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Of Holons and Wholeness

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Learning to See: Everything Is Holy

Of Holons and Wholeness
Thursday, May 28, 2015

The “univocity of being” gives a philosophical foundation to what we now call the circle of life, ecosystems, unitive thinking, and mysticism itself. Our being is not just analogous or similar to God’s being, but we may speak of our two supposedly different beings “with one voice.” From this alone we know that Duns Scotus, the “Blessed” man who coined the term, was a non-dual thinker, a contemplative.

Scotus was laying a philosophical foundation for what Michael Talbot and Ken Wilber are describing as a holographic universe, where “everything is a holon.” Scotus’ insight is also affirmed by Mandelbrot’s discovery of fractals, the repetitive and imitative patterns found in nature, mathematics, and art. We literally see that the part contains the whole or replicates the whole, and yet each part still has a wholeness within itself. This “appreciative accumulation” is what makes any whole Whole!

We now believe such wholeness is true physically, biologically, and spiritually, and can even be seen as a basis for understanding mystical union. It implies that there is an “inherent sympathy” between God and all created things, and between the other “ten thousand things,” too. “The ten thousand things” is a Taoist and Zen expression for everything that exists. All things—every human, creature, and even human-made objects—are somehow manifestations of formlessness. In this view, we don’t need to grade or classify “things” as good or bad, valuable or worthless. God can use everything to teach, delight, help, and challenge us.

Each of us replicates the Whole and yet has a certain wholeness within ourselves—but we are never entirely whole apart from connection with the larger Whole. Holons create a very fine language for what I call the mystery of participation, for understanding how holiness transmits and how God’s life is an utterly shared phenomenon. If you try to be “holy” alone, you are not holy at all.

Salvation is not a divine transaction that takes place because you are morally perfect, but much more is an organic unfolding, a becoming who you already are, an inborn sympathy with and capacity for the very One who created you. Each being is both a part that is like the Whole and yet also contributes to the Whole, just as Paul teaches in his analogy of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-30). This is the basis for the inherent dignity of everything and the foundation for all non-violence. Sadly, the world we live in today has very little sense of this wonderful wholeness, and therefore of holiness and non-violence.

Gateway to Silence:
“The world is in truth a holy place.” —Teilhard de Chardin

Adapted from Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi, pp. 176-178

Image credit: The Legend of St. Francis: 15. Sermon to the Birds (fresco detail), 1297-99, Giotto di Bondone, Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi, Italy.
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