Wholeness Pattern Language

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Tom Atlee:

"Wholeness is both central and not precisely defined. It is something to "get the feel of." When we talk about "wholeness" on this site, we are often embracing many overlapping phenonena, among them these:

1. Attending to the whole means attending to "the big picture" instead of engaging in narrow-minded glorification of limited information.

2. In a common definition of co-intelligence -- "Accessing the wisdom of the whole on behalf of the whole" -- the whole can include the whole group, community, or nation; all the parts of a system or all the adversaries in a conflict, in generative conversation with each other; and/or the larger wholeness or Spirit of Life as a source of wisdom.

3. Wholeness includes long term perspectives and realities. Although immediate problems, realities and outcomes may be important, they are not the whole story,

4. Taking wholeness seriously means looking beyond narrow self-interest to "the common good" -- and even pursuing self-interest through pursuit of the common good.

5. Concern for wholeness requires moving beyond shallow appearances and symptoms. It requires moving into fuller meanings, deeper causes, greater complexity, subtlety and ambiguity.

6. The wholeness of things of course includes their parts. But when we're considering living beings and living systems we must also address their overall health, responsiveness, development, special gifts, etc. -- their unique aliveness -- and also their context and history. We must especially transcend our focus on their utility to us.

7. Wholeness almost always involves the healthy mutuality (synergy) of relationships, a dimension of life that can be neglected by an exclusive focus on the entities involved in those relationships. Whole-system dynamics and structures are often the dynamics and structures of relationships that characterize the whole.

8. To attempt to understand the whole means to humbly recognize the fact that "there's always more to it; to appreciate the limits and evolution of knowledge and certainty.

9. Wholeness often refers to the unity of spirit -- and commonality of story -- that underlie the details of life. Unity and commonality are often overlooked when we focus too much on differences and separateness (although these, too, are part of wholeness!).

"Wholeness" is the concept that best embraces "new paradigm" efforts to create a more just, sustainable and wise society. As the essays on this webpage make abundantly clear, wholeness is far more than unity.

Co-intelligence is intelligence that arises out of wholeness and takes wholeness seriously. Co-intelligence can be considered the cognitive and responsive dimension of wholeness."




Diversity Differentiation Discernment Individuality / Uniqueness Form Name Soverignty / Rights Self-realization


Openness Both / And Stakeholders Welcoming / Embracing / Invitation / Tolerance / Acceptance Curiosity / Sensing-into Listening/ hearing Presence (1) (showing up; being included) Respect / Valuing Trust Belonging / membership Include and transcend


Relationship / Kinship Stardust (the common source of all material reality) Intercentricity Networks Pattern Bioregionalism Understanding Organization Value Ethics / Morallity Fairness / Equity / Peerness Interdisciplinary Communication


Mutuality / Reciprocity Interdependence Cycles Power Feedback / Cybernetics Dissonance Complexity / Chaos / Multiple causation Interbeing / Co-incarnation / Yin-yang Cooperation / Power-with / Teamwork / Collaborative intelligence Co-creativity Community Co-evolution / Dialectic Conversation / Dialogue Resonance Exchange Economics Ecology


Engagement Fit / Harmony Intelligence Action / Agency / Leadership Role / Function Purpose / Intention Choice Democracy Creativity Power Surrender / Prayer / Letting Go Needs Responsibility


Environment / Climate Habitat Field (Morphogenic, Story) Commons / Common ground Reality / Conditions Freedom History Relevance / Relevation (quantum term meaning to elevate from the implicate order into explicate "reality" because of relevance to what is already going on) Challenge Nurturance Generativity Culture Assumptions Governanance


System Coherence Consensus / Confluence / Voice of the Whole Grace Completion Whole-person Self-organization Meaning Healing / Reconciliation Subsidiarity (functions carried out by the most local competent authority) Character


Beauty Holiness Health / Resilience Vitality / Aliveness / Exuberance Balance Elegance (right simplicity) Sustainability Implicit Wholeness (things are whole exactly as they are; everything fits) Explicit Wholeness (achieved through fixing, healing, engagement, transcendence, etc.) Actualization Integrity / Truth Flow Nature / the Tao


Emergence / Manifestation Process Iteration Co-intelligence (History) Deep time (from the Big Bang into the distant future) Possibility / Vision Change Birth Growth Development Death Transformation Transcendence (Include and transcend)(a dynamic of a healthy developmental process)


Spirit Emptiness Consciousness Intersubjectivity (the "reality"-generating dynamic of many interacting "separate" consciousnesses) Presence (2) (aura; strength of personality) / Centeredness Viewpoint Psychology Power-from-within Calling


Unity Non-locality / Synchronicity Eternal now Non-duallity Communion / Love Supreme Being Quantum reality Mysticism / "the Perennial Philosophy" (Aldous Huxley's name for the mystical traditions of all major religions)


Fractals (patterns reappear at different levels of observation, such as branches of branches) Holonics (every part is a whole; every whole is a part) Holographics (each part contains the whole, or a part that contains the qualities or patterns of the whole) Holergy (a part is greater than its role in any whole) Membergy (the power possessed by a part due to its membership in a particular whole) (Yin-Yang) Microcosm / Sample


(Knowledge based on any of the preceding items)

Uncertainty / Ambiguity / Mystery Paradox Humility / More-to-it-than-that Intuition Comprehension / Depth / Insight Myth / Symbol Story Vision Imagination Integral models Wisdom / Perspective / Big Picture Multiple Intelligences Collective Intelligence Universal Intelligence Map / Model / Chart Holistic Design / Permaculture / Pattern languages Biomimicry Spectra / Bell Curves Nuance Humor Compassion Silence / Spaciousness / Meditation