Our minds exist in a constant state of change. From one moment to the next we reorganize and re-categorize our interpretation of the world around us. We are constantly absorbing input from our senses which is processed and defines our mental reflection of the universe.
We posses two natures and our brain has two distinct hemispheres. The left brain hemisphere takes facts and figures at face value. It is logical; rational. Our brain’s right hemisphere attaches a story to input from our senses. It is intuitive; creative.
“Experiments on split-brain patients reveal how readily the left brain interpreter can make up stories and beliefs. In one experiment, for example, when the word walk was presented only to the right side of a patient’s brain, he got up and started walking. When he was asked why he did this, the left brain (where language is stored and where the word walk was not presented) quickly created a reason for the action: ‘I wanted to go get a Coke.'” — The Ethical Brain, Michael Gazzaniga.
Most people have no qualms accepting logical, rational, linear thinking. Clear concise arguments where a cause and effect are laid out in simple sequence make sense to many. This kind of thinking is at the heart of our technological society.
Society tends to rely on this way of thinking. It is a cornerstone in how we experience and interact with our world. It suits our left-brained sensibility of measurement. For all intents and purposes, it is the core of the Scientific Method.
Society is not inherently quantitative however. When we approach psychological and social problems, statistical analysis can only take us so far. The holistic, right-brained senses kick in.
Holism does not approach things in terms of value or quantity. The fundamental element in holism is synergy. The interdependence of all things. One thing cannot be separate from the universe for it is a part of a whole. An arm may be cut from a body, but in doing so it is no longer an arm. It cannot grasp, nor bend. It cannot function without the body, the mind or the spirit to guide it.
Such is the holistic view of all things. We are comprised of parts in much the same way that we are parts of something larger. It continues infinitely in both directions. Layers upon layers of existence all weaved together in a great fabric. The tapestry of the universe. To isolate an object is to view it out of context. We must ask instead how an object interacts with the universe. What is its role in the great mystery of life?
Yin and Yang
Dualism is sometimes perceived as a narrow, more focused way of interpretation. For instance, a tree is an object existing within a range of object, both animate and inanimate; living and non-living. It can be classified by comparison to other objects and located at a specific point in the continuum of living organisms by observation and analysis of its natural properties.
Does a tree consume resources? Yes. Water and Carbon Dioxide. Does it reproduce? Yes. Than, if A and B are both true, the object we have labeled a tree is in fact a living organism. However, it does not possess the characteristics of higher thought, such as humanity would define them. Therefore it does not think, nor feel. It is a living object with no higher cognitive processes and therefore, less valued than a human or animal that does posses these cognitive processes.
In a holistic perspective, a tree is made up of molecules and atoms. The atoms are in turn, comprised of sub atomic particles and the sub atomic particles are composed of strings, and on and on. Like everything else and a tree is a part of nature, a part of Earth, a part of this universe. It has a place and a purpose.
A tree gives us Oxygen as we give it Carbon Dioxide. It gives us life and in turn we give it the same. The tree cannot exist without us and we without it. It does not matter that the tree cannot think as we do. Perhaps it thinks in another way humanity simply cannot interpret yet. There is no classification, no spectrum of self imposed importance. There is a tree. A part of a whole. One piece in a universal puzzle. It is to be admired and respected for what it is, not categorized as an object, separated from other objects on the basis of our flawed way of thinking.
Duality in Balance
I struggle everyday to balance these two forces in my mind’s eye. I am inherently logical and practical in many things, yet I retain a spiritual essence. I attribute things to a higher, mysterious force. I try with all my being to find balance in this world between my two natures.
Reality may simply be too great to fully comprehend. God or Gods are a tool for understanding powers and concepts we cannot yet practically define. Externally we may seem to have differing religions, but at a deeper level, the human condition is a struggle to define similar beliefs.
This is the fate of all mankind. We exist with internal conflict between the rational and mystical. We seek to understand what is around us and to share that knowledge with others in terms that make sense. We are the embodiment of duality. Each of us is both separate from yet connected to all life.
1. (“Dualist Thinking and Holistic Awareness, Dr. Larry Culliford, Spiritual Wisdom for Secular Times | Psychology Today | Web. 22 May 2012. “)
2. (“Left Brain vs Right Brain, Kendra Cherry | About.com”)
3. (“Practical Spirituality—the Ego, Dr. John W. Gilmore | SelfGrowth.com”)
4. (“Tension between Dualism and Holism, John Moore | The Divine Spark”)