We perceive life as a part, not as a whole, in an endless variety of ways. For example, we readily accept life in the form of matter -- as material formations such as the earth and our bodies -- but we tend to close ourselves off from the non-material existence, including the subtle and the spiritual. On the other hand, there are spiritual aspirants and seekers who live a cloistered existence and commune with a Higher Reality, but are unable to integrate their experiences into normal, everyday life -- i.e. in the world of matter.
And yet we are fully capable of bringing the parts together and living the life of the Whole -- of an integral existence; of full knowledge that when applied tends to attract vast success and individual fulfillment. For example, in the example above, if I were to connect with spirit, and then bring that truth and power into my work, I would accomplish it much more quickly, and far more effectively. When we embrace all sides of a matter or subject or aspect of life, we have far greater insight and knowledge, and are therefore able to produce infinite-like results. On the other hand, when we embrace only the part -- i.e. the limited view -- we constrict life; we reduce our effectiveness, blocking true insight that can breed abundant success.
We can see this principle at work in many areas of life. For example, at the level of society, we value progress -- in particular, economic progress and development that brings material well-being. We -- especially Americans and Westerners -- like anything that speeds up that process; while disdaining things that slow it down. Thus, we rush to market an ever-growing array of products and services. This acceleration is a fine development at the material level, but it embraces only the Part. The Whole includes consideration of the effect of that process on the well-being of Man. E.g., when we bring products to market rapid fire, we would also consider whether the workers are being treated right; whether the products safe; whether the environment is maintained or degraded; whether it is creating disruptions and displacements in society; whether it meets the real needs and aspirations of the people; whether it reflect important individual and social values, and so forth.
The Whole then addresses not only material, but the psychological and social factors as well. It considers and embraces all sides, all interests, all concerns -- not just the limited things we are aware of, or are overly attached to. It in essence includes the gamut of human values -- from the material to the spiritual. Interestingly, when we widen ourselves and embrace the multiplicity of truths related to a matter, we not only understand it better, but when we act from that knowledge, what we produce is of a far superior quality. In addition, negative outcomes are avoided.
Here’s another example. America is a great country with powerful material values. Through those values, she has brought out the infinite in matter, and enjoys unprecedented economic success. It is also, however, an example of the limitations of the part. As a result of focusing on the material alone, she struggles at the non-material level -- including the psychological, the social, and the political. Her limited view not only creates harmful side effects such as pollution and proliferation of weaponry, but psychological instability as well. If she were to embrace the full spectrum of values beyond the material, she would not only expand on her physical abundance up to infinity, but would enjoy profound social harmony and deep psychological fulfillment.
To see the Whole is the integrative view of life. It creates the most benefit with the least negative effect. If this is so, then why are we not able to embrace this many-sided, integrative view of life? It is because we are limited in consciousness. Driven by our negative or false attitudes and beliefs; by our ego that creates rampant selfishness; by our preoccupation with the surface of things, we are cut off from the many-sided view of life. We miss the variety of truths that surround any subject or matter that are essential for integral, moment-to-moment comprehension.
The truth is that we like what we know, and are indifferent to or reject what we don’t know. As a result, we live in ignorance and falsehood. I.e. we have an exceedingly limited understanding of a matter, which limits our scope for success, while also attracting unintended negative consequences. (One principle of life is that when we embrace the part instead of the whole, the parts we overlook manifest as negative outcomes.) One way out of this conundrum, is to step back and look at any endeavor or matter, and consider it in terms of four essential aspects -- the material, the vital, the mental, and the spiritual. Doing so will tell us if we are embracing the whole or just the limited part. Let’s define each and see how they serve our purpose.
By the material, I mean matter -- i.e. the physical component, in any subject or undertaking. The Vital is the movement of life, including the effects on our emotions and feelings; our desires and needs; as well as our associations and interactions with others and the world around us. The mental is knowledge and understanding; our ability to comprehend; the thoughts and ideas we have; the values we cherish and the goals we subscribe, to name several. The Spiritual is beyond all of these. It is a subtle power that permeates all the other planes, and can be experienced as Oneness and Unity with environment; as feelings of Love towards our others; as creations and expressions of Beauty; as utter Delight in being alive; and as Timelessness, Infinity, Silence, and Goodness.
Let’s say that I am embarking on a project. At various points, I decide to evaluate the undertaking from each of the four planes. For example, I have obtained all the material resources required to get the work done – including machinery, funding, etc. Thus, the material view of things is in good order. However, when I consider the work from the vital standpoint, I realize that I have been unwilling to listen to others; that I guard my own entrenched view of things feverishly; and, in general, I am not very communicative. In addition, when I consider the social aspect, I realize that I have didn’t really consider the impact of the project on the people who were working on it. These are additional vital aspects or parts at the social plane that haven’t received proper attention.
Then I consider the next plane up -- the mental. I wonder if the essential assumptions I have made about the phases of the project are accurate; or whether the completion date is reasonable; or whether its achievement will truly meet the goals and values of the company. Finally, there are the spiritual aspects to consider. For example, I wonder if I have been self-giving on the project; and whether I have demonstrated a level of gratitude towards others for the work they have done; and whether I have been calm and equal when big changes come, or when difficult situations arise.
As I consider my reality from each of these planes -- material, vital, meant, and spiritual -- I begin to move out of the limited part view, and embrace the whole. Along the way, I even come to perceive the true Essence of the matter – including the true purpose of my undertaking has served; what it indicates for the future; even what it has brought out about my own character and what that means in terms of my future progress.
As a result of making this effort, I acquire a more integral view of the things I am engaged in. Through my comprehensive understanding and knowledge, I become more aware of the multiplicity of truths I am grappling with, of the variety of factors that are at play in any given situation. This in turn gives me the knowledge power to make the right decisions that lead to powerful positive results.
As I follow this thread and seek out the multiple dimensions of any matter, I begin to truly value the power of the Whole. Also, as I obtain vast positive results by acting on that knowledge, I feel a deep sense of fulfillment and joy in life. As a result, I am energized to no end, and eagerly look forward to the next challenge.