What does 'holistic' mean?
The Greek word "holos" means "whole."
In Greek antiquity, the idea of the world as "a whole in itself" (cosmos) was founded philosophically. Based on the Ionic philosophy of nature, Plato and Aristotle in particular dealt in detail with a holistic understanding of nature. Aristotle's famous sentence "The whole is more than the sum of its parts" sums up the core of holistic thinking in a few words.
The term 'holism' was coined by the South African Jan Christiaan Smuts (1870-1950). But Aristotle already taught that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The systematic approach was first developed by the English biologist John Scott Haldane.
Holism regards given forms of existence as something whole and not as something composed of parts. Only the connection of the parts causes the structure of the whole. It means to include the connection of everything with everything.
Holism, also called "holism", is a philosophical teaching. It regards systems existing in nature as parts of a larger whole. This approach always implies that a system can only be understood if it is studied in a larger context. Thus, a precise statement about the system as a whole and its functions and interactions with other systems can never be derived from the specific study of the components inherent in a system.
The unmanageable complexity of system interactions is very clearly demonstrated by the difficulty of making precise weather forecasts or calculating climate change. System-theoretical aspects that support a holistic understanding of nature include the self-organisation of biological systems and their inherent non-linearity.
Holistic thinking is certainly very old. Peoples living close to nature urgently need to understand the greatest possible interrelationships in their environment. The dependence on complex ecosystems also means that they must be preserved.
Reference to Living Gaia
The holistic way of thinking forms the basis for our healing biotope in Brazil and our local projects. The Healing Biotope should not only be a place for positive transformation for us humans, but also include the nature of the surrounding area. With the creation of water retention areas we want to support the natural water cycle of this area. The local flora and fauna will also benefit from these measures.
In this respect, our land purchase project in Acre is also of great importance. The 16,000 ha of land that the Huni Kuin want to buy with our support should be preserved at all costs and offer the Huni Kuin and the wild animals a new (old) home.
Shamanism is the oldest holistic method that people have used over a long period of time. In a working paper of the Department of Economics of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hanover Alexander Zick has clarified by means of shamanism what is meant by holistic: In the shamanic world view, man is part of the cosmos and the interrelations between man and his fellow creatures is the focus of interest.
Shamans primarily perform mediating functions between this world and the hereafter, humans and spiritual powers, living and dead (ancestors). This is essential for existence, because the worlds form a complementary whole, well and misbehaviour in their effects are never locally limited to one, but always influence the others, i.e. the whole nature. In shamanism science is only one explanation factor among many. It is related to other explanatory factors in order to understand phenomena of different levels of knowledge and interlinked forms of human experience, perception and feelings.
According to these ideas, the cosmos, in its parts and as a whole, also has a will, a consciousness and sensations. All phenomena of this shamanic universe influence each other to different degrees and with different power. Shamanism offers the necessary connection to the earth, to the original, living earth (the earth understood as living being), to the living space, in which the human being is only one of the possibilities. Shamans work for a harmonious, peaceful coexistence of man and nature or of nature and man. Nature does not need man, but man needs nature.
Dualism versus holism
The differences between the conception of the universe, nature, man and consciousness developed by Western science and that of pre-industrial societies (including shamanic cultures) are usually explained by the superiority of materialistic science over the superstition and primitive magical thinking of these cultures. Shamanism is based on mythical and magical knowledge, which cannot be learned in our western sense, but in which one is initiated and that arises through experience. While western science tries to draw the world into our head and dissect it there, shamans or holistic thinking is about sticking one's head into the world and to look around there and to perceive and experience it with all senses and to leave it whole. For the shaman there is no dualism but a coherent continuum: Everything is connected and interwoven in an endless web of life. The shaman accepts the whole life as a system of the "Great Mother", in which he cannot and does not want to change anything. It is as it is, and it remains as it is, it only changes.
Today we mainly cultivate the conviction that we live separated from nature and the spiritual realms. So we often see ourselves as victims of circumstances and life. The western, atomistic world view only recognizes matter and motion as real, the whole is equated with the sum of the parts, and living systems are reduced to inorganic matter, with the result that nature ultimately appears dead. Holism, however, states that process, form and relationship are the most important things, that wholenesses have properties that their parts do not have, that living systems, like spirit, cannot be reduced to their components, with the consequence that nature appears as living.
The entire edifice of modern science was based on the view of nature, which has basically been divided into two separate and independent realms: matter and spirit. This view was the basis for all scientists to treat matter as inanimate and thus separate from the individual self and to see the material world as a profound accumulation of individual things with identities separate from themselves, forming a gigantic machine with a certain order.
The presentation of the various phenomena by Newtonian physics and its confirmation only proved to be affirmative for Descartes' philosophy, the "Cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am" so that Western societies began to equate their identity with the mind.
Physics finally brought about a softening of rigid Western rationality: in the 19th century, the science of thermodynamics emerged, which identified the irreversible nature of macroscopic processes as a consequence of interactions within complete collections of molecules, thus initiating the break of time symmetry in physics.
In this way, time acquired a direction that runs from the past into the future. But the thermodynamics of the 19th century only recognized movement towards a state of equilibrium, a state of maximum entropy. Order cannot be created in this way, only decayed.
Physical phenomena could be clearly characterized: either as localizable mass particles or as spatio-temporally continuous electromagnetic waves, but not both at the same time. Quantum mechanics as a breakthrough at the subatomic level at the beginning of the 20th century represented the decisive step towards overcoming a dualistic world view. There were experiments that no longer allowed a certain object to be classified unambiguously as a mass particle or unambiguously as an electromagnetic wave.
Nevertheless, the philosophical consequences of this phenomenon seep only slowly into everyday consciousness. Radical separation has been cultivated for too long and in our habitual thinking it is still difficult to allow two different states of being at the same time. Obviously, it requires some practice to reintegrate the holistic world view and bring it in line with the findings of science.