We all seem to think that we understand the concept of wholeness, but we are under one major handicap. We are hopelessly locked into our own point of view: that of a separate, individual ego. The view from the high throne of the ego is great, but if we really want to understand how the System works, we need to get past our inevitable human-centric bias and look at the System as the Whole that it is.
We humans are “parts”, and as such, we still think of the Whole as the sum of its parts and maybe a little extra for synergy. But the Whole came first! Parts are divisions of the Whole, rather than the Whole being the sum of the parts. Again, the distinction may seem trivial, but it amounts to looking at the road traveled from the opposite direction. It is a totally different view.
Like a Rainbow
Wholeness is like a rainbow in that any attempt to divide it into parts results in arbitrary boundaries. We think we see bands of color in a rainbow, but that is a construct of our mind. In reality there is a steady rate of change of the frequency of refracted light, from one edge to the other, with no real border between one “color” and the next. It is our mind that lumps a band of frequencies together and labels them as one color.
Dividing Wholeness into parts is a function of the same mental attribute that divides the color of the rainbow into bands. That’s the way we humans see things. We divide our environment up into units, then we label and classify them. That’s what we do.
We have a similar handicap when it comes to the concept of interconnectedness. Everything is connected to everything else, sure that’s easy to say, but our ego is operating under a different set of rules. Our ego has been sold on the idea that connections run in a hierarchal structure, with the most important or intelligent at the top and the least down at the bottom.
This is the structure of information flow that most of us grew up with. We looked to the next highest person on the ladder for our information. Our parents, teachers, coaches and the rest of our system of education have all reinforced that model. Our civilization runs on the up and down flow of information. Religion, the military and most financial and business institutions also use this branching tree structure to organize themselves.
That is also the way the ego organizes the rest of the self: the ego on top with the rest of the self divided into sub-units that the ego can boss around. The ego considers itself to be intelligent, but the rest of the self is kind of dumb. The ego thinks it is going on to a life ever after, but it isn’t intending to take the body along. It is really funny for the ego to take all the credit when it is literally nothing without the rest.
As citizens of our respective cultures, we live our lives within this pyramid shaped hierarchal structure. In the workplace, in our social organizations, in personal relations, in education, we are constantly being placed in a structure according to our “value” within the organization. Everything has a pecking order. It should be no surprise that we project that same model on physical reality.
The real surprise comes when we find out that the Universe is not really organized that way at all, but as this holistic, all units connected to all others, super cybernetic kind of holographic information processing system. Before we can really take advantage of this information, we need to update our own internal models, the ones we use when we think. Our behavior follows our thoughts, consequently the old patterns and structures that we have been using to run our lives have got to be replaced with models that more accurately reflect reality.
All of us today have been exposed to a new model of information flow that more closely resembles the Natural System; the global interconnected computer network, known as the internet. This is the new model for how the Universe works. Information flows in all directions, with no top nor bottom, no beginning nor end.
We oldsters have to learn this new structure, and try to apply it, but the youth of today are born with this new concept of the flow of information stuck in their ears. As the shape of our collective consciousness changes to incorporate this new model of reality, our performance within the system will improve.
The pyramid structure is no longer adequate to describe our world. It is obsolete, but change comes slow. Our culture, if not addicted, is totally dependent on this view of individual power and worth. Both religion and science have used this hierarchical structure to diagram the origin of the Universe. Whether it be god or the big bang, their concepts of the cosmos are very similar. In fact, the pyramid structure itself demands it resolve to a single point, which is the top of the hierarchy. It is the dominant conceptual structure employed by both science and religion that forces them into their “funnel vision”.
The Interconnected Endless Loop
The concept of interconnectedness doesn’t have a top. It is a different kind of structure. Placement within the structure is not dependent on any individual value or privilege. In a system, every “part” is of equal value as a function within the whole, with no provision for moving up or improving position. The value of an individual part is its contribution to the whole, not its relative success compared to other single units.
In this structure, information doesn’t originate at the top and filter down, but is equally available throughout. Commands don’t come from the top or any central location, but originate at the point of action. That’s your free will. All of the information necessary to make decisions is at your disposal, but the final decision is always yours. This gives you the authority try new strategies. After all, who knows the situation better than you? If your implementations are a successful, they may be adopted by the System. If not, the structure will not miss you.
This holistic, all connected structure doesn’t point to an origin or any single cause or string of causes, but to a dynamic Whole that manages its own homeostasis through dynamic subsystems. Creation is not something that happened once in the past, but happens in the present, incessantly, everywhere there is Life. This holistic, dynamic, interconnected structure doesn’t even present a path to an origin, but cycles and recycles itself into an endless loop.
Thinking Globally, Acting Locally
There is nothing wrong with having an ego-centric point of view, in itself. That is the mode one must be in to deal with local reality. However, the ego can benefit greatly from an understanding of the whole picture. To improve that understanding, improves the quality of all one’s interactions with local reality.
Understanding Wholeness might be the key to the survival of our species. Understanding may be the wrong word; it might be that Wholeness has to be felt emotionally before it can be grasped by the intellect. Can you feel it?