The Butterfly Effect refers implicitly to chaos theory, although the phrase has become a popular metaphor. Basically, chaos theory states that small perturbations, such as a butterfly flapping its wings, can produce a significantly larger effect somewhere down the linear road of time.
While there may be no discernible patterns in a chaotic system, scientists have been able to squeeze predictions from chaos by using machine-learning algorithms, a “field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without having been explicitly programmed,” i.e. artificial intelligence. The term machine learning was coined in 1959 by one of the pioneers in artificial intelligence, Arthur Samuel.
“It is not the world that is mysterious. Rather it is the way we view it that makes it mysterious,” is a quote from George Sugihara, a theoretical biologist who has applied machine learning to the chaotic behavior of financial markets. You could call Sugihara a secular (non-religious) mystic like Edgar Cayce and many others. A mystic is someone who practices the apprehension of truth beyond the intellect, e.g. a psychic or shaman.
As I noted in the previous blog, the West never developed a strong tradition of mysticism because the Church lassoed the practice and branded it with a narrow, self-serving definition. Anything outside that definition was heresy. In religious-speak, mysticism meant “becoming holy” or attaining “Divine union,” which were the only acceptable means of predicting the future (divination, prophecy). That’s why religion has always frowned on fortune-telling, tarot and other avenues of divination as “work of the devil,” a thoroughly medieval and preposterously childish notion.
To paraphrase Doc Brown’s famous quip in Back to the Future, “Where mystics go, we don’t need roads.” All information about the future now present in any chaotic system, such as our universe, is also available to the human mind’s own algorithm (Third Eye), although machine learning may be more efficient. That’s because most human minds are laced with biases, hopes, illusions, fears and dogmas that interfere with logic, reason and clear thinking. However, we humans are better than machines at complex pattern recognition, which fuels our unique intuition and perspicacity.
The human mind’s algorithm is capable of predicting chaos well into the future (clairvoyance). Although we might still think mostly in terms of classical causation (A→B→C), causation in the quantum world is often an illusion. We live in an indeterminate universe – some stuff just happens. While mystics can clearly discern future eventualities, and even prophecize them, the precise when of such events cannot be known. There are far too many variables, such as human free will. Yet mystics do perceive things others fail to see.
If you insist that you live in a deterministic universe and that someone somewhere up in the sky is pulling all the strings, you may be in for a rude awakening. Your worldview of a clockwork universe will need to shift dramatically if you are to gain any hope whatsoever of coping with the enormous changes that lie in the offing.
The gentleman at the left is Aeolus, master of the Four Winds, which symbolize the future. We placed him on the Chrysalis Tarot companion book cover to underscore the necessity for perseverance during difficult times, especially times of change, the most difficult of all.
A helpful book is Path of the Novice Mystic, by Paul Dunion. Its theme is secular mysticism. Anyone can become a mystic, and should.
© Toney Brooks