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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at [email protected].
The Psyche of the Solar System
Quantum Astro-Dynamics (QAD)
Rupert Sheldrake says that since a number of scientists have postulated a central role for electromagnetic fields in how consciousness works in living organisms, perhaps the same could be said regarding the electromagnetic and gravitational fields of the sun, leaving open the possibility that the sun could be conscious. In Sheldrake's words,
“The sun would be able to sense what is going on throughout the solar system through the electromagnetic field that pervades the heliosphere, which could act as its primary sense-organ. Thus the sun's mind could, in principle, know about all events within the solar system.... The sun would also be able to sense through its gravitational field the positions and movements of the planets within the solar system, which exert tidal pulls on its body.”
Sheldrake extends this reasoning to the galaxy, to local clusters and superclusters of galaxies, and ultimately to the entire universe as a whole being in some minimal sense conscious through its extended and interlocking if not entangled system of electromagnetic and gravitational fields.
In fact, there is some independent corroborating evidence for this hypothesis, albeit in a modified form. In astrology, the geometric alignments of the planets with respect to the Earth correspond to different qualities of energetic and psychic fields that are manifest in the moods, thoughts, and behaviors of people, life, and events on Earth, and presumably this would be the case with respect to each planet in different ways. However such correspondences would not be the result of a causal influence from electromagnetic or gravitational fields, but from the principle of geometric synchronicity between the planets of the solar system with respect to each planet, which is an acausal field of simultaneous occurrence between outer events and the inner quality of experience and meaning.
Presumably these synchronous fields (like Kepler's harmony of the spheres) would have been imprinted on the matter of the solar system early in its formation, and would have acquired the unique qualities they have with respect to the other planets through a long process of morphic resonance, ultimately acquiring more complex expression in the archetypal resonances that we see in the astrological influences on people today. Therefore astrology is one reason to think the sun, as an extended system of planetary bodily influences, does indeed have consciousness, because if its body parts (planets) are in synchronous relations with human consciousness, life, and events on Earth, then that would be evidence of an integrated system of extended solar consciousness.
To get a sense of how these fields might work, we can think of the solar system as an atom with the sun as its nucleus and the planets as the electrons in orbit. Each planetary orbital has its own unique energetic potential, both in itself and with respect to each of the other planets as they orbit the sun going in and out of various geometric alignments. As the planets go round the sun, each moment in their orbit they will contain a specific energetic potential with respect to the other planets, some in harmonic alignment (and others not) at different times in their orbit. Each moment will therefore contain a unique imprint of the energetic potential for that moment when all the planetary potentials are considered together. That would be considered the planetary birth chart for that moment, and it would contain the sum total of the qualities of energy and energetic potentials defined by the planetary alignments with respect to each other.
As the planets continue to go round the sun they continually overlap with past moments of their own trajectory and that of the other planets, triggering the past potentials that were imprinted into previous moments, and unleashing the energies stored in time as embodied qualities of matter. It is through this continual process of laying down memory imprints, triggering these past potentials in present moments, and laying down new imprints (accumulated from the past and fully integrated for unleashing future potentials) that the solar system becomes, or rather is, a process of accumulative evolution into ever greater complexity, as the harmonies, conflicts, and contradictions of the planetary alignments are put through the crucible of energetic change. I call this process Quantum Astro-Dynamics (QAD), after Quantum Electro-Dynamics (QED) and Quantum Chromo-Dynamics (QCD).
This creative process of the solar system (with the planets and their alignments acting as the system potentials) is also the basic process of the cosmos and evolution more generally, and it is similar to Whitehead's notion of the physics of matter as a creative advance into novelty from moment to moment, which can be expanded using Bohm's idea of the holomovement, or the cosmo-erotic bliss (Eros) of Shiva-Shakti pulsating in and out of the quantum vacuum. Of course, the creativity of the universe is not exhausted by the action of the holomovement, for Kosmic Creativity also involves the future possible forms of matter (quantum potentials) that guide or attract how things self-organize into greater complexity in phase transitions, similar to the hero's journey, which Joseph Campbell believed was a key to the dynamics of spiritual evolution.
In the hero's journey the initiate (or self-system) is put through a crucible of transformative change brought-on by a great crisis or conflict that must be resolved, restoring equilibrium to the chaos, but only temporarily in a continual cycle of descent and ascent in the evolutionary journey of the soul, or individuation. Each transformative stage is step by step, guided or attracted by the potentials available to it for re-establishing equilibrium, drawing on the adjacent possible forms of ones future self for a resolution, and that means using the past as a foundation for the present to launch oneself into the future, as the environment is constantly presenting itself with new challenges. This is the challenge of life itself, of consciousness, and of any self-sustaining system such as a planetary solar system in its early and on-going formation and evolution.
Such self-organization into greater wholes of complexity via the quantum potentials in the self and matter more generally is similar to the evolution of the individual via the planetary alignments and transits in astrology that act as the archetypal potentials of the psyche, where the psyche is the energetic and archetypal potentials of both the solar system and the individual self-system that is born into it and bearing its imprint at any given moment. Carl Jung believed, and Stan Grof and Richard Tarnas also believe, that astrology is a key to the dynamics of spiritual evolution, or the individuation of the self-system. I invite Rupert Sheldrake to join the believers who see the sun not only as being conscious, but who see the solar system as being an expression of the Psyche of the Kosmos Itself in dynamic evolution from moment to moment.
 Rupert Sheldrake, "Is the Sun Conscious?", Journal of Consciousness Studies, 28, No. 3-4, 2021, p. 23