri professor of law and ethics, his mother a French biologist, poet and mystic. It was she who had taught him how to meditate, taught him to question everything, and introduced him to the great Indian philosophers, from Sri Vivekananda and A.K. Coomaraswamy to Sri Aurobindo.
His homeland, Kashmir, had an almost mystical aura of beauty which had captivated generations before him, in spite of its present conflicts. In the school holidays, between spending personal time in the Muslim mosques and the Buddhist monasteries, he and his mother would go on treks into the Biosphere Reserves, where Iqbal was astonished by the variety of species which inhabited the forests, from the snow cocks and golden orioles to the brown bears and musk deer.
The problem that Iqbal wrestled with, amid all this beauty, was that while the science he was learning at school did an incredible job of integrating nature's myriad species into a glorious evolutionary whole, it stopped at the doorway of consciousness. The professors of physics and biology at the college in Srinagar where his father taught knew more about molecules of moon dust than they did about the minds of their neighbours, the monks and yogis who had been studying the geography of inner space since long before the prophet Muhammad arrived, or the Buddha sat under his banyan tree.
The second law of thermodynamics said that everything within a closed system tended towards greater disorder and chaos - and yet the first (unwritten) law of meditation said quite the opposite, that everything tended towards wholeness and peace. How could it be, his sixteen-year-old mind asked, that two such enormous truths should be at odds with each other ? Even evolution seemed to allow a world which became ever more organized and beautiful - so how could the scientists say that it was becoming ever more disorderly, and that entropy reigned supreme ? It was certainly true in a limited case such as Dal Lake, the jewel in the heart of Srinagar which was becoming more putrefied with every load of sewage that was dumped into it, starving its aquatic inhabitants of oxygen and demonstrating the case for entropy with every breath they took. But that was a local breakdown of the way it could be. With proper stewardship and a properly built solar aquatic sewage treatment plant, the lake could be quickly restored to its former health, the sewage transformed into water lilies and rich, dark compost.
None of these thoughts rolled through Iqbal's mind as he penetrated deeper into the inner world, through the mists of memories towards the heart of oneness, where everything became light, and every barrier dissolved. He had no task to achieve, no goal to pursue. He simply had to stand guard against the incursion of outer thoughts, and let his mind move out of the way, allowing "The Great No-Thing" to enter.
Elizabeth was out running, exhilarating in the aroma of pine needles and peach blossoms, when she heard the cry from the path below which led to their house.
"Tell Mr Iqbal - you both come quickly ! Come very quickly !" the small boy shouted as soon as he saw Miss Elizabeth.
"What is it ?" Elizabeth called back, happy that the boy understood some English.
"You both terrible trouble, terrible trouble, Miss Elizabeth," he said, panting, as soon as he reached her. "They coming for you ! The police, the mullahs - they all coming ! They want kill you ! You hide ! You run quickly !"
Elizabeth knew immediately what must have happened, and sprinted back to the house, where Iqbal had heard the shouting and was already stuffing a few things into a backpack.
"We've got to go, Iqbal, right now," she cried, and rushed to her room to fill a bottle of water, grab the emergency backpack they had organized just in case, and gather up a few personal things, including her pocket computer, and the copy of Syntropy which had been signed by the Dalai Lama, the aging astronaut Edgar Mitchell, and the Vice-President of the United States.
Moments later, all three of them were escaping up a hidden trail that led to the hills, where Iqbal knew secret places from his childhood where they could hide out until the storm subsided, or until they could devise some way to escape. It was a long walk to the Ladakh Valley, and the passes through to Tibet. A fatwah was a very serious matter, which could lead to mutilation and death, but Elizabeth hoped that as soon as she had sent out the message that they were in trouble, a storm of protest would descend on the mullahs who had pronounced the fatwah, and on the Indian and Pakistani leaders who had allowed it to be spoken. It was fortunate that the Srinagar police did not use dogs, out of an old prejudice that dogs were lower creatures which were unclean.
It was good that Elizabeth was fit from her long-distance morning runs, because Iqbal set a cracking pace, which Amjad (the boy) had no trouble keeping up with. After an hour, they paused to drink and catch their breath. The views from the mountainside were spectacular, and path through the forest seemed totally silent. Without a lookout, however, they had no means of knowing whether their pursuers were following. The last fatwah had a million dollars attached to it, which was a big incentive for the goons, if they knew where to follow. Who would have thought that a simple book could have caused such an uproar ?
"I know a place where there's fresh water, where they'll never find us," Iqbal said. "We'll be there by mid-day, if we keep going. It's got a good look-out, which would give us a half-hour's lead if we saw them coming. It's so silly. Do they think they can stop the whole of evolution ? To think that two of the largest religious traditions in the world, the Muslims and the Christians, both ancient enemies, are combining forces to try to prevent people from discussing a new idea. It's not silly - it's hilarious !"
"It's also dangerous," Elizabeth replied. "And I, for one, would rather go on evolving a bit longer, than finish my life at the end of an assassin's bullet. I've got a huge amount of living planned out for the next fifty years. As soon as we get to your hideaway, I'll set up my solar array and start sending messages to tell the world what's happening. I doubt that they'll think to block the satellites."
"Ah, Elizabeth. I have never told you this, for I was brought up to speak with reserve and politeness. But I do admire you. You have such a wonderful spirit. I sit in meditation every day for hours, inviting the invisible world to fill me, while in you, it just blazes out everywhere. You must be cautious, however. I am not the only child of Srinagar who grew up in these hills and knows the secret pathways. They may even be able to track your signals."
"Come on then - let's go !" Elizabeth replied, and they plunged back into the forest undergrowth.
When Iqbal Kharoun' book, Syntropy, was published in 2005, the scientific world responded with a storm of delight and protest. To some, Kharoun's work represented the most exciting breakthrough in scientific thinking since Einstein's work on relativity, a hundred years before. Others compared him to Galileo, or Copernicus. In a feature review, TIME Magazine said:
"The implications of syntropy theory for science, and the cosmological foundations 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."
For more traditional scientists, however, the theory was more than they could handle. The editor of The Journal of Biological Sciences wrote:
"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 seen."
Christianity Today was quick to join 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 care not to endorse every piece of crackpot new age nonsense that appears. 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 theory which was causing such a stir stemmed from Iqbal's realization that the rigorous separation which science had pursued between the physical world of matter and energy and the spiritual world of consciousness was nothing more than a device, a method which Descartes and the early seventeenth century scientists had employed to give themselves some breathing space, and protect them from being burned alive at the stake by some witch-hunter or grand inquisitor from the catholic church. It was a messy business, being burned alive, being imprisoned, tortured, dragged to a market square, tied to a stake and burnt alive, inch by painful inch.
The burning was a problem for people like Galileo, who had started looking at the universe through a telescope to see what was actually there, instead of taking the word of the priests as final. To the early scientists, the meticulous process of observing, measuring, deducing and testing different hypotheses was proving to be an incredible method of advancing their knowledge about the natural world. The church with its dogma-driven priests seemed like a ridiculous collection of windbags, armed with preposterous authority and a frightening arsenal of torture and death.
It was in response to this difficulty that the French philosopher René Descartes had proposed a new method, declaring 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 the scientists would focus their energies solely on res extensa, where the truth could be determined by careful observation and measurement, not by the presumptions of paranoid priests.
The implications of the new method were profound. Slowly at first, and then with increasing speed, it liberated people from the morass of fears and superstitions which had kept them in darkness and made them hang onto ancient beliefs. The light of reason poured in, displacing the gloomy recesses of the medieval age and leading to discoveries and inventions that the twenty-first century took for granted : gravity, space stations, nanotechnology.
Descartes' new method did not deny the place of God, or spirit. In his mind, the two realms existed side-by-side, like a married couple who had stopped speaking to each other but still lived together in the same house. As the years went by, however, the husband exiled his wife to the basement, and then covered the trap-door with a mat. He began to deny the existence of the spiritual world, and the silence people pray to as God. The universe was a now place of energy and matter, out of which life had sprung by the haphazard chemistry of chance. For a professional scientist to dabble in things of the spirit brought scorn, and the risk of dismissal. It wasn't as cruel as incineration, but it was just as effective.
After four hours of jogging and hiking, Elizabeth, Iqbal and Amjad reached a beautiful grotto overhung by ferns, surrounded with wildflowers, where there was a fresh pool where they could bathe and drink. Iqbal and Amjad agreed to share lookout duty while Elizabeth took a quick plunge in the pool, and then she proceeded to set up the solar receiver and the satellite transmitter that turned her pocket computer into such a powerful instrument.
"Who shall we send it to ?" she asked, when Iqbal returned.
"The world's media. We'd better include PEN International, Amnesty International and the Institute for Consciousness Research, in case the journalists are having a day off. They'll make sure it ends up where it needs to."
It took five minutes to compose the message, and within half an hour their cry for help was announcing itself on the monitors of journalists, politicians and human rights campaigners all around the world.
"SYNTROPY SCIENTISTS FACE DEATH BY FATWAH", "MULLAHS THREATEN TO KILL KHAROUN AND MITCHELL", "PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES INDIA TRADE EMBARGO UNLESS FATWAH LIFTED", the headlines shouted.
In the week that followed, Elizabeth, Iqbal and Amjad took it in turns to keep watch, using their off-duty time to relax in the grotto, bathe in the pool and collect wild fruits and herbs to supplement the dried fruits they had brought in their emergency supplies. During this time, Elizabeth and Iqbal grew close, and Elizabeth knew in her heart that something was beginning, but she received no words of encouragement from Iqbal, and there was never any hint of anything improper. They slept separately, and respected each other's privacy at bathing time. She began to wonder whether it was all in her imagination, brought on by the stress and excitement.
"This will do more to increase public awareness about syntropy theory than we could have achieved in fifty years of lecture tours," Iqbal said one morning, when he emerged from meditation. "Maybe they're discussing it in schools around the world, even as we sit here. Syntropy is the omnipresent evolutionary tendency which propels all mind, consciousness and matter towards organization, wholeness and unity. Discuss."
"I hope they're sending off protest e-mails as well, if they are !" Elizabeth replied. "It's not as if I've any complaints about being here - it must be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But I don't sleep well at night, thinking that I might be blasted to hell by a machine gun at any moment."
"Allah will take care of us; Buddha will take care of us; Jesus will take care of us; Krishna will take care of us. What more can we ask ?" Iqbal replied - and Elizabeth felt that she wanted to kick him. Or something else, considerably less violent, that was bottling up inside.
It was with these eighteen words defining syntropy that Kharoun had rewritten the modern scientific story. To Kharoun, spirit and syntropy were intimately bound together. When the individual expression of the universal syntropic field is weak, entropy will prevail. Where spirit is strong, syntropy will lead it to seek greater organization and wholeness. It is syntropy which has propelled evolution towards ever more complex and conscious expressions over millions of years. Entropy occurs when syntropy fails, when the spirit in matter weakens and starts to die.
With the arrival of syntropy, evolution's entropy problem disappeared. Entropy did not exist at all, Kharoun declared - it was simply the absence of syntropy. It was syntropy which explained evolution's progress towards ever more complex and psychically rich expressions of life, along with humanity's deeply felt drive to achieve peace, freedom, fulfillment, and harmony with nature. The civil rights movement, the women's movement, the peace movement, the environmental movement, the quest to travel into space, the search for renewable energy, the drive for democracy - these were all expressions of syntropy, evolution's fundamental drive for wholeness.
"I've been thinking," Elizabeth said suddenly one morning, on their fifth day at the grotto. "You know the missing piece, that stands in the way between syntropy being a beautiful theory and becoming a proven reality ?"
"For sure," Iqbal replied. "But Einstein had to wait several years before his theories could be proven. I don't mind waiting a bit - as long as they let us."
"The key is consciousness - right ? Proving that fields of consciousness exist, that consciousness is a primary reality. Without that, syntropy has no way to work. You know that we've drawn a blank every time we've tried to use energy or matter as the medium."
"They never let that bother them with entropy. Why should it matter for syntropy ?"
"Because it does. So listen. You know those experiments the Russians did in the 1960s, when they separated a mother from her new kittens, and shipped the kittens to the other side of the world ? They wired the mother up to an electro-encephalograph, and every time they killed a kitten, the mother's brain-waves jumped."
"Yes. It was cruel, but it did demonstrate a clear connection that could cross space instantaneously," Iqbal replied.
"Well - not spontaneously. What if the impulses travelled at 7.48 cycles per second, the speed that light travels around the world ? I've been thinking that maybe living beings use the electro-magnetic spectrum at 7.48 cycles per second to communicate with other living beings, and other fields of consciousness - including things like rain clouds, and trees. We've still got to find the mechanism that allows syntropy to express itself; and I've got to find the mechanism that allowed my Kung husband to communicate to a cloud using a rock, or a tree."
"But 7.48 is far below the speed of most normal consciousness."
"Precisely ! Oh, Iqbal, sometimes you're so brilliant, you don't see what's in front of you." She nearly blurted out "I love you", but caught herself just in time. "If it's true, this might be why it has been so difficult for humans to accept that it is real. It's below the level of conscious awareness that most people have. Animals and plants have it, but not humans - except on the way to sleep, when their brains slow down. So what if we were to set up an experiment using yogis or shamans, people who have mastered a high level of control over their consciousness, and fix them up to a biofeedback machine to help them tune into 7.48 - or whatever the exact wavelength is. Then we could ask them to send messages to each other, and test if the hypothesis works."
"It might work. But you know what would happen if it did ? Some big corporation like SoulTech would come along and claim the patent, and then try to charge a license fee every time anyone entered the 7.48 zone."
"Then the Indian government would have to gather a bunch of yogis together, to prove that they had the 7.48 expertise long before SoulTech came along," Elizabeth replied with a chuckle.
"And they'd have to train all the judges and the jury in deep meditation techniques, before they could pass any kind of judgement. Come to think of it, they'd have to train the World Trade Organization too - just think of the implications !"
And they burst out laughing.
That night, there was a full moon all over the world, and while the media and the emails continued their twenty-four hour struggle to have the fatwah lifted, as the moon rose over the mountain, the grotto became filled with a presence, as if something significant was about to happen.
"I feel as if the whole world is praying for us," Elizabeth said.
"This very true," Amjad chirped in. "Whole world praying for Mr Iqbal and Miss Elizabeth. I feel it here," he added, touching his heart.
"Amjad," Elizabeth replied, "if we get out of this, I'm going to tell the whole world that it is you they should thank. You've been just incredible."
"Miss Elizabeth will get out of this. Not if," Amjad replied.
"You're amazing, Amjad," Elizabeth said, and went over and kissed him on the forehead. Iqbal watched, with a tender look in his eyes. "I have only known you for these few short weeks, but I love you."
Amjad squirmed, but looked happy.
"Iqbal - we should celebrate," Elizabeth announced. "I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, or whenever, whether we shall die or whether we'll be rescued, but I feel that we should celebrate."
"You are quite right, Miss Elizabeth," Iqbal replied, teasingly. "What's stopping us ? Let's do it now."
For the next half hour, the two of them carefully cleaned the area around the grotto, while Amjad took a shift on watch. When it was ready, they called Amjad down, and the three of them held hands by the edge of the pool. They could see the moon reflected in the water, and for the next ten minutes they shared words of thanks, appreciation and hope for whatever should follow. Finally, they took it in turns to take water in their hands, to scatter some on the ground to give thanks to nature, and to give it to each others to drink. It was a precious moment which would stay with them for a long time if they got out of this alive.
Later that night, much later, Iqbal came in from his turn on duty. He saw Elizabeth and Amjad sleeping, but instead of waking Elizabeth to take her turn, he sat down beside her, very quietly. Slowly moving his hands over her body several inches above her sleeping bag, he silently washed her energy field with a blessing of love and appreciation. "I do not know why I am feeling this," he said to himself, "but I think that I love this woman."
Elizabeth stirred, and turning in her bag, saw Iqbal sitting over her. Without thought or hesitation, she reached up her arms and pulled him close.
That moment seemed like an eternity, as all the fronds of accumulated love reached out to seek their goal. Later, they kissed, and unzipping her sleeping bag, she invited him in.
"It's like a glorious song," she whispered to him later, as they held each other close. They had just touched the most incredible place of oneness that Elizabeth had ever known. "It feels like the song of the whole universe, pouring its love through us. The song of syntropy - and we, its humble recipients."
"I think I like this song," Iqbal whispered in her ear, as he slowly moved his hand through her hair. "I want to hear it forever. Let's leave the last shift, this one night. What will be, will be."
When dawn broke, the five-person search party from the Indian government's conflict resolution team found the three of them fast asleep, in two sleeping bags.
"That's a very peaceful sight," Ashok said to Natasha, as they watched the idyllic scene. "This place feels almost holy."
"Do you know something, Ashok ?" Natasha replied. "I think it is."
The debate around the nature of consciousness and matter and the problems with evolutionary theory are both real. For further information, write to the Institute of Noetic Sciences, 475 Gate Five Rd, Suite 300, Sausalito, CA 94965, USA, Tel (415) 331-5650. www.noetic.org Lyall Watson tells a fascinating story of ethno-climatology in his true-life book about the Adrian Boshier's adventures in the South African bush Lightening Bird (Coronet, 1983). You may treat the 7.48 hypothesis as seriously or as lightly as you wish. There's certainly enough evidence of ancient connectedness and modern telesensory experience to justify continued research into trans-consciousness communication.
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.