I admit this term “fractal praxis” may seem vague, as I advocate for engaging with any issue at “the pattern level.” And that can mean a vast range of possible shapes of behavior. And that’s because we’re dealing with whole systems.
Yet this is not an “anything goes” theory. This is a theory and a methodology of dealing with real and living systems at all scales, for how they express at the pattern level. The practitioner enters a process of engaging the world for the sense they can make of a given experience, and must take on a willingness to augment their operating model of reality continuously, letting it be subject to reorganization by new encounters with information. We both engage actions-as-hypotheses, and listen for the apparent feedback that can be gleaned from interactions and observations when we are in that deep mode of attunement to our environments, inner and outer.
Fractal praxis, or the idea of making interventions at the “pattern level” of existence, is merely extending the theme of “performing any/every intervention” that has been discussed throughout this series. I continue to ask this question from the first piece: “In the midst of uncertainty, the best medicine is an all encompassing strategy. What general patterns will tend to reduce unwanted outcomes?” We cannot avoid uncertainty nor chaos, because we inhabit complex systems. Period. Given that we cannot have total confidence that we know what affects what, what would happen if we were to develop a discipline of embodying the general shape of an adaptive response? (Not merely the intent for a solution, ala The Secret, but the tangible solution-hypothesis shape, in all pattern-touching parts of ourselves: bodies, minds, behaviors, etc.) What if we were to enact, holistically, a “hypothesis pattern” of what needs to change?
By carefully studying the events of my life and how I made sense of them, I have ample reason to believe in an original hypothesis: that the patterns and general mechanics operational in the world surrounding an organism can be directly known (gnostically): extrapolated, harvested and applied into working models of reality through focused processes of cognition. The result is a more widely adaptive organism.
One of the most compelling forms of evidence for this hypothesis is when I inadvertently distilled the very same fundamental principles of “sustainable systems” as cybernetics expert Stafford Beer, only from studying my own experiences as a college student in the wake of a failed “100% sustainable” lifestyle experiment. That is: I arrived at scientifically and theoretically validated “laws” of sustainable systems using only penetrating analysis into my own immersive experiences of struggling to achieve “100% sustainability” embodied in a whole systems lifestyle design—including the difficult emotional, social and physical aspects of my experience.
The complexity of information I was immersed in, and whose impacts I felt physically, emotionally, mentally, socially? I sorted them, with time and effort, into new, higher meaning. And then was floored to find that the meaning I had arrived at through a cognitive process, was in fact reinforced by others who had taken radically different paths of inquiry into the matter. And yet we had arrived at the same terrain: a shared human edge of understanding or insight into the nature of sustainable systems.
Aside from chance, this result could only have been possible if lived experience provided feedback about what is real consistently enough that it could be directly apprehended, harvested, and formulated into generalized principles.
It bypasses mysticism to say: trained minds are capable of seeing through the layers of explicit events to skillfully interpret their subtle root causes. The label “psychic” or intuitive tends to “other” or represent as extreme and rare what is actually quite common in modern humans but is suppressed and underdeveloped: the capacity to see through and sense at or guess at patterns that are entangled with the cause and effect of what is happening now. Because there are always limits (ignorance) to any given human’s perspective, there is always the factor of guesswork, of generating hypotheses and testing them. However, if one is trained to mentally manage complexity without inaccurately reducing information, one can handle countless inputs of stimuli and nevertheless arrive at a viable synthesis, wherein even the subtlest signal could be adequately interpreted.
Fractal praxis is a description of what I think the “applied” part of the theory would look like. The standalone theory is powerful, too: I argue that the most powerful way a sentient being can work with the world is to train itself, using imaginal and meaning-making powers, to engage the world through a lens of the patterns observable and interpretable in a given context. Not only can one transform the world dramatically by engaging patterns holistically, one transforms one’s own world regularly as the being’s cognitive structure undergoes deep changes, radical samadhi-like integration events, as learning is maximized. Regardless of how unusual the situation is, if one is trained to “read” for patterns through intuitive, subtle channels, one can achieve magic-like mastery of one’s choices in the world, that can produce ever higher statements of one’s “truth” etched into the skin of the world: an ever-evolving intensified feedback loop that warps actual conditions affecting all beings.
It starts with the recognition that root patterns can and do pervade a million different situations and dynamics—and yet can be interpreted, understood, and worked with in the diversity of how they may show up and express.
For example: if I was abused as a child, I might first take that “personally” and attach to specific details of the abuser, the environment, etc. I would be stuck rehashing painful memories, and various aspects of my health may suffer. Then, as I mature, I may come to recognize that “abuse” at its nature is a pattern that is reasonably generalized: “abuse” is material-agnostic, context-agnostic, scale-agnostic. Yet “abuse” as a pattern has a kind of fractal consistency across those contexts. There are certain tendencies “abuse” has in terms of how it materializes. I can observe that “abuse” arises from a common set of conditions, or interacting forces, and that it may come about slowly or suddenly. I can also study how “abuse” patterning can die off when those conditions or cyclical feedback loops are disrupted, interrupted, changed up. “Abuse” is understood in terms of patterns as they relate to one another, which can transcend specific contexts. We can know “abuse” is happening when we see or experience it because of our awareness of the general norms and typical interactions that characterize “abuse.” As a result, we can have a lot more power to influence an abusive situation now or in the future than we did as a child: the power to call patterns that are present by their true name.
Knowing the shape of the pattern allows for diversified, generalized praxis—that is, how to effectively respond when said pattern reveals itself in a diversity of circumstances. Increased awareness (study, observation) results in increased knowledge (how to name and interact skillfully with patterns in existence), which results in increased capacities to enact “right action.” “Right action” is a concept from Buddhism which is general (applicable in infinite contexts). What “right action” gets at is what happens when a person correctly interprets and acts upon a situation with exactly the right measure of intervention—no energy is wasted, no harm is generated, and the situation is holistically improved. Only a person who had “right understanding” of a situation would be able to achieve such extraordinary elegance in their conduct.
Fractal praxis is toward initiating people into accelerated paths to right understanding and right action.
Let’s review ideas from this series:
This moment is source code for next moment.
You are part of this moment.
You influence what you contribute and what you take from this moment.
You influence the future.
And the patterns that you are reiterating count. Are real. Can be known.
Yet you cannot know precisely how they count.
Complexity is so important to embrace. Even the most impressive psychic individual can see likely patterns but they cannot see with total clarity. We are all partial seers, partial sensors. Internally we do our best to weave together intelligence from our sensings. Embracing complexity means developing the skills to see the ways that tend to kill us, that may be subtle in patterning, not obvious. This feeds a skillfulness of correctly “reading” a situation, for all the subtle and gross signals included, adeptly “mapped” in the mind and then acted upon with resounding skilfulness. While simultaneously acknowledging: you are never in “perfect clarity!” That what you’re doing is undertaking scientific hypothesis-testing experiments, which may result in change to your mental model of the world just as easily and profoundly as it may result in changes IN the world itself!
We all need to practice the quasi “psychic” techniques described here collectively. Collectively that would look like sharing insights, sharing information openly, adaptively… generating hypotheses together, testing our ideas and sharing feedback we gathered. Imagine if we were actually cooperating, and weaving ourselves into coherence and intelligent consistency, aligning ourselves on our shared values of preserving life. If we achieved this, we would individually have to expend a lot less effort to manage our risks and our health. We would each have a role to play in an elegant collective system coordinated around the same outcome, which is: that all remain healthy. Many functional societies today can and do enact this, even in response to Covid-19. The cooperative enactment of a common goal multiplies the benefits to each individual. In that sense we would expend a lot less life energy to obtain the results we all want.
The logic of individualism and selfishness and fragmentation breaks down gloriously in a moment like this Covid-19 pandemic, when the nature of the threat is collectivized, generalized, invisible, pervasive. The entrenched distrust of reality, distrust of one another, distrust for any objective but selfish ones, comes unraveling in a crisis like this. And we’re seeing that occur. We are harvesting bitter, rancid fruits today, these likely outcomes of collective non-adaptive or even malicious behavior. Cause and effect. Indeed, even in seeming chaos, causes can be known, and the method of knowing them has to do with embodied shape and pattern-level praxis. The cultural decay, the shape of the mind of the capitalist-white supremacist-patriarchy-oligarchic “United States of America” right now is so diseased, it was bound to fall fantastically in conflict with a foe so elegant, so natural and so ephemeral as a virus.
So, let’s stop being in ways that are killing us. Yeah? It can be just that simple. We can “get” this at all levels (fractally).
First we have to stop wanting, secretly, to die. And that’s another issue borne of the wrong understanding deeply rooted in this cultural heritage, that can be treated by abandoning faulty premises and instead putting our attention more deeply into our beingness, our cognitive processes, our sovereign lucid realness, our untapped powers to change.
Let’s be in ways that are adaptive. This way, evolution is a favorable force we are cultivating in our life. We become friendly with reality, willing to work with it for its conditions, whether healthy or not, in a given moment and moment-to-moment. Let’s not keep treating evolution as yet another enemy to resist against… and, being that evolution is vaster, stronger and more durable than our self-centeredness and pride, to lose to. Rather than being pummeled to death in the tsunami wave of evolutionary feedback loops that are headed our way—by embracing how we are, truly, “the edge of evolution embodied,” and learning how to vigorously embrace this in both belief and praxis, we may have a chance of reining and riding the wave when it hits… passing through the portal intact as though magically… surviving and thriving on the other side (or, on all sides and scales) because of cooperation with what and how we truly are.