Hi Mike, Bhante, and others
I too find the way in which Thanissaro Bhikkhu evokes the terminology of complexity/systems theory as a kind of poetic language to explicate Buddhist ideas insightful. Early this year I read a book called A World of Becoming
by William E. Connolly, political philosopher at John Hopkins University. I'm very taken by it because the notion of becoming threading through the book resonates with some aspects of Buddhist understandings. Connolly engages with various fields of knowledge, from philosophy to biology to neurosciences to systems theory, to argue that the challenges of the contemporary world call for greater attention to a 'micropolitics of becoming'—i.e. how creative adjustments in our everyday modes of perception, bodily habits and ethical sensibilities might generate feedback and resonances that would impact upon broader social, economic, and political systems, which he describes as 'force fields' rather than 'structures'. It seems to me that Connolly is making a similar suggestion as Thanissaro Bhikkhu: 'All non-linear processes exhibit what is called scale invariance, which means that the behavior of the process on any one scale is similar to its behavior on smaller or larger scales. To understand, say, the large-scale pattern of a particular non-linear process, one need only focus on its behavior on a smaller scale that is easier to observe, and one will see the same pattern at work.'
The 'postlude' to the book is interesting, you can read it here on Google books: Below is an excerpt from pages 55-6 of the book where he talks about the micropolitics of perception. To my reading, it seems that what we are doing when we engage in meditative exercises—and bhavana in general—is exploring ways to open, dissolve, and steer what Connolly calls 'anticipatory habits and sedimented dispositions'—not unsuitable terms for explicating kamma, I think.