I have been reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Although often frustrating and very heady, it is a fascinating book. He discusses this idea of Chaos vs Higher Order, giving the example of a forest that has been untouched by man versus a landscaped park. What part of us is it that finds calm in the landscaped park and which part of us finds calm in the forest? They are two very different parts of who we are.
We spend so much time in our heads that I think that the thinking part of our minds craves linearity and order, like that which is found in a landscaped park. However, we have very different definitions of order in our minds as we do in our bodies. I think of the forest like a Magic Eye Puzzle. Remember those? The Cinnamon Toast Crunch box always had one growing up!
On first glance they look like a bunch of lines, in no apparent order. But as you blur your eyes and look below that surface level of apparent chaos, an image appears to pop out of the puzzle. Amazingly once you see it you can’t go back to not-seeing. The forest may seem like chaos at first glance: trees are scattered haphazardly with fallen pine cones and branches; streams and rivers follow random paths; animals live and die based on some hierarchical rule that we can’t exactly define.
However, when we let our eyes blur, or in this case, quiet the thinking mind, we come to see that there is far more order than originally perceived. Everything is governed by a higher order for a greater purpose of the whole. Fallen branches and pine cones lend themselves to fires, clearing dead trees and germinating the cones for new growth; water follows a path of least resistance, always leading to the lowest point; the food chain lends itself to evolution of species. And like the Magic Eye, once you see this deeper order of things, you can’t go back to not-seeing.
Just because we aren’t able to initially perceive the order of the forest—or even of the world that we live in—doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. The paradox lies in that the harder we try to see it—the Magic Eye or the forest or our egoic self or even our true essence—the harder it is to see. It takes a quieting of the mind in order to notice the subtler levels of order that exist around us.