THE PRIMER PROJECT


An activity of the Primer Group

 

A Special Integration Group (SIG) of the
International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
originally SGSR, Society for General Systems Research.

and

IISII
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE
for
SYSTEMIC INQUIRY AND INTEGRATION



Presenting


THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL
ELECTRONIC SEMINAR
ON WHOLENESS


http://www.newciv.org/ISSS_Primer/seminar.html

 



 

 

"NO BOUNDARY."


By Ken Wilber
A selected excerptation

 

Preface

 

"This book examines how we create a persistent alienation from ourselves, from others, and from the world by fracturing out present experience into different parts, separated by boundaries. We artificially split our awareness into compartments such as subject vs. object, life vs. death, mind vs. body, inside vs.. outside, reason vs. instinct ...

The result of such violence, although known by many other names, is simply unhappiness. Life becomes suffering, full of battles. But all our battles in our experience - our conflicts, anxieties, sufferings, and despairs - are created by the boundaries we misguidingly throw around our experience.

For the general reader, then, this book will provide a personal introduction to the major methods of growth and transformation--from egoic to humanistic to transpersonal--and will show how these approaches are related to each other.

The Book

Who am I? The query has probably tormented mankind since the dawn of civilization, and remains today one of the most vexing of all human questions, ..When you are describing or explaining or even just inwardly feeling you "self" what you are actually ding, whether you know it or not, is drawing a mental line or boundary across the whole field of you experience, and everything on the inside of that boundary you are feeling or calling you "self" while everything outside that boundary you feel to be "not self"...So when you say "my self" you draw a boundary line between what is you and what is not you.

Have you ever wondered why life comes in opposites? Why everything you value is one of a pair of opposites? Why all decisions are between opposites? Why all desires are based on opposites?

Notice that all spatial and directional dimensions are opposites: up vs. down, inside vs. outside, high vs., low, long vs. short, North vs. South, big vs. small, here vs. there, top vs. bottom, left vs.. right. And notice that all things we consider serious and important are one pole of a pair of opposites: good vs. evil, life vs. death, pleasure vs. pain, God vs. Satan, freedom vs. bondage.

So, also, our social and esthetic values are always put in terms of opposites: success vs. failure, beautiful vs. ugly, strong vs. weak, intelligent vs. stupid. Even our highest abstractions rest on opposites. Logic, for instance, is concerned with the true vs. the false, epistemology, with appearance vs. reality, ontology, with being vs. non-being. Our world seems to be a massive collection of opposites.

This fact is so commonplace as to hardly need mentioning. But the more one ponders it the more it is strikingly peculiar. Adam was the first to delineate nature, to mentally divide it up, mark it off, diagram it. Adam was the first great mapmaker, Adam drew boundaries.

So successful was this mapping of nature that , to this day, our lives are largely spent in drawing boundaries. Every decision we make, our every action, our every word is based on the construction, conscious of unconscious, of boundaries,

The peculiar thing about a boundary is that, however complex and rarefied it might me, it actually marks off nothing but an inside and an outside., For example, we can draw the very simplest form of a boundary line as a circle, and see that it discloses an inside versus an outside. But notice that the opposites on inside vs.. outside didn't exist in themselves until we drew the boundary on the circle. It is the if boundary line in other words, which creates s pair of opposites,, in short, to draw boundaries is to manufacture opposites...And the world of opposites is world of conflict. So instead of handling and manipulating real objects, Adam could manipulate in his head these magic, names which stood for the objects themselves.

Now our habitual way of trying to solve these problems is to attempt to eradicate one of the opposites. We handle the problem of good vs. evil by trying to exterminate evil. We handle the problem of life vs.. death by trying to hide death under symbolic immortalities. In philosophy we handle conceptual opposites by dismissing one of the poles or trying to reduce it to the other.

The point is that we always tend to treat the boundary as real and then manipulate the opposites created by the boundary.

The goal of separating the opposites and then clinging to or pursuing the positive halves seems to be a distinguishing characteristic of progressive Western civilization - its religion, science, medicine and industry.

The opposites might indeed be as different as night and day, but the essential point is that without night we would not even be able to recognize something called day. To destroy the negative is, at the same time, to destroy all possibilities of enjoying the positive. Thus, the more we succeed in this adventure of progress, the more we actually fail, and hence the more acute becomes our sense of total frustration.

The root of the whole difficulty is our tendency to view the opposites as irreconcilable, as totally set apart and divorced from one another. Even the simplest of opposites, such as buying versus selling, are viewed as two different and separate events. Now it is true that buying and selling are in some sense different, but they are also - and this is the point- completely inseparable.

Is there a difference between yes and no?
Is there a difference between good and evil?
Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense.
Having and not having arise together
Difficult and easy complement each other
Long and short contrast each other
High and low rest upon each other
Front and back follow one another

The inner unity of opposites is hardly an idea confined to mystics, Eastern or Western. If we look to modern say physics, the field in which Western intellect had made its greatest advances, what we find is another version of reality as a union of opposites. In relativity theory, for example, the old opposites of rest vs. motion have become totally indistinguishable, that is, "each is both". An object which is in motion for one observer is, at the same time, at rest for a different observer. Likewise, the split between wave and particle vanishes into "wavicles. and the contrast between structure vs. function evaporates. Even the age-old separation of mass from energy had fallen to Einstein's E=mc2, and these ancient "opposites" are now viewed as merely two aspects of one reality.

Modern physics, in short, proclaims that reality can only be considered a union of opposites. Thus, as Whitehead p;uts it, each element of the universe is "a vibratory ebb and flow of an underlying energy or activity."

That all opposites - such as mass and energy, subject and object, life and death - are so much eachother that they are perfectly inseparable, still strikes most of us as hard to believe. But this is only because we accept as real the boundary line between the opposites. To put it plainly, to say that "ultimate reality is a unity of opposites" is actually to say that in ultimate reality there are no boundaries. Anywhere. For boundary lines, of any type, are never found in the real world itself, but only in the imagination of the mapmakers.

As Korzybski and the general semanticists have pointed out, our words, symbols, signs, and thoughts and ideas are merely maps of reality, not reality itself, because "the map is not the territory." The word "water" won't satisfy your thirst. But we live in the world of maps and words as if it were the real world. Following in the footsteps of Adam, we have become totally lost in a world of purely fantasy maps and boundaries. And these illusory boundaries, with the opposites they create, have become our impassioned battles.

The point is not to separate the opposites and make "positive progress," but rather to unify and harmonize the opposites, both positive and negative, by discovering a ground which transcends and encompasses them both. And that ground, as we will soon see, is unity consciousness itself.

They said to him: "Shall we then, being children, enter the kingdom? Jesus said to them: When you make the two one, and when you make the inner as the outer, and the outer as the inner and the above as the below, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, then you shall enter the kingdom."

The ultimate metaphysical secret, if we dare state it so simply is that there are no boundaries in the universe Boundaries are illusions, products not of reality, but of the way we map and edit reality. And while it is fine to map out the territory, it is fatal to confuse the two.

Initially this sounds very strange, because we are so used to believing in boundaries.

Thus, the sole aim of the Eastern (and esoteric Western) ways of liberation is to deliver people from the conflicts and complexities of the battles by delivering them from their boundaries. They do not try to solve the battle in its own terms, for that is as impossible as washing off blood with blood,"

To disclose reality as non-boundary is thus to disclose all conflicts as illusory.

Unity consciousness is the simple awareness of the real territory of no-boundary...Unity consciousness, in short, is non-boundary awareness.

"If the seeker himself, when sought, cannot be found, thereupon is attained the goal of seeking and also the end of the search itself."

"You are That. Your real self is identical to the ultimate Energy of which all things in the universe are a manifestation."

We have identified ourselves with our body, mind and personality, imagining these objects to constitute our real "self." and we then spend our entire lives to defend, protect, and prolong what is just an illusion.

"For eternally and always there has been only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end."

It thus becomes apparent why the search for unity consciousness was so exasperating. Everything we tried to do was wrong because everything was already and eternally right.

There never was, nor will there ever be, any time other than now...


COMMENTS: H. Benking Ken Wilber in his book NO BOUNDARY has clearly outlined the problem of creating and setting boundaries, an area where our thinking seems to be fixed. He invites the reader to notice that all spatial and directional dimensions are opposites: up vs. down, left vs. right, inside vs. outside, ... all things we consider serious or important are pair of opposite: good vs. evil, life vs. death, pleasure vs. pain,... and social and ethical values are always in terms of opposites: success vs. failure, beautiful vs. ugly, strong vs. weak,....

Such dichotomies are for me the evidence of flat or what I call 2-dimensional (spatial) thinking. For aliens and in good old English spacial is written with c and refers to space. Such a realm micht be good for spacial or diagonal thinking, as 3-dimensional room or space-scape can hold multidimensional representations. See also the distinction made in environmental research and management (geo-object coding article for LOCAL AND GLOBAL CHANGE, see references).

Critical is for me to go conceptually into more than just another dimension, but into a realm or container holding content. So it seems to be necessary and possible to go beyond the narrow view on boundaries by taking in some distance and looking from above from various angles. This immediately makes such opposites relative. I can not put it better than Rueckert by underlining that star-maps are deep!

He who sets barriers mentally, ones not truly here,
and then thinks them away, has understood the world for real.

As geometry in its lines, traps space for nought,
so our thinking in its own laws is caught.

Maps make the world for us visible and great,
But now the spirit-map we must still await.

For now the spirit wanders in its terrain
as we directionless through a field insane.

Rueckert

If we can imagine that models have imaginative and shareable depth, than we can accept that there are other views or interests and maybe other configurations by accepting different positions to be right. In this way flexible alliances can be formed and the serious fight over right or wrong, about words and positions becomes relative and irrelevant. This whole theme about orchestrating views and solutions, where the Conceptual Superstructure or Panorama is only the global index to resources, problems, and options, is well documented in the work on Tensegrity Networks masterminded by Anthony J.N. Judge, UIA. Please see the list of references. Judge also influenced authors like Stafford Beer, who are mentioned in the paper of Markus Schwaninger.

To see how to integrate Ken Wilbers Pieces of the Puzzle, please refer to his contribution. Again when Wilber lists the different schools of thought fighting for their truth and piece of the cake in the known sectarian way over territories and words, we should realize and comprehend a map not only as a drawing on a piece of paper, but as a map or model of and in space. This is accomplished by mapping positions, aspects, intentions, directions and perspectives of the different domains as bodies and by visualizing the oppositions coming to coalitions and joint intentions or deals in time !

By the way Children picked up the concept of puzzles to see harmonious wholes and looked for an inner order without blinders most easily, it may be productive to pursue this aspect when designing qualification profiles and curricula (see also references).

"The most productive and yielding research
is that which pleases the thinker
and supports mankind at the same time."
C. Doppler

 


Send e-mail to issstopics-L@newciv.org

Return to home page

Return to map page