Phase Transitions & Popping

When I lived at the Zen center and studied psychology (health psychology and systems theories), I saw a clear parallel between the awakening process and phase transitions as described by systems theories. And now, when there is an oscillation of realizing “no I” – sometimes relatively clearly and other times more obscured – this comes back to me.

Systems views is quite similar to (parts of) some of the Eastern philosophies. For instance, the world of phenomena is seen as a seamless fluid whole, organized holarchically – nested systems one within another, similar to russian nesting dolls.

Systems view & nondual awakening

And in terms of a nondual awakening – to a clear realization of “no I” anywhere – there are also many parallels.

Before this awakening, the attractor state is organized around a belief in the thought “I” and everything that brings with it. After awakening, there is a new attractor state – a new stable condition for the system – now in the clear realization of “no I”.

The system undergoes a phase transition, from one stable attractor state (the story of I) to another (dropping the story of I).

And there are several control variables which helps nudge the system into this phase transition. These are the ones we are familiar with through the various spiritual traditions, including clarity, devotion and insights – and induced through practices such as meditation, prayer, inquiry, mindfulness and more.

So systems theories can be used as one way to analyze the awakening process and the tools used at various phases of this process. It may yield some helpful insights, and help us organize the various traditions and approaches as well.

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