Friday, June 16, 2006

Reflection on wholeness



There was a time when I was a manager at a medium size consulting company. I always saw the activity in my department as above average (or maybe even better than that ;-). Of course, to be above average, then at least half of the other departments, had to be below average. And so there was “us” and “those other guys” that didn’t quite get it, or get it as well.

Of course, management styles changed and people saw the need for better collaboration, working more like a “team”. I always thought we operated as a great team — it just depended where you drew the boundaries. There were always those who we wanted to have on our team, and “those other guys”.

Now you may think this was the sign of immaturity, or naiveté, or even egocentricity. But then ask yourselves the following questions:

Perhaps it was inappropriate to draw the boundaries around my department. So where should they be drawn? Upper management might say the Division (those are now gone, kinda), or the Center (we really should share across those boundaries). Well, then how about the entire company — yes, that’s it — let’s make sure that the company stays “above average” and not like “those other guys”.

OK, perhaps you are getting my drift. We need to think bigger. After all, my company is here to assist our Government, and we are all “one team” so we must include our civilian and military members of Government. After all, this is the United States. And we are certainly way above average, and not like “those other guys”.

Hmm, perhaps you are detecting a pattern. OK, our country is actually not that old, and we’ve seen some nation-states have their boundaries redrawn many times just in our own lifetimes. So maybe we should draw the boundaries on ethnic grounds. Or cultural grounds. Or religious grounds. Hmm, maybe you now see the problem.

There is no ‘us’, and there is no ‘them’. There isn’t even ‘you’ and ‘I’. It’s just One. And making these divisions, which I think you will agree are all conceptual (and inherently artificial by some yardstick — trust me — any boundary you create, I can find an example to show it isn’t absolute), is inherently harmful, because it reinforces a view of life which runs counter to reality. It breaks up our humanity (or the world, or the universe) into segments that artificially compete against one another, and thus brings suffering.

What we need, instead, are thought processes or paradigms that unite and integrate. That see life — Reality — as a whole. Everything interconnected and related to everything else. No absolutes, and nothing fixed. Nope, not even God (at least as distinct from us).

And all of this begins (and ends, really) with the self — with you, and your concept of “I”. If you are separate from the world, then we are all separate from the world and each other. If you are not distinct, but instead an integral part of the world, then so am I, and so are we together, ad infinitum.

It’s a very challenging concept. But I encourage you to examine your thoughts, beliefs, and their foundations. And to ask yourself if they scale. And if not, to ask yourself why, and if there are alternative paradigms that do scale. And I think you will be brought back to unity. Which will also bring you back to love. Give it a try and see.

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