Wisdom and Wholeness
The attempt to describe wisdom
is an impossible task. However, the attempt is important if we
want to create a wise democracy. We need to find ways to understand
wisdom that we can bring into the realms of politics and government,
so we can say that this process or decision is wiser than that
one and, more importantly, why it is wiser.
Around such understandings a movement can
be built. Without them, we will have nothing but our individual
opinions which, despite their considerable value, give us nothing
to rally around.
Our tentative conclusion is that wisdom,
in its essence, is about wholeness.
It is about the wholeness of life. Wise people and decisions take
one or more dimensions of that wholeness seriously. They appreciate
it and build on it with what they say and the impact they have
on the world.
So let's explore "wholeness"
The words "holy," "wholesome,"
"health" and "healing" are all rooted in the
idea of "wholeness." Wholeness involves the entirety
of things, which suggests inclusion and seeing the big picture.
It involves diversity, but diversity that dances with unity instead
of undermining it. It involves cooperation, interaction, dialogue,
compassion, and all the other things that "bring us together"
without losing our individual "integrity" (another word
grounded in wholeness), thus enhancing relationship and interconnectedness.
Our essential unity and kinship are powerful factors in wholeness.
So are holistic ways of knowing -- from
systems theory and ecology to intuition, from quantum mechanics
and field theory to heartful stories and human resonance. And,
contrary to the inclinations of many "new paradigm"
people, we can't exclude logic and facts and all our linear ways
of knowing, because wisdom challenges us to engage the WHOLE SPECTRUM
of our cognitive capacities!
Above all, wisdom serves life. It serves
the wholeness (healing, integrity, sacredness) of individual lives,
and it serves the larger whole, the whole of the community or
the world, in which these individual lives are embedded. It honors
and learns from the past, deepens into the present, and acts on
behalf of The Seventh Generation after us - - engaging the whole
of time, the big picture.
In the end, it knows that it can only approximate
wholeness in all that it knows, says and does. So it tends to
be humble. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and tells us
(with a twinkle) that "there is always more to it than that!"
So that is a taste of the many dimensions
of wholeness, of what it might mean to appreciate and act on the
wholeness of life -- a wholeness which is, paradoxically, completely
present and tantalyzingly improvable. In the center of that paradox
wisdom lives and serves.
Our challenge is to find ways to help wisdom
live and serve among and through us in every corner of democratic
life, from the smallest conversations to the most powerful institutions.
Now let's try to articulate the relationship
between wisdom and wholeness
Wisdom is applied appreciation of the wholeness
of life. (This includes all varieties of appreciation and all
varieties of wholeness.)
A person or culture is wise to the extent
that they comprehend, value and support life's wholeness -- in
any or all of its manifestations. They also tend to embody or
exemplify that wholeness in various ways, and their engagement
with life arises from it, or is experienced by them and others
as an expression of it. Another way to put it: A truly wise person
or culture is a vehicle or channel for life's wholeness on behalf
They bring their growing insight about life's
wholeness into each engagement with life (in its wholeness), in
support of its emergence and evolution into fuller or newer manifestations
The wholeness of life (or some aspect of
life's wholeness -- not its fragmentedness) is what is real to
those that are wise as they engage with life.
Since life, in its wholeness, expands
ever deeper into life and, ultimately, into mystery, they are expansive, inclusive, curious, learning,
seeing the bigger picture -- and yet also humble, accepting and
willing to let go, for they know that ultimately they do not know
(there is always more to it), and they deeply honor the awesome
mystery that lies in, under and beyond it all.
Since life, in its wholeness, is intricately
interconnected, interdependent and co-creative, they take relationship and complexity seriously,
not only as a challenge but as a source of life. They are motivated
by love, mutuality, the common good and enlightened self-interest.
They are responsible but not blaming (since we're all creating
what's going on), engaged but not controlling (control is an illusion
-- sometimes useful, but an illusion nevertheless), and interested
in the many roles that are or could be involved in any phenomenon,
and the choices among them. And since life's wholeness never involves
"one thing alone," they find meaning in contexts, in
fields of influence, in paradox and in the dynamic tension between
what seem to be opposites.
Since life, in its wholeness, has continuity,
consequence, unfolding meaning and story,
wise people and cultures are embedded in deep time, the long view,
the Seventh Generation. They are interested in history, vision,
purpose, destiny, possibilities and the Great Guiding Stories
that give life depth, meaning and direction.
Since life, in its wholeness, manifests
itself in the form of individual whole beings, wise people and cultures respect and learn from
people and other living things, honor diversity, nurture and use
the wholeness of human capacities. To a wise person or culture,
interactive differences and the living spirit of things are resources
for bringing forth even more remarkable forms of wholeness.
Since life, in its wholeness, is holy,
healthy and wholesome, they ground
themselves in Spirit, in healing and in seeking alignment with
the moral flow (or tendencies or "grain") of the Whole.
Since life, in this wholeness, is self-organizing, they seek ways
that nurture self-organization. Such ways require little effort
but much observant insight into the motivations and interactions
Since life, in its wholeness, is One, they are one with It. Since it is many, they embrace
many. Since it is Present and emergent, they are present and emergent,
with awareness. Since it is conscious, loving, and evolving, so
are they. They are life, alive, exploring and evoking the wholeness
(This definition can be understood and expanded
to the extent a person has a deep understanding of wholeness.)