… musings on order and chaos …

As an example, not a general theory, a parent who habitually keeps everything organised, clean and in place, may feel displeasure when their child does not follow this model. Sensing displeasure, the child may feel restrained and controlled, and possibly develop a reaction via contrary behaviour. Of course, reactions to initial conditions are way more complex. But both, excessive order and excessive chaos in the early environment set a tone.

My early impressions were in the middle, yet plenty of condensed experiences pull me into repetitive behaviour. But people for whom, let’s say, the organised model felt intolerable, meeting an adult partner who likes order, even in a mild way, easily hooks into their initial reaction. The desire for order is stability, beauty, keeping the wild and unpredictable at bay, and also serves as a buffer against anxiety. But someone who felt restricted by order may easily feel controlled. In this two-way process, any projection also frames the projector, and various complex relationships are such defined, with children, partners, work colleagues, mentors, groups, and even political parties. The irony is that instead of choosing a partner or group where this conflict does not arise, we often unconsciously attract an early model we disliked, maybe because of its familiarity, maybe because of the implied challenge. I assume it’s a psychological trick allowing for lessons in tolerance and, hopefully in time, a reframing of one’s life story.

While periods of stability are necessary, it is from chaos that creativity is born and new forms emerge, which is why some artists embrace chaos, allowing for the spontaneous discovery of new patterns and hidden harmonies.

To voluntary endure the dissonance between order and chaos is a spiritual quest towards an attitude of transcendence.

In this sense, and with the emphasis on becoming, my Sufi teacher, Fazal Inayat-Khan, who was also a musician and poet, used to orchestrate chaos in workshops for his students to great effect. He trained us well for the turbulent cultural changes that are now upon us, a global rite of passage we best consciously engage with. Faith in the unknown tends to signal our guiding spirit to open unsuspected doors towards a deeper resonance with the collective psyche.

“Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.’ — Fyodor Dostoevsky

‘The Gods envy the perfection of man, because perfection has no need of the Gods. But since no one is perfect, we need the Gods.’ … Carl Jung, Liber Novus, page 244

‘The ideal is the means; its breaking is the goal.’ Hazrat Inayat Khan

Ever since I came upon James Gleick’s book ‘Chaos,’ the William Heinemann Ltd 1988 edition, I was fascinated by the concept which has radically changed scientific enquiries, as well as giving new meaning to my practice of transpersonal therapy.

James Gleick’s book also contains the amazing Mandelbrot set. Here a short introduction …


James Gleick’s newest publication is on ‘Information.’

Phew … here I’m challenged … a new wordpress format with its insistence on ‘blocks,’ disallows me the use of the classic editor. It’s a headache to create a post.


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12 responses to “… musings on order and chaos …

  1. Thank you, dear Ashen. I have got Heart of a Sufi but, not read it yet! Thank you also for the quotes.
    PS: I had to give up the classic version on WP some years ago. I think it is a matter of habit. 😉🤗💖

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How very reassuring you are! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rob

    Thanks Ashen. According to my understanding of the thinking of the very singular physicist, David Bohm, such phenomena as randomness, chaos and quantum probability as they are commonly perceived by us mortal human individuals, are manifestations of what he termed the “explicate order” and are in fact fully determined by the “implicate order” which is hidden and underlies what we think of as “reality”. Apparently Bohm formulated the mathematics to establish this case which, to my knowledge, no physicist or mathematician has yet been been able to fault and in fact there have been experiments which have been conducted which appear to validate Bohm’s hypothesis that we live in a fully deterministic universe as distinct from a probabilistic one.
    So, if this is correct then our experience of phenomena like chaos and randomness is actually the result of our lack of perception of the totality of reality with all it’s layers of hidden heights and depths.
    A neuroscientist and mathematician called Donald Hoffman has calculated that the probability that our brains normally perceive and experience total reality is something like 99.9% against.
    We are able to hear just a few instruments of the orchestra so no wonder it often seems discordant and sometimes downright horrendous. Bohm’s mathematics seems to point to where the full orchestra may be lurking!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also see the randomness of life and the chaos in nature and natural events, it’s all around us of course. I also hope there is an order to things as well. I trust that there must be. However, your writings made me think of emotional chaos,. I have certainly experienced this in my life. As you said in the beginning, how we are conditioned has an impact on us. My Mother verged on excessive tidiness. Housework always came first. I think you are right that the need to keep order is a way of feeling secure. As a result I hate housework and do as little of it as possible. But, the old patterns click in every now and then and I think that I cannot live this way all the time, so I often feel the need for a clear out. It is like my Mothers expectations are etched on my mind. In an ideal world I would be a creative and hire someone else to do the housework, but I would still feel guilty. My mothers legacy. Actually I have been thinking about having a cleaner lately. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that bossy inner jailor. It’s one thing to like a clean house, another to be coerced into it by guilt. Having special cleaning days was a cultural thing, something I escaped. My mother was too occupied with my parents’ business. She tried cleaning help, but it wasn’t worth the trouble. I never had a cleaner in my life. I do bits, in passing 🙂 .
      You’re creative, congratulate yourself, celebrate ☼

      Clear-outs feel good, for me the professional shredding of confidential papers, correspondence, insurance papers, tax returns, client notes, course material … the last batch nearly the equivalent of my body weight.


  5. In the Bible, I remember reading a story of a woman (cant remember their names) who constantly nagged her daughter to help her clean the house and Jesus told her something along the lines of – Let her be she maybe has other work to do. That comforted me when I was younger. My job was to clean the bedrooms every weekend and I used to look in my chest of drawers and find much more interesting things to keep me occupied, so it took me ages to finish cleaning.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Ashen,

    I love your posts and have just now seen this one. It was hidden in a part of my mailbox I seldom visit…one of those gmail oddities I have yet to gain sufficient mastery of. Like clearing out all my old files, course notes, etc. I got on a cleaning binge a couple of months ago and finally threw out a box of teaching materials I used with my third graders 55 years ago! It felt wonderful.

    David Bohm is also a favorite of mine. His theory of the triune explicate, implicate and superimplicate orders makes perfect sense to me. I see these connections in daily synchronicities, nightly dreams, and random insights that come in hypnagogic states between waking and sleeping that arrive at just the right time to be useful in whatever I’ve been working on. I find seeing the world this way very comforting….it eases the anxiety that chaos brings and makes me feel along with Mother Julian’s triune intuition that “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing(s) shall be well.”

    This is such a great topic; one I never thought to write a blog post about. But you’ve inspired me to tackle it soon. Or maybe I’ll share this one. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you Jean. How we are trying to balance chaos with order, each in our mysterious way is truly fascinating.
    I’m often prompted by intuition. Post-it-notes pile up, I procrastinate over paperwork, sorting files on my computer, or general tasks, until a psychic wind arrives and things get done in no time. It feels like a victory, but I can’t claim it, since I reckon the winds arise in those states between waking and dreaming you point to.
    I think it was Anthony Stevens who said – dreams do not confine themselves to putting new documents in old files. They integrate and collate them with what is on file already – files that would never have occurred to the waking mind to consult. The unconscious does its own thing.
    Love to read what comes up further for you.
    I’m curious to check out James Gleick’s book on Information.


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