Form, Patterns, Emptiness and Stuckness

This one isn’t a pot-boiler.  However it’s utterly profound and utterly a meta-pattern about life and next to every tool in TTEM.  We can never grok this one enough.

We live in a world of form – ie persistent patterns.  And good job too – if my pc was in random parts of the house, my railway station moved and sometimes there were elephants instead of trains in the morning – I would either be dreaming or someone would have bought the wrong kind of mushroom at Waitrose for my omelette 😀

order disorder

However excess form is rigidity, stuckness.  If there is one meta-lesson from TTEM it’s to beware of (and to alleviate) stuckness.  Stuckness is a terror. Stuckness is a dinner guest who just doens’t know when to leave. Stuckness is like buying a sundial but never upgrading when they invented mechanical watches. Stuckness stops you flowing, stops you learning, stops you growing.  Stuckness is a relationship which worked, stayed the same but now doesn’t work. In a world of change, of time, of flux, stuckness is as inevitable as it is undesirable.

About twenty years ago I was interested in the work of the Santa Fe institute on complexity.  Actually I don’t think it really went anywhere as such (once someone is using something for courses on how to make more money in business you know the research is floudnering tehe).  However the one thing that stuck (ha!) in my mind was this great idea of life existing at the edge of chaos (mine often feels that way (ha ha)). Chris Langton had his own experience of this when in a long recuperation from a hang-glider crash he experienced bits of his brain coming back online and patterns of feeling/thought re-emerging.  He also played around a lot with Cellular Automata.  His work on Complex Adaptive Systems showed that the maximum computation ie information processing (which is in essence what we do – stuff food, words… comes into us and stuff goes out of us) takes place at the edge of chaos:


The criterion of whether you age or whether you grow is whether you become more fixed or more flowing.

Your body will inevitably get more rigid – but even then that can be hugely minimised.  “Old folks” are fixed in body and mind”.  “The young at heart” are sempiternally fresh and youthful.

Before we get too excited, enamoured of charts and commit the errors of derivative pricing (taking nice simple mathematical models and equating them to reality) we need to back up a bit.  The unmanifest/emptiness is not “chaos” in the traditional sense (eg of a maximal entropy gas) – indeed it contains its own patterns – whether “it” be the sub-/un-/collective-conscious or “other realms”.  And not just fathomable patterns but unfathomable patterns in the Tao.  Anyone healing (or preaching) you will be working with some unseen patterns but no one works with them all – the Tao ain’t like that.

Hence the value of multiple modalities (themselves patterns) and some flow and flexibility around them to adapt (or maladapt in many cases).  I realised in my first internet social phase (late 90s on a Concept2 rowing machine forum) that all methodologies (and at the time C2 was marketed as exercise for the whole body) have their blind spots (stomach muscles in the C2 case plus danger of straining lower back).

More practically though in moving on from maths to “life” the above charts are written with a nice simple, single, x axis.  But how many axes do we have?  Zillions.  If all we had to do was to spot when sundials prove less useful than clocks and buy a clock it wouldn’t be too tough.

To take an example TTEM was stuck for many years by outdated website software.  It still is around the forum but at least that is wrapped around with more fleible WordPress.  It was a fixed form in a world that changed – when TTEM started no-one had heard about Facebook (if it even existed in it’s current form).  And the digital overload increases and increases, and people’s lives get busier.  So it needs to change form – not least of which as 12,000 posts is a hell of an attic to rummage around.

A persistent – and excellent – definition of healing is wholeness.  Nice.  But “no fixed position” and langauge always betrays (ie fixes/freezes) our (potentially) infinitely flexible thinking.  So another definition is that healing is freeing someone from stuckness.  I know that one of our forum members has produced a short artistic film about stuckness and movement – I hope to show that sometime – if a picture is worth a thousand words then a video?

wiki: Genjō means "to manifest," "to actualize," or "to appear and become. In this context koan does not refer to teaching stories, but to the heart of the matter

wiki: Genjō means “to manifest,” “to actualize,” or “to appear and become”. In this context koan does not refer to teaching stories, but to the heart of the matter

Anyway what does this all mean to you? Simple/obvious? Unclear?

Where are you stuck right now?  Does it matter – can you stay stuck like that for a long time? What are you doing about it?  Where are you stuck but haven’t noticed?