The views, opinions and theories expressed in this article are those of the author and are not endorsed or promoted by SAND as an organization.
During recent decades, the apparently solid view of the mechanistic and materialistic world has started to show alarming cracks. Approaches that a century ago were taken as rigorous and almost irrefutable are starting to be seriously questioned. These approaches postulated that the universe is moved by a simple game of chance, in progressive degradation and inexorably tending toward thermal death. In major contrast with these dark auguries, new science views with surprise a fascinating creativity in all spheres of reality. The supposed universal machine, virtually condemned to the scrapyard, is now revealed as a fascinating living being animated by a self-creative permanent force. It seems that Nature starts to reveal the secrets of its holistic inner tendency, one which drives it to climb the ladder of organized complexity. This ascending drive has been creating progressively differentiated, integrated and inclusive units step by step.
Mechanistic science harbored the reductionist dream of explaining the functioning of complex structures starting out, exclusively, from its most basic components. New science has forsaken that dream on verifying repeatedly and in diverse levels of reality that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. There is thus a dynamic, hierarchical schema of the world in which emerging levels are integrated with previous ones, thereby generating more complex, inclusive organisms with increasing awareness.
On the other hand, each one of these levels of universal reality is structured by an infinite reciprocal interplay among individuals and communities. Some and many are involved like reflections in a grid of mirrors facing one another. We cannot separate off isolated unities in these universal networks of interrelationships and interconnections. As quantum physics has demonstrated, the scope of these complex webs of relations goes beyond what is humanly conceivable, even transcending our time and space schemata. There are no actually separated “parts” in any level of the evolutionary scale. On the contrary, as in a holographic plate, each “fragment” of the world is no more than a concrete expression of the same, unique totality. The universe starts to reveal itself to the eyes of new science as a unified field that is dynamically reflected in each and every corner of itself.
Attempts were made to build the world upon the solid and strong foundations of matter, but this myth has not stood up to empirical testing. Subatomic analysis has literally taken the floor away from under our feet. Our supposedly indestructible material basis has dissolved in pure forms, patterns, orders and relationships in a fabric that is no longer substantial, but purely abstract instead. We are supported by evanescent forms that vertiginously emerge and disappear in an intangible void.
The materialistic focus of classical science also aimed to describe the world “objectively,” the “subject” making the description on the sidelines. However, the emergent postmodern perspective has once more revealed the complete naivety of this project. The observing mind is inevitably part of the observed universe. There is no object without subject, no outside without inside, no reality without consciousness. Both terms are definitively interrelated and therefore any attempt to comprehend the phenomenal world integrally must necessarily include both facets. The dynamics of evolution is thus perceived as a generator of entities, not only progressively more organized and complex in their external appearance, but also, at the same time, of greater inner awareness.
The universe that surprisingly begins to reveal itself before our gaze has little to do with that blind, insensitive artifact, that mechanical and inert world in which the human being imagining it did not even have a place in it. The new approaches that study reality no longer consider us aberrant creatures in a world without sense, but rather as redolent expressions of the creative flow of totality, authentic microcosms that reflect, with increasing clarity, the infinite richness of a fascinating macrocosm.
Our research on the rhythm of evolution falls within this new perspective of a universe that is self-creating—a generator of progressively more complex and organized novelties; hierarchical—in which each new level transcends and becomes integrated with all previous levels; holographic—in which each part reflects the totality, impermanent—in a continuous dance of creation and destruction; lucid—capable of knowing itself; and void—without a basic substance that supports it.
Nowadays science agrees that evolution is a core feature of the universe. There is a complete consensus regarding the dynamic and creative features of phenomenal reality in all fields of human knowledge—astrophysics, biology, psychology, sociology, and others. Nevertheless, there are discrepancies in the interpretation of the facts.
Darwin’s theory of evolution was primarily based on random mutations and the “survival of the fittest.” The “synthetic theory” extended these formulations in the late 1930s with the contributions of Mendelian genetics and population-based genetics, maintaining as explanatory basic elements the random mutation and natural selection. This synthetic theory enjoyed almost unanimous acceptance for two or three decades, but gave rise to a great wave of dissent from 1970 on. The idea that the synthetic theory is wrong is beginning to take shape for many paleontologists, geneticists, embryologists and taxonomists, who refute the random factor as the sole principle governing the evolutionary process. They disagree that natural selection explains the emergence of new species. They say that fossil records do not fit Darwinian gradualism and that the theory does not reflect the phenomenon of increasing complexity. Spontaneous mutations may explain variations within a certain species, but not the subsequent variations among them. Macroevolution—the evolution of these higher-order taxonomic categories—show far too pronounced differences among divisions to have arisen from gradual transformations.
In recent years, deepest changes in the biological evolution have been seen to take place in specific moments of the history of groups, occurring in a very rapid manner and giving rise to stable species that suffer very few subsequent variations. The Darwinian version of a slow, continuous and gradual process has given way to the interpretation characterized by discontinuous, sudden leaps and changes.
In 1972, S. J. Gould and N. Eldredge published a seminal paper in which they demonstrated that nature progresses by sudden leaps and profound transformations and not through small adaptations. According to the theory of punctuated equilibrium, evolutionary leaps are relatively sudden processes; speciation stops for long periods in which existing species persist without fundamental variations and without creating new species. Therefore, some researchers have begun to seek possible explanations for these sudden emergences of new species.
Science is starting to understand that, simultaneous to the process of growth in homogeneity and positive entropy perceived in the universe, the reverse phenomena occurs with the same naturalness—the progressive increase in heterogeneity and negative entropy. Contrary to classic thermodynamics, which aimed to reduce the processes of self-organization to mere accidental events, to simple insignificant anecdotes, today’s thermodynamics of disequilibrium allows us to understand the progressive and accelerated evolution of living beings and our own human history as something more than mere strange accidents in cosmic evolution.
Up until the 1970s, researches tended to hold the conception that evolution acts mainly due to random factors. In the 1980s, however, many scientists started to be convinced that evolution is not an accident, but a necessary event that occurs when certain parametrical conditions are fulfilled. It is beginning to be evident that the continuous deployment of the organized complexity of the universe, its intrinsic sporadic capacity for sporadic self-organization constitutes a fundamental and profoundly mysterious property of reality.
The new sciences of evolution show how any dynamic system far from a state of equilibrium may leave its permanent state when some of its environmental parameters change. In these situations, systems may spontaneously reach new states of equilibrium of greater complexity subsequent to a chaotic and indeterminate phase. The overall course of evolution thus looks like stairs in which horizontal steps alternate, almost without changes, with abrupt leaps in level.
Both within theoretical or empirical works, in hard or soft sciences, the aim is to understand this innate creative tendency of nature. We hear about dynamic attractors, morphogenetic fields, archetypal channels, implicate orders, fractal structures or stratified stabilities. It now seems evident that creativity cannot be reduced to a mere random product, but rather to the holistic intervention of unified fields that may explain both the overall totality of creative phenomena and their quality of instantaneity. The hypothesis on the rhythm of the evolution that we are going to propose next contributes novel features to this line of research.
A harmonious solution
The most fundamental statement of the Pythagoreans was that numbers constitute the unmovable principle of the world, the very essence of reality. When they discovered that the proportions among musical harmonics could be expressed in a simple and exact form, they considered that the cosmos itself was a harmonious system of numerical reasoning. According to the Pythagorean’s, the inherent numerical order of sounds was directly related to the very organization of the universe. For them, music was therefore nothing other than the expression of the inner relationships of the cosmos.
At the beginning of 20th century, physicists were confused to discover that, far from presenting itself as predicted as a continuous flow, the energy emitted or absorbed by atoms presents itself in a quantifiable way, in very precise packages. For several decades, they tried to explain this strange phenomenon by seeking a sound new mathematical theory for the atom that would generate these quantum numbers in a natural way. The solution provided by the proposition of the similarity between the world of electrons and that of musical harmonics—standing waves—thereby happily giving rise to the surprisingly precise wave equation (Schrödinger) as the fundamental piece of revolutionary quantum physics. It thus seems that we are literally made of music, that we are pure abstract relationships in an unsubstantial reality, the acoustic appearance of the quantum void.
Standing waves are known by anyone that has played a musical instrument. The main feature of these waves is that they divide the vibrating element into completely equal sections. A guitar string, for example, cannot vibrate randomly due to the fact that it has fixed ends and has to vibrate in such a way that its ends remain motionless. The string can undulate as a whole (see fig. 1-A), in two parts (see fig. 1-B), in three (see fig. 1-C), in four, or in some other whole number of equal parts, but it cannot vibrate, for example, in three and a half parts or in five and a quarter.
In music theory, these successive standing waves are called “harmonic sounds.” The unlimited series of these harmonics, originating from the “fundamental sound” of the complete original unity, define the varying degrees of the sonorous vibrations very precisely, i.e. the entire hierarchy of the levels of stability of the flow of music. We thus see that both in the microscopic world of quantum physics and in the macroscopic reality of musical instruments, the “energies” do not flow continuously, but in a quantified way according to a hierarchy of standing waves. At any level of reality, a vibrant unity—atom or guitar string—intrinsically possesses very precise potential levels within which the flows of energy are stabilized.
We stated previously that the new science considers the universe in a holistic way. We have also seen how the evolutionary dynamics of this unified universe displays its novelties in a discontinuous and abrupt manner. We find, once again, a vibrating unity—the evolving universe—that channels its energy flow in a highly defined series of levels of stability. Like atoms. Like musical instruments.
Both in the world of atomic physics and in the world of music, the secret of their sudden leaps and discontinuities is revealed thanks to standing waves and musical harmonics. Could not the same occur in the field of evolution? Does it not sound very coherent that this unified universe that we are starting to discover generates similar creative patterns at its different levels of organization? Does it not therefore sound appealing that the sudden evolutionary changes in the history of the universe respond precisely to these same standing waves that are the explanatory key of both the subatomic and musical worlds? This has been the basic intuition that has given rise to our hypothesis regarding the rhythm of evolution which we will now summarize below.
A simple and daring hypothesis
Jacob Bronowski raised a theory regarding a unique process that explains hierarchically ordered diversity without any recourse to reductionism. This theory suggests, as a general cosmological principle, the concept of the “stratified stability of potential levels” as the key to understanding the evolution of systems in disequilibrium. It basically suggests the existence of specific levels of stability around which energy streams gather and are organized, thereby permitting the subsequent and sudden upward leaps toward new layers or levels of progressively greater complexity. Our hypothesis constitutes a very precise specification in this appealing approach. Let us examine it in greater detail.
Taking the example once again of the guitar string, let us imagine that it is tuned to C—the fundamental sound. If we make half of its length vibrate—the first harmonic—we will obtain the same original note in a higher octave. If we induce the vibration in a third of the string—the second harmonic—we will get a different note, which in this case will be G. This means that a tonal novelty emerges with the second harmonic. Taking the new note as a fundamental sound, we can likewise iterate the experience as many times as we wish and we will always obtain successive scaled sound novelties with each second harmonic. Thus, when we induce the vibration of a third of the length of the string, a creative leap will appear, and with a third of the third another one, and with a third of the third of the third, another new one, and so on.
This simple fact provides the key to our hypothesis. The proposal is very simple: considering the totality of time as a vibratory unity, the consecutive linked second harmonics, i.e. the successive thirds of the duration, will mark the emergence of evolutionary novelties. In other words, the second harmonics will define the “potential levels of stratified stability” through which nature’s creativity channels itself, that drives the great leaps in the ladder of evolution. Figs. 2 show the overall process. If we take the entire course of time—from the “origin” to the “end”—as the fundamental sound, we have sketched the consecutive leaps in level in both directions: in fig. 2-B, the section from the origin to the second node “P” of exteriorization—called the “exit” or “outwards” section—and in fig. 2-A, the section from that same second node until the end—the “return” or “inwards” section. Fig. 2-C shows the joint trajectory, the overall ladder of evolution.
Summarizing our approach, we could say that, just like when a musical instrument emits a specific note, a wide range of its harmonics sound simultaneously, the universe as a whole likewise has, from its first original vibratory instant, a complete potential hierarchy of standing waves through which its creative flows can ascend. According to our scheme, starting out from the precise vibration that gave rise to the origin to the universe, the universal process commenced with a vertiginous explosion of creativity and leaps in level, gradually slowing down its rhythm on its ascending path toward a specific layer of the spectrum—“the fundamental sound.” From there on it starts to progressively accelerate the rhythm of its leaps in novelty along the ascending path towards a final moment of infinite creativity. Later on, we shall consider the profound meaning of these surprising poles: origin and end—Alpha and Omega—as it is precisely there where we shall find the key to many of our questions.
Our entire hypothesis of evolutionary rhythms can be reduced to what we have just presented. As simple as this: a “cyclic leap” appears with each third of the duration, and after seven cyclic leaps a “series leap” appears. It is truly amazing for such a simple scheme to provide such a good fit to the all the key steps of evolution, both in the global macrocosm—paleontological, anthropological and historical—as in the human microcosm—embryological and psychological. It is really striking that hardly anyone has noticed this clamorous and evident rhythm of events. One cannot see the wood for the trees.
Verification of the hypothesis in human phylogeny and ontogeny
Fitting our “periodic table” of rhythms to the date of the appearance of matter—the Big Bang—and of organic life, we see that every single instant of the emergence of successive taxonomic degrees of human phylogeny is marked out with utter precision: Kingdom: animal, Phylum: chordata, Class: mammal, Order: primate, Superfamily: hominoid, Family: hominid and Genus: homo! The same then occurs with all the stages of maturation of our primitive ancestors: H. habilis, H. erectus, archaic H. sapiens, H. sapiens and H. sapiens sapiens! Once more, the precision of our hypothesis is repeated in the successive transformations that humanity has experienced in its more recent history: the Neolithic, Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Modern Age and the emergent Postmodern Age! If, as we see it, all these stages resoundingly fit the provisions of the “periodic table” of rhythms that we have proposed, it is more than likely that our hypothesis may also provide the key to glimpse the successive phases yet to be deployed in the years to come in an ever-accelerating process that will eventually lead to a moment of infinite creativity—Omega—within a couple of centuries, around the year 2217.
All this is, indeed, unexpected and surprising, but is even more shocking when we verify that the same hypothesis that behaves with great precision when applied to the process of global evolution, also does so when cross-checked against the process of development of the individual human being. Within the same time frame, with the same pattern of folding and unfolding, and passing through the same stages, our hypothesis of rhythms periodically marks out—step by step—the successive phases embryologists, developmental psychologists and spiritual teachers talk of, thus confirming the old idea of phylogenetic-ontogenetic parallelism and pointing very specifically to an astonishing fractal and holographic universe.
We attune, then, with that classical idea, present in very different cultures, that the human organism constitutes an individual concentration of the world, a unity that reflects, as in a mirror, the totality of the universe. According to this approach, human development is a rapid recapitulation and integration of all the levels gradually deployed within the evolutionary process of the universe throughout its slow, drawn-out paleontological development. But, moreover, in our research it is revealed that not only is the entire evolutionary trajectory of our ancestors recapitulated, but it is also done according to an identical global pattern!
(We cannot include details of the verifications we are talking about here, so we invite readers interested in this research to consult our article Beyond Darwin: the hidden rhythm of evolution, which can be found at http://byebyedarwin.blogspot.com/p/english-version_01.html, with versions in Spanish and English).
According to our hypothesis, therefore, both the phylogenetic, historical or macrocosmic process, as well as the ontogenetic, individual or microcosmic process, are both expressions, global or punctual, of the same and unique rhythmic archetype, which defines the exit and return dynamics in the temporal manifestation of this fascinating holographic universe.
In figs. 3-A and 3-B we represent, respectively, the global trajectories of human phylogeny and ontogeny, as is clear from the data provided by paleontology, anthropology and history in one case, and by embryology and the psychology of development in the other. The parallelism between both graphs is evident, both in its structure and in the nature of the stages covered. If we compare also fig. 2-C—our harmonic hypothesis—with figs. 3-A and 3-B—tracked from the empirical data—the similarity between all of them is obvious. How is such an accumulation of coincidences possible?
The nondual key
Having tested our hypothesis with the data provided by the researchers of evolution and development, and after checking its surprising accuracy in all areas, it seems clear that it is no longer possible to attribute to mere “chance" that multitude of chained coincidences that have been revealed.
From the materialistic paradigm, all of this seems inconceivable. However, the facts are there and it is not possible to ignore the evidence. From this platform we invite all readers to try to find some explanation to this whole plot of unexpected events. For our part, we will outline below, telegraphically, a "philosophical" proposal that can unveil the ultimate meaning of all we have discussed so far.
All manifested reality appears, inextricably, in the form of dualities. No form of expression is possible outside this play of the opposites. We cannot find sound without silence, subject without object, inside without outside, and so on. All opposites are mutually dependent and therefore we can understand them as polar manifestations of a reality that transcends them and that is “prior” to this duality itself.
In figs. 3-A and 3-B, we can see how the course of evolution starts at a pole of maximum energy (and practically no consciousness at all) and ends at another pole of maximum consciousness (and practically null energy). Physicists talk about an infinite potential energy amidst the original quantum void, while sages talk about a clear infinite consciousness in the final mystical void. We propose that these two voids are the same and unique Void, perceived by physicists objectively and by contemplative people subjectively, which in itself, is neither objective nor subjective, but “prior” to that dual perspective. And the most fascinating thing of all is that this Void is not a distant metaphysical reality, but the simple and pure Self-Evidence of each and every present moment.
As there is no separation between subject and object in this Self-Evidence, it is not possible to see it, because there is not “anything” that could be seen by “someone.” But neither is it “nothing,” because all things in the universe—both objective and subjective—are mere partial and relative forms of this Self-Evidence.
In order to be able to “see” Itself, this Self-Evidence needs to polarize Itself, at least apparently, in subject and object, the same as 0 may become dual in +1 and -1 without changing, other than formally, its absolute value. We say this because our ultimate proposal is that, in order for Self-Evidence to contemplate Itself, it apparently splits in two poles: the original (basically, energy) and the final (basically, consciousness), generating an illusory distance among them which, on vibrating—like the guitar string in our hypothesis—gives rise to a whole scale of harmonics, which are precisely the levels of stability that create the evolutionary cycles we have discussed here which span the entire range, from the most basic—of enormous energy and little consciousness—to the highest—of little energy and enormous consciousness, that harmoniously channel the so-called game of chance.
If we see things from this perspective, the entire avalanche of “coincidences” that we have revealed, which are totally unacceptable in the materialistic worldview, are shown to be natural manifestations of That-Which-Is. Or the teleological character of evolution, so denigrated by official science, is understood here as the logical expression of the fundamental structure of what is Real. Or the progressive emergence of consciousness, which is often completely forgotten in many branches of science, is presented in our non-dualistic approach as a simple manifestation of the infinite lucidity of the ever-present Self-Evidence. Is it not time to change the paradigm?
José Díez Faixat, was born in Gijón (Spain) in 1952 and studied architecture at the ETSA in Madrid, and was imprisoned as a conscientious objector to military service. He then participated in the creation of a rural community, which practiced an alternative non-violent, ecological, simple, spiritual form of life. Later, as an urban hermit, he researched integral reality both through non-dual spirituality, and the study of the great traditions of wisdom and the sciences of the new paradigm. As a result of all this, he wrote two books in Spanish: Entre la evolución y la eternidad (Between evolution and eternity) (Barcelona, 1996), and Siendo nada, soy todo (Being nothing, I am everything) (Madrid, 2007). Recently he completed his first manuscript in English—Non-Dual Evolution—in which he completes and updates his long research.
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