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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
 
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  Home  > Personal Wellness  > The Reflexive Universe

The Reflexive Universe

Theory 3: Everything is in process. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said centuries ago, You can't step twice into the same river." Everything in the universe is in the constant process of changing. All you can do is watch what is happening, and observe what you're left with afterward. Even modern physics is a science of process.Arthur Young, the inventor of the Bell helicopter, presents his own process model in his book The Reflexive Universe. He proposes that the universe is not a thing; rather, it is a continual state of evolution from photons of light, through atoms, molecules, minerals, plants, animals . . . to conscious beings such as dolphins and humans. These conscious beings are also in process toward more advanced states of development - which brings us back to where we started in the beginning. Wellness is a never-ending process of moving toward the living of your highest potential. It also brings us back to Ilya Prigogene's theory of how dissipative structures change, described in the introduction to this text. Prigogene's theory has much to teach us about wellness.

Dissipative structures are open systems that take in energy from the environment, transform it, and then return (dissipate) energy to the outside world. An important property of dissipative structures is that they are able to resist (dampen) small fluctuations or changes in the energy field around them. For instance, a healthy body (an open system) is able to maintain its equilibrium in the face of minor alterations in diet, exercise, and level of stress.

When these fluctuations or changes reach a certain critical intensity, however, the dissipative structure alters drastically - in some cases completely reordering itself to a higher level of complexity - and a transformation takes place. For instance, the body, when pushed to its limits with strenuous exercise, such as long-distance running, will switch from glucose usage for energy to eating up its own fat reserves. This reordering can mean significant changes in the shape of the physical body.

Solid forms or structures (closed systems, like a rock) can remain relatively stable or unchanged over extended periods of time. Open systems, on the other hand, always possess the ability to change because they constantly channel energy. They are structures in process! Each open system, then, has within it the potential for change into a more complex - and often more beautiful and elaborate - structure.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. —Richard Bach

When transformation occurs it often appears as if things are falling apart. The cocoon that shields the caterpillar looks like a tomb - a dead thing. But within, a magical regeneration is taking place. Far from falling apart, this apparent death signals a falling together - a restructuring, a transformation.




<< Previous Human Potential | Back to Transcending | Next >> Transformation and Pain
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