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Six Facets of Wholeness


Wholeness can be viewed in terms of unity and diversity, relationship and uniqueness, and context and interiority. Each of these pairs of phenomena embody ways that integration and differentiation manifest in living systems to reflect and generate wholeness.
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Unity includes anything that holds a whole together, that makes it one thing. Unity contains and sustains systems. In human groupings, it includes our common humanity, our deep wellsprings of Spirit, and the things that brought us together and guide us in our group. But unity can become a cocoon insulating us in smug disconnection from the world. Or we can force it. Better that we try to remain mindful of (and celebrate) what we do share and keep alert for other common ground we might need to sustain our co-intelligence.

Diversity provides options, resources and stimulation; it generates vitality and evolution. Diverse strengths can compensate for diverse weaknesses. To get the most from diversity, we need to acknowledge how different each of us already is, become more tolerant of and skilled in handling problematic diversity, and nurture any diversity that will facilitate our co-intelligence -- such as people who can contribute divergent perspectives to enrich a shared inquiry.

We usually gather together around our common interests and qualities but soon find out how really different we are. At that point we need to use what unites us not to suppress our differences, but to help them interact generatively. We may need to develop more mature forms of unity in the process.
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Relationship connects people and things, events and possibilities, ideas and images, linking or weaving them together. Relationship generates energy and even (according to quantum mechanics and Buddhism) reality, itself. Relationships can be nurtured or degraded. They can also nurture or degrade those who are in the relationship. Some relationships are naturally resonant or synergistic, but all relationships can be improved by conscious attention -- and even designed for synergy (e.g., permaculture). (For a great exploration of interconnectedness, see )

Uniqueness means that everyone, everything, every moment has qualities possessed by no other person, thing or moment. That means everyone, everything and every moment is intensely and infinitely itself, to the point of being miraculous. Co-intelligence works best when "specialness" is grounded in uniqueness, rather than superiority. Uniqueness is hidden by categories, especially stereotypes. It is recovered by paying attention to who and what is right here, right now. Uniqueness offers us a vast pool of resources, limited only by our imaginations.

Co-intelligence is enhanced by improving the relationships among unique entities -- and by recognizing and enhancing the uniqueness of any entities in a relationship.

The power of relationship is synergy: the whole -- the parts in relationship -- is greater than the sum of those parts. We can create free resources simply by arranging things so they complement or stimulate each other.

The power of uniqueness is holergy: the part is greater than its role in the whole. Like synergy, holergy can provide free resources. Since each part is a unique whole in its own right, with special qualities, capabilities or connections, we can tap into and utilize those if we can see beyond the pre-ordained roles and categories that tend to hide such rich complexity.
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Context is what's around us (or around whatever we're attending to) -- the conditions, forces, structures and mindsets that contain what's going on, that shape it and give it meaning. Ultimately, context contains everything that's part of what is often called The Big Picture, and thus is essential to wholeness. We gain breadth of understanding by expanding our sense of context. A particular context can influence events (for better or worse), even in the absence of linear causation. For example, my life is different simply because I have a daughter; even when she is not physically present, she is vividly a part of my context. Consciously creating a more generative context is a good co-intelligent approach to causation. Furthermore, an objective situation can be changed, as a context, simply by reframing what it means. An illness can go from being a problem to being an opportunity. People who know how to find opportunities everywhere can surf the waves of context.

Interiority is what's inside us (or inside whatever we're attending to) -- the generative center out of which awareness, resourcefulness, motivation and many other phenomena arise. We gain depth of understanding by delving deeper into the insides of things (including ourselves). People who know how to call forth motivation and creativity in themselves and others are tapping into the energy of interiority.

The relationship between interiority and context governs emergence. When we are centered in ourselves and aware of our surroundings; and when our context is designed to bring out the deepest part of us; then new and powerful things can surface. On the other hand, when our context keeps our deepest selves (and the hidden parts of situations) suppressed or denied, nothing truly new or creative can emerge.

(See also Wholeness - Explict and Implicit and Four Dynamics of Wholeness)