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Evolving
Evolving
by Ross Robertson
02-17-2009
Evolving

No equation
to explain the division of the senses
No sound to reflect
the radiance of time
In the beginningest dream
Halls of disorder
Where we are swept to encircle dawn



The universe began with an unimaginable ejaculation of light.

Immediately shape and structure began to crystallize from the formless void, and certain Orders, Dominions, Powers and Principalities, what we now call Time, Space, Matter, and Energy, emerged.

Certain conditions are necessary in order to have Existence. Stasis and Change may dance and play, but ultimately they find each other in balance and embrace. In an unchanging universe, there can be Things, but not Motion. Without motion, there can be no relationship, no observation, no interaction... not even a thought in the Mind of God.

Without a measure of Stasis, nothing endures. What structures and phenomena arise are immediately replaced without any reference to what was before. Durability, however bounded, is essential for anything to exist at all.

With nothing more than Stasis and Change we have all the ingredients we need for a kind of Creation Story. Whether or not it's interesting, or useful, or relevant, is up to you.

Change begat Increase and Decrease. Perhaps these offspring arose parthenogenetically, or perhaps it was from the intercourse between Stasis and Change. I'm not really sure. But Increase and Decrease also married, and by their conjugal dance is everything in the Universe generated.

More or Less.

Interestingly, when Increase and Decrease are perfectly balanced, Stasis is once born again. Archetypal family trees are a bit complicated like that.

Some things persist in time. Of those, some persist in roughly the same location, while others move about. Some things hold a shape, while others persist amorphously. Some things, some places, some forms last longer than others. Some particles or energy patterns last, while others are more transitory. Nothing really lasts for ever, but some cycles are self-repeating, and echo through time.

For example, some particles that are relatively longer lasting combine with others, and occasionally such combinations themselves become relatively stable. It happens incidentally that some of these structures will go on to form larger structures, and at all levels it also happens that some structures break down other patterns. All children of Increase and Decrease are in their parents' image.

Many combinations and variations are possible, and through the eternal mating ritual, the central theme of Rise and Fall is recapitulated. Increasingly complicated systems evolve and endure. At some point, chemicals are able to self replicate, so that even if a molecule is destroyed, its pattern is sent forward through time.

Chemicals band together, They bond. They share electrons. They sometimes make heat and light.

Crucially, they may endure simply because they work well together. Those that endure have a chance to mate with others and make new forms, and higher orders.

Some forms emerge with certain durability-enhancing properties, such as movement away from structures that threaten, and toward opportunities to persist. Implied in this is a mechanism for detecting and responding to a local environment Though it may be purely automatic, eventually it can become what we call Awareness or Intelligence.

At this point, the Dance takes an interesting turn.

Once organized structures gain autonomous directed movement, it becomes possible to seek other structures which will assist with the great game of perpetuity. Movement requires energy, and so packets and pools of energy sources can now be sought. Must now be sought. The freedom and autonomy that is gained by mobility comes at a cost, since energy must now be renewed. This loop is itself a sustaining structure, a standing wave that prefigures every subsequent Epic, Saga, and newspaper Headline.

Such structures, or organisms, will inevitably become configured to store energy, since doing so enhances survival of its pattern. If our Story contains an element of tragedy, it probably begins here.

For now it is possible for one organism to hunt and take the energy of another. Those that are successful will endure, while those that are not, cannot.

At this juncture, the Divine Mating Ceremony of Creation has become competitive.

I will not tell the Story in all its detail. I'm sure you know it already. Tiny particles and wavelets become atoms. Atoms make molecules. Molecules make crystals and fluids. Chemicals become simple organisms. Organisms become more complex, more sophisticated, turn into plants and animals. Some of these form networks and social structures. Some are predatory, some are prey, some are symbiotes. All are repeating patterns and variations of patterns, and all are intertwined in an orgiastic matrix of the original dynamic pulse.

Increase and Decrease, Stasis and Change.

Love, creativity, cooperation, collaboration, and copulation are perfect reflections of the eternal Dance. The erotic desire to combine structures and procreate, to recreate, to permeate, to embrace, to penetrate -- all of this recapitulates the action and movement of the earliest, most primitive structures and forces of the universe, long before what we call life began.

Warfare, predation, competition, and conflict likewise are perfect expressions of the original universal intercourse. The need to combine forces and perpetuate (or perpetrate), to renew strength, to overcome, to surround, to penetrate -- all of this is the reverberation of inevitable inexorable existence.

Success in love and warfare allows for an organism to Increase not only through time, but by taking over space (territory), as well as matter and energy (resources). Unchecked success will eventually lead to an exhaustion of resources, resulting in a decline for the organism.

We could say that something like a Zone of Tolerance exists for virtually any system. Wave patterns (alternations of Increase and Decrease) cease when the amplitude or duration reaches zero. We also see significant disruptions in the pattern when the amplitude exceeds the capacity of the carrier medium, a situation characterized by noise, distortion, or turbulence.

Therefore the success of any survival strategy cannot be evaluated purely in terms of an unlimited tendency toward Increase, but rather a secure adaptation to thriving within a particular Zone of Tolerance.

The Zone of Tolerance is necessarily reciprocal. The more a structure or organism can tolerate, the more is its durability enhanced. At the same time, the better an environment can tolerate a structure or organism, the less likely that essential resources will be depleted. The unified system can then be self-sustaining.

That thing we call Sentience is nothing more than a higher order structure conferring certain advantages of durability. It allows increased abilities of awareness of surroundings, analysis of situations, modeling scenarios, seeking and securing advantage while avoiding, repelling, or eliminating threats.

And now the Dance pirouettes yet again.

Each stage of the development of increasingly complex patterns and structures arises out of an inevitability of circumstance. Sentience may also be an inevitable outcome, but with it comes certain inescapable consequences.

Specifically, true Sentience will always tend towards some degree of love, cooperation, and symbiosis.

For example, a Sentient predator will realize that unregulated predation might eliminate a food source, or reduce it to the extent that the predator will suffer starvation and population reduction before the balance is restored. Therefore a wise and capable predator will necessarily take steps to care for, not just the food stock itself, but to the extent possible, the entire ecosystem which supports it.

Similarly, no Sentient creature will assume that it can procreate unreservedly without simultaneously addressing the need for an expansion of viable territory. To do otherwise invites harsh external regulatory forces such as epidemics, intra-species warfare, or (again) massive starvation.

All systems are ultimately self-regulating, and oscillate around some attractor zone of balance. However, the restoration of balance, what we sometimes euphemistically call "readjustment periods" can be horrifically unkind to individuals and whole societies of organisms.

The Sentient creature can study these dynamics and participate in a system in such a way as to be individually and socially self-regulating, which in turn can foster a gentler kind of auto-regulation of the larger system.

The Sentient may realize that we cannot, and should not even try, to escape the reality of competition and warfare. At the same time, a truly Sentient creature might continually seek a better method of combat that fosters a wider Zone of Tolerance. The orientation of such a system or practice would be toward more robust individuals and cultures that are less vulnerable or attractive to hostile forces, whether biological or environmental. At the same time, the necessary exploitation of resources and need for control of other organisms and cultures would be balanced by an appropriate level of engagement which is sustainable and easier on the larger system, and which does not threaten long term survival of the system or its constituents.

Through introspection (self-reflection is the great gift and the great curse of Sentience), a creature might examine how its own nature has been shaped by evolutionary forces. Endowed with sufficient awareness and problem-solving abilities, it can recognize that its natural instincts, while adequate for the survival of its own species (so far, at least), may not be the very best possible adaptations or living strategies. For instance, a creature might decide to fully celebrate its reproductive urges, but take precautions against the unintended consequences of disease and overpopulation.

An argument could be made that the ultimate adaptation would be the ability to volitionally adapt one's own adaptations to fit short and long-term survival and vitality. At some point in our Story, we might introduce a character that chooses to evolve itself. Part of this would simply be behavioral. As mentioned above, instincts can be seen as relatively immutable, but habits are not. Such a creature would capitalize on its many-billion-years inheritance by investing wisely in the future and living lavishly within its Zone of Tolerance.

And to the extent that the self-directed Sentient has evolved technologies to express its will, it is inevitable that it should turn its tools upon itself and redesign its very biology. The teller of this Story belongs to the group that sometimes describes itself as Homo Sapiens Sapiens, roughly "the one who knows that it knows." Knowledge and wisdom are the precursors to right action, so it may be that the next stage of development, the next chapter in our Story, is "the one who designs its own design, or Homo Designarens Designarens." Or maybe "Homo Faciens Faciens."

It may be that the Chapter is upon us. It may be that the next evolutionary pas de deux is required to avoid, moderate, or survive the current "readjustment period." It is not hubris to observe that we need an improved way of being. Changes of habit and behavior alone will go a long way toward improving, not just human kind, but all things interconnected with us. Even so, we need a new being as well. We are not what we once were. We should not expect that we will always be what we are. If evolutionary theory holds, adaptations are largely resultant from environmental conditions. Already we are drastically altering our own environment. More people live in urban settings than elsewhere. If this continues, we should expect that we are inadvertently setting the course of our own evolution, and affecting that of other creatures and flora into the (Faustian) bargain.

The fact is, we are already deep into the project of recreating the world, and our own species along with it. The bad news is that currently, for the most part, we are doing it in our sleep. I'd like to trumpet the reveille call for us all to wake up. There is no good reason to turn back the clock and revert to a more primitive existence, and many reasons for going forward. All our actions, individually and collectively, what we do here and now, determine what we will be like in 10,000 years. Or IF we'll be.

Who cares? Sadly, not everyone. But if enough do, then... it will be enough.

O-Sensei is often quoted as saying that his aikido arose from the spirit of loving protection for all things. Yet if we look at the quote, what he really said was that the fundamental motive of budo, not just aikido, is the spirit of loving protection for all things.

I think my own ruminations along these lines are in accord with what O-Sensei claimed to have seen in a flash. I take the liberty to paraphrase and expand on what i believe he must have meant, and what I wholeheartedly agree with: There is no warfare that does not also put ourselves and all that we love in peril. There is no personal defense that does not necessitate protection and fostering of one's personal support system. There is no tribal or national defense that is not made better by a wise reconciliation with adversaries.

Furthermore, I think this explains O-Sensei's attraction to farming. Agriculture, after all, is a kind of warfare, inasmuch as it requires the taking over of a territory, imposing one's will upon it, and defending it against pests, disease, poachers, and the vagrancies of the weather. Yet the purpose of farming is to sustain life. Raising crops and livestock requires a tremendous devotion of love and energy to maintain their health and well-being, and all of this is so there can be bountiful nourishment for the farmer and family and larger community. Wise agriculture is less about the imposition of will and more about the blending of personal will with the universal. Every farmer understands and aims to be in harmony with the cycles and seasons of Increase and Decrease.

The Story of Stasis and Change, Increase and Decrease, never ends even if we somehow opt ourselves out of it. Even without story tellers, the Dance continues, following its own rhyme and rhythm and reason.

Aiki happens at the molecular level and beyond, and at the galactic level and beyond. O-Sensei did not invent it, he merely recognized it hidden deep at the root of all budo. Modern budo, with atomic power and guided missiles, as well as feudal struggles among all nations have taken budo out of its Zone of Tolerance. Aiki is there at the root of it, always -- but it is possible for systems to overextend and collapse.

Ueshiba's genius lies in the practice which can bring forth aiki from the roots to the branches, where it can once again flower and reach fruition.

Aiki is not built into the fabric of existence -- it is the fabric of existence. The seeds of aiki are forever regenerative, but we farmers of aikido nevertheless need to tend the crop and perpetuate the cycle of love for all things.

If we are Sentient, it is given to us to continue to evolve. The statement is both reflexive and transitive. As we evolve ourselves, we necessarily evolve all that connects with us. We cannot help but be part of a constantly changing universe. We change it, at least on our local level, even as we change within it. As we evolve our architectures and city planning and farming and fishing practices, we affect the flora and fauna that eventually must adapt to these environments and our actions upon them.

What kind of human being do you want to be? What kind of a world do you want to live in?

What are you waiting for?

Brother, can you spare some Change?


All the games cannot be yours
All the sights, the treasures of the eye
Does the divided soul remain the same?
No equation to explain
Destiny's hand
Moved, by love
Drawn by the whispering shadows
Into the mathematics
of our desire



--
Songpoem excerpts from "It Takes Time" Patti and Fred Smith
Thanks to Raanan and Katie for help with the Latin. Hac in hora, sine mora, corde pulsum tangite.

Incidentally, though it was not consciously on my mind when writing this article, I've been reminded that it's fitting that I should wish Charles Darwin a Happy 200th Birthday.

Finally, I'd like to wish all Particles and Conjugations, whether of Physics or Linguistics, a very Happy Valentine's Day. This year, 2009, February 14th marks my 30th anniversary in love with aikido. May we all find ecstasy in Union and Division, Integration and Differentiation -- a symphonic calculus constructed and conducted by no less a Hand than Creation Itself.

--
2/12/09
Ross Robertson
Still Point Aikido Systems
Honmatsu Aikido
Austin TX, USA

www.stillpointaikido.com
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