David Bohm
Wholeness and the Implicate Order
Routledge 1980

Bohm Wholeness Exerpts:

X In my scientific and philosophical work, my main concern has been with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole, which is never static or complete, but which is in an unending process of movement and enfoldment.

XI What is the relationship of thinking to reality? As careful attention shows, thought itself is in an actual process of movement. That is to say, one can feel the sense of flow in the “stream of consciousness” not dissimilar to the sense of flow in the movement of matter in general. May not thought itself thus be a part of reality as a whole?

But then, what could it mean for one part of reality to “know”another, and to what extent could this be possible? Does the content of thought merely give us abstract and simplified “snapshots”of reality, or can it go further, somehow to grasp the very essence of the living movement that we sense in actual experience?

It is clear that in reflecting on and pondering the nature of movement, both in thought and in the object of thought, one comes inevitably to the question of wholeness or totality. The notion of the one who thinks (the Ego) is at least in principle completely separate from and independent of the reality that he thinks about is of course firmly embedded in our entire tradition. (This notion is clearly almost universally accepted in the West, but in the East that is a general tendency to deny it verbally and philosophically while at the same time such an approach pervades most of life and daily practice as much as it does in the West.)

General experience of the sort described above, along with a great deal of modern scientific knowledge concerning the nature and function of the brain as the seat of thought, suggest very strongly that such a division cannot be maintained consistently. But this confronts us with a very difficult challenge: how are we to think coherently of
a single unbroken, flowing actuality of existence as a whole, containing both thought (consciousness) and external reality as we experience it?

Clearly, this brings us to consider our overall world view, which includes our general notions concerning the nature of reality, along with those concerning the total order of the universe, that is cosmology.

Boe: world view – introspection (Bohm 3) - Schopenhauer on wisdom

XII These questions are, of course, enormous and could in any case probably never be resolved ultimately and completely.

Aside from what I feel to be the intrinsic interest of questions that are so fundamental and deep, I would, in this connection, call attention to the general problem of fragmentation of human consciousness. It is proposed that the widespread and pervasive distinctions between people (race, nation, family, profession, etc., etc.), Which are now preventing mankind from working together for the common good, and indeed, even for survival, have one of the key factors of the origin in a kind of thought that treats things as inherently divided, disconnected, and “broken up” into yet smaller constituent parts. Each part is considered to be essentially independent and self-existent.

Boe: Mahayana Buddhism - Nagarjuna

XIII When man thinks of himself in this way, he will inevitably tend to defend the needs of his own “Ego” against those of the others; or, if he identifies with a group of people of the same kind, he will defend this group in a similar way all stop he cannot seriously think of mankind as the basic reality, whose claims, first. Even if it does try to consider the needs of mankind he tends to regard humanity as separate from nature, and so on.
What I am proposing here is that man’s general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general worldview, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself.

If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken, and without the border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this small flowered and orderly action within the whole.

My suggestion is that a proper worldview, appropriate for its time, is generally one of the basic factors that is essential for harmony in the individual and in society as a whole.

Science itself is demanding a new, non-fragmentary worldview, in the sense that the present approach of analysis of the world into independently existent part studs not work well in modern physics. It is shown that both in relativity theory and quantum theory, notions implying the undivided wholeness of the universe would provide a much more orderly way of considering the general nature of reality.
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1 Fragmentation an Wholeness

3 The ability of man to separate himself from his environment and to divide and apportion things are ultimately led to a wide range of negative and destructive results, because man lost awareness of what he was doing and thus extended the process of division beyond the limits within which it works properly.

Boe: language - Draw a distinction - the TWOworld - Laozi - Maria Prophetissa

In essence, the process of division is a way of thinking about things that is convenient and useful mainly in the domain of practical, technical and functional activities.
However, when this mode of thought is applied more broadly to man’s notion of himself and the whole world in which he lives (i.e. to his self-world view), then man ceases to regard the resulting divisions as merely useful or convenient and begins to see and experience himself and his world is actually constituted of separately existent fragments.

Being guided by fragmentary self-world view, man then acts in such a way as to try to break himself and the world up, so that all seems to correspond to his way of thinking. Man thus obains an apparent proof of the correctness of his fragmentary self-world view though, of course, he overlooks the fact that it is he himself, acting according to his mode of thought, who has brought about the fragmentation that now seems to have an upon as existence, independent of his will and of his desire.

Men have been aware of from time immemorial of this state of apparently autonomously fragmentation and have often projected myths of yet earlier “golden age” , before the split between man and nature and between man and man had yet taken place. Indeed, man has always been seeking wholeness - mental, physical, social, individual.

Boe: Jung – The East – mandala

7 As seems to have been first pointed out by Kant, all experience is organised according to the categories of our thought, i.e., on our ways of thinking about space, time, matter, substance, causality, contingency, necessity, universality, particularity, etc. It can be said that these categories are general forms of insight or ways of looking at everything, so that in a certain sense, they are kind of theory.

Clarity of perception and thought evidently requires that we be generally aware of how our experience is shaped by the insight (clear or confused) provided by the theories that are implicit or explicit in our general ways of thinking. To this end, it is useful to emphasize that experience and knowledge are one process, rather than to think that our knowledge is about some sort of separate experience. We can refer to this one process as experience-knowledge (the hyphen indicating that these are to win separate aspects of one whole movement).

Boe: experience and knowledge are one process - experience-knowledge.

8 If we are not aware that our theories are ever-changing forms of insight, giving shape and form to experience in general, our vision will be limited.

What prevents theoretical insights from going beyond existing limitations and changing to meet new facts is just the belief that theories give true knowledge of reality (which implies that they need never change). Although our modern way of thinking has, of course, changed a great deal relative to the ancient one, the two have had one key feature in common: i.e. they are both generally “blinkered” by the notion that theories give true knowledge about “reality as it is”. Thus, both are led to confuse the forms and shapes induced in our perceptions by our way of looking. This confusion is of crucial significance, in terms of more or less fixed and limited forms of thought, and thus, apparently, to keep on confirming the limitations of these forms of thoughts in experience.

Boe: Midwood –science - 14 unus mundus 16 complexity

12 One has to view the world in terms of universal flux of events and processes.
14 The new form of insight can perhaps best be called Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Movement.

Boe: unus mundus -process-thinking

15 Aristotle’s notion of causality: material, efficient, formal, final.

A good example in terms of which this distinction can be understood is obtained by considering something living, such as a tree or an animal. The material cause is then just a matter in which all the other causes operate and out of which the thing is constituted. Thus, in the case of a plant, the material cause is the soil, air, water and sunlight constituting the substance of the plant.
The efficient cause is some action external to the thing under discussion, which allows the whole process to get underway. In the case of a tree, for example, the planting of the seed could be taken as the efficient cause.
It is of crucial significance in this context to understand what is meant by formal cause. Unfortunately, in its modern connotation, the word “formal” tends to refer to an outward form that is not very significant ( e.g. as in “formal dress”). However, in the ancient Greek philosophy, the word form meant...an inner forming activity which is the cause of the growth of things, and of the development and differentiation of their various essential forms. For example in the case of an oaktree, what is indicated by the term “formal cause” is the whole in a movement of sap, cell growth, articulation of branches, leaves, etc., which is characteristic of that kind of tree and different from that taking place in other kinds of trees.

Boe: formal - formative

16 In more modern language, it would be better to describe this as formative cause, to emphasise that what is involved is not a mere form imposed from without, but rather an ordered and structured in a movement that is essential to what things are.
Any such formative cause must evidently have an end or product which is at least implicit. Thus, it is not possible to refer to the in a movement from the acorn giving rise to an oak tree, without simultaneously referring to the oak tree that is going to result from this movement. So formative cause always implies final cause.

Of course, we also know final cause as design, consciously held in mind through thought (this notion being extended to God, was regarded as having created the universe according to some grand design).

Boe: imago Dei

Design is, however, only a special case of final cause. For example, men often aim toward certain ends in their thoughts but what actually emerges from the actions is generally something different from what was in the design, something that was, however, implicit in what they were doing, though not consciously perceived by those who took part.

In the ancient view,
the notion formative cause was considered to be of essentially the same nature for the mind as it was for life and for the cosmos as a whole. Indeed, Aristotle consider the universe as a single organism in which each part grows and develops in its relationship to the whole and in which it has its proper place and function. With regard to the mind, we can understand this sort of notion in more modern terms by turning our attention to the flowing movement of awareness. As indicated earlier, one can, in the first instance, discern various thought patterns in this flow.

17 Acts of perception cannot properly be given a detailed analysis or description. Rather, they
are to be considered as aspects of the forming activity of the mind. The particular structure of concepts is then the product of this activity, and these products are what are linked by the series of efficient causes that operate in ordinary associative thinking - and as pointed out earlier, in this view, one regards the forming activity as primary in nature as it is in the mind, so that the product forms in nature are also what are linked by efficient causes.

Evidently, the notion formative cause is relevant to the view of undivided wholeness in flowing movement, which has been seen to be implied in modern developments in physics, notably relativity theory and quantum theory. Thus, it has been pointed out, each relatively autonomous and stable structure (.g., an atomic particle) is to be understood not as something independently and permanently existent but rather as a product that has been formed in the whole flowing movement and that will ultimately dissolve back into this movement. How it forms and maintains itself, then, depends on its place and function in the whole. So, we see that certain developments in modern physics imply a sort of insight into nature that is in respect to the notions of formative and final cause, essentially similar to ways of looking that were common in earlier times.

Boe: gelazzenheit (Eckhart) – I Ging – wu wei – growing complexity (Luhmann) – Jung: Golden Flower 77f. – hope! - 20.August 2014: My first oracle-question after more than 20 years: Hexagram 50

19 The prevailing tendency in science to think and perceive in terms of a fragmentary self-world view is part of a larger movement that has been developing over the ages and that pervades almost the whole of our society today: but, in turn, such a way of thinking and looking in scientific research tends very strongly to re-in force the general fragmentary approach because it gives men a picture of the whole world as constituted of nothing but an aggregate of separately existent “atomic building blocks” , and provides experimental evidence from which is drawn the conclusion that this view is necessary and inevitable.

20 Men who were guided by such a fragmentary self-world view cannot, in the long run, do other than to try in their actions to break themselves and the world into pieces, corresponding to their general mode of thinking. Since, in the first instance, fragmentation is an attempt to extend the analysis of the world into separate parts beyond the domain in which to do this is appropriate, it is in effect an attempt to divide what is really indivisable. In the next step such an attempt will lead us also to try to unite what is not really unitable…True unity in the individual and between man and nature, as well as between man and man, can arise only in a form of action that does not attempt to fragment the whole of reality.

Our fragmentary way of thinking, looking, and acting, evidently has implications in every aspect of human life. That is to say, by a rather interesting sort of irony, fragmentation seems to be the one thing in our way of life which is universal, which works through the whole without boundary or limit. This comes about because the roots of fragmentation are very deep and pervasive. As pointed out, we try to divide what is one and indevisible, and this implies that in the next step we will try to identify what is different.

Boe: Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil

21 So fragmentation is in essence a confusion around the question of difference and sameness (or one-ness), but the clear perception of these categories is necessary in every phase of life. To be confused about what is different and what is not, is to be confused about everything. Thus, it is not an accident that our fragmentary form of thought is leading to such a widespread range of crisis, social, political, economic, ecological, psychological, etc., in the individual and in society as a whole. Such a mode of thought implies unending development of chaotic and meaningless conflict, in which the energies of all tend to be lost by movements that are antagonistic or else at cross-purposes.

We have thus to be alert to give careful attention and serious consideration to the fact that our theories are not “descriptions of reality as it is” but, rather, ever-changing forms of insight, which can point to or indicate a reality that is implicit at not describable or specifiable in its totality.

22 Fragmentary perception is in essence a largely unconscious habit of confusion around the question of what is different and what is not. So in the very act in which we try to discover what to do about fragmentation, we will go on with this habit and thus we will tend to introduce yet further forms of fragmentation.

Boe: Watts Insecurity - conflict: power over!!

23 One of the most difficult and subtle points about this question is just to clarify what is to be meant by the relationship between the content of thought and the process of thinking which produces this content. A major source of fragmentation is indeed the generally accepted presupposition that the process of thought is sufficiently separate from and independent of its content, to allow us generally to carry out clear, orderly, rational thinking, which can properly judge this content as correct or incorrect, rational or irrational, fragmentary or whole, etc.
Actually, the fragmentation involved in self-worldview is not only in the content of thought, but in the general activity of the person who is “doing the thinking” , and thus, it is as much in the process of thinking as it is in the content.
Indeed, content and process are not two separately existent things, but, rather, they are two aspects of views of one whole movement. Thus fragmentary content and fragmentary process have to come to an end together.

Boe: Abundis!

What we have to deal with here is a one-ness of the thinking process and its content, similar in key ways to the one-ness of observer and observed.

Questions of this nature cannot be met properly while we are caught up, consciously or unconsciously, in a mode of thought which attempts to analyse itself in terms of a presumed separation between the process of thinking and the content of thought that is its product.

By accepting such a presumption we are led, to the next step, to seek some fantasy of action through efficient causes that would end the fragmentation in the content while leaving the fragmentation in the actual process of thinking untouched. What is needed, however, is somehow to grasp the overall “formative cause” of fragmentation, in which content and actual process are seen together, in the wholeness.

24 One might here consider the image of a turbulent mass of vortices in a stream. The structure and distribution of vortices, which constitute a sort of content of the description of the movement, are not separate from the formative activity of the flowing stream, which creates, maintains, and ultimately dissolves the totality of vortex structures.

When we really grasp the truth of the one-ness of the thinking process that we are actually carrying out, and the content of thought that is the product of this process, then such insight will enable us to observe, to look, to learn about the whole movement of thought and thus to discover and action of relevant to this whole, that will end the “turbulence”of movement which is the essence of fragmentation in every phase of life.

Boe: finis terrae – Beyond Good and Evil;
Machado: y al volver la vista atras
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino sino estelas en el mar.


25 Résumé of Discussion on Western and Eastern Forms of Insight into Wholeness

In the very early phases of the development of civilisation, man’s views were essentially of wholeness rather than of fragmentation. In the East such views still survive, in the sense that philosophy and religion emphasise wholeness and imply the futility of analysis of the world into parts.

30 It is of course impossible to go back to a state of wholeness that may have been present before the split between East and West developed. Rather, what is needed is to learn afresh, to observe, and to discover for ourselves the meaning of wholeness.

31 In doing this, it is important that we be clear on the role of techniques, such as those used in various forms of meditation.
In a way, techniques of meditation can be looked on as measures (actions ordered by knowledge and reason) which are taken by man to try to reach the immeasurable, i.e., a state of mind in which he ceases to sense a separation between himself and the whole of reality. But clearly, there is a contradiction in such a notion, for the immeasurable is, if anything, just that which cannot be brought within limits determined by man’s knowledge and reason.

32 There are no direct and positive things that man can do to get in touch with the immeasurable, for this must be immensely beyond anything that man can grasp with his mind or accomplish with his hands or his instruments.

What man can do is to give his full attention and creative energies to bring clarity and order into the totality of the field of measure.
This involves, of course, not only the outward display of measure in terms of external units but also inward measure, as health of the body, moderation in action, and meditation, which gives insight into the measures of thought.

This latter is particularly important because as has been seen, the illusion that the self and the world are broken into fragments originates in the kind of thought that goes beyond its proper measure and confuses its own product with the same independent reality. To end this illusion requires insight, not only into the world as a whole, but also into how the instrument of thought is working. Such insight implies an original and creative act of perception into all aspects of life, mental and physical, both through the senses and through the mind, and this is perhaps the true meaning of meditation.

As has been seen, fragmentation originates in essence in the fixing of the insights forming our overall self-world view, which follows on our generally mechanical, routinized and habitual modes of thought about these matters.

Boe: language - Deleuze - régimes sémiotiques

Because the primary reality goes beyond anything that can be contained in such fixed forms of measure, these insights must eventually cease to be adequate, and will thus give rise to various forms of un-clarity or confusion.

However, when the whole field of measure is open to original and creative insight, without any fixed limits or barriers, then
our overall worldview will cease to be rigid, and a whole field of measure will come into harmony, as fragmentation within it comes to an end.

33 But original and creative insight within the whole field of measure is the action of the immeasurable. For when such insight occurs, the source cannot be within ideas already contained in the field of measure but rather has to be in the immeasurable, which contains the essential formative cause of all that happens in the field of measure.
The measurable and the immeasurable then in harmony and indeed one sees that they are but different ways of considering the one and undivided whole.

When such harmony prevails, man can then not only have insight into the meaning of wholeness but, what is more significant, he can realise the truth of this insight in every phase and aspect of his life.

Boe: Wisdom - Alltagstauglichkeit


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