Origin in the Thought of David Bohm and Jean Gebser

Let’s dwell, for the time being, on David Bohm’s “idea” (if that’s what you wish to call it) that primary reality is best described as “undivided wholeness in flowing movement” (also called “the holomovement” or “Universal Flux”), for this certainly implies that the quest for the ultimate “Ground of Being” is a very tenuous one doomed to be frustrated. This was already suggested by Nietzsche who remarked that the edifice of modern thought and knowledge was erected upon “running water”. This analogy with “running water” is also how Bohm describes the rheomode of consciousness and thinking (and water, as symbol, is very significant as a symbol of origin and also the soul).

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David Bohm: The True Self and the False Self

The simplest way, perhaps, to explain the meaning of David Bohm’s distinction between wholeness and fragmentation in Wholeness and the Implicate Order is as that between what is called “the true self” and what is called “the false self”. The New Normal, which is the churning, chaotic, turbulent, agitated state of fragmentation, is in many respects the last rites of the false self, or what we may optionally refer to as the counterfeit self, the insincere self, or the inauthentic self.

So, there are exact parallels between Bohm’s understanding of “wholeness” and “fragmentation” with what Henri Bortoft calls “authentic” and “counterfeit” wholes, and these counterfeit wholes (“totalities”) are what Bohm calls “fragmentation” and therefore affairs of the false self, or what we may also call the Faker — the fake self.

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David Bohm In the Context of Gebser’s Consciousness Mutation

I have fixed on David Bohm in the last few posts in The Chrysalis because I see in Bohm a case study of that “mutation of consciousness” that Jean Gebser anticipated decades ago and about which he wrote in The Ever-Present Origin. This mutation is what Roenstock-Huessy calls a “metanoia“, or “New Mind” or what Gebser also calls “aperspectival/arational” or “integral” consciousness. This new structure we may also describe as a “Gestalt“, a “logic”, a “pattern” or a “paradigm” that is also quite distinguishable from the old structure or form that is also called “perspectival”, “mental-rational”, or simply “the Modern Mind” or “Cartesian” or Blake’s “Single Vision” (or “Urizen”).

This new mutation I have also referred to as “post-Cartesian”, therefore, inasmuch as it moves beyond the problem of mind-body (or mind-matter) dualism and dichotomy that Bohm associates with “fragmentation” and fragmenting modes of thinking. And this new mode of consciousness is rooted in, and arises from, an authentic new insight into the nature of fundamental reality that Bohm has called “undivided wholeness in flowing movement”. This insight (which is not just a metaphysical presupposition) can only be the result of what Gebser calls “diaphaneity” or “diaphanous” consciousness as the signal characteristic of the new mutation, ie, the “transparency of the world”.

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The Canoe Prophecy

Many years ago, long before the present climate crisis and the “New Normal”, a Canadian aboriginal elder told of a vision he had. The peoples of the Earth were all in one canoe, but the canoe was headed for a very dangerous rapids. If the peoples pulled together and paddled together, all would be well. If not, the canoe would founder and all would be lost together.

That prophecy has stayed on my mind for decades, and is, as you might guess, the reason I take such an interest in Gebser’s and Bohm’s thoughts about present fragmentation and the corrective to this fragmentation.

Just a bit of context for all these postings on The Chrysalis.

David Bohm: Implications and Ramifications of the Rheomode for Reality and Knowledge

Let’s pause here and assess where we’re at in our current exploration of David Bohm’s thinking in Wholeness and the Implicate Order.

Bohm begins with an assessment of the current unsatisfactory state of the contemporary mode of thinking and consciousness we call “the modern mind”, inasmuch as this is become a fragmenting form of thinking that is also inducing a general condition of fragmentation or disintegration in which thinking is not in harmony with fundamental reality nor in inner balance and harmony with itself. Such conditions are described in Buddhism as “samsara“, “dukkha“, and “Maya“, which correspond in meaning to “suffering”, “malaise”, and “ignorance”. The present mode of thinking is therefore aberrant and may be said to be the chief driver of “the New Normal”. In this respect, Bohm is saying pretty much the same thing as Buddhist sociologist David Loy in his essay on “The Suffering System”. Loy’s essay is also a good resource for understanding what Bohm means by “fragmentation”.

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Buddhism and the Bohmian Rheomode

I would like, briefly, to return to an earlier theme in Bohm’s book Wholeness and the Implicate Order because I realised a few moments ago that I overlooked something that seems of crucial importance for understanding what Bohm means by “fragmentation”. In fact, it was something he considered so critical that he italicised it. Yet going through my notes on the section “Wholeness and Fragmentation” I hadn’t even made note of it). In retrospect, it reveals something that is fairly crucial in understanding the “New Normal” as well.

First, let me quote the passage I have in mind here and then follow it up with a couple of comments for clarification (I feel slighly embarrassed that I missed this even after three readings of the section).

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David Bohm on the Rheomode

We ended our review of the first section of David Bohm’s Wholeness and the Implicate Order with Bohm’s thoughts on the current perilous problem of fragmentation, disintegration, or atomisation in the individual, in society, and in the Earth environment. Fragmentation in the individual manifests as Jean Gebser’s “chaotic emotion” and cognitive dissonance, and fragmentation in society manifests as the breakdown of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”, while fragmentation in the Earth ecology manifests as the present climate crisis, while for William Blake this is described as the madness of Urizen, and corresponds to the disintegration of the personality and character structure of the Modern Mind or ego-consciousness.

So, we are in quite dire straits presently. It’s not a matter of finding our way back to wholeness, because Bohm doesn’t seem to think that the human form was ever whole in some mythical “Golden Age” except perhaps in some unconscious way in pre-history. The “rheomode” of thinking is Bohm’s initial step towards the conscious recovery of wholeness.

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