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Herein lies a profound dilemma. Once a person, group, or culture articulates its own conception of the whole, immediately antennae on other possible wholes become fixed; receptors to foreign insights become restricted to those categories which are familiar and, therefore, limited.

Quest For Wholeness

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide. Nature, water symbols, and the human quest for wholeness. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

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Google Scholar. Also, see J. Also, see W. See C.

See F. One allegory from the Judaeo-Christian world may illustrate the prospect: on that first Pentecost Day, after the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, thousands of people from diverse civilizations could suddenly communicate as though they possessed a common vernacular language. See H.

Cited in Judson, Search for Solutions , p. See E. CrossRef Google Scholar. Judson, Search for Solutions , p. See John B. Wiener, trans. Cited in Nakamura, The Idea , p.

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The Quest for Wholeness

See Judson, Search for Solutions , p. Nakamura, The Idea , for ff. Eliade, Myth and Reality , p. Nakamura, The Idea , p. McClagan, Creation Myths , p. Sanders, ed. If you open the most important science magazines, like Nature or Science , you still find that the greatest majority of articles have to do with DNA, RNA, antibodies, proteins and hormones, as well as polymeric materials, new chemicals for batteries, molecular sensors… The question is whether also for this kind of molecular sciences, in which we still have objects outside there, a sort of parallelism can be found with spirituality, in the sense mentioned above.

To this aim, let us consider the science paradigm, which from the epistemic point of view may represent the most advanced view to look at the world. This is, in the opinion of most researchers today, the systems view of life. A system view is an antireductionist way of looking at our world, according to which, given a system composed by several components, none of these parts can be considered independent from each other, namely considered as working in isolation.

Think simply of life: there is no life in the isolated components like DNA, proteins, sugars, and in each of the thousand cell components. This is so in all kinds of systems. The system in question can be a family, where the mother cannot obviously be considered as an isolated entity, or can be an organism, where each organ or organelle has no particular meaning when considered in isolation; or can be a complex structure like an hospital, where the group of nurses cannot be considered independent from the doctors, from the administration, from the cleaning personnel.

This is well described in the book The systems view of life by Capra and Luisi. The systems view gives you a picture of reality where all is connected to everything else. For example, starting from a tree, we can go to the forest, which is part of Earth, which is dependent on the sun, which is part of the solar system, which is part of the galaxy, which is part of the universe. And let us go now from here to the world view offered by Buddhism, just to go back to the oriental traditions.

Here, the central pillar is causality, with the notion of co-dependent arising.

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And another pillar in the rational Buddhism is the notion of impermanence, according to which everything which was born is changing and decaying in a kind of dynamic, continuous dance. And if all things are mutually linked and dependent, and at the same time they continuously change, then the entire universe is not made by isolated, independent entities, but is a dynamic, totally interactive process.


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We have then a vision of wholeness. Seen in this way, it may appear that between the two views - the systems view of science and traditional spiritual Buddhism, there is a great agreement- in the sense discussed in the over mentioned book by Capra.

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They both point at wholeness. However, is at this point that we have to go back to the dualism mentioned in the beginning of this article. The systems view is a dualistic approach. It is the observer who sees the reality as a wholeness, a wholeness however that, by definition, excludes the observer. The pathway of the sincere Buddhist practitioner, however, should not stop here-it is a spiritual pathway.

Spirituality of which religion is part of can be seen and defined in different ways, but if we consider it at the mystical level, we are dealing with a process to reach the reality of truth by a completely different way with respect to that of the traditional scientist: namely by entering directly in touch, merging, with a transcendent level.

This is the true quest for wholeness, true as in this case includes the conscious observer. And indeed, there are extremely few scientists who consider the question of wholeness.


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One is Erwin Schrodinger, one of the fathers of modern quantum physics and the Author of What is life? And I agree that one can use this term, but with a rather different meaning than the mystical view of oriental tradition. This is when the scientist reaches the limits of knowledge, the limits of human understanding, when namely the scientist is trying to merge with the depth of the immensity of the cosmos, or, at the microscopic level, with the whimsical components of matter.

And acknowledging that they are beyond the reach of the human mind, and watching them with humility, with a sense of wonder.

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Thus, Einstein had to say: "One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.

This can be defined as lay — spirituality, perhaps remote from the mystical spirituality, still something very human and noble, as it is based on the great intelligence of very knowledgeable people who recognize their own humility. References F. Capra, P.