Together We Live, Apart We Die

Together We Live, Apart We Die

4. A Primer on Synergetics

by Don G. Purcell

THE ILL person says, "If I could only have good health, I would be happy." The needy person says, "I could be happy if only l had wealth." The frightened person says, "If only I could be unafraid I would be happy." But we all know many healthy people who are obviously unhappy; and we also know many wealthy people and many fearless people who, likewise, are not happy.

Why are the conditions of happiness so difficult to create? Through the use of our senses, our feelings, we can determine when we are happy and when we are not happy. Through the use of our reason we can determine the conditions of happiness. Let us list some of the obvious kinds of conditions under which we experience the sensation of happiness: Freedom Survival Self-expression Satisfaction of needs Love These, as well as any other conditions for happiness, are positive conditions. Each of them has, as a counterpart, a negative condition. Bondage is the negative of freedom (this does not necessarily mean physical bondage; it also can mean mental bondage, or emotional bondage, or spiritual bondage); ill-health/infirmity is the negative of survival; selfglory is the negative of self-expression; poverty is the negative of satisfaction of needs; hate is the negative of love.

The positive and negative of any condition cannot exist simultaneously in a given relationship. Any condition which promotes freedom does not impede freedom. Or, if a positive and negative are introduced into a relationship, an equal amount of negative will immediately cancel out an equal amount of positive, leaving a smaller quantitative balance, either positive or negative.

Further than this, there is a distinct relationship between each and all of the conditions for happiness. Any condition which promotes freedom, for example, is not a condition for happiness if it simultaneously impedes survival, and will not generate the sensation of happiness. Hence, if we think our actions are promoting one of the general conditions for happiness and still we do not feel the sensation of happiness, we should examine what these actions are doing in regard to the other general conditions for happiness. If one or more of these is being impeded we are actually introducing a negative quality that cancels out the positive and no sensation of happiness results. If the negative quality generated is greater than the positive quality, the sensation of unhappiness is generated.

It is well to note here that certain relationships with the environment over which we do not have full control can introduce either the conditions for happiness or the conditions for unhappiness. When such qualities are negative we do have the ability to cancel them by introducing equal or greater positive qualities.

Thus we can begin to see why it is so difficult to create conditions for happiness. It v.... l a T L A By DON G. PURCELL le, Qatf We Die is necessary not only to understand what, these conditions are but also how they relate to one another.

To illustrate, I would like to use the analogy of the watch again. Each of the various parts of the watch has a relationship to the whole. Each of these parts has a particular function to perform. When the watch is completely assembled and running, it is a system of functions rather than a collection of parts, and there exists an interaction among the various functions. It is as if the watch were alive. When the watch is not running, there exists no interaction among the functions. It is as if the watch were dead.

The important point here is that just because the watch is running is no guarantee that it is indicating the "right" time. The interaction among the functions of the parts must have a particular property in order for the watch to keep the right time. The interaction must have the property of simultaneously promoting all the functions without impeding any of them. If this property does not exist, if the interaction, while promoting some of the functions, simultaneously impedes others, the watch will not, cannot keep the right time.

This property of simultaneously promoting several functions within a system without impeding any we call "synergy". The term, as it is used here, means literally "working together". Such an interaction we refer to as "Synergic".

Conversely, if the interaction has the property of simultaneously impeding some of the functions while promoting others, it is called the property of "dysergy". Such an interaction is dysergic.

Now we can take a more understanding look at the conditions for happiness.

A human being is a system of functions. In his environment he becomes a part of a larger system of functions. So long as the human being is alive, interactions are constantly occurring among the functions of the system of which he is a part.

Within this system the principle of synergy applies. It is, in fact, a basic law of life. It might be stated thus: A life fulfills purpose to the degree that it generates synergy. Carrying this law a step further it can be said that one will experience happiness to the degree that he generates synergy and/or eliminates dysergy.

Each of us is a self-contained scientific laboratory, completely equipped to conduct a scientific investigation into the phenomenon of life. Does this fact perhaps give us a clue to the purpose of life? Whether it does or not, one thing stands out sharp and clear. Each of us is the master of his own laboratory. Each of us, by his own efforts and only his own efforts, can either use that with which he is endowed or he can let it decay with disuse. Remember the parable of the talents?
"How much a tree is like a man", the poet said. A woman, maybe, but a man starts putting clothes on when it begins to get cold.