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The prevailing disposition of our human nature is essentially optimistic, directed towards harmony and a sense of internal unity, constantly seeking union or wholeness in and with other beings and the world. Despite the evidence of some human behavior, at the central core of our being is the desire to seek what is laudable, hopeful or “to the good” for ourselves and others. Our essential nature urges us to do what is pleasing, valuable or useful. As the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza wrote “You neither want nor strive for anything because you judge it to be good. On the contrary, you consider something to be good because you strive for it, want it and desire it.”  What is good is right and what is right is good, and these constitute the essence of authenticity.
Though you are an individual you live in a world of others as part of society. As you interact and participate, you become more integrated into the larger worlds that exist around you—your family, your circle of friends, and the natural world or the universe.
The consequence of interrelatedness is holism—an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting—the quality of being united into one. In essence we are indistinguishable from one another; even though our skin may be a different color, we may speak a different language, eat different food, laugh at different jokes, or behave in ways others don’t understand.
We are one. You are indistinguishable from me. All our fundamental attributes are identical since we are both living members of the same species homo sapiens, of the Hominid family characterised by superior intelligence, articulate speech and erect carriage.
Humans have evolved a holistic way of seeing the world which conforms to its interconnected nature. We have an innate tendency to form wholes or unities in perception. From the work of the Gestalt psychologists we know that we see whole pictures not the dots that they are composed of. Our natural inclination is to search for a holistic perspective—to create symmetry from dissonance and unity from parts.
This suggests an approach to the world which is interactive, cooperative, and qualitative, informed by our values, authentic and engaged. A holistic worldview challenges us to see all things in the world as forming part of an undivided wholeness. If for instance, we were to take a snapshot of a single thought it wouldn’t make any sense – it is the continuous stream of thoughts that create meaning not the separate components.
The tendency to find difference rather than similarity and create discord rather than unity therefore runs counter to our basic biological functioning and to our innate natural disposition towards harmony.
The realization of holism in practice means that when we are faced with a situation we take time to look at all aspects to see it in the round or see it from every point of view.
When we meet a person that we dislike or do not agree with we try to expand our perspective, try to imagine the positive characteristics that may be hidden to us but that undoubtedly underlie the negative ones that we see. We try to envision that person in their wider life beyond this immediate interaction. We see them in their home, with their loved ones, at play, at prayer, in joy and suffering. We are all of us more than the façade we present, greater than our role, deeper than our skin, and never just our anger, or merely our actions.
The origin, transportation and destination of our own thoughts are invisible to us, and so often are their meaning. How can we expect that the opposite is true of others? How can we separate their current thoughts from their past thoughts; from where they came from, how they got here, and where they want to go to? And the same holds true for their actions: how can we separate their actions from their thoughts, their words from their deeds, their morning from their evening, their today from their yesterday, their hopes from their fears, their passion from their pain, and their perspective of us from our perspective of them?
This means that the only realistic approach is to take a ‘whole view’ of the world, a whole view of ourselves and a whole view of others and all of this together. You look at the big picture all of the time, and act not just out of self-interest but for the whole good of the community.
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