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“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” Part 2

by / Monday, 06 December 2010 / Published in Uncategorized

Last time, in Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Part 1 (please read or listen to Part 1 first, before reading or listening to this post), after describing how everything in the universe is in the process of falling apart, I ended by posing what I called The Big Question:

How, in a universe irrevocably moving toward increased disorder, did something as complex and organized as life develop? Why do some things become more ordered?

How, indeed. This is an incredibly important question. You wouldn’t be here if SOMETHING had not happened to counteract all that entropy.

Despite the evil Mr. Entropy, here’s what happened, beginning eons ago:

Atoms became molecules, which became amino acids, which became proteins, which became single celled organisms, which became more complex organisms, then plants, animals, and eventually human beings–who then created social systems and even more complex ways of ordering things, such as art and creativity and cities.

How could this happen if entropy is always increasing?

Scientists swept this question under the rug for over a hundred years after the laws of thermodynamics were formulated. They just didn’t have the mathematical and scientific ability to deal with the infinite number of variables involved in complex systems. But Ilya Prigogine and other scientists, using probability theory and the new field of chaos theory, finally answered this intriguing question.

And, the answer turned out to be a real stunner! Prigogine’s “Ah-ha!” was that order arises because of chaos, not in spite of it.

Let’s look more closely. Prigogine realized that the Second Law applies only to closed systems. Closed systems are self-contained, already at equilibrium. They can’t exchange energy or matter with their environment. Examples would include a brick, a pile of sand, a piece of plastic.

Living systems, however, are open systems. Open systems freely exchange energy and matter with their environment. For instance, we take in heat, light, food, air, information, and other things, and give off carbon dioxide, waste, heat, art, taxes, and so on.

Open systems are far from equilibrium. They are constantly in motion, adapting, changing, adjusting to unpredictable stimuli. They grow and change in unexpected ways. They reproduce, fix themselves, and adapt if part of the system is lost or altered.

An open system is a flow of energy and matter–like a whirlpool. Water is constantly entering the top of a whirlpool and constantly exiting at the bottom. In fact, the whirlpool is the water coming in and going out. In the same way, you are like a whirlpool, though your whirlpool is moving more slowly. Matter and energy enter and exit, constantly. And, like the whirlpool, you aren’t just a container with something flowing through it—you are the flow itself.

Open systems adapt. Every day you deal with different sights, sounds, people, happenings. The weather changes, you eat different foods, you’re confronted with new information. Most of the time you “go with the flow” and easily deal with what happens. Once in a while, though, it’s just too much. You feel the chaos. And, sometimes, if conditions are right, you’re transformed by it. We’ll see why in just a moment.

Prigogine was studying a chemical process called the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, where four chemicals in a shallow dish at a specific temperature amazingly self-organize into concentric, spiraling waves, spreading and pulsing with clock-like regularity and changing colors at precise intervals. This seemed to contradict the Second Law–it decreased entropy and increased order.

Ultimately, though, the second law WAS obeyed, though in a surprising way: this reaction became more ordered by actually exporting entropy to the surrounding environment! In other words, open systems can become more ordered by increasing their ability to export entropy to the environment.

Prigogine called these systems dissipative structures–they dissipate entropy. This should be of personal interest to you, because YOU are a dissipative structure. All open systems, including living systems, are matter and energy whirlpools–they maintain their structure by constantly taking in matter and energy and exporting the resulting entropy.

A brick can’t export entropy. When energy or matter affects a brick, it’s either worn down or it shatters. A dissipative structure, however, dissipates enough entropy to maintain its structure. In this way, it deals with input and change.

Here’s the key point, though: If the system can’t get rid of the entropy, it builds up, and eventually the system falls apart.

The more complex an open system is, the more fragile (and, the more dynamic). And, the more entropy it must dissipate to maintain its structure.  A Ferrari is more complex than a Honda Civic. It’s also more fragile and spends more time in the shop. It’s also much more dynamic and can handle a more varied environment. It corners better, accelerates better, and so on. It thrives in far-from equilibrium, high-energy, unstable driving environments.

So, you’re an open system, a flow of energy. To continue to exist, you need continuous food, air, water, and so on. And, you must continually get rid of a corresponding amount of entropy, by exhaling, excreting, moving, giving off heat, and so on. If you don’t, the entropy builds up inside–and we all know how that feels.

I talk a lot about threshold in Centerpointe support materials. Each open system has a threshold: the point where what’s coming in exceeds the system’s ability to dissipate the necessary entropy.

Up to that threshold, you easily deal with change. Your spouse won’t do what you want, you’re out of eggs, you miss your bus, the power goes out, you lose your keys, the boss yells at you, whatever. You deal with it. Dealing with the events of your day (as well as all your biological processes) creates entropy, but you’re usually able to dissipate it and maintain your equilibrium.

But when you reach your threshold, though, the input is too much. Why? Because you’ve reached the point where you can’t get rid of the entropy fast enough. It builds up and you literally become more chaotic, less ordered. Hopefully, after a short while the excess input slows a little and you have time to get rid of the buildup. Sometimes, though, it just keeps building up (I’m sure you know what I mean). If this continues, at some point the chaos becomes so great that the system (you) begin to become quite unstable.

Finally, things might reach a critical stage, where one additional small fluctuation causes the system to fly apart. Do you remember the scene in Monte Python’s The Meaning of Life, where Mr. Creosote is offered “just one thin mint” after eating everything in the restaurant, and then he explodes? Well, maybe that’s not the best example. Never mind. This moment, though, where the chaos becomes so great that the system can’t sustain itself any longer, is called a bifurcation point. It’s a moment of truth, a fork in the road, a point of no return, a leap into the unknown.

What happens next? No one knows–until it happens. Why? Because there are an infinite number of possible outcomes. When enough entropy builds up, the system just might come to a crashing halt and cease to exist as a viable system. However, there are an infinite number of other possible outcomes–which, I think you’ll agree, is a lot. These are arranged in a bell curve (google it), with the most probable outcomes in the center and the least probable at the edges. One of those infinite numbers of outcomes is the death of the system, but all the others involve the system reorganizing in a new way, at a higher, more complex level.

What is this new structure like (remember, we’re talking about you)? First, it’s more complex. Second, it can handle input that the old system couldn’t handle, because it can dissipate more entropy. It’s better at getting rid of chaos.

This process applies to all open systems: a seed germinating, a highway system, a society, a living thing, an ecosystem, a galaxy. A seed can remain a seed, and deal with changes in moisture, temperature, and so forth, up to a point. Eventually, though, a seed can’t dissipate enough entropy to remain a seed. It goes into chaos, temporarily, and then bursts into a seedling.

A cell in your body takes in nutrients, water, heat, and so on, and gives off waste products and in other ways dissipates entropy. If it can’t dissipate enough entropy to stay a single cell, though, it either dies or reorganize at a higher level by going through mitosis, cell division. It becomes two cells. You’ll remember from high school biology that in cell division the nuclear material goes into chaos temporarily, followed by the cell dividing.

Consider the evolution of scientific thought. The prevailing theories of science maintain their structure, even as new information is discovered. At a certain point, though, enough new information comes to light that old theories can’t continue to exist. Human thinking goes through a period of chaos and then suddenly reorganizes in a new way, integrating the new information and creating a new paradigm.

When Galileo and Copernicus said that the earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way around, the church fought these new ideas for a long time. But as more and more evidence came to light, a point came where thinking on this subject became more and more chaotic, until the old way of seeing things broke down and was replaced by a new perspective.

This has happened countless times, in science, in medicine, in technology, in every area of life. It’s happened for you, personally, over and over. In your life you’ve had a series of ways of seeing and dealing with the world. Each one worked pretty well–until it didn’t. Then, you went through a time of chaos, where things didn’t make sense, until a new way of making sense of your life suddenly replaced the old way. This happens when we learn to talk, when we first start school, when we go off to college, when we first go out on our own, when we realize we’re getting old, and at several other times.

It happens over and over as you use Holosync. In each case, new input, if there’s enough of it, throws things into chaos. Then, at some point, your view of yourself and how to deal with life reorganizes at a higher, more complex, more functional level.

Here’s another example: a highway system. When you add in the highway engineers, a highway system is an open system. Cars come into the system, and through the off-ramps and exits, cars leave the system. If more vehicles come into the system than the system can dissipate, what happens? Chaos. A traffic jam. But if the highway engineers come along and build more lanes and more exits, the highway system reorganizes at a higher level that can dissipate the entropy.

Or, a revolution creates a new government that handles the problems the old government couldn’t solve. Your body creates new antibodies that overcome a disease. Your brain creates new learnings that allow you to deal with what previously overwhelmed you. Or, Saul of Tarsus is transformed into St. Paul.

Out of chaos, a transformed system emerges.

Scientists call such a process saltatory: characterized by a series of leaps and bounds, or quantum leaps. Each new system, each new perspective, involves a true death and rebirth, and truly is new.

This applies to every field of human inquiry: how cells transform food into energy, how an audience breaks into applause, the growth of plants, the organization of society, bee swarms, human culture, stock market patterns, altered states of consciousness, the interaction of nerve cells, the origin and development of cancer cells, behavior changes, and artistic expression. All change in the universe happens in this way.

Personally, I find this awe-inspiring.

In Part 3, which I will post in just a few days, I’ll finish this tale of chaos and reorganization by describing why you fight against this process (the answer will surprise you), why this fight is unnecessary (and a cause of most of your suffering), and what you can do instead.

Until then, try to hold yourself together.

And, as always, be well.



(click the player above to listen to this post)

19 Responses to ““Breaking Up is Hard to Do” Part 2”

  1. Vincey Light Boy says :

    Dear Bill, you seem very confused in your chaotic thought!

    Chaos is a narrow window.

    If you were to press you nose to a Monet all you would see is a blur. Step back and a pattern would emerge. Further back still a picture. A picture full of intention and meaning.

    If you were to press your nose to the subatomic particles and vibrations of a cell in the human body, you would see an apparently random constellation of twinklings – as matter blinked in and out of existence. Moving back, intricate patterns of atoms and molecules would appear. Further back still, beautiful structures would take shape, each with a purpose and a specific place in the whole. At the point an entire cell is visible, a miraculous organization becomes evident. Out of the chaos, order.

    We see only what we are capable of seeing. If we see chaos, it is because our thoughts and perceptions are chaotic. If we see order and clarity, it is because our mind is ordered and clear.

    Life is not breaking down. It is dancing. And in the constant flux of interactions and relationships, finding ever greater levels of Unity. Remembering ever greater levels of Unity. And in the process casts off patterns and programs of forgetfulness, which disconnect it from the source of all Life…

    FROM BILL: Yes, and you completely missed the point of this (and the previous) post. I’m not making this stuff up. This is one of the most respected explanations of HOW the universe dances. Don’t try to be such a know-it-all based on a few books you read.

  2. Catherine says :

    please hurry! I will hold myself together until then!

  3. Dennis Caxton says :

    Simply put, simply perfect.

    Although I fear that some of us need to grow up a little before we actually have a solid point to make.

    Don’t worry, it will happen – eventually!

  4. Joan Brooks says :

    Awesome post Bill. Wow, just this morning I gave thanks for the day You and Holosync came into my life four years ago. I love this story – in one of your books – Thresholds of the Mind, that explains everything so clear for my mind (an open system). Thank You, Thank You! joan

  5. Catherine S says :

    I see that I’m in the flow. The facts your blog posts present are in keeping with information I’ve received from various places over the last twenty years. It is just another sign post on the road of my life that I’m going in the right direction.
    Thank you.
    I’m looking forward to the next post!

  6. Matt P says :

    So whether or not an open system breaks down due to chaos or spontaneously organizes at a higher level is completely random? Or is the reason for this just currently unknown?

    FROM BILL: No, it isn’t random. It just isn’t linear, in the same way that Newton’s Laws of Motion are. If you throw a ball with a certain force, at a certain angle, in a certain wind, you can calculate where it will land, at what angle, how fast it will be going when it lands, and with what amount of force. Once you throw it, if you know the starting condtions (force and angle of the throw, and the force and direction of the wind), you can tell what will happen. An open system just has so many variables and possibilities of how they might interact during the process that what will happen isn’t linear. It can only be determined with probibilities.

    To stay with something that somewhat mirrors the “throwing-a-ball” example, if you had a baseball game, there are 18 players, an umpire, certain weather conditions, and many decisions and actions made continuously during the game. Even if you knew everything about each player and the other original conditions, you can’t say for sure how the game will turn out. There are an infinite number of paths the game could take, with that path changing all the time. In a way, a baseball game is a lot like an open system in that way. You could assign a probability for certain outcomes, but no one knows until the game is played how it will really turn out.

  7. ILIR kALORËSI says :

    Thank you very very much, for this blog post, and thank you, for that you care for explaining.

    I’m looking forward to the next post!

    FROM BILL: It’s planned for Friday.

  8. Vincey Light Boy says :

    Dear Bill, I am absolutely astonished by your response to my post, in which you make no attempt to engage with the points I raise (in the spirit of enquiry, Truth, sharing and the hope that a fruitful exchange might result) preferring instead to insult me in the most offensive manner.

    The point I was making was simple – and still I believe valid. Our perceptions change depending on our perspective. Close up a mosaic appears to be a riot of fragments and yet at a distance it can be seen to form a complete image. One viewpoint gives the illusion of chaos. The other a picture of perfect harmony and order.

    Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of health, disease and healing. From one perspective sickness and disease appears to inflict chaos, disorder, degeneration and decay on an individual. And yet from a wider perspective – a spiritual perspective – these same processes can be seen to reflect a much larger drive pressing for re-integration, health and wholeness.

    And so, whenever I find myself getting lost in too many details, or becoming embroiled in intellectual conundrums about the nature of reality, I remind myself to step back, let go of thinking, look with awe at the heavens, or within, and acknowledge with an open mind and an uplifted heart, the perfect harmony unfolding, beyond my present understanding…

    This brings me back to love, light and Truth and the reasons why I am clinging so tightly to the illusions, delusions and beliefs I feel compelled to hold so dear and defend.

    These insights I offer from my own direct experience – not books.

    18 years as a veterinary surgeon treating sick animals of all shapes and sizes. 12 years as a qualified homeopath helping both animals and people heal. 11 years as a trained energy therapist (UK, USA, Thailand, China) working with both people and animals. Pilgrimages to India, Sri Lanka, Israel… First hand experience of most alternative “healing” modalities. 20 years inner exploration and meditation….

    I am not a know-it-all. I am a seeker of Illumination and Truth interested in sharing what I truly know, openly and honestly with others, so that I may learn and continue to grow.

    I leave passing judgments on others – especially those I don’t know – and dogmatic pronunciations to the real know-it-alls.

    FROM BILL: What can I say? As I said, you missed the whole point. Go read it again. What you said was, as far as it goes, true. However, I was not talking about chaos in the same sense that you were talking about. This idea of self-organizing systems is something you need to understand before you comment on it.

  9. Elaine says :

    I sure appreciate your going back to basics, Bill! Very valuable! Even though I’ve read your book & booklet until the ink was just about worn off the page, there are still “in the trenches” questions that puzzle me.

    So, there I am in “Immersion” and I am feeling antsy. My muscles want to flex and twitch. In’eresting.

    Is this a desire to “dissipate entropy”?

    IF I give into the impulse, tense up, relax, tense up…am I slowing down my progression towards reaching a threshhold, going into chaos, and –I can hardly wait– re-organizing?

    In other words, if I dissipate energy physically, will it take me longer to get smarter?

    I didn’t “give in” this time. I witnessed the antsy-ness. I attempted to back-track it, but it seems to have been generated far below the level of consciousness. I focussed on breathing, and continued watching my muscles being antsy until…well, there I was focussing on something else.

    FROM BILL: It’s resistance to the excess input from Holosync. With Holosync you really can’t do anything to dissipate enough of it. Hence the inevitable reorganization. It’s really a matter of whether or not you resist it and feel uncomfortable or relax and allow it. In some ways, especially at first (even at the first part of each new level) you’re just not aware enough of your resistance to do much about it. So just watch with curiosity. Really, everything you need to do is in the support material. People often read it BEFORE what is described happens and then don’t remember what they read. If you go back now and re-read it you’ll see all kinds of things that didn’t register when you first read it but will make a lot of sense now.

  10. Elaine says :

    And now a completely different question: You say,

    “The prevailing theories of science maintain their structure, even as new information is discovered. At a certain point, though, enough new information comes to light that old theories can’t continue to exist. Human thinking goes through a period of chaos and then suddenly reorganizes in a new way, integrating the new information and creating a new paradigm.

    Could it be that “magical thinking” is a manifestation of “…human thinking going through a period of chaos…”
    could it be that in our resistance to “magical thinking” we are also in danger of resisting some new information which doesn’t fit the current thinking?

    Are we on the brink of new paradigm, aka, the Age of Aquarius-but-it-won’t-be-what-we-expected? lol

    FROM BILL: Yes, it’s resistance to information, except that magical thinking was the hot thing a few thousand years ago, followed by mythic thinking, which was hot until the renaissance. The information being resisted is hardly new. Since everyone goes though all stages in their individual development, we all go through the magical thinking stage (hopefully when we’re 3-6 years old) followed by the mythic stage (up to teenage years, approximately). Many people, though, fail to transcend one or both completely (and the center of developmental gravity in some parts of the world is still magic or mythic). One’s perspective works until it doesn’t. Once it doesn’t, ya gotta move on.

    I strongly suggest re-reading the opening series of posts at the very beginning of the blog, where I discuss these stages in detail. This develpmental piece is quite important to understanding the human condition.

  11. Gloria says :

    Bill, do you have any theory about the Saul story? Do you suppose that he had a change of mind (heart?) which he then imagined was a voice coming from outside of him which sent him into some kind of shock resulting in the physical symptoms? Or are these stories too steeped in myth to try and make sense of them?

    FROM BILL: First, remember that I used this as an example of a huge shift. I could have used anything. The content of the story wasn’t the point.

    My personal opinion? Paul was a bit unhinged psychologically. Plus, he was a killer of innocent people. Either he was sociopathic enough that this didn’t bother him or it weighed on him to the point where he snapped. Many highly charismatic people are a few jingles short of a whole set of bells.

  12. Vincey Light Boy,

    Are you trying to have a discussion and ask questions? Or are you instead trying to advance your own particular agenda, even if it is only tangential to the topic of the original post?


  13. Chris says :


    I’m about halfway done with AL4. I have experienced the “falling apart” and then reorganization that you speak of, many, many times over the past few years. Each reorganization is definitely like a rebirth.
    I feel like a lot of the things I’m trying to do or create are just being built on shifting sand because of this. Each new insight brings greater clarity but also previous interests and endeavors tend to fall away. I’m finding it hard to keep at anything but holosync and just a steady job.
    Is there a time when this “juicing” will stop and I’ll feel ready to actually “move forward,” so to speak? Are there tendencies at certain levels where this happens? could you help give me a map so I know at least where I am or what to expect?


    FROM BILL: People are generally pretty attached to their map of reality, and when it keeps changing it’s a bit unsettling. I got to the point where though I have a map–you need one to get around–I don’t take it seriously AT ALL, and I see it for what it is, a bunch of ideas. So, yes, if you keep going, and if you are flexible enough to allow yourself to let it ALL go, you do come to a point where things stabilize.

    Still, you need a way to make a living, and you need something to do that you enjoy, and which challenges you.

  14. catherine H says :

    Oh boy here we go again.
    The ‘insults’ usually turn out to be well judged and helpful, if you can get past feeling offended.
    Remember it’s your map that’s in question not ‘you’.

    Social étiquette is highly over rated…he he…..

  15. Peter says :

    Chris, I’m also on AL4 and I feel pretty much the same. But I think that I’m getting used to those chaos and reorganization moments. I still resist them but my resistance is lower now than before. I think it’s because I’ve noticed that when I resist anything what happens I suffer more. Don’t worry, you are not alone.

  16. Dorel says :

    I remember once, as a child, we all must have, when, out of so many, this one tantrum must’ve been my greatest that I everpulled, while being with my mum shopping.
    I did it, so that I can get my favorite tin of fruit jellies.
    I cried, yelled, jumped up and dawn, frequently playing dead in the middle of the shopping center, and went like this for a good, good while, until I reached to a point where nothing made sense no more.
    As I reached to that, what I consider, a maximum point of chaos, emotionally I gave up, and went quiet, like felt at peace, even forgot what that was all about.
    So with that, it was my last tantrum that I know about. From that moment on I’ve changed, and came with new tactics to get that tin of jellies, and it worked.
    As an adult, right after an accident, I’ve experienced again the same state of chaos, emotionally, and I remained in limbo for few years after that, until Bill came into my life and changed it as he opened my eyes, and made me see how much I was resisting, by refusing to lett go of that way of life that I was leaving before the accident, and accept this new way that I am here and now.
    I agree with you Bill, there is a great difference between emotional state of chaos, and some unsatisfied experience. For instance, a father and son can end up being too close to a billboard, and that what ever they might be looking at, may not make much sense at all, so they both realize that because this is a large bllboard, and that from where they are, as being to close, is normal that will not make much sense.
    Unsatisfied experience, from that point of view, yes.
    But I do not see how the father or his son may reach that same emotional state of chaos just from that one billboard, unless both or one of them chooses too.
    Bill, you must have many, many, many years of experience in commonsense, I noticed you are using it a lot, and I like that.


  17. Laverne Jacob Weisel says :

    After reading part two the thought that all that we are and all that we know was all created by us which created our map of reality, the road map not the territory as I understand what you are teaching. So all this theory of how the universe works exsist because we made it so. in other words we have to find a solution to our questions that make since to us. So we set out asking all the questions, thinking up all the possibilities until we arrive at a solution that fits in with all the prior formed ideas we had before. Therefore creating a new reality or a new reorganization of what we precieved our reality to be.

  18. Bill Stockmann says :

    There’s too much analyzing going on around here.

  19. Zoltan Gal says :

    Dear Bill,

    Thank you very much for all your hard work and for bringing light into my life!

    If you would be so kind and give me Vincey Light Boy’s email address, with his permision of course.

    I am practising alternative “healing” with animals and humans as well and would like to contact him for help.

    Thank you very much for your kind help

    Zoltan from Budapest Hungary