Victor MacGill Chaos and Complexity
Magic and Mystery
Victor MacGill's website
Mandelbrot Set

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

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My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
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Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
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Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
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Short previews
of all talks

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My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

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Other pages on my site.....

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Theosophical Soc logo

The Dunedin Theosophical Society

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Evolve logo

The Evolve Holistic Development Trust
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A Human Map

map of NZA map tells us what a particular area of land looks like and gives much useful information about it as in the map of New Zealand shown here. We can see Dunedin in the south, Cook Strait near the middle and Auckland in the north.
I want to create such a map of a human being.

One part of who we are is our physical self and we already have very good maps of that part of ourselves. A book on physiology and anatomy is a map of our physical body as it the diagram to the left, but we are much more than just our physical self, so we have to look more deeply to get a full map of ourselves.

One description of a human being, which I want to use, says we have four parts: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

anatomical man On the physical level, we are made of cells. Cells are most amazing. They have many parts all working together. Chemicals enter the cell and chemical leave the cell. Body cells have DNA as a blueprint for their growth. Cells can't do much, however on their own, so cells join together to form tissue. Tissue can do things individual cells could never do. Groups of tissue then joins together to form glands, which again can do things tissue cannot do. Glands then join together to form body systems like the circulatory, respiratory, nervous or skeletal systems. All these together form a human body, which of course is capable of all  sorts  of things a body system can't do.

What we see from this is a basic principle of life; that it is a wholeness made up of levels within levels with each level combining to creating the next one. These "systems within systems" are called fractals. Life is fractal.

4 aspects to brainNext, we will consider the human brain, which is also fractal and teaches us some interesting things. There are basically three levels within levels. The inside level is called the mid-brain and is related to our basic survival needs. It controls things like breathing, heart beat, blood pressure, temperature control, and instinctual behaviour. Without it, we die very quickly.

Wrapped around the survival brain, which controls our physical body, we have the limbic system, which controls our emotions. The main emotions are anger, sadness, disgust, joy, and fear. The emotional brain is capable of more complex functions than the instinctual survival brain.

Wrapped around the emotional brain is the cerebral cortex or thinking brain. This is even more complex and controls our higher functions. Scientists would generally stop at this level, but a logical step would be to add a spiritual level, which is related to even higher functions.

But let's step back and look at what we have here, our brain forms a map of our whole being: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. This is amazing, but it is only the start.

If we look at the brain of a fish, a frog or a lizard, all creatures that are the most basic and primitive, we find they only have a basic survival brain, which is also called a reptilian brain. They operate entirely by instinct, because they don't have the brain power for anything more complex.

More complex creatures like rats, mice, dogs, and cats have a survival brain and an emotional brain. They feel emotions like fear and anger, which improves their ability to survive compared to creatures who only have instincts.

Next, are creatures like monkeys, apes, and dolphins, which have a thinking brain, and of course, with the use of language, is us, the human being.

At a spiritual level we might find angels and other spiritual beings.

So, not only is our brain a map of all the aspects that make up a human being, it is also map of our total evolutionary history of the past four and a half billion years from single cells, which our body is made of, through all the different creatures up to human being. And not only that, but it also a map of our future spiritual potential, of what we can become.

australopithecus The next part of our map looks at our social evolution. Again we have layers within layers. An individual is a part of a family, which is usually part of an extended family, which is part of a community, which is part of a town or city, which is part of a nation, which is part of our planet. When you think about it, this is a map of the last three million years of our social evolution since our ancestors first left their trees in small family groups in the African jungle to walk upright on the savanna, right through to whole planet linked by the Internet, jet travel and instant communications.
 
A system called Spiral Dynamics maps human social development very well. According to Spiral Masai warriors, tribal peopleDynamics the first stage is small family groups living at a basic survival level. There may well be no humans living at this level today. As the family groups grow they become tribal community groups. The tribes have chiefs, and a person's rank is mainly determined by whether their family is part of a chiefly family line, roles are sharply defined, and shamans play a crucial role in the spiritual life if the people. They generally coexist quite peacefully, but as tribes become bigger and the number of tribes increases, tension rises. Tribes shift to form warrior based societies and eventually a strong tribal chief will found an empire with tribes either supporting the new king or being destroyed by him <it virtually always is a him>.

TutankhamenEmpires often begin from strong city states like Athens or Rome.

Empires like the Egyptians, Greeks, Aztecs or the Chin dynasty use violence and threats to hold their empire together. The violence will always cause resentment and anger from the victims, often resulting in yet another violent revolution. Something else is needed to keep the empire together in the long term.

Consistently through history, empires have maintained their ongoing existence by developing a unified set or values and beliefs for everyone  in the empire. This significantly reduces the levels of conflict.

This sense of unity through unified beliefs is seen in Christianity, Islam and Communism. These sets of beliefs generally all claim that their truth is the only truth and sharply divide believers and non-believers.

As time continues, people react against being told what to believe and having no say in how their society is run. What follows is a different revolution, overthrowing the ruling class. In the next stage it is replaced by a nation or republic ruled by a democracy. France and USA are obvious examples. Being democracies, they tend to focus on the individual and be materialistic. Most of our modern world lives at this level. Eventually though people get tired of this way of life thinking "there must be more to life than this materialism".

This propels them into the next stage typified by the alternative movement, New Age and green, environmental life styles.

The down side of this stage is the tendency to be too idealistic and impractical, and they can still be antagonistic towards those who do not see the world as they do.

planet earth The next stage is the integral  stage where people are able to integrate and work with all the previous stages, building on their positive aspects. For example, recognising that the violent empire stage is also a stage of vigour and courage and the tribal stage has strong community values often lost at higher levels. This  integral stage is now just starting to develop and is happening at a planetary level.

If you have been alert you will have noticed our same basic stages hidden in the Spiral Dynamics' levels of civilization. The survival stage relates to the physical aspect of our being, through  to the empire, which  is emotional, through to the  
Democratic nation, which is thinking, and on to integral, which is spiritual.

There is another map which links human beings to nature. The same fractals we see in human beings, all the levels within levels we see all about us in nature. We see similar patterns repeated at different levels in tree branches, in vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, wave patterns,  river patterns, and all around the natural environment. We are made of the same basic patterns than the nature we live in.

aurasAnd now to the final map, which again you won't find in any scientific book. This is about levels of subtle bodies. The lowest is the physical body, around it are levels of aura, an emotional subtle body, an  intellectual subtle body and a spiritual subtle body. Ken Wilber describes these subtle bodies as levels of spiritual consciousness, the first where we have an emotional understanding of God, the second where we have an intellectual understanding and the final stage where we have a full spiritual experience  of being one with God.

When we put all this together, we get a truly amazing picture of what we are as human beings. It shows us as being one with each other, one with our ancestry, one with nature and one with our universe.

I would like to conclude with a thought for you to mull over. Perhaps this picture of life as a wholeness made up of levers within layers each mapping back on to themselves is actually a map of God, and of course, the amazing process of co-creation that includes you and me.

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