Materialism, Holism, and Mysticism
– A Mandala
Fragmentation, Wholeness, and Mystery - A Mandala
A Open Book by Rolf Sattler
Permission is granted to quote from this open book provided proper attribution is given to Rolf Sattler: Materialism, Holism, and Mysticism - A Mandala
So far only the Introduction and Lessons for the 21st Century have been published.
Below you find the following four sections:
An Open Book with Alternative Titles
How to Read this Book
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
INTRODUCTION: Questions - Disturbing Contradictions between Answers - The
Mandala as a Solution - Outer and Inner Circles (Mechanism and Holism) – Inner and Outer Circles as Yin and Yang – Materialism and Holism as Levels of a Hierarchy (Holarchy) - Continuum between the Outer and Inner Circles - Complementarity – Lessons from Physics - Mystery - Art - Spirituality - A Joke - Out of Balance - Health – Ken Wilber’s AQAL Map - Fundamentalism - Education - Silence - A Meditation: Beyond Words and Sounds - About Jokes - Liberation through the Mandala - Mandala Meditation
1. FRAGMENTATION AND WHOLENESS: From Words to Conflict and War -
Abstraction (Fragmentation) - - Hierarchy: Boxes within Boxes within Boxes -
Unity Dissolving Hierarchical Structure - The Whole in the Part - From Fragments
toward increasing Wholeness - No-Mind - Integral Structure of Consciouness
and Beyond - Re-member - This-Worldly and Otherworldly - Sex - A Joke -
Romantic Love - Enemies - Alienation and Loneliness - Jokes - A Meditation:
2. DISCONTINUUM AND CONTINUUM: Plants - Soil-Plant-Air-Continuum -
Plants and People Continuum - Prana and Chi - Are there Western Equivalents of
Chi? - The Web of Life - Jokes - The Interior of the Web of Life - The Evolution of
Consciousness - The Big Three - Waves and Lines of Consciousness in the
Mandala - A Meditation: From the Witness toward ONE TASTE
3. EXACTNESS AND FUZZINESS: Logic - Identity - Either/or Logic - Both/and Logic - Fuzziness: Fuzzy Logic -Semantic Interlude - Fuzziness in Science - Fuzzines in Religion - Fuzzinessin Ethics - Fuzziness in Law - Fuzziness in Politics - Fuzziness in Everyday Life - From Fuzzy Sets to Fuzzy Systems - Yin-Yang - Yin-Yang and Fuzziness - Nature is not Perfect - Plato and Aristotle - Polar Opposites - Love and Hate - Life and Death - Other Polar Opposites - Beyond Polar Opposites - Standing Meditation - Standing with a Tree
4. CLOSURE AND OPENNESS: Breathing - What Did You Do Today? - Life as a
Living Flame - A Joke - Radiance, Radiance, Radiance... - Subtle Energy -
Relativity of Openness - Opening and Closing - Open and Closed Minds -
Broad Science - Science and Spirituality - Openness is Related to Love, Closure
to Fear - Love Relationships - A Meditiation: Remember Yourself as Light
Add: contraction and expansion
5. MECHANISM AND THE ORGANIC: Mechanism - A Joke - Conventional
Medicine - Jokes - Organicism and Alternative Medicine - Is Alternative Medicine
Scientific? - The Many Faces of Science - Beauty - Goodness - Truth - Dancing
6. COMPETITION AND COOPERATION: Competition - Cooperation - The
Darwinian World View - Is Science Value-Free and Objective? We Select What
We See - The Danger of Competition - Sociobiology - A Joke - Alternatives to
Darwinian Evolutionary Theory - Stress - Relaxation and Meditation
7. STATICS AND DYNAMICS: Statics - Structure and Process - Physics - Life
Sciences - A Leaf is a Cosmic Event - The Human Being as a Cosmic Event -
The Primacy of Process - Process Philosophy - Process Language - Just Loving -
No “I” - Essentialism - Flow Creates Happiness - The Wisdom of Insecurity -
Relationships - A Joke - Transformations of the Mandala - Transcendence of
Statics and Dynamics - A Centering Meditation
8. RIGIDITY AND FLEXIBILITY: Introduction - Norms in Society - Education -
Categorical Thinking - Perspectivism - Relativism and Complementarity -
Tai Chi and QiGong - Spontaneity - Laughing Meditation - A Joke
9.INVARIANCE AND VARIABILITY: Invariance - Variability - Genetics - Are there
Laws of Nature? - The Semantic View of Laws and Theories - Law and Order -
A Joke - Uniqueness - Suchness - A Meditation - Instead of a Meditation
10. ISOLATION AND CONTEXT-DEPENDENCE: Context-Dependence - Verbal
Communication - Isolation - Medicinal Drugs - A Joke - Genes , Genes, Genes -
A Joke - Widening the Context in Forest Ecology - Widening the Context in
Medicine - Contextualism - Meditation: Circulation of the Light
11. SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXITY: Simplicity and Complexity - Simplicity -
Linear and Hierarchical Thinking - Goals, Goals, Goals - Circle: No Beginning
and no End - Complexity: Nets or Networks - A Joke - No Causes - Simplicity as
Simplification - Nets within Nets - The Mathematics of Complexity - Science and
Art - Order and Chaos - No-Mind Meditation
12. SUBJECT-OBJECT DIVISION AND SELF-REFERENCE: Introduction - The
Environmental Crisis - Ethics and Morals - Hate - Love - Object-Referral - Self-
Referral - Dependence, Independence, Interdependence - The Mandala is Self-
Referential - Five Interpretations of the Mandala - Dzogchen Meditation:
APPENDIX: Lessons from the 20th Century for the 21st Century.
An Open Book with Alternative Titles
An open book is a book manuscript that can be changed and expanded any time in contrast to a book with an ISBN number that is fixed until a revised edition is published. In this sense an open book resembles Wikipedia whose articles also can be modified any time.
Instead of 'mysticism' - another 'ism' - I would have prefrerred to refer to the mystical, the mysterious, mystery, the unnamable, the un-speakable, the indescribable, the ineffable, emptiness (in the Buddhist sense), the empty center, no-thingness, no-mind, the formless, the unmanifest, spaciousness, infinity, silence, stillness, the source, the timeless eternal now, ever-present awareness, absolute freedom, nirvanic Self, true Self, big Mind, the Seer, and the Witness. Since I could not include so many words in the title, I simply opted for 'mysticism' instead. I also would have liked to add concepts that are more or less related to materialism and holism. Since these concepts could not be included in the title, I present the following alternative titles that together with the chosen title - Materialism, Holism, and Mysticism - give some indication of the scope of the book:
Materialism, Holism, and Beyond –
Mechanism, Holism, and the Unnamable – A Mandala
Modernism, Postmodernism, and Beyond – A Mandala
Mainstream Culture, Alternative Culture, and Beyond – A Mandala
Rational, Holistic and Integral Levels – A Mandala
Fragmentation, Wholeness, and Emptiness – A Mandala
Life, Living, and the Source – A Mandala
Instead of having three major concepts in the title, one could have only two: the first one comprising the first two concepts and the second one referring to the third in the above titles:
The Namable and the Unnamable – A
The Namable and Beyond – A Mandala
Form and Emptiness – A Mandala
The Manifest and the Unmanifest – A Mandala
Appearance and its Source – A Mandala
Appearance and Mystery – A Mandala
When I began working on this
project many years ago, I called it “Mandala of Life and
Living.” Since “life” is more static than “living,” “life” is
more representative of materialism and mechanism, whereas
“living” resonates more with a holistic, holodynamic view.
Both life and living arise form the unnamable represented by
the empty center of the mandala.
The title of the Appendix, Lessons from the 20th Century for the 21st Century, could have been chosen as a title for the whole book. As I will show throughout this book, individual, social, and global health could be greatly ameliorated by the implementation of these lessons. However, most of these lessons have not yet been sufficiently incorporated into our culture. Learning these lessons and living them is still a great challenge for most people, including myself. Each lesson can be associated with a person, several persons, a philosophy, or movement:
Limitations of Reason – Sigmund
Freud, Carl G. Jung, Paul Feyerabend, postmodernism, etc.
Existentialism – Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, etc.
Postmodernism – Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Richard Rorty, etc.
Limitations of Science – Jürgen Habermas, Paul Feyerabend, postmodernism, etc.
Limitations and Ambiguity of Language – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alfred Korzybski, Roland Barthes, postmodernism, Osho, etc.
Incompleteness in Mathematics – Kurt Gödel
Uncertainty – Werner Heisenberg, Alfred Korzybski, Pema Chödrön, etc.
“The Wisdom of Insecurity” – Alan Watts
Relativity and Relativism – Albert Einstein, postmodernism, etc.
Perspectivism and Complementarity (both/and logic) – Friedrich Nietzsche, Niels Bohr, Ernst Peter Fischer, etc.
Fuzziness (fuzzy logic) – Lofti Zadeh, Bart Kosko, etc.
General Semantics (Non-Identity, etc.) – Alfred Korzybski
Self-Reference – Douglas Hofstadter, etc.
Open Systems and Systems Thinking – Ludwig von Bertalanffy, etc.
Organicism and Contextualism – Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Paul Weiss, etc.
Process Philosophy – Alfred North Whitehead, etc.
Holomovement – David Bohm
Non-Locality – Alain Aspect, etc.
Information – Claude Shannon, David Bohm, etc.
Superstring Theory (11-dimensional M-theory) – Edward Witten, etc.
Complexity (Fractals, Chaos, etc.) – Benoît Mandelbrot, Stuart Kauffman, etc.
Self-Organization – Ilya Prigogine, Stuart Kauffman, Herbert Fröhlich, Mae-Wan Ho, etc.
Morphomatics – Ian Stewart
Laws as Habits – Rupert Sheldrake, Ken Wilber, etc.
Network Thinking – F. Vester, Fritjof Capra, Internet, etc.
Not in our Genes and IQ – Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, Leon J. Kamin, Stephen Jay Gould, etc.
Dangers of Genetic Engineering – George Wald, David Suzuki, Mae-Wan Ho, etc.
Ecology, Sustainability, Deep Ecology, Ecofeminism – Arne Naess, etc.
Planet Earth as Gaia – James Lovelock
Pollution and Global Warming – Rachel Carson, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, etc.
The Limits to Growth – D. H. Meadows et al.
Small is Beautiful – E. Fritz Schumacher
Cooperation and Coevolution – P. Kropotkin, Lynn Margulis, Game Theory (non-zero-sum games = win-win situations)
Economics and Ethics – Amartya Sen, etc.
Ills of Communism, Capitalism, Consumer Society, and Mechanical Work – Erich Fromm, E. Fritz Schumacher, Herbert Marcuse, Noam Chomsky, etc.
Feminism – Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, etc.
United Nations Charter
Universal Declaration of Human Rights – John Peters Humphrey, etc.
Earth Charter – Maurice Strong, Mikhail Gorbachev, etc.
Gestalt Psychology and Gestalt Therapy – Christian von Ehrenfels, Wolfgang Köhler, Fritz Perls, Paul Goodman, etc.
Humanistic Psychology – Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, etc.
Transpersonal Psychology – Abraham Maslow, Roger Walsh, Stanislav Grof, etc.
The Conscious Universe – Dean Radin, Rupert Sheldrake, etc.
Subtle Energy – William Tiller, etc.
New Perspectives on Language and Linguistics – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alfred Korzybski, Roland Barthes, Benjamin Lee Whorf, David Bohm, David Peat, etc.
Nonviolent Communication – Marshall Rosenberg
Holistic Education – Waldorf Schools, Naropa University, Schumacher College, David Peat’s Pari Center for New Learning, etc.
Innovations in Art – Claude Monet, Dada, Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, Marc Chagall, T.S. Eliot, Herman Hesse, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, John Cage, etc.
Importance of Laughter – Henri Bergson, Osho, Madan Kataria (laughter yoga), etc.
Importance of Silence – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alfred Korzybski, John Cage, Osho, etc.
“God [as an external power] is dead” – but the mystery remains (Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas J. J. Altizer, Osho, David Peat, Gerald Walton Paul, etc.
Meditation, Spirituality – The East and West, Alternative Culture, Some Aspects of the New Age Movement
Spiritual Teachings – Rudolf Steiner, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, G. I. Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Alan Watts, Zen Masters (Shunryu Suzuki, Philip Kapleau, etc.), Chögyam Trungpa, Dalai Lama, Osho, Shinzen Young, Pema Chödrön, Byron Katie, etc.
Divergence and Convergence of Science and Spirituality – Fritjof Capra, David Bohm, Ravi Ravindra, Ken Wilber, etc.
Integral Philosophy and Integral Spirituality – Ken Wilber’s AQAL Map, Thomas J. McFarlane’s Integral Sphere, Integral World, etc.
Whereas some of the above ideas such as human rights and the Earth Charter are having some impact, most others such as Korzybski’s general semantics (non-identity, etc) have not yet been sufficiently recognized. In this book I draw attention to the enormous potential of these and other ideas for the betterment of society, for greater understanding, integration, conflict resolution, and peace.
A Condensed Version of the Lessons
Limits to reason, science, control, and progress
Limits to law and order, regularity, and prediction (quantum physics, laws as habits, chaos theory, fractals, nonlinearity, strange attractors, complexity theory, self-organization, etc.)
Incompleteness, ambiguity, and uncertainty, relativity, perspectivism, and complementarity
The wisdom of insecurity
Limits to and bias of perception, logic and language
General semantics, both/and logic, fuzzy logic, network and systems thinking
Wholeness (holomovement), non-locality, and self-reference
Existentialism, organicism, contextualism, process philosophy, post-modernism
Gaia, environmentalism, deep ecology, cooperation, eco-feminism
“The Limits to Growth,” “Small is beautiful.”
Dangers of Genetic Engineering, Pollution, and Global Warming
Ills of communism, totalitarianism, capitalism, consumer society, and mechanical work
UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Earth Charter, feminism
Subtle energy and the conscious universe
Gestalt psychology, humanistic and transpersonal psychology
Innovations in the arts and linguistics
Non-violent communication and holistic education
The importance of laughter and silence
“God [as an external power] is dead” – but the mystery remains
Meditation and Spirituality – East and West, aspects of the New Age movement and the alternative culture
Divergence and convergence of science and spirituality
Integral philosophy and spirituality
This book deals with life in the broadest sense ranging from our personal life to life of the Earth and the Universe. But it is not only about life; reading this book relates directly to living and the transformation of living. Transformation of living can, of course, happen through intellectual understanding. But for deeper transformation we have to go beyond mere intellection. Therefore, in each chapter I inserted jokes that may release tension, I included poetry that may open up higher realms, and, at the end of each chapter, I described meditations that - if they are practiced - may create deeper awareness and lead to wisdom and compassion beyond one’s imagination.
As the basis for the book I devised a mandala that is presented in a conceptual and pictorial version (Figures 1 and 2).
Fig. 1. The conceptual version of the Mandala
Fig. 2. The pictorial version of the Mandala
conceptual mandala consists of an empty center and two
circles of twelve concepts. The empty center represents the
unnamable, the mystery, the source, the unmanifest from which
the manifest of the two circles arises. The twelve concepts
of the outer circle describe mainstream science, society, and
culture; and the twelve corresponding concepts of the inner
circle characterize holistic science and holistic alternative
culture. Thus, the mandala as a whole provides a framework
for an understanding of the relation between materialistic
mechanistic mainstream science, holistic science, philosophy,
culture, art, and spirituality. In this context are discussed
many topics of personal, social and global dimensions such as
fragmentation and wholeness, competition and cooperation,
life and death, love and hate, health and sickness, ecology,
politics, conflict, war, alienation and loneliness,
meditation, humor, laughter, liberation, compassion, wisdom,
etc. (see Contents for a fuller range of topics). As a symbol
of the self and the universe, microcosm and macrocosm,
exploring the mandala can be a meditation, it can provide
novel insights, new connections, and it can lead to healing
ourselves and the world. Hence, in our deeply fragmented
society, where materialistic science confronts holistic
science, philosophy, art and spirituality, the mandala can
help to synthesize and reconcile and thus contribute to
greater holos (wholeness), holiness (sacredness) and health.
As the mandala emphasizes synthesis, it points to many bridges, bridges between East and West, science/philosophy and art/spirituality, materialistic mechanistic mainstream science and holistic science, this-worldly and other-worldly, body and mind, body and soul, the mundane and the sacred, thinking and being, the many and the One. It can create awareness that, although we often cannot see the bridges, they are already there. We just have to re-member them and then we can walk over them, then we can join “the other half” that has been separated and for whose union with us we have been longing so much.
Although the book deals with materialistic mechanistic mainstream science, society, and culture, the major emphasis is on holism, wholeness, wholes, holomovement, holodynamics, health and healing, cooperation, coherence, continuity, continuum, interconnectedness, integration, integral philosophy, integral spirituality, mysticism, mystery... I try to convey that living can be like a mandala that encompasses the sun and its radiance, the source and its efflux, the unmanifest and the manifest, mystery upon mystery...
The spiritually inclined reader might ask: So why bother with science and philosophy? My answer is simple: because science has become an integral part of our society and our lives. Almost everything has been touched and permeated by science and technology. Unless we completely retreat from society, we cannot avoid science. And philosophy is at the basis of science. One cannot engage in science without making some philosophical assumptions. And our society and our lives have also been conditioned and permeated by philosophical ideas and worldviews.
Yet beyond philosophy and science we still have a profound yearning, consciously or subconsciously, for art and what some call spirituality and others simply know as profound happiness, joy, bliss, enlightenment. It is for this reason that the relation between science and philosophy on the one hand and art and spirituality on the other may be one of the most pressing issues in our society and our lives. Ken Wilber in his book on “The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion”(1998, p.3) wrote that “there is arguably no more pressing topic than the relation of science and religion [spirituality] in the modern world.” This book is about this relation, and it also includes philosophy and art that are important forces in our society besides science and spirituality. It is based on a mandala that complements Wilber’s four-quadrant (AQAL) map as his four-quadrant map complements the mandala of this book.
How to Use this
special feature of this book is the use of boldface in the
text. Words, phrases or sentences that present major ideas or
concepts are printed in bold letters.
Thus the reader who
looks only at the headings and subheadings plus the words in
boldface can get a rough idea of what the book is about.
Like any other book, this book can be read from beginning to end. However, since it is based on a mandala, it need not be read in a linear fashion. The mandala is circular and in a circle there is no beginning and no end (see Chapter 11). In other words, there is no privileged concept pair that marks the beginning, and there is no prescribed sequence either. You may start anywhere in the mandala and move from there anywhere else. For example, you may start with the concept pair of competition and cooperation, move from there to fragmentation and wholeness, or to mechanism and organicism, or anywhere else. This provides considerable freedom, which is inherent in the mandala. Nonetheless, as I wrote the book, I had to follow a particular sequence for the chapters. I began with fragmentation and wholeness, which made much sense to me, and I continued clockwise in the mandala. But I could have done otherwise. And you as the reader should feel free to do so. Each chapter is relatively self-contained, but there are connections between chapters, some of which are indicated by cross-references.
Most important of all, whichever way you move through the book, you stay near the empty center and the underlying space of the mandala, which means you may always enter the unnamable mystery, emptiness, the formless and the source from which the circles of the mandala full of concepts or images arise. Thus you can always go beyond thought and feeling, and you can return to thought and feeling with the realization that they are not ultimate. Not being ultimate means that they need not enslave us: we can go beyond and remain free.
Introduction of the book
Appendix: Lessons from the 20th Century for the 21st Century