Ming the Mechanic:
Ten incredible things we get for free

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Ten incredible things we get for free2007-06-06 00:13
picture by Flemming Funch

Here are 10 wonderful things that just seem to happen by themselves:

• Diversity & Harmony
• Connection & Friendship
• Self-organisation & Synergy
• Resonance & Synchronicity
• Insight & The spread of great ideas
• Emergence & Paradigm Shifts
• Learning & Growth
• Happiness & Flow
• Healing & Forgiveness
• Relaxation & Enlightenment

Not a bad list is it?

Don't you find it comforting to know that without our interference things have a way of working out just fine... that life is basically set up to help us succeed no matter what? And all of these phenomena seem to work whether we believe in them or not. Philip Dick defined reality as 'that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away'. All 10 appear to pass that test too.

But notice one thing... none of these can ever be planned or organised. In fact, the more we try to do so, the more they slip through our figures. For sure, there's stuff we can do to induce the 'right conditions' but at the end of the day they come for free and seem to happen best we just get out of the way.
My favorite stuff in life is that kind of stuff that comes for free, the stuff one can't control, but that is great when it happens.

And my favorite passtime is to try to figure out how to make those kinds of things happen anyway.

That's a bit of a paradox, of course. How do you make things happen that happen by themselves under complex conditions you don't really understand? We recognize it when it happens, and, yes, part of the key is to be open to to it, but how do we increase the frequency, how do we make it more likely, and more powerful?

This kind of knowledge is surprisingly scarce, but not altogether non-existent. It tends to be fuzzy, particularly to people who're looking for something finite and linear and logical, something one can plan and execute and control. You can't fully control it. You can't force anybody to be happy. You can't order anybody to be in a state of flow. Rather, if there's anything you can do, it will be with a mixture of parts you control, and parts that are out of control. And it has to be the right parts that are controlled, and the right kind of parts that are moving by themselves.

You can't organize emergence. But you can organize many other things. Some environments and some organizations are more conducive to emergence.

You can't force synergy. Some things work together and others don't. It is not a lottery either. An eco-system in nature is complex and sometimes surprising, but there are principles and rules at work. System kinds of principles, not hierarchical org-chart kinds of principles. Enough diversity, but not too much either, and the right kind.

Humans are still a little too dumb to really have it figured out. We often suffer from the hubris of thinking we can do better than nature and that we're smarter than the universe, and if we just submit it all to our will in a tightly planned and organized way, we've got it made. So our civilization has become very good at submitting parts of the physical universe to our wishes, and at ignoring the mess we create as by-products. And fairly bad at understanding things we don't control.

But, luckily, these kinds of mysterious emerging phenomena happen anyway. No matter what we believe, they take place. And somehow we're all still smart enough that we actually do recognize it, to some degree. Even the most fundamentalist materialist scientist will recognize the joy and wonder of the mysteries of the universe revealing themselves. Even the most stuffy psychiatrist who thinks you're nothing but a brain and that consciousness is a delusion will recognize happiness when he sees it.

You might still be considered a bit of a soft and gullible new age freak if you go around talking about harmony, resonance and synchronicity too loudly. But who cares. Ultimately, the reality of the universe wins out in any match against human intellect. If we are to survive, we'll have to come to terms with some of these things, and find ways of working with them, rather than against them. Great stuff will happen with or without us, and it is much more fun if it is with us and through us.

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6 Jun 2007 @ 13:46 by redstar : Fascinating
A very interesting premise.

I thought that sometimes the Subconcious/Unconcious part of the mind is what makes these difficult to quantify occurrences take place.  

6 Jun 2007 @ 15:15 by ming : Subconscious
That's a good point. It isn't just something The Universe is doing. It is also the things we're doing that we aren't quite able to explain. Intuition, instincts, sudden bright ideas, memories. Where do they come from? We can't even explain how we know things, and how we can remember some things and not others. When we speak, the words are just coming out of our mouths, without much conscioius consideration of how sentences are put together, or where the information was stored. It is the subconscious parts of us working in multiple dimensions with millions of variables at the same time. Whereas the conscious part of us has trouble with anything that has more than 5 pieces or more than 2 dimensions.  

6 Jun 2007 @ 19:07 by quirkeboy @ : Believe me...
if they could figure out how to put a faucet on some of the things on this list.. they wouldnt be free anymore!!

Come to think of it.. some of these things have been bottled...
Happiness is found by lots of people in drugs, theme parks, video games etc. etc.
Healing is found in hospitals, self help books, phychologists offices, etc.
Relaxation on cruise ships, meditation classes etc. etc.
BUT.. you know what.. I avoid these examples like the PLAGUE!!
Anytime I am involved with a contrived event that requires me to pay money to attain things like relaxation, healing, happiness, connection, etc... The events ALWAYS have the opposite effect on me!!
Maybe the key is that besides the fact that its difficult to plan and control these things.. but the very act of PLANNING instantly begins to negate the goal.
Sort of like someone who over analyzes a "knock knock" joke.. if you put any of these things under a microscope .. they begin to lose their appeal. Weird....  

7 Jun 2007 @ 05:02 by Hanae @ : Synergy
- Statement:

* Diversity & Harmony
* Connection & Friendship
* Self-organisation & Synergy
* Resonance & Synchronicity
* Insight & The spread of great ideas
* Emergence & Paradigm Shifts
* Learning & Growth
* Happiness & Flow
* Healing & Forgiveness
* Relaxation & Enlightenment

I resonate with that ;-)

- Assesment:

Let us remain aware too - lest we forget - that dissonance, misunderstanding, enmities, chaos, ignorance, unhappiness, sickness and entropy also are things that have an uncanny way of happening "just fine" with or without our interference. And that they, too, happen "no matter what we believe take place." (I am sure that you don't need me to tell you that, as I imagine that you, the founder of NCN, out of all people, are keenly aware of that.)

This is the other side of the coin. The pendulum swings back and forth. The reality of the universe is as the reality or unreality of the universe might or might not be. And it is always one step beyond (one might as well say several light years beyond) what any "fundamentalist materialist scientist," "stuffy psychiatrist," or "dogmatic new ager" will tell you they "know" it is. Fundamentalism is as fundamentalism does. The truth probably is on neither side of the pendulum's swing. Neither here not there, and both here and there. But I understand your meaning, Life (what we know of it) is the ultimate "mysterious emerging phenomena."

- Factual Correction:

Life seems set up to succeed - it has done a terrific job of it so far, so something must be working. That is not the same thing at all as saying that "life is basically set up to help us succeed no matter what" as the author you are quoting is concluding.

Your conclusion seems like a more fitting conjecture "Great stuff will happen [Life] with or without us."

- Rejoinder:

Let us not forget either that history, as we know it, signals some instances of evolutionary dead end.

- Addendum:

The image of the "fundamentalist materialist scientist" giving a hard time to the ridiculed "New Ager" appears to have become one of the recurring theme of this blog – maybe for good reasons (I do not know what experience you might have had in the past to that regard) – I mention it, because it occurs to me that this is not the first time that the topic comes up.

My experience (which, of course is different from yours, and I am not saying that my experience is more valid than yours) is that fundamentalists are present among the New Age movement just as they are among the scientific community. And strife, when it occurs, is usually of an internal nature – that is a matter of fundamentalist scientists giving a hard time to their free-thinking colleagues, or a matter of dogmatic New-Agers (those who “know Truth”) giving a hard time to the more open-minded New Age explorers among them. (The term New Age refers to a rather broad and eclectic movement.) Insofar as NCN is concerned I believe I have seen more instances of intestinal strife between members of the New Age movement than I have seen so-called hard-core dogmatic scientist per se harass any free-thinking New Age members of NCN. I think it an important precision, lest we succumb to a simplistic black and white "us versus them" cliché of us New Agers vs. them "fundamentalist materialist scientists." While the issue is rather, I think, one of creative "open mindedness" vs. "dogmatism." Which I believe was your point.  

7 Jun 2007 @ 10:49 by ming : Open and Closed
Yes, you're right about that. It is easy to stereotype people based on superficial labels, and it usually doesn't hold up if one looks closer. I've had great discussions about the nature of reality with born-again christians, or about consciousness with hardcore atheists, and I've many new age people I've met are hateful, dishonest and closed-minded.

Indeed, it is closed-mindedness that bugs me. Some kinds of closed-mindedness more than others, I suppose.

Life is a mind-boggling phenomenon. And since we have minds to boggle, there's tremendous opportunity there, for plugging into it more consciously. But it is not for sure yet that we'll learn to live in harmony with the world we're in, or whether we'll go extinct because we just didn't get it.  

Other stories in
2011-11-08 03:20: Do what you do
2007-11-09 00:55: The ends justify the means
2007-09-19 00:36: Fractal brains
2007-03-26 21:12: Ken Wilber stops his brain waves
2007-03-21 14:45: Free Thought the simplicity of life
2007-03-09 23:46: The ends justify the means
2007-01-29 21:44: Free will in a ten-dimensional universe
2007-01-24 20:42: Assuming Somebody Else's Viewpoint
2007-01-16 16:28: Free Will
2007-01-13 20:34: Dimensions of Comprehension

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