Wholeness moving in us and the world

Rachel Naomi Remen offers a story about how wholeness became embedded in the world, waiting for us to call it forth. I explore different dynamics of wholeness and how it relates to being agents of healing and transformation – including the power of disturbance to evoke grace.

Healing is about restoring former wholeness. Health is about maintaining existing wholeness. Transformation and evolution are about generating or evoking new forms of wholeness from – as Rachel Naomi Remen puts it in the piece below – “the seed of a greater wholeness, a dream of possibility”.

To a certain extent new forms of wholeness can be created, as in art, innovative technologies, or the unique synergies and dynamic tensions of a groundbreaking work of architecture or engineering. Yet some of the most remarkable forms of wholeness are organic and self-organized, from new ecosystems and babies’ personalities to spontaneous realizations and cultural shifts. Although this kind of wholeness can’t be created in a linear sense and normally simply happens by itself, it can also be catalyzed, evoked, or nurtured by invitation, inspiration, opportunity, and – as Rachel Naomi Remen puts it – by “our listening, our belief, our encouragement and our love.”

“Emergent processes” like Open Space and World Cafe are, in essence, ways to enhance a group’s capacity for generating novel but self-organized wholeness from among its members. I like to think of these processes as thoughtfully designed channels for the Tao, the Way of Nature, whose power is not in what it does but in what it allows, evokes, and facilitates.

In the excerpt below, Remen tells a story of original Wholeness scattered into all events, organizations, and people, suggesting that deep in the structure of reality and consciousness we can tap a long-buried longing for wholeness. This longing shows up in people in the form of needs, values, aspirations, and the other sources of motivating life-energy deep within us. It also shows up in the way disturbances seem to “cry out” for resolutions. Problems and crises evoke responses from within and around them in search of more peaceful, less problematic wholeness.

Denial and violence are problematic because they try to reassert wholeness without addressing the life energy they are suppressing. Most healing seeks to fix disturbances in ways that “return to normal”, which is often exactly what is needed for health. Deep transformative healing, on the other hand, seeks and learns lessons from undesirable situations and, guided by the wisdom thus gained, generates a fuller, more evolved condition of wholeness.

Given the nature of life, action in one area often generates disturbances in other areas. Through sensitive, insightful striving for wholeness we can minimize disturbing side-effects. But we cannot eliminate or escape them. They are a fact of life. Since disturbance evokes energies for healing and transformation, it is, in fact, an aspect of wholeness. We can view the inescapable reality of disturbance as a dimension of dynamic wholeness healing and transforming itself over and over. I see this as grace, a sacred holistic foundation of the way the world unfolds.

Understanding of the dynamics of healing, transformation, and wholeness can guide and energize us to move through the coming crises to a world that will be a blessing for all life within it.

How shall we use and be the energy of wholeness in our lives and world today? How can we learn what we need to know, and grow into who we need to be – over and over – through our wholeness and our inadequacy, our gifts and limitations – individually and, perhaps most importantly, together?



excerpt from

A Story For People Who Want To Change The World
by Rachel Naomi Remen, Jun 30, 2013

One of the oldest Wisdom stories about change, a story from the 14th century,… tells us that in the Beginning the world was whole, but that at some point in the history of things there was a great accident which scattered the wholeness of the world into an infinite number of tiny sparks of wholeness. These sparks fell into all events, all organizations and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day. The story goes on to say that the whole human race is a response to this accident. We have been born because we can discover and uncover the hidden spark of wholeness in all events, all organizations and all people…we can lift it up and strengthen it and make it visible once again … and by doing so we can heal the world back into its original wholeness. So restoring the wholeness of the world is not only a function of our expertise, it is also a part of our birthright as human beings. We have the power to further the wholeness of things just as we are, with our listening, our belief, our encouragement and our love.

So perhaps change is less about fixing a broken world and more about uncovering hidden wholeness in all events, all organizations and all people and remembering our personal power to make a difference. This old story…has given me new eyes. Everyone and everything has in it a seed of a greater wholeness, a dream of possibility. Perhaps what I once saw as “broken” or “lacking” might just as easily be seen as the growing edge of things …


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