From Evolution to Volution – the implications of cosmic geometry (cosmometry) on our understanding of life and the human story.
This is based on a paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for my PhD in Wisdom Studies at Wisdom University, following the course Fundamentals of Cosmometry, lead by Marshall Lefferts with guests.
The images of torus, jitterbug and vector equilibrium used with thanks to Marshall Lefferts.
The idea that we as humanity have evolved in a linear process over time is probably one of the most widely accepted ideas across the human species. There is debate between more religious fundamentalist perspectives and more scientific-rational perspectives about exactly when it all began (eg a few thousand years ago versus 14 billion years ago), but they all agree on the idea that since that beginning we have been evolving through historical time with a past, present and future. Indeed, even our most popular philosophers and spiritual teachers tend to promote an evolutionary perspective (Wilber (1996), Cohen (2011), Laszlo (1996)). In my own book (Merry 2009) I adopted and connected these various evolutionary theories.
However, over the last year or so, I have come to question this perspective, and the cosmometry retreat has strengthened my belief that there is a more adequate perspective on our human reality that better reflects the fundamental dynamics of life. This paper attempts to explore the broader perspective and apply it to our human story.
An Integral Evolutionary Perspective
The map of the territory of our human development that I am most familiar with is that of Spiral Dynamics (Beck & Cowan 1996) and the archetypal dynamics of that journey (Wilber 1996). Based on the research of Clare W Graves (Graves 2002), it describes the evolution of our individual and collective worldviews, oscillating between I-centered and We-centered perspectives, in interaction with the life conditions as we experience them around us. Here is a summary of the worldviews (source: Evolutionary Leadership by Peter Merry):
Graves, and Beck and Cowan after him, postulate that our evolution is a never-ending quest, with one worldview’s solutions sowing the seeds for the next set of existential problems, which a new worldview emerges to solve.
During the very first course I followed with Dr Don Beck on Spiral Dynamics, I remember saying to him that it seemed to me that the model Spiral Dynamics came out of a Yellow worldview, and that therefore once we get to Turquoise, we should expect the model itself to start to look out-dated and a more adequate model to emerge. He replied: “I like the way you think, Peter Merry”. That was the start of what has been a wonderful relationship over the last twelve years. Now it feels like the Turquoise moment has come, and in the very spirit of what lies at the heart of Spiral Dynamics, it is time to expand our conception, while embracing the best of what it has given us.
From Worldviews to Energy Dynamics
In my work with Dylan Newcomb, exploring the energy dynamics of the Spiral Dynamics value systems through the body, we settled on a framing that held to a set of eight worldviews. One of the main reasons for that at that time was that we didn’t feel that we could stretch much beyond Turquoise ourselves, and that there was very little data on Turquoise itself let alone anything postulated to exist beyond that. Coupled with Dylan’s musical background and the natural form of an octave, and my sense that the model would shift anyway when we got beyond Yellow, we decided to work with the eight. It is important to remember that this was a choice, and therefore gives us data from that octave perspective. Taking the Spiral as recurring tiers of six value systems, as is popular with those familiar with the model, also gives interesting insights and is simply a different perspective.
When we started to explore the spiral through the octave lens, some interesting insights emerged that formed the beginning of my inquiry into a new framing. One of the key findings was a relationship between Beige and Turquoise, Purple and Yellow, Red and Green, Orange and Blue, as depicted in the image below.
In the body-based research we carried out around this, these pairs each ended up having the same basic movements but with a different quality. The movements in beige to blue were more solid and fixed than their echoes in orange to turquoise, which were more fluid and relaxed. As we looked into what the quality of the energy dynamics was related to each worldview pairing, an interesting pattern started to emerge. The outer-systems (starting at beige-turquoise) were more archetypal in their nature, that is to say that they reflected more the extremes and essences of yin and yang, whereas the closer you got to the center, the more refined the systems became, in increasingly subtle combinations of yin and yang. This can be seen in the image, where the white and black circles reflect yin and yang. You can see how in the center they are more blended and in the extremes more pure.
Seeing the Spiral in this way gave me the impression that there was somehow a meta-map behind this map that was describing the creative process of life, from seed to fruit and back to seed again. The image I got was of more subtle archetypal energies coming ever more into form as they move in from the outer dynamics (beige-turquoise) to the core where it crystallises into manifestation (between blue and orange). This also happens to be the location on our Spiral octave map of the heart chakra (verified through body energy research), the ultimate place of connection and crystallisation. I had a sense of a breathing process, out of a field of potential into form and back out again, continually expanding and embracing. It didn’t feel linear any more, but somehow pulsing in and out, like a heart, connecting energy with matter, heaven with earth.
This was as far as life had taken me when I came across cosmometry and the work of Marshall Lefferts and Nassim Haramein, among others.
I had been aware for a while of the torus as a fundamental pattern of life but had never really looked into the dynamics that it reflects. What resonated with me and my inquiry was the subtle, lighter outer skin and denser inner core, like in my new sense of the Spiral. When I saw the animated jitterbug graphic for the first time at the Wisdom University Geometrica intensive in Chartres 2011, I could see in front of me the breathing process that I had been feeling was related to the dynamic underneath my Spiral Dynamics map. The cosmometry retreat has given me a perspective and language to further my understanding of what is actually going on, and this is what I will lay out below.
Firstly the concept of a unified field out of which every form emerges resonated with my experience and understanding of there being an absoluteand relative dimension to life, and allowed me to park the absolute perspective with the concept of unified field so that I could devote myself to exploring the relative dimension without worrying that it was ignoring the ultimate truth of absolute unity.
The idea of there being a geometry to the unified field, the Vector Equilibrium (VE), which is ready at any moment to come into movement and create form, enabled me to bridge from a feeling of the unified field to a cognitive sense of it in the relative world. It resonated with my understanding of the Spiral having the most fundamental unity-based dynamics at the extremes, holding the other worldview dynamics between two poles. Beige is a pre-cognitive unity system where the drive is pure survival, with no thought process coming between our instinct and its expression, and full living in the moment blending with the environment. Turquoise is a post-cognitive unity system that experiences reality as one interlocking sea of energy. A Vector Equilibrium is six pairs of vectors, six polarities holding the structure in balance. As I contemplated how this might relate to the Spiral octave perspective, I realised that actually only six of the worldviews could be seen to contain polarity, as the extremes of Beige and Turquoise were unity systems. So in the Spiral we also had a set of six polarity vectors (Purple to Yellow). I also realised that in themselves, that set is also in relationship as polarised pairs, with Purple-Yellow, Red-Green and Blue-Orange. As I said above, the two members of a pair contain the same basic dynamic, but with a very different form:
|Purple-Yellow||Connecting||In-group – All|
|Red-Green||Identity||Me – We|
|Blue-Orange||Manifestation||Order – Growth|
These pairs through their polarity seem to have the function of pulling potential from the extremes (seed Beige and field Turquoise) into form at the heart (between Blue and Orange), through the phases of:
- connecting up what needs to be connected and defining what is core and periphery (Purple-Yellow),
- putting it into right relationship defining the identity of each part and its relationship to the rest (Red-Green)
- and manifesting it in form through creating just enough structure for it to be able to thrive and grow (Blue-Orange)
This is what in the geometry is known as “tensional integrity”, or tensegrity (Edmondson, A 2009), as the tension manifests the form and the form holds the tension. As I sensed into this dynamic I got an image of the seed (eg Beige) and potential (eg Turquoise) arising at one and the same moment. It is a moment of conception at which point a seed planted in the material world is in resonance with its potential in the energetic world, forming together an energetic envelop within which that life form can crystallise out. It is literally a process of the integration of heaven and earth, of in-formation, as subtle energy potential inspires (“breathes into”) physical form and physical form draws down the energy through its density and gravity so it can manifest in three-dimensional reality.
This is precisely the process described geometrically by Marshall Lefferts during the retreat. When the unified field and VE come into disequilibrium, a process is triggered in which a dynamic geometry is released in a process of continual enfolding and unfolding as it breathes into the core and out to the periphery, linking up all levels and densities of energy, including matter. The density increases as the scale gets smaller towards the center of the VE, as it does towards the center of the Spiral. As it enfolds and unfolds, the jitterbug, as it is known, passes through the geometric forms that make up the platonic solids, known to be the core geometries at the foundation of all life forms. In my Spiral concept, this would correlate with the icosahedron being yellow-purple, the dodecahedron green-red and the octahedron blue-orange. A brief review of descriptions of the qualities of the geometric forms do suggest resonance with the worldviews as linked above, although to postulate it with more conviction would need much more research. What we can conclude is that this jitterbug dynamic literally links energetic potential with material form through its dynamic geometry. This is a perfect echo of what the Spiral is doing from the perspective I described above. It is the creation process.
Not only do we see the platonic solids in this process, but we also see how the phi proportion plays a key role in the relationships between the parts. Phi, also know as the “golden proportion”, is a number that describes the relationship between parts and wholes. It is a proportion that we see in most natural life forms as it is the most efficient way of vitalising parts whilst maintaining the coherence of the whole. This once more demonstrates how the dynamic geometric process seems to reflect natural life dynamics.
Although generally referred to in the physical realm, phi has properties that can also be applied to the human cultural realm. Its function, according to Lefferts in the retreat, is to balance inward and outward dynamics, expansion and contraction, or most fundamentally, yin and yang. So if human culture was resonant with natural principles, we would expect a healthy dynamic balance between yin and yang. Unfortunately what we currently observe is a swing to the extreme yang side, with an emphasis on expansion and growth, and a split with the yin side, of relationship to oneself, each other and the earth. This would suggest a lack of alignment with natural principles of life, hence a lack of “phi” harmony in our relationships, and an inability to hold our polarities in a healthy dynamic tension to act as a creative force.
Seeing the Spiral in this way, as an example of a deeper creation dynamic, links it very closely to the dynamics of the torus. The torus describes the form of the flow field that surrounds the VE and jitterbug dynamics. It is essentially a spinning dynamic. The VE collapse goes hand in hand with the emergence of the torus form. Ultimately then we can look at the human story more in terms of spin, pulses and breath, rather than linear evolution. It was this realisation, that evolution and involution are both part of the core life process, and that it is neither one without the other, that triggered me to use the term “volution” instead. When it came to me, I had no idea what it meant, just that it seemed to cover both evolution and involution as it was at the root of both. When I looked it up I saw that it meant “turn” and “spin”, which of course fits the toroidial perspective perfectly.
At this point, it is worth a quick baby-bathwater check. There is after all also something true in our experience of the seemingly linear development from Beige to Turquoise. So how might we be able to reconcile that linear experience with this more organic perspective? This is how I see it. From Beige to Blue, our reality manifests in the material plane through those worldviews, but each of those systems is in resonance with its partner in the energetic dimension. (That could explain why in the time periods of Beige and Purple (where we were apparently pre-cognitive in our development), we created great pyramids and temple structures which are being shown today to have encoded in their geometry the physics of the vacuum and so-called “dark matter”. The resonance with Turquoise/Yellow somehow enabled Beige/Purple to manifest those structures bypassing cognition.) From Orange to Turquoise, our world manifests through each of those worldviews in resonance with their partner, which means that we have to clear up any pain or unfinished business from the earlier phase to be able to maturely manifest the later partner (eg orange fully integrate blue, green fully integrate red, yellow fully integrate purple and turquoise fully integrate beige). That has certainly been my personal experience and would also be an explanation for why Dr Don Beck and Ken Wilber targeted a Red-Green combination which they called the Mean Green Meme (Wilber 2003.) as a blockage to the emergence of Yellow. The pairs are locked in a co-creative dance. At the end of the process, energy (heaven) and matter (earth) have been fully fused, all worldviews infuse each other, a major cycle is complete, the torus is functioning at its highest potential, and ready to be the seed for a new scale of manifestation.
Another link between cosmometry and the Spiral Dynamics model of evolution is in the systemic change dynamics. In the jitterbug dynamic, there are moments when all the different geometric levels meet at a “zero point”. In these moments during the life of a living system all information from the local system is shared instantaneously with the whole Unified Field, and all universal information is available to the local system. In Spiral Dynamics terms, this would represent a Change Variation 8, the most intense of all systems change variations. As the geometric levels move away from each other there is an increase in stability, which would be the times that cultures and worldviews settle down into periods of building on knowledge gained and establishing societies. One could see the movements of a jitterbug fractally at many different scales of space and time. At sub-particle level it would be moving very fast at tiny scales. At civilisational and epochal level, the time for a jitterbug to complete one cycle would be much longer at a much larger scale. The basic dynamic would be the same, just at a different scale. So this universal life process described in cosmometry finds its expression in human cultural form too.
If we are to adopt the perspective of volution as the framework for our understanding of the life story, the great question remains: what is it that triggers disequilibrium in the unified field, leading to a collapse within the VE, toroidial spin dynamics and the localized manifestation of a life form? What creates life?
In the cosmometry retreat, various clues were offered. Marshall Lefferts shared how the quantum level is what bridges the unified field and manifest reality. So the trigger must be related to the quantum field. He also shared how it is our consciousness that impacts this quantum level. The implications are that it is consciousness that can trigger the emergence of a life process through influencing probability in the quantum field.
“In-tention” literally means bringing something into tension and as we know from the above, creative tension leads to manifestation. Conscious intention creates form – very literally in the form of sacks of manure and garden tools in the Perelandra context (Small Wright 1997) I understand the process as conscious intention bringing waves of potential into coherence, and exerting a pull in the unified field which sets off the process of volution. Arthur Young stated “The universe is a process put in motion by purpose”.
A good example of this process in action is the twenty-eight years of research carried out at Princeton University’s Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) (Jahn, B & Dunne B 2005). They drew highly statistically significant conclusions that human intention impacts the otherwise random nature of events. Things are random if there is no purpose. When we bring intention and purpose to bear on something, we exert a pull on the field and increase the probability of manifesting that which we are envisioning.
In her writings on co-creative science (Small Wright 1997) Machaelle Small Wright describes the role of humans as being to set direction, definition and purpose. Once we have done that, we should turn to our co-creative partners in the energetic realms to help us to find the most life-affirming form through which to manifest our intention. In our new Spiral cosmometry, that would suggest that the role of the conscious human is to set intention and make choices from the Yellow-Turquoise perspective, and then to come fully present to the life process in the moment and work with the nature spirits at Beige-Purple to pull the intention through the birthing canal of Red-Green into form and vitality at Blue-Orange. In a workshop on geomancy, Richard Leviton described the role of the human as one that bridges the angelic and nature spirit realms, stepping down the high-frequency energy of the angels so that it can safely infuse the lower frequencies of the earthly realm. Using our angelically-informed consciousness to express life-affirming intentions and make choices for the good of the whole enables us to fulfill that role as we trigger toroidial spin to birth new life forms that reflect heaven and enrich the earth.
If a new understanding of our human story, volution, can help me and others move in that general direction, then both Spiral Dynamics and the Fundamentals of Cosmometry will have been of great service.
Beck & Cowan (1996). Spiral Dynamics. Oxford, Blackwell
Cohen, A (2011). Evolutionary Enlightenment. New York, Select Books
Edmondson, A (2009). A Fuller Explanation. Colorado, EmergentWorld LLC
Graves, C (2002). Levels of Human Existence (Seminar 1971). Santa Barbara, ECLET
Jahn, B & Dunne B (2005). The Pear Proposition [DVD/CD]. Oakland: StripMindMedia
Laszlo, E (1996). Evolution the General Theory. Cresskill, Hampton Press Inc.
Merry, P (2009). Evolutionary Leadership. Pacific Grove, Integral Publishers
Nichol, L Ed (2003). The Essential David Bohm. New York, Routledge
Small Wright, M (1997). Co-Creative Science. Warrenton , Perelandra Ltd.
Wilber, K (1996). Up from Eden. Wheaton, Quest Books
Wilber, K (2003). Boomeritis. Boston, Shambhala
 The UZAZU system of dynamics developed by Dylan Newcomb links closely to the iChing and therefore uses language of yin-yang to describe the dynamics.
Peter, this is SO exciting and so expanding! I have referenced it in the sidebar of my blog Exploring Second and Third Tier, http://exploringsecondandthirdtier.blogspot.com/
So far I have rejected any attempt to view the chakras as related to development, as I so strongly see the light side and dark side of each, and how each is essential in human functioning — and I see implications of regarding the “lower” chakras as less-developed than the upper ones which are highly detrimental to healthy human functioning. http://divinelightchurch.blogspot.com/search/label/*%20Bright%20and%20Dim%20Levels%20of%20Chakras
However, I am open on the subject and will study your thoughts on the matter!
I am somewhat familiar with Dylan’s work from workshops I have taken, and the richness of his mental models is something we’ve all barely begun to explore!
Way to go, and now I will read the rest of the blog, LOL!!
Peter, you have done it again. I am really excited by your thinking here, and by how you have articulated what has been coming through in my ‘Aquarian Conversations’. Profound gratitude for all you are and all you do.
I had a sense of a breathing process, out of a field of potential into form and back out again, continually expanding and embracing. It didn’t feel linear any more, but somehow pulsing in and out, like a heart, connecting energy with matter, heaven with earth.
and I have worked with this notion for some years, since I got the impression that quantum physicists say that “existence” (actuality, manifested reality) blinks in and out of “existence” [whatever that means, it is a rabbithole] zillions of times every nano-second, and I got the notion of it being The Void or The Plenum or Pure Potential, when it’s “out.” I work with what I call the “Law of Grace” which operates the coming and going, and how changes happen. The “breathing” metaphor for this is SOOOOO powerful !!!!
I don’t mean to overload you with comments, but I am really engaged!!
1. Does adding Coral and Teal mess up the symmetries in the patterns as you describe them?
2. There is a book called The Pattern which might not be directly relevant, but I was reminded of it. http://www.amazon.com/The-Pattern-Lynnclaire-Dennis/dp/0941255506/ref=cm_cr-mr-title
The actual content of the book is mildly interesting, but the implications of the notion, are fascinating. She (on the basis of a “download” of info during an NDE, she is not a physicist) presents the notion that this universe has a fundamental “pattern” of vibrating energy from which everything is built and composed, fractally (though she doesn’t use that term.) She does not draw the implication that there might be other universes with other patterns, but to me that is obvious.
You might find the book interesting, even if not directly relevant. I don’t know what your mind will do with it, in relation to your work,but I felt moved to mention it.
Thanks for your reflections. See my comment below on the link to Spiral Dynamics. If we hold the SD model as one expression of this underlying volution process, then the energy dynamics underlying “Coral” and “Teal” would be expected to have correlates “below” “Beige”. My sense is that they would resonate more with the cellular or particle levels of reality, with accompanying abilities to co-create life at that level. Remember that using the SD language can be misleading as we are not really talking about value systems any more here but energy dynamics of the life process.
Oh for sure, that last sentence! I never have regarded the stages as primarily about values, anyway. About consciousness, perhaps, and scopes or dimensions of that. But energy dynamics is a more fundamental description of consciousness, perhaps.
Are you addressing the issues that Enactivism (among others) seeks to address, of whether there is a “reality” given, pre-given, or partly given, prior to consciousness? It seems relevant to where you are headed in your thinking.
Thanks for your response!
In my efforts to articulate a satisfying worldview I have been envisioning some of the layers below Beige by using labels like vital emergence, organic blending, elemental unfolding, space time itself, and the source of creation as the primal undifferentiated mystery. It seems to me that the wholeness is both happening all at once and progressively unfolding its potentials. It’s just a question of what cosmic address I’m asking the question from.
My impression is that higher layers fulfil their extraordinary potentials by fully embracing the potential inherent within the corresponding lower layer, But it is not a marriage of equals. There is enormous tension and disequilibrium.
I’m wondering if this tension and disequilibrium between the polarized “marriage partners” co-creates the usual human experience of the phenomenal world being full of interacting parts, rather than a seamless interpenetrating wholeness.
Our particular nervous systems might function a bit like ladders that have some useful potential to enable the corresponding layers of reality to interpenetrate one another to the point where the wholeness that everything is dancing in, can become consciously present to the parts, even as we are dancing.
Historically as far as I can tell, it was mostly small private groups who awoke to this possibility, using shared frames of reference. My sense is that what is warming up now is a way of entering this awareness that does not require a shared system of beliefs and practices.
Peter – Thank you for this recalibration from Turquoise. I feel and think that you are describing many aspects of what I have been grokking at the scale of the city (including the sacred geometry I have borrowed from the bees for the human hive). But also your description of process gives me a frame for understanding why I am drawn to work in the field of subtle energy for engaging the city-scale of human systems. fyi in the past month I have been working with Hellinger and Perelandra framings – so the synchronicities are spine tingling!! I join Helen T-B with deep bows of appreciation for your insights and manifestation. (I might also indulge in a little bee-dance of joy :-))!!
Thanks for this provocative essay, Peter. You’ve meshed together three very leading-edge patterns of thinking into something new and refreshing. I’m working my way through Marshall’s cosmometry.net website to gain more clarity on his thinking, and look forward to further dialogues on what this all means.
Hi everyone, and thanks for your encouraging comments.
I want to make one thing clear. This concept is not a next version of Spiral Dynamics. Spiral Dynamics (integral) is a model in its own right that will be of great service to humanity for a long time to come. Most people on the planet have still to discover the integral evolutionary perspective that Spiral Dynamics is an expression of, and it will enable them to deal with the life conditions they are facing at that time. In that context, it is essential to honour the integrity and value of the Spiral Dynamics model for what it is.
What I present in this paper is indeed partly inspired by my long acquaintance with the Spiral Dynamics model but is to be seen as a new concept that has emerged through the coming together of a number of different streams. For now, I am calling it “volution”. It is co-emerging with the life conditions I am experiencing around me, and is ultimately the same thing, as inner and outer worlds arise as different perspectives on the same reality.
I should also say that this is of course early days in the concept formation, so my thinking will hopefully be significantly refined and developed over the coming years. I invite us all to hold it lightly.
[…] My thinking around volution (see this earlier blog) continues to evolve in the background and will be core to my […]