Recognizing The Whole

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Oxygen is colorless, odorless, and insipid.

It is reactive and forms oxides with every element except helium, neon, krypton, and argon. Liquid oxygen is slightly paramagnetic. It has a density of 0.001308 g cm−3. It melts at -219 °C and boils at -183 °C.

Hydrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and a highly combustible gas. It has a density of 0.000082 g cm−3. It melts at −259.16°C and boils at −252.879°C.

Hydro means water, and gene mean producer. Hence French nobleman and chemist, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, named this element as hydrogen.

Water is neither hydrogen nor oxygen. It has a density of 0.9998396 g/mL at 0 °C in liquid state and 0.9167 g/ml at 0 °C in solid state. It has a melting point of 0.00 °C and a boiling point of 99.98 °C. 

The properties of water are neither the properties of oxygen nor the properties of hydrogen. They emerge from the interactions of the oxygen and hydrogen. Oxygen and hydrogen are the parts that make up the whole. Water, then, is the whole that results from the interaction of hydrogen and oxygen.

It would be absurd to alter oxygen or hydrogen and expect water to result. It would be equally absurd to expect the properties of water to be changed by altering oxygen or hydrogen. However, if the interaction of oxygen and hydrogen is altered, the properties of water would be altered.

Austrian forester and philosopher, Viktor Schauberger, probably noticed this when he pointed out the changing properties of water when the interaction of the elements that made it changed.

He observed that water loves the shade. He believed an untouched water course is shaped by winding curves and shaded banks covered with trees and bushes, not by accident. The water wants to flow in this way and builds up these shaded banks to protect itself from direct sunlight. 

About forty trillion bacteria belonging to about four thousand species interact with about thirty trillion cells to form the whole that you call you. Your character is not the character of forty trillion bacteria or thirty trillion cells. Rather, it is the result of the interactions of these seventy trillion parts. When this interaction changes, the whole, that is you, changes.

Like water, and you, the world is made up of many wholes. 

These wholes are called systems by those who see the world of wholes, study them, and help us to understand our role in these wholes.

The whole we call as a market that forms when buyers and sellers come together. The whole we call as a bank that results from the interactions of borrowers and lenders. The whole we call as a class that is the consequence of interactions of a teacher and a student. The wholes that we call representation and result from the interactions of those who are represented and the representative. The wholes that result in different kinds of friendship that blossom from interactions of those who come together to share common purposes, common values, common goals, common acts, or common experiences. 

Often, we notice the parts and not the wholes. Even when we notice the whole, we rarely see it as resulting from the interactions of the parts. We appreciate or condemn the parts, not the interactions that result in the whole or the properties of the whole.

We commend or condemn people, for example, for their performance. In doing so, we lose sight that it is the interactions of the individual in a whole that has performed, not the individual. And while doing so we do not recognize that to change the outcome of the whole, we need to change the interaction of the parts. To change the interactions of the parts, we need to change, or recognize, the purposes, values, goals, acts, or experiences that drive our interactions. 

The world we experience is not the result of the properties individuals. It is a result of what interactions we can and do have with them. It is a result of everything that drives and reinforces the interactions we have with them. And of course, you know how difficult it is to change our habits of being driven by everything that drives our interactions. 

The value of changing our interactions ultimately lies in the value of the whole to all those whoever are a part of the whole. If you find the whole has value that it has to offer to you and the parts, you find respect and care for those who make up the whole. For it, then, becomes evident that each of the parts bring value through their interactions with you by being who they are and doing what they do.

The educated, then, are those who can recognize the wholes. Those who learn respect, care, and value for the parts of the wholes that bring value, meaning, and fulfilment to its parts.

Naturally, then, the purpose of education is to learn the interactions that make wholes and sustain them. To learn respect and care for the parts. To discover value, meaning, and fulfilment and why they matter in life.

Recognize the wholes that you are a part of. Discover the mystery of interactions, the magic of wholes, and the joys it unleashes once you learn respect and care. 


#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or individuals/institutions that may be quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.


Anupam Saraph

Anupam Saraph

Dr. Anupam Saraph grew up in a Pune that was possibly a tenth of its current expanse and every road was lined by 200 year old trees. He’s committed to the cause of de-addicting the short-termers.

He can be reached @AnupamSaraph
Anupam Saraph

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