Humanity is in a crisis of consciousness. Society and the way we interact with each other is broken because we too often see the world in separate, static, and linear ways. Our reductive thinking keeps us stuck in the past, with no clear path for how to move forward, for we are in constant conflict with the complex, dynamic, and evolving world around us. Luckily, an opportunity for change is presenting itself. We have a new approach to the art of inquiry, called complexity science, which can guide us forward. A complexity science approach allows us to explore and address questions beyond the the scope of “traditional” science, including human behavior, cultures, and social movements. Complexity science pushes us to look at history, not for answers but for a map toward a more positive future and every February in the United States, we are presented with an opportune time to reflect on the past. Black History Month, which stems back to the 1920’s as “Negro History Week”, is here to remind us that the past contains important insights. Unfortunately, over the years we have missed too many of these insights and desperately need to expand our thinking in order to move forward in a positive way. With a collective shift in human consciousness, guided by missing lessons from our past and complexity science, we can work together to achieve positive change.
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Although much of the context is lost during the process of communication, connecting with our community and learning together is why we do what we do. We have talked with many different scientists, practitioners and enthusiasts in the complexity science community and have gathered diverse themes which encompass, explain and (dare we say) define complexity science and complexity thinking. Here is what we have learned:
We have shared over 100 episodes on the Human Current podcast and have explored the very essence of complex systems throughout many different conversations. We continue to learn from others about interdependencies, patterns, relationships, emergence, self-organization, feedback loops, and many more trademarks of complex adaptive systems. All of these concepts have helped us better understand the inner workings of our reality. They are packed with meaning and tangible understanding. Yet, there is another concept that continues to reveal itself to us time and time again, which is harder to grasp with the mind: wholeness. Wholeness is the very essence of what it means to be a living system.
At first thought, it seems like a straightforward term that you can wrap your head around without having to sit with it for very long. When you do sit with it for a while however, you realize it’s loaded with mystical complexity.
Peter Senge said, “systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots.”
Wholeness is all around us. We can use systems thinking and complexity thinking to see it and to tap into it, but we are learning that something more is needed, something beyond knowledge or reason, in order to fully appreciate what wholeness really means.
Here are a few quotes to help you grasp wholeness with your mind (and maybe a few insights for how else we might seek wholeness):