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What is wholeness? We can define it in various ways:

  1. Wholeness is the concept that we contain all potentials -- potentials for any action, thought, or energy tone (e.g., emotion or feeling). While we might not express the potentials in any particular manner, we know that they are within us. These "potentials" are the archetypes, which are aspects of spirit (i.e., life). Spirit is the substance of which soul is composed; thus each of us (as soul) contains all archetypes, which we express into the physical, emotional, and mental dimensions. In this wholeness, we have the potential to display either pole of any duality: good and bad, generous and selfish, productive and lazy, etc.; all are manifestations of archetypes.
  2. Wholeness is our mental and emotional acceptance of that concept of wholeness. We do not deny any aspect of ourselves, even when we make mistakes while we learn how to performing intuitively, effectively, and lovingly in our interactions with the archetypes. In the first definition, wholeness exists as a principle even if we do not acknowledge it; in the second definition, we consciously acknowledge our wholeness, and we have a willingness to work with it, to develop our ability to express the archetypes.

What is the source of the word "wholeness?" The word comes from the Saxon word, "Hal," from which we derive the words, "whole," "hale," and "hello" (a greeting by which we wish wholeness upon someone); these words are also related to "holy" and "health." Although we may use either spelling -- "wholistic" or "holistic" -- the first spelling implies psychological or spiritual wholeness, and the second implies religious holiness. This book uses the first spelling because, although we might study religious principles in our journey toward wholeness, the goal includes acceptance and integration of all of our pieces -- even those which might be considered flawed, malevolent, "negative," or shadowy; the goal is not perfection or saintliness or conformity to certain traditional religious ideals.

Wholeness has various characteristics.

  1. Wholeness is "coming to terms." This "coming to terms" starts with an acknowledgment of the world as it is, inside of us and outside of us; we know that we cannot repress or ignore that which confronts us but instead we must create peaceful, constructive relationships because we intuit that these things have something to contribute to our wholeness, life, health, and success. We come to terms even if the conditions are currently disturbing, painful, or apparently "negative"; underlying each of those unpleasant conditions is an archetype of life itself which we can understand and then express in a more-productive form.
  2. Wholeness is expansiveness. It is an acknowledgment that the various parts of ourselves and our world are not autonomous; instead, they are members of one large system. The system includes everything -- people, nature, spirit, our physical body, archetypes (and the fields which retain traces from our encounters with those archetypes), and the aspects of the psyche (e.g., the ego, shadow, persona, emotions, thoughts, etc.). When we recognize this system, we realize that it has a synergistic character, and that "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."
  3. Wholeness is individuality. Wholeness is not a vague, oceanic "oneness"; on the contrary, in the first step toward wholeness, we differentiate and clarify the parts; for example, we separate the ego from the shadow (internally) and from social conformity (externally). Then we attain wholeness with those distinct parts, as we understand our connection to them.
  4. Wholeness is relationship. We are individuals but we are also a part of many dynamic systems (e.g., family, culture, "the universe," etc.). Because of this interconnectedness, neither the individual person nor the individual parts of the psyche can be viewed entirely separately nor entirely understood separately (although this book, and life itself, divides life into archetypal aspects so that we gain a useful type of comprehension regarding them). The elements interact on a one-to-one basis, but each interplay ultimately reverberates through the entire system, affecting all other parts. We are part of a synchronized, organic, interdependent whole, like the organs of the human body. Even if we are simply studying the individual self, we must remember that one part of that self is our social interface; this interface is analogous to the handle on a tea-cup, which is part of the cup, but it is that which connects to something else. Thus, we cannot understand the cup without understanding also the aspect of it which extends its structure and purpose beyond itself.
  5. Wholeness is balance. We have an equal respect for every aspect of our life; thus, we do not favor any one part at the expense of the others; for example, we don't spend an inordinate amount of time developing ourselves physically at a health club when we need instead to give more time to our family. Out of this base of equal respect, we do allow values to emerge, making one thing more "valuable" than another, but we recognize that the contrary is also worthwhile in its own time; for example, if we value "commitment" as a virtue, we also honor our opposing desire for "freedom." We accept both sides of our dualities, knowing that the characteristics which we have selected to define our ego are there only because they serve our purposes at this time; they are not innately "better" than the material which is in our shadow. If we insist on one side or the other (and then we try fruitlessly to maintain this position with a peaceful stillness, in a system which is inherently active and ever-changing), we are fighting the dynamics, and we are darkening our repressions. Instead, we can "bear the tension of our opposites," enduring the continual conflicts between our light and dark, our kindness and cruelty, etc. If we patiently abide the struggle, we learn from each side and we observe a solution emerging from the paradox, arising not by rational arbitration or compromise but by the synthesizing grace of spirit.
  6. Wholeness is having a center. Whether we identify that "center" as the ego, the soul, or the Self, we have a nucleus. The center gives purpose to our activities; we are not performing unrelated acts, but rather we are choosing acts which are coordinated to move us in a particular direction in life, toward the fulfillment of meaningful goals.

Wholeness is subject to three common fallacies. In Necessary Wisdom, Charles M. Johnston, M.D., described three errors which can occur in our quest for wholeness:

  1. Separation fallacy. This is dualistic thinking: right and wrong, me and you, us and them, leaders and followers, teachers and students, and good guys and bad guys. In the separation fallacy, we do not recognize common qualities and intent between the opposites in a duality.
  2. Unity fallacy. In contrast to the separation fallacy, the unity fallacy states that "we are all one" and that "all people are created equal," ignoring life's real, natural hierarchies and separations, and thus attempting to reduce us all to a common, bland, featureless homogeneity. The unity fallacy is a "category error," trying to achieve a oneness in the human condition when in fact oneness exists only in the transcendental realm of spirit, where all souls are composed of the one substance of spirit.
  3. Compromise fallacy. Like the unity fallacy, the compromise fallacy strives to create fairness, but it does so at the loss of individuality and genius. Johnston says that in this fallacy, we consider various opinions and then we "split the difference"; for example, we degrade brilliance in order to meet stupidity half-way.

Our journey toward wholeness is a return to wholeness. Some psychologists say that we start our infancy in the oceanic wholeness of the Self, where we do not recognize ourselves as being distinct from our surroundings and our mother; eventually, we discover that we are a separate individual. (However, we can be skeptical regarding the ability of anyone to know exactly what an infant is experiencing.) During the first half of life, we develop our ego and its outer manifestations -- career, home, family, and social presence; during this ego-building phase, we claim particular traits to constitute our ego, and we push the opposite traits into our shadow. At midlife, the ego reaches its zenith; generally, we have attained somewhat of our peak in career, and we have settled into our home-life, our habits, and our social milieu. After midlife, the psychological and spiritual cycles propel us back toward wholeness, as we re-integrate whatever we separated out from ourselves during the ego-building stage; now we draw back the shadow, the anima or animus, etc. -- and we encounter the Self. But this regained wholeness is not like the amorphous, oceanic wholeness of infancy; instead, it is a crisply defined system based upon consciously integrated relationships among the distinct elements of ourselves and the outer world.


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