Perceiving The Whole

Some time ago a young father was tragically killed in a high-jacking.  His death was deeply traumatic and shocked the community. The behaviour that caused his death was inexcusable and the collective anger was immense.

What has become very clear to all is the wider implications of this young father’s death. The children are now growing up without a father, which has had its own emotional implications. A young mother has lost a partner and father to her children and is going through all the difficulties single mothers go through in raising their children. A successful little business has had to close its doors robbing a good number of people of their livelihood. The litany goes on and on. This young father’s death just cannot be seen in isolation. All sorts of communal implications flowed from it.

The great masters of life teach us not to see in an isolated way. They call on us to see things as a whole, not as fragments, but in context. Seeing in this way enables us to truly grasp the full implications of what we do and what we decide upon. All things are mysteriously connected at a level we have not yet even begun to grasp. Only this kind of perception awakens a true compassion and a true ethic for life.


About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
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17 Responses to Perceiving The Whole

  1. Similar to the domino effect, this brings to mind the butterfly effect…the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.

    Everything we think, say, and do has an effect. My goal is to make my “hurricane” positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing.


    • Don says:

      Thanks Laurie. Love the illustration. Your last sentence does it for me. There are those who are doing precisely that in the situation described and they are doing it in a holistic sense. They perceive the situation as a whole and offer all you describe in a holistic sense.


  2. Hudson Howl says:

    Ugly and tragic.

    No doubt the ‘trickle down’ of such a event will be felt for generations. Though am not quite sure if am understanding you completely. To look at the ‘whole’ in this case, one would have to surmise no good came of it. period.


    • Don says:

      Thanks Hudson. The “Trickle down effect” will be felt for generations. To look at the whole in this situation does mean that in the end goodness will triumph. One sees something of that happening already in all the healing and restoration that is taking place. I think Laurie’s comment, above, puts it in context. I think all I’m saying is that we need to develop a way of seeing that sees all the connections in whatever we look at. Newtonian physics has tended to isolate and individualize reality, where quantum physics is now teaching us how to see parts being an intricate part of the whole and that they effect the whole. Thanks for the comment Hudson.


  3. nrhatch says:

    When we perceive the connection, “US” and “THEM” fades away and becomes a more unified “WE.”

    Good thoughts, Don.


  4. Dianne says:

    It seems to me nothing happens in a vacume. What would our answer/understanding be if we were to see this event in the context of South Africa; where we have been and where we are today?


    • Don says:

      Dianne, that’s precisely it. I love the way you widen the context. The more we know of the context of the story the better we understand. Does an understanding of the context excuse the behaviour. I believe it doesn’t, but it does always curb our tendency to make cold and isolated judgements. Thanks for your meaningful comment.


  5. Geraldien Coetzee says:

    Don a thing like this really angers me as no one has the right to take someones life and steal their car or property. So many people are hurt in a thing like this which is so unnecessary. This is where I believe that people do not have respect for other people and their property. It is so sad that we have to live with this around us. I really feel strongly about this and feel that we should not have to live like this. Years ago when I grow up we didn’t even have burglar bars on the windows and slept with the front door standing open. How I long for those days.


    • Don says:

      It is tragic that we have to live like this, Geraldien. I too long for a time where I can just drive my car through the gates of our complex without constantly having to look around as if I’m in a battle zone. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – appreciate your comment.


  6. Greg says:

    Keifer Sutherland has a new t.v. series entitled Touch, in which his young son is able to communicate only through numbers. Each episode involves a story of different people across the globe, from varied cultures, class, ages and circumstances. So we see how through a series of seemingly random events, these lives are affected and ultimately interconnected. It’s a truly engaging show, and the thread of human triumph is the theme, even though some tragic events are deeply touching, the end is always the uplifting of the spirit which occurs as a result of passing through and beyond the sorrow. It puts a perspective on humanity that gives one hope that the collective good may yet overcome.


  7. Don says:

    I haven’t watched it Greg, but your description certainly urges me to. I’ll look out for it. Sounds good. Thanks for that.


  8. Katy says:

    No one puts the effects of a death,but especially a tragic death, better than John Donne. This is a shortened version of his poem
    “No man is an island, entire of itself.
    Each man,s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore send not to know for whom the bell tolls
    It tolls for thee.


    • Don says:

      Hi Katy. These words encapsulate everything that was said in the post. So beautifully said. I’ve heard the last sentence quoted, but have never known the words before this sentence. Thanks so much for sharing them – very meaningful.


  9. Pingback: Rolling Round Corners & Corridors « Spirit Lights The Way

  10. ladyfi says:

    So true – there is far too little compassion in the world, it would seem.


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