Wholeness and Fragmentation

By Beth Macy July 1, 2014

We all find that the groups to which we belong function really well sometimes … and then there are those other times, the ones when it’s hard to see through the clashes or to avoid the landmines. Why do those clashes happen? How do we mend the tears in the fabric of our groups or societal world once they have been torn?

Bohm thought about that a lot. Why is it that inevitably we seem to get into such societal muddles? He worried – or as David Peat describes it he agonized – over the state of the world in conflict, feeling that as a scientist he had responsibility to help find the way to patch the world back together. The idea of wholeness became his mantra, his life search, whether in physics or in society.

In the realm of physics, Bohm had discovered the essential role that wholeness plays in the universe. His mind’s eye pictured what this wholeness was like. In a vast space were many bubbles of light, each connected to the other and each reflecting back the image of the whole. So each was individual but each also contained the whole which had been reflected to him and which was then within him and re-reflected back out to all others.

That’s rather astounding: We all contain the whole universe within us as well as being individual. We are both whole and part. While we are uniquely ourselves, we are also inseparable from the whole.

If that is so, then why is it that we tend to get into such muddles? There’s a hint in something he once said. The universe is always coherent if we take a great enough view. The reason things appear to be fragmented is that we are looking too low; we fail to raise our sights to the level at which the fragmentation is only a part of a greater whole. As a result, we mistakenly see things as separate, as fragmented. Were he to speak to us today, he might say, “Raise your sights. Look at a higher level for the greater whole.”