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SEEING THINGS WHOLE: Launching a New Project

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It is often said, "Everything is connected to everything else."  (If you want to get an idea how often, just google that sentence and you'll come up with 3,180 sites.)

Whether that statement is altogether true, or is somewhat overstated, I am herewith beginning a project premised on the proposition:  "There is nothing more important, or more rewarding, than attending to the vast and profound interconnectedness of things."


It is important and rewarding INTELLECTUALLY, as it is by seeing how things connect and form patterns that we can grasp what all the many things in our world MEAN.  And so, in this project, I hope to provide illustrations of the incredibly rich web of meaningful connections, and to explore what these examples show us about the nature of our reality.  

When years ago I first had a personal website to present my work, I chose as its slogan, "Putting the Pieces Together."  And then I came to realize that this put the emphasis in the wrong place, implying that the reality was the pieces and that my work was somehow assembling them;  and I saw that the more apt way of putting the enterprise would be "Seeing Things Whole," which acknowledges that the wholeness is what's there, and that the task is to discern it.   

This project might have as a working title, SEEING THINGS WHOLE.  Or, it might be called PATTERNS AND CONNECTIONS.  Or it might be some combination of those.

Whatever it's name, this new project will extend that effort outward toward the immensity of that Whole.  The result, I hope, will be that our minds will be blown by the vastness of the inter-penetrating web of relationships, and that we will be led to transcend the often trivializing ways our contemporary culture often breaks reality down into discrete realms and unrelated pieces.


Connectedness is important and rewarding EMOTIONALLY, as it is by experiencing our own connectedness with our world and with other people and with the core of ourselves that we find meaning and fulfillment.  When Buddha teaches about "compassion," when Jesus exhorts his followers to "love thy neighbor as thyself," and in the idea of "the brotherhood of man," these teachings can be seen as ways of underscoring how vital are the connections between us.  Or, as E.M. Forster put it, "Only connect."

That Native American idea of "the seventh generation" --i.e. that the decisions of today should take into account how they will impact the well-being of the next seven generations-- is about SEEING that there are ramifications that CONNECT events today with conditions tomorrow.  But as a principle for action, it is predicated on an emotional connection of CARING about whether those ramifications are for good or for ill.

My book THE EXPERIENCE OF MEANING (which I have been publishing here chapter by chapter) focuses on whether and how we are able to bring our passions and our feelings and our caring into our relationship with the world so that we experience it as meaningful and important rather than dull and flat.


It is important and rewarding SPIRITUALLY.  Of these three dimensions, it is this spiritual one which I feel I understand the least.  However, both of my two most recent life-changing visionary experiences have involved the central importance of "patterns and connections" to the spiritual dimension.  First, based on my experience described in "Our Pathways Into Deep Meaning" (at <a href=""></a>), I present evidence suggesting that "our greatest fulfillment [lies in] the recognition and the creation of wholeness," and conjecture that this may be connected with the overwhelming sense of the Oneness of our reality reported --through the centuries and across cultures-- by mystics from their visions.  

Then came the call to take on this Bushite evil, and the deepest thing I saw in pursuing this vision I articulated in the piece, "The Concept of Evil."  What I'd "seen" was that "the essence of evil is a pattern of brokenness," and that good and evil are "forces" that contend "to spread their patterns."  The reality of these "spiritual" forces, I thought I now understood, is that they exist beyond the immediate and concrete as patterns "so vast and enduring that they require an expansion of our usual narrow perspective for us to perceive them; so subtle and transcendent in their operation that they do seem of a spiritual nature."


In the next several installments --of PATTERNS AND CONNECTIONS, or SEEING THINGS WHOLE, or whatever-- I will begin this process by presenting several specific, concrete instances of interconnectedness that have excited me over the years.  And I will also invite you to help build this complex map of interconnectedness by supplying such instances of interconnectedness that you have encountered, and any meta-thoughts you may have or have come across that can help us all understand the nature and meaning of this wholeness.

<em>One last note:  if you know any people who might be interested in this line of exploration, please deal them in.  </em>

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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