Systems View, Karma, Emptiness & Awakening

 

A systems view is quite compatible with the Buddhist view on the world of phenomena. It is also a quite good way to get a glimpse of what terms such as karma and emptiness may refer to.

From a systems view, the whole world of phenomena is a fluid and seamless whole. It is a holarchy, systems within systems – from the largest whole down through the smallest.

Karma
From this view, we see that anything humans do influences the larger social/ecological whole they live within, which in turn influence them. As we live within a seamless whole, the consequences of our actions comes back to us in one form or another.

Emptiness
We also see that the small selves do not have any fixed or independent existence. They are temporary and changing patterns through which the matter and energy of the larger whole flows (autopoietic systems).

Attractor States
Beyond this, we can also use a systems view to look at the awakening process.

From an attractor state of close identification with the small self, we move into an attractor state which includes the Absolute.

Practice – in whatever form we engage in – helps us more from one to the other. As we flip into the second more frequently, and have more tastes of it, the first attractor state gradually becomes more shallow, while the second deepens. Eventually, the whole system shifts more stably into this new attractor state.

And, as we experience in many areas of life, the transitions are usually preceded and accompanied by a period of confusion and apparent chaos. The system becomes unstable, shakes loose from the first attractor, and have an opportunity to find its way into the second.

Any system have control variables which influences when systems go out of one attractor state, and fall into another. In this case, the main control variables may be focusing on becoming familiar with ourselves as space & awareness and loosening any fixed/exclusive identity. And we can do this through inquiring into our nature, and/or rest in/as it through for instance shikantaza. Many supporting practices, such as contemplation, ethical guidelines, developing compassion etc. also help guide the system into this new attractor state.

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