2. Consciousness and The Deep Complexity Paradigm

We began with the question of consciousness in transformational education before moving to consideration of the relationship between consciousness and sentience. We then explored the effectiveness of a Complexity Patterning approach to teaching and learning for tuning students into the broader patterning of our shared environment. We considered whether such a deep complexity focused approach might contribute to the purposeful shaping of the expressions of consciousness in educational settings toward a relational experience of being. An underlying provocation that wove throughout the Daologues was the possibility of education that purposefully contributes to human evolution toward increasing holotropic coherence – syntony – with each other and all other species through coherence with life’s generative patterning. 


Alexander: I think about consciousness as multiple in expression. I tend to think of it the way Einstein thought of relativity, postulating Special relativity and General relativity. Similarly, we have consciousness that we talk about as strictly human consciousness; that is the Special Case. Inquiry in this case involves asking such things as, can people be tuned to each other’s consciousness? What happens when you sit in a Faraday cage? And in these instances, we are essentially considering what constitutes the human experience of consciousness.  Asking these sorts of questions about consciousness focuses on a very special condition of consciousness – the human condition. 

Then there is consciousness writ large. Trees express consciousness, a stand of trees expresses consciousness, the stone expresses consciousness, the atom might even do so on a particular level. Indeed, the universe as a whole expresses consciousness, and these instances comprise the General Case of consciousness as compared to the Special Case expressed through human beings. And not ‘special’ like we are privileged, I don’t mean it that way; it is like General and Special Relativity. So, when we talk about it as a special case we can talk about the diversity of human consciousness, and even there you have a whole variety of ways of making sense, making meaning. The whole idea of making is such a weird word because are we making it or is it making us? I think I am actually leaning more toward the latter, but then – there is the dance! Because especially when we understand the patterning, we can help foment that process — we can be participants in it. This is the shift from merely understanding evolution and even understanding the evolution of consciousness, to making evolution conscious. That’s quite a different framing!

Dynamic Spheres of Emergence. S. L. Brown

Dynamic Spheres of Emergence. S. L. Brown (2021)

Shae.  Yes, tuning our consciousness to the dance of co-creation; it is purposeful participation in life’s coming-into-being, and I believe fundamental to a coherent life. I believe that being purposeful with this capacity is the way that human evolution can unfold, and pattern perception and cognition is an inherent pathway for this. It is not a new capacity; Indigenous peoples have lived this relational way of being for a long time. Maybe evolution is also non-linear, and we are spiraling; evolving around again — but not with the same coordinates — to incorporate such relational consciousness in today’s context. 

The Deep Complexity Paradigm

Shae. The creative relationality of consciousness and all of life is fundamental to the deep complexity paradigm. It includes people in all complex phenomena. In quantum field physics various theorists such as Karen Barad, and Stephen Hawking, as described in a book by Hertog, describe humans and all of our thinking as well as acting as inseparably co-creative in the world’s perpetual coming-into-being. We are inside looking up and out, not outside looking in! First Nations man Basil Brave Heart is quoted in an interview in 2018 as saying that the centre is everywhere, while the edges are nowhere (Reger, 2018).

The Complexity Patterning design and educational strategy is about the patterns of these relational dynamics between people and with the entire more-than-human world. It is a way to perceive, think about, and consciously know our relationship with the complexity all around us. This includes time as a complex phenomenon. And perhaps by understanding relational dynamics through pattern thinking we might be able to think about our participation in the emergence of life in a more purposeful way.  To increase the relational integration of consciousness toward making evolution increasingly purposeful. Pattern thinking is an approach to consciously curated emergence. 

  • Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke University Press. 
  • Barad, K. (2022). Agential realism – A relational ontology interpretation of quantum physics. In 0. Freire (Ed), The Oxford handbook of the history of quantum interpretations. Oxford University Press.
  • Brown, S. L. (2023). Complexity Patterning: A patterns-based design and strategy for transformational Education. ISSS Yearbook. Systems Research and Behavioural Science
  • Hertog, T. (2023). On the origin of time: Stephen Hawking’s last theory. Bantum.
  • Reger, D. (2018, June 1). Basil Brave Heart speaks about his spiritual journey. In Moccasin Tracks [Podcast]. WRUV FM, University of Vermont Student and Community Radio. https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/wpcrmoccasintracks/episodes/2018-05- 31T08_31_31-07_00

1. Our Daologue Begins

Introduction – setting the stage

Alexander Laszlo and Shae L Brown together opened an unstructured communication space of the possible. They invoked a syntony dialogue, or Daologue (see note below), loosely centred on the possibilities of transformational education in relation to human evolution in service of positive futures. It was an engagement and exchange across countries and fields of experience. Alexander is deeply engaged in knowledge and action around ‘humaning well’ for purposeful evolution imbued with coherence and syntony. Shae brings a complexity based educational curriculum and strategy, called Complexity Patterning, which is designed to contribute to moving education from its outdated industrial era paradigm to a relational and participatory deep complexity paradigm. 

Note: The term ‘Daologue’ was introduced by David Price to invoke the concept of conversation that connects and gathers intelligence, that flows in a similar way to the fluidity of weather patterns and the tectonic flows of planet Earth as a whole. https://opentopersuasion.com


All Knowledge is Relational

As an initiative designed and developed by Shae, this Daologue series begins with the position that all knowledge is relational. In a fundamental sense, all of us read and engage with the work of others, which shapes and informs our thinking. Even if we are ‘alone’ on a mountain top and experience a coherence of knowing as revelation, we are always in relationship with and reading/integrating the intelligence that exists within the universe; within the land we are on, and the traces of all beings, the human and more-than-human ones who live and have lived, all contributing to life’s material and informational fields. We express knowledge that lives within us from many previous generations, as well as from the presence of future generations. All of these relational dynamics contribute to what we think, feel, create, and are. This understanding is acknowledged at each step of the Daologue.

Shae has engaged with Alexander’s work for nearly a decade and extended her appreciation and respect for his work in new paradigm education to an invitation for dialogue. Shae’s research and writing seek to contribute to positive futures through the teaching and learning of deep complexity thinking, understanding, and relating/acting, to students at all levels of education. To do this, Shae uses patterns in design, called Complexity Patterning, as a cognitive and educational strategy for the teaching and learning of complexity-based transformational education. It is based in a patterning ontology that expresses the fundamental nature of life as patterning into existence at every level of scale, from the sub-quantum field excitations into sub-atomic particles, through the transmorphism of dynamics and shapes all around us in life, to the largest formations observed in the universe. This deep complexity paradigm engages the paradox of individuation and broad connectivity, the precognitive sense-ability of prehension, and the co-generative response-ability of relational humaning. 


A Diffraction Patterning of Creativity

Alexander and Shae’s Daologue is shared here as a dynamic of diffractional emergence. Based in the work of theoretical physicist Karen Barad (2007), the term diffraction is applied here to knowledge emergence, whereby diverse knowledge systems engage in a way that appreciates connectivity and creativity through both synergies and differences (as troughs and peaks in a rippling diffraction pattern). In the case of this Daologue, the pattern mix involves the onto-epistemological worldviews of two theorists/scholars to which is added a third given that which you add to the mix, dear reader.  We invite you to join us as we open ourselves to share our experience of teaching and learning, to learn from and with each other, and to enrich our visions of education for emergent human evolution and positive futures.

Diffraction Patterning Image From “Water-Waves and Sound-Waves” by J. N. Lockyer, 1878, Popular Science Monthly, 13. In the public domain.

Diffraction Patterning Image From “Water-Waves and Sound-Waves”
by J. N. Lockyer, 1878, Popular Science Monthly, 13. In the public domain.

Both Barad and many Indigenous Knowledge scholars consider research, theorising, and indeed thinking and speaking, as processes of relational co-generation of life’s coming-into-being. All we say and do matters (Barad, 2007); all we say and do is ceremony (Wilson, 2008). We can consciously use our thinking, speaking, theorising and writing toward humaning well for increased syntony and the responsible stewardship of curated emergence for the ongoing thrivability of life on Earth.

  • Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke University Press. 
  • Wilson, S. (2008). Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Fernwood Publishing.