Chapter 4

“Every living organism is an open system” (Ludwig von Bertalanffy 1975: 43).

“ Saying that nothing is closed in the universe leads you to touch the core of your life, which is always present before you try to bring any concept or idea into it” (Katagiri Roshi 2007: 9)

Contents: Introduction - Life as a living Flame - Radiance, Radiance, Radiance... - Subtle Energy - Nonlocality - Relativity of Openness - Opening and Closing - Open and Closed Minds - A Joke - Openness is related to Love, Closure to Fear - Broad Science - Science and Religion/Spirituality - Breathing - What did you do today? - A Meditation: Remember Yourself as Light – Summary - References - Quotes


This chapter deals with the concept pair "openness and closure".

It is related to the first chapter on Wholeness and Fragmentation and the second chapter on Continuum and Discontinuum. It could be even seen as part of these first two chapters, but the focus here is on the openness and closure of living systems and us as examples of living systems. We can be open in many ways, through breathing, radiating light and love, and an open mind supports broad science, which is relevant to spirituality.

Life as a Living Flame

It has been said that in some sense life or more specifically an organism is like a living flame. This is a somewhat poetic rendering of the scientific insight that living systems are open systems. A flame is not living in the strict sense, but it can be seen as a model of an open system. It burns because oxygen is imported from the outside. Products that result from the burning are exported into the environment. And the light of the flame also radiates. A flame is like a shining star, full of radiance (see below).

The openness of living systems is much more complex than that of a flame because living systems appear open in so many ways that are characteristic of life. If we think of ourselves as an example of a living system, it seems obvious that we need to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide to survive; we need to import food and water and eliminate feces and urine. There is a whole ecosystem of living organisms such as bacteria in our intestines and sometimes we may wonder whether we should say that this ecosystem is within us or whether we should see it as an extension of the environment around us, which implies that the interior of our intestinal tract is not a part of us, but rather a part of our environment. Obviously we don’t have to see this just in terms of either/or; we can see it as two complementary views.

We are also open energetically. In fact, we cannot sustain life without importing energy. It is well known that the oxygen and food we take in provides energy for the functioning of our organism. However, when we breathe in, we do not just breathe in oxygen; we also breathe in energy in a subtle form. In Yoga this energy is referred to as prana, in Qigong and Taiji (Tai Chi) it is called qi (chi) (see also
Chapter 2). Many people who have not practiced Yoga or Qigong may be skeptical of this energy. The best way to become convinced of its existence is to practice one of these forms. After a relatively short time, one can feel the energy. Furthermore, one can feel how the energy circulates in the body and how we are part of a wider energy field beyond our body.

There is also a simple way to experience this energy by means of a
Chi Machine. This machine shakes our body while we are lying on the floor with our ankles placed into the grooves of the footrest on top of the machine. The footrest moves back and forth, thus carrying our feet briskly from side to side. This movement is transmitted through our whole body leading to a swinging motion reminiscent of that of a fish swimming in water. When the machine stops after a set time, which may be up to 15 minutes, one feels energized. I personally feel like dissolved in an unbounded energy field. In other words: I feel open toward cosmic energy.

We are open systems not only physically and energetically, but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Our emotions and our thoughts influence the world around us as we are influenced by the emotions and thoughts of people around us. Even emotions and thoughts that are not outwardly expressed may have an influence on others around us. Psychics are aware of such hidden emotions and thoughts. Good emotions and thoughts may have beneficial effects, whereas bad emotions and thoughts may have adverse effects. Many people may not be aware of such influences, but they may be influenced without knowing it. The lesson then is obvious: Watch your emotions and thoughts! Of course, we usually cannot control what arises in us. But we may have the choice to dwell on negative emotions and thoughts, or to release them and cultivate more positive emotions and thoughts.

Openness in its many ways means interconnectedness. This interconnectedness is increasingly recognized by science. In spirituality and the arts it has been known for a long time. Centuries ago, John Donne wrote:

No man is an
island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main....
Any man’s
death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee.

Radiance, Radiance, Radiance…

Openness can express itself as radiance
, radiance that we may often not perceive because we have the habit of seeing the world as a world of solid things, boxes within boxes (see Chapter 1). Even in realms beyond our direct observation, we tend to postulate closed in solid entities. Thus for a long time atoms were imagined as solid building blocks. As the picture of atoms was refined, they were thought to consist of a nucleus and particles (electrons) swirling around it. But then it became clear that the particles also can be seen as waves. Thus they might be called “waveicles”. When they are hit by photons, for example, they emit electromagnetic radiation.

At the level of cells, the story is similar. Originally, low magnification through simple microscopes gave the impression of solidly bounded entities; therefore, they were called cells. But higher magnification through electron microscopes revealed that the living content of cells radiates into their environment, which may be other cells, body fluids or the environment of the organism (see
Chapter 1). Similarly, the cell nucleus originally appeared as a solid structure. But higher magnification showed that it has pores through which it radiates into other parts of the cell.

Looking at the whole organism, the story is similar. In our ordinarily conditioned state of consciousness, the organism such as a human organism appears as a well delineated solid entity. However, people in altered states of consciousness may see an aura radiating from the body. This aura may have a much stronger radiance in highly evolved saints and sages. It is therefore not surprising that in paintings they are often pictured with a halo of bright light surrounding their head or entire body. Contrary to a common assumption, this halo is not just a symbol of their highly evolved state of consciousness, but an artistic expression of an actual phenomenon.

human aura

This phenomenon of radiance is now even understood scientifically, at least to some extent. We know now that organisms emit photons, which means that they radiate light (see, for example, Ho 1993). In addition, there is evidence for subtle light radiance, especially in the aura. Not only organisms radiate energies. The whole earth is surrounded by a magnetic field.
The sun and the stars radiate electromagnetic fields.

Subtle Energy

Thus, we find radiance everywhere. The question is: what is radiated? In the case of the cell and its nucleus, it seems living matter at first sight. In the other examples, we call it electromagnetism or light, which constitutes an electromagnetic phenomenon. These two kinds of radiances should not be separated from each other as if they were ultimately different. It has to understood that matter can also be seen as energy and in that sense a cell or its nucleus also radiates energy.

According to modern physics, there are only four fundamental forces in the universe: the gravitational force, the electromagnetic force, the strong and the weak force (in atoms). The question is whether these four forces can explain all phenomena of life. The answer seems to be no, at least to some authors such as Tiller (1997, 2007). Therefore, an additional force or forces have been postulated. This force or forces have been called subtle energy or energies (see, for example, Tiller 1997, Church 2018, p. 177). According to Tiller (1997: 23),
the following phenomena involve subtle energy: remote viewing, precognition, telepathy, auric sight, dowsing, Qigong, psychokinesis (mind-matter interactions), dematerialisation and materialisation, levitation, homeopathy and others. Tiller reported many experiments that he thought could be only explained in terms of subtle energy. For example, he carried out controlled experiments with a spiritually evolved man who could sensitize an ordinary camera with regular Kodak color film so that most unusual pictures could be obtained. In some of these pictures people appeared transparent so that objects behind them could be seen. Even with the lens covered by the lens cap, clear photographs were obtained when the camera had been sensitized (Tiller, 1997: 18-22). Tiller (1997:24-31) also carried out experiments that provide evidence for light of a subtle realm and he showed that it is easier for children than the majority of adults to perceive this subtle energy light in addition to normal light that constitutes an electromagnetic phenomenon. According to Tiller, auras radiate the subtle energy light. Consciousness may also be related to subtle energy. Jahnke ((2002: 257) pointed out that qi (chi) comprises mind and consciousness. Therefore, radiance may span the whole spectrum from material and electromagnetic radiation to subtle energy radiance, mind and consciousness.

Besides Tiller there are other scientists engaged in research of subtle energies and there is an international scientific society
The International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, whose activities are particularly devoted to the study of these energies.


Instead of explaining psychic phenomena through subtle energies, nonlocality has been invoked as an explanation. Nonlocality is recognized in quantum physics. What is nonlocality? I explain it by the following example. If two subatomic particles that have been entangled with one another move apart in opposite directions and then one of them is measured, the other one is instantaneously affected by this measurement. This indicates that the two particles, although they might be light years apart, behave as one unified system. There is neither space nor time separation between the two particles.

Nonlocality may also explain psychic phenomena and long-distance healing. But how this nonlocality that involves human beings is related to the nonlocality of quantum physics is not yet understood. There may be only a very limited connection or none at all. “Living systems may require an altogether new theory” (Radin 1997:287).

Relativity of Openness

In spite of much continuity, barriers also do exist. If a man is put behind bars in a prison cell, this cell is closed for him in the sense that he cannot step out. However, a mouse may be able to escape between the bars. Similarly, for the air that can pass through between the bars, the cell is also open. This shows that openness is relative to the size of the objects.

Cells of animals and plants are not open for the cell nucleus because it is far too big to pass through the bridges that interconnect adjacent cells (see
Chapter 1). However, for macromolecules cells are open, since they can pass from one cell to another. As explained in Chapter 1, for macromolecules cells do not exist as separate entities. For small molecules such as those of water even the cell membrane is not a barrier because they can pass through it. Thus for water even the cell membrane is open.

Returning to the prisoner behind bars, although with regard to his body, the prison cell is closed to him, in other ways the cell is open for him: he can breathe the air inside and outside the bars; he can communicate with friends who are outside the bars. Thus, his emotions and thoughts can radiate beyond the cell. In many ways he can be one with the universe.

I remember the story of a prisoner in a dark cell. There was no window through which he could see the outside world. But through a tiny crack a ray of light entered his cell and this ray of light became the bridge to the universe for him. Through subtle energy and consciousness this universal connection could occur even in the absence of a ray of light.

Opening and Closing

Openness is not only relative; it is also a matter of degree. A so-called entity may be more or less open. In the extreme, it may be wide open or closed. Changes in openness may occur often in a rhythmic pattern. An example of opening and closing in alternation are stomata. Stomata are microscopic openings in the epidermis (outer cell layer) of leaves in plants. Each of these openings is surrounded by two cells that regulate the opening and closure of the stomata. When the stomata are open, air from the environment can enter into the leaves and oxygen (or carbon dioxide at night) produced in the leaves can be released into the environment. When the stomata are closed, no exchange of air with the environment is possible. This does not mean that the plant is totally disconnected from the environment. But one of the connections has been temporarily closed.

This example of the stomata illustrates a general phenomenon, namely that
openness may be a matter of degree and may vary with time. However, total closure in all respects does not seem possible. As far as human beings and human relations are concerned, I think that in our society we tend to be too much closed and thus isolate ourselves much more than necessary. However, there may be circumstances when some closure may be appropriate. But often we would greatly benefit from more openness.

Open and Closed Minds

Our minds may also be open or closed to various degrees and this may vary with time. Often they seem too closed. Conditioning by our families, schools, universities, and society reinforces this closure. Once a pattern of thinking has been established, it seems difficult to break out of it. And this pattern then becomes limiting in many ways: it limits our thinking and emotional life, our perception and action. For example, people who, like the majority of people in our society, have been conditioned to believe that the worldview of the outer circle of the mandala of this book represents reality live a rather constrained and impoverished life: they cannot think and feel in a deeply holistic way, therefore cannot perceive interconnections beyond a mechanistically fragmented view, and as a result their actions will also be limited: it will be difficult or impossible for them to practice meditation, Yoga, Qigong or other spiritual approaches that would give them first hand experience of realms beyond materialism and mechanism. Furthermore, they deprive themselves of alternative medical treatments such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, osteopathy, therapeutic touch, Reiki, etc. that often - but not always - can heal where conventional mechanistic medicine fails.

The question then is how a closed mind can be opened. It seems that there is no simple answer. It may happen in many ways. Sometimes a sudden flash of insight may ignite a breakthrough leading to an opening. Sometimes a profound encounter with another human being can induce a transformation and opening. Sometimes a life-threatening illness or other crisis can lead to a reorientation and opening. It is interesting that the Chinese symbol for “crisis” (wei-ji) consists of the characters for “danger” and “opportunity” (Capra 1983:26).

A fundamental change in our educational system would, of course, be most helpful. Instead of indoctrinating young people, it would be highly desirable to bring out their almost unlimited potential. This requires that in addition to a multi-faceted rational inquiry more emphasis will be placed on experiential learning, that is, gaining direct experience through artistic expression including music, dance, and various kinds of meditation.

A Joke

Osho (1999: 107) told the following joke:

The village priest approaches a group of small boys sitting in a circle around a dog. When he comes up to them, he asks, “What are you doing to the dog?”
Little Ernie answers, “Whoever tell the biggest lie, wins the dog.”
“Oh dear!” exclaims the priest, “I’m surprised at your boys. When I was young like you, I never told a lie.”
There is silence for a while, until little Ernie shouts out, “Okay, give him the dog.”

Openness is related to Love, Closure to Fear

Jampolsky (1979) published a book entitled “Love is letting go of fear.” In this book he points out how fear prevents us from loving because fear creates a protective armor around us that isolates us from the world and people. Consequences include alienation, loneliness, anxiety and lack of peace. What is the solution to this dilemma? According to Jampolsky, we have to drop the belief that we are separate and closed entities. In his book he offers twelve lessons that can help us see that we are interconnected. As we learn these lessons, we can “experience a transformation toward a life of giving and love, and away from a life of getting and fear” (Jampolsky 1979:13).


Broad Science

Science can also be helpful in opening our minds, especially if science is seen in a broad way so that evidence from our interior experience is also accepted
. Wilber (2001) referred to this more comprehensive science as “broad science” in contrast to ”narrow science” which is common science that recognizes only sense data from the exterior world. The question is: How can inner experience that is normally considered purely subjective count as part of science? Wilber explains this in terms of knowledge acquisition. He first points out a scheme of knowledge acquisition in narrow science that gathers evidence from the external world, and then he shows that the same scheme can be applied to acquire knowledge from our inner world. Thus, in spite of great differences, narrow and broad science acquire knowledge through the same methodology. This methodology comprises the following three steps: 1. A practical injunction, 2. Apprehension or experience, and 3. Communal checking. Let me explain these steps:
1. What is a practical injunction? It tells you what you must
do, if you want to know something. For example, if you want to know whether the planet Jupiter is surrounded by moons, you must look into a telescope directed at Jupiter. If you want to know whether leaves of plants have stomata (openings in the epidermis, the outer cell layer), you must look at the epidermis through a microscope. If you want to know by which factors the opening and closure of stomata is influenced, you must perform specific experiments.
2. What is apprehension or experience? When you make an observation or perform an experiment required by the injunction, then you will apprehend or experience something, a datum. Data such as “Jupiter has moons”, also called facts, constitute the basic materials of science, which are used for the testing of hypotheses or theories.
3. What is communal checking? Once we have made our own observations or experiments, we can check whether other scientists or the scientific community find the same answer to the injunction. If they do, our findings are confirmed, if not, they are disconfirmed.
Now, the important point is that
the above methodology of injunction, apprehension or experience, and communal checking does not only apply to narrow science, but also to broad science. This means that injunctions can be devised with regard to transrational realms, spirituality and meditation. For example, if you want to know what a meditator, using a specific meditation technique, experiences, you simply practice this technique. Generally speaking, in order to know this, you do this. There is no way around doing in both narrow and broad science. The churchmen at the time of Galileo refused to look through his telescope. As a result they could not see what Galileo saw. They remained closed into their non-telescopic view. Similarly, people who refuse to practice certain meditation techniques cannot know what meditators experience; they remain closed into their restricted state of consciousness.
As in narrow science, in broad science personal experiences are checked communally. For example, if a person practices a particular meditation technique and as a result has certain experiences, these experiences can be compared with those of other meditators who follow the same technique, that is, the same injunction.
People have been practicing meditation for thousands of years, especially in the East, and the same or similar techniques have been used up to the present time. Thus a considerable communal experience has accumulated over time. We can compare our present experiences with communal experiences passed on to us. If there is agreement, this will strengthen our apprehension. If, however, there is disagreement, this can have different meanings. It can mean that our practice has become derailed, or it can mean that we have reached new shores. This can happen also in narrow science. Often a divergent experience by one individual is discounted because it is assumed that that individual has erred. However, the possibility that that individual has seen something new not yet accepted by the scientific community cannot be totally excluded.

It is obvious that teaching students and adults broad science could open up their minds and thus create a more open-minded society. While our education system has not yet reached this stage, we may introduce as many people as possible to broad science or an "extended science" that transcends the narrowness of ordinary mainstream science (see, for example,
the conclusions of an article on The Challenge of Consciousness Research by Brian D. Josephson and Beverly A. Rubik).

Spirituality is often rejected because in our society narrow science has become a sacred cow.
Knowing that spirituality can be approached scientifically can help remove a great barrier against spirituality and thus open people’s mind toward spirituality. It should be clear, however, that the scientific approach can not completely exhaust spirituality. There are other aspects of spirituality besides the scientific such as intuitive, artistic and ethical aspects. Furthermore, spirituality is always more than an object that can be studied and experienced. In deep spirituality the knower and known, the experiencer and the experienced become one. Hence, there is no longer somebody who has an experience. There is just being, undivided into subject and object. In other words, the openness has become so total that the opener has disappeared in it. And this cannot be communicated by words, which is a requirement in both narrow and broad science.

Science and Religion/Spirituality

The acceptance of broad science also affects the relation of science and religion. Science and religion are often still uneasy, if not hostile, bedfellows. At the same time, as Wilber (1998: 3) points out, “there is arguably no more important and pressing topic than the relation of science and religion in the modern world.” The most common stances taken on their relation, also according to Wilber (1998), are the following:
1. Science denies any validity to religion that is considered outmoded.
2. Religion denies science because is has no access to real truth.
3. Science and religion can coexist because they deal with different realms of existence: science with natural facts, religion with religious (spiritual) issues.
4. Science offers arguments for the existence of spirit. Or one could say that science and religion are considered to be compatible with each other at least to some extent.
5. Like art and poetry, science offers only an interpretation of the world, whereas religion has real knowledge of the world.

During the past decades much has been written on the convergence of science and religion, especially
science and spirituality (see, for example, Capra 1975, 2010, Wilber 1998, Lancaster 2004, Luisi 2009, Capra and Luisi 2014). Broad science seems especially significant with regard to this convergence. As pointed out above, it makes accessible to science the inner realm of the subject, including religious or spiritual experience. However, it cannot reach the ultimate stage of nondual being that is beyond experiencing, knowing, and communicating. Mystics agree that mystical unity consciousness is beyond experiencing and knowing because it transcends the duality of the experiencer and the experienced, the knower and the known. They also agree that mystical unity consciousness cannot be adequately communicated because it transcends reason and language. Because of this some authors such as Powers (2014) emphasize the difference between science and spirituality or even deny any semblance, whereas authors such as Lancaster (2004), Capra (2010) and Capra and Luisi (2014) point out similarities between science and spirituality. Much of this disagreement seems to be due to the fact that some authors focus more on the differences and the divergence between science and spirituality, whereas others look more at the similarities and the convergence. I contributed a paper (Sattler 1999) to a symposium on The Divergence and Convergence of Sciences and Spirituality, which was dedicated to the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his 60th birthday on July 6, 1995. The Dalai Lama recognized both the divergence and convergence of science and spirituality (see, for example, Luisi 2009).

The convergence between science and spirituality seems more obvious in some religious or spiritual doctrines than in others. For example, Buddhist doctrines include an emphasis on impermanence and emptiness (see, for example, Shinzen Young 1997 and Brunnhölzl 2012 and Heart Sutra in Chapter 11). Modern and postmodern science, especially holistic science, has provided much evidence for impermanence (dynamics, change) and emptiness, which, translated into Western vocabulary, implies boundlessness and interconnectedness. This constitutes a remarkable convergence that has been stressed by authors such as Capra (1975, 2010). But as pointed out above, this convergence cannot reach nondual unity consciousness because it remains within the dualistic realm of the knower and the known and the realm of reason and language with its inherent limitations. In other words: the dynamic boundlessness (emptiness) that one can talk and write about and the emptiness one can experience and be are not the same. The latter (that resides in the empty centre of the mandala) transcends the former (that resides in the inner circle of the
mandala of this book).


Breathing can illuminate much of what I have discussed in this chapter, including science and spirituality. As oxygen enters our body and carbon dioxide is expelled through breathing, our metabolism is maintained according to mechanistic science. Qi (chi) or prana provide universal energy according to holistic science. They also connect us to spirit. Thus, breathing involves matter/ body and spirit. Also the mind and soul can be engaged in breathing.

When we breathe in, we breathe in life, life in a total sense. Thus, we refer to the breath of life because breathing sustains life in all its dimensions including body, mind/soul and spirit. In every moment we can be aware that breathing is a great gift. So we can celebrate life in every moment because we are able to breathe (see, for example, Thich Nhat Hanh 1996).

And breath is even more than life. It also relates to death. When we breathe out, we expel waste products of the body; we let go of physical tensions and negative emotions such as sadness or anger. In a deep sigh we can relieve ourselves of troublesome emotions and thoughts. This is like a little death: we let the past die so that we can fully embrace the present. Thus, death need not be seen as negative. It can be seen as a letting go so that novelty can be born in a new creative presence.

In any case, through breathing we can experience that life and death belong together; they can be seen like two sides of the same coin: we breathe in life and we breathe out death. And there is yet another aspect to breathing. Between any two breaths there is a little gap during which we neither breathe in, nor out. This gap is beyond life and death. Usually we are not aware of this gap. But as we become aware of it, we learn to experience nothingness in the sense of no-thingness, neither life, nor death. Nothingness, in this Buddhist sense, implies fullness and eternity that is beyond time.

When we do not draw boundaries that define things or entities, that demarcate life from death, we can experience the undivided wholeness of existence. When we do not delimit time slices, we go beyond time toward eternity. Similarly, refraining from cutting up space delivers us into the infinite. Thus, the infinite, eternity, fullness and nothingness are just different ways of referring to the unnamable, the mystery beyond words, the sacred that cannot be grasped, but revered.
All this means that through conscious breathing we can experience the polarity of life and death, and in the gap we can transcend this polarity and thus realize the oneness of existence. In other words: in a single breath (in, gap, out), we can become aware of the manifest (in, out) and the unmanifest (in the gap) that is the source of the manifest.
In a single breath we can become aware of life, death, and eternity.

What did you do today?

I am retired and people are often curious to know how I spend my days. They often ask me: What did you do today? And they expect some special, exciting news, maybe about an intriguing movie I saw, an extraordinary person I met, an interview I gave for television, etc. If, however, I tell them that I was just breathing, many of them lose interest in me and conclude that I must be leading a rather boring, if not senile, life. However, as anybody can find out, breathing can be the most profound experience. It may take practice and patience to discover the gap. At first we may have to hold our breath for a moment to become fully aware of the gap. But with continued practice, we may develop awareness of the gap in natural unconstrained breathing. This will render the ordinary most extraordinary. It has been said that the Buddha reached enlightenment through awareness of the gap.

The challenge for us is to be aware of the gap not only in special practice sessions, but also in everyday life. Then every instant of our life will be connected to the source, the infinite, the eternal. Ordinary life will be extraordinary, the profane will be divine.
While we have not yet attained this extraordinary way of being, we can return to the awareness of the gap during many daily activities. For example, while waiting in line for the bus to arrive, we can practice. Or while waiting for the traffic light to turn green, we can return to conscious breathing. And there are endless other possibilities and occasions to develop more awareness.

Needless to say, practicing awareness of the gap is not the only way to enlightenment. If this technique does not appeal to you or is too difficult for you, you can use another technique such as, for example, the light meditation described at the end of this chapter. If this technique does not appeal either, there are still many other techniques you can explore. In the ancient Vigyana Bhairava Tantra 112 different meditation techniques are described (see Osho 1974). Among these (of which watching the gap is the first one) everybody can find a technique that suits him or her and that inspires regular practice. In this way we can open the door to infinite bliss and insight (for meditation in the modern world see also Osho's
Meditation and Ray's Mahamudra for the Modern World).

A Meditation: Remember Yourself as Light

I began this chapter with the metaphor “Life is a living flame”. This is a significant metaphor as we have seen, and in a sense it is even more than a metaphor as this light meditation from the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra shows:
“Waking, sleeping, dreaming, know you as light”
(Osho 1974: 700).
Here are some of Osho’s (1974: 700-702) instructions and commentary on this meditation: While awake, imagine a flame burning in you heart and experience your body as an aura around the flame. Then, while falling asleep, remember yourself as light. This will affect your dreams and then dreams will disappear. And eventually beyond waking, sleeping, and dreaming you will realize “life eternal” (ibid. p. 702).


Where we often see closed solid objects, upon closer inspection we may find openness. As a flame is open toward its environment, so a living organism is also open toward its environment. This openness may be physical and energetic through electromagnetic radiation and subtle energies. In other words, through light as it is ordinarily perceived and the light of auras that only some people can see. Psychic phenomena such as telepathy and remote viewing may be explained through subtle energies or nonlocality. Openness may occur only in some respects and to some degree and may alternate with closure that may be necessary to some extent. Our minds, however, often seem more closed than necessary and this closure can have negative and even devastating consequences. Closure of our minds seems related to fear, and openness to love. Mainstream scientists often lack openness with regard to the most fundamental assumptions of science: thus they practice narrow science that accepts only external sense perceptions. In contrast, broad science also includes internal sense perceptions and thus allows the scientific investigation of subjective experience, including spiritual experience. Therefore, broad science applies to the relation of science and religion/spirituality. However, it cannot reach nondual mystical unity consciousness that is beyond the limitations of reason and language and the duality of the knower and the known. Thus, there remains a difference and divergence between science and spirituality in spite of a remarkable similarity and convergence with regard to modern and postmodern holistic science such as quantum physics and holistic biology and medicine.

On a personal level, breathing allows us to experience openness. Breathing in feels like breathing in life, breathing out feels like letting go, and the gap between the in and out breath opens the door to eternity. Thus, in one breathing cycle we may experience life, death, and eternity. As a result, any so-called ordinary moment may be extraordinary. In any so-called mundane moment infinity may shine through. This experience and transformation may also happen through a meditation in which we know ourselves as light. If we incorporate this meditation into our daily life and remember the light in our sleep and dreams, we may reach “life eternal” (Osho 1974, p. 702).


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Wilber, K. 1998.
The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion. New York: Random House.

Wilber, K. 2001.
A Theory of Everything. Boston: Shambhala Publications.

Young, Shinzen. 1997. The. Science of Enlightenment. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

[with my comments in brackets]

"Thus the mystic and the physicist [or holistic scientist] arrive at the same conclusion: one starting from the inner realm, and the other from the outer world" (Fritjof Capra).

“Understanding is the fruit of meditation. Understanding is the basis of everything” (Thich Nhat Hanh).
[Love also requires understanding, because how can one love a person if one does not understand that person. For example, as pointed out by Thich Nhat Hanh in
The Heart of Understanding (1988), it is not loving to give someone a fruit he detests. To be loving I have to know whether he likes or detests what I want to give him]

"The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be" (Dalai Lama).

"Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

"Out breath and in breath - know that they are proof that the world is inexhaustible" (Ryokan).

" If you look at anything carefully, deeply enough, you discover the mystery of interbeing [openness], and once you have seen it you will no longer be subject to fear - fear of birth or fear of death. Birth and death are only ideas we have in our mind, and these ideas cannot be applied to reality" (Thich Nhat Hanh).

Preface (including the Table of Contents) and Introduction of this book.

Next Chapter:
Chapter 5: Organic and Mechanical (Organicism and Mechanism)

Preceding Chapter:
Chapter 3: Fuzziness and Exactness


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