I can feel V reaching out to me, this instant, across the centuries. She whispers, “Now would you please go back to your account of what is ‘greater than the sum of the parts’.”
“All right. I had just about forgotten that.” I stop and ponder. “Let’s see. I guess I’d say if we add our experience to the whole of creation, the result must become greater than the whole, the former whole. Yet it seems that that would be impossible—the whole of anything is the entirety of it. There can’t be more wholeness. Yet there seems to be more, especially when you add in free will and independent awareness. This is a paradox. Maybe the whole isn’t exactly increasing; maybe it’s just changing, maturing. Is that what evolution is?”
“Of course. But let me challenge your mind yet again and say that the ‘whole’ does truly increase!”
“What?” I resist.
“The ‘whole’ that you are thinking of does not exist in reality. It is just a thoughtform held inside your mental equipment. The true ‘All That Is’ has never been constrained by mind; it is not relegated to the boundaries of a finite definition. It is infinite, boundless, continuously in a state of beginning, opening, and transcending. It perpetually spreads its being outward and inward—and, especially into here-now. It does this forever in all dimensions and directions. That is why it is synonymous with the Void. There is nothing that could constrain or contain it. Nothingness is its home and its true nature.
“If we look at the mental concept of the ‘whole’, paradox will always arise and undermine the mind. The whole does then grow,” V submits. “It is never the same from one instant to the next. When you add to this understanding that all the endless growth is happening in the one and only moment of timelessness, the mind is simply at a loss; it cannot know what is really going on. The unknown is what lies beyond the sum of the parts. It is the source of transcendence, and what determines the growth of the whole.
“Losing your mind in the maze of apprehension is the beginning point for true knowing and, at the same time, for embracing the unknown. It is a portal for joining awareness with consciousness. We can call this perception ‘the other awareness’ or ‘the intuition’ or ‘super-sentience’; it matters not what we call it, really. We might just as well call it ‘Mildred’ or ‘Marvin’; whatever word we use will only be a pointer and placeholder until your language evolves to embrace it. This joining of awareness with consciousness is what triggers the awakening; it is the desire and destiny of every fiber of your being.”
I chuckle at the idea of calling the higher awareness ‘Mildred’. “May I ask why you or O or Omis have not given us the word for this new phenomenon in awareness? Surely it must exist in your time.”
“Yes, it does. And we have given it to you in various disguised forms. We just haven’t spelled it out for you. That part is yours to claim, not ours to dictate. Evolution demands this of us all.”
“That makes sense,” I muse. “It is a very important concept—sort of pivotal and all. I guess we need to really own it in our own right.”
“Indeed. And now, let your mind consider this: Before the Big Bang, all time, space, energy and matter were confined to a tiny point. Since that ancient, original explosion, the universe has unceasingly expanded. The whole of Life has done the same. The Life of Source has not ceased to create and to multiply its inclusiveness and wholeness. Out of nothing has come everything and everything, ever more. That which was whole, and will always be whole, has unceasingly increased—both in quantity and quality. This is the mystery—the unknown—of the creation of fullness out of emptiness. As this eternal, incalculably powerful process unfolds, the Source is made manifest in Life.
“We live with the presence of the Void, in and around us forever. Out of its essence comes all that has been formed or ever will be. All that comes from it returns into it. The Void is woven through the fabric of all Life, in the substances and circulations of the entire Cosmos. And within that, to be sure, it comes down into the brief life and times of each of us here below. We do not see it or touch it with our senses because it is what it is—void and empty, and immeasurable. Yet it is as much who we are as the awareness we use for pondering it.
“The Void is our mother—matrix—who is not separated from us at birth, but continues to live with and within us in each moment. It is integral with consciousness. Life is buoyed upon its waves, washed out to the shores of spirit in matter. Without its presence, there would be no presence. Without the nonexistence of forms, there would no possibility for existence in form. Creation is fully dependent upon the Void. Creation means ‘something out of nothing.’ That nothing provides the predication—out of which comes all.
“When we exhale, the breath gradually leaves our bodies and enters the emptiness around us. It is a like a little death. To ‘find death’, we need look no farther than the end of each breath we exhale; we can find birth in every breath we take in. As breath cycles through its births and deaths, many times in a single minute, it brings into our lungs and hearts and bodies, the remembrance and the presence of the emptiness—without which it, and all life, would be void.
“The little ‘void’ symbolizes for us the greater Void and reveals a powerful secret. To say that the actions and formations of life would be null and void without the emptiness is to say that they would cease to ever have existed. A great paradox is then brought to awareness. If they were thus voided—beyond the existence of space and time—they would be purely and simply, the Void. And that is what they are anyway.”
I can’t help but interrupt at this. “V, what on earth are you talking about? Is everything nothing?”
“Creation is an illusion, projected out of nothing—out of Oneness and the Void. That which has been projected is attended, in its projection, by the presence of the projector and the light. There is no separation, no form, only potent formlessness turned to our devices of living the manifestations intended in us by Source eternal.”
“My God,” I sigh long and loudly. “I don’t know what you have just said, V. But I feel it’s profound. I hope you will help me understand it somehow.”
“Understanding may not be important in this. Some things you won’t know. Some things I won’t know. We live always with the unknown. It is the Now. It is who we are and what all creation is. It is the Void. lf we think we ‘know’ a thing or a thought, we are living in the past with it. To live in the Now, we must live continuously in the unknown. This is the value of paradox. It is not knowable. Yet it is the way into wisdom—and wisdom’s way into us.”
I relax and shrug. “Well, I certainly don’t know. I know that.”
“Incidentally, the reason humans place so much emphasis on the future is that the unknown is ever-present in the moment. That’s where the unknown truly exits, where all reality exists. The mind’s grasp of this is superficial, however; it believes if there is something it cannot know, that thing must be in the future—just beyond its sphere of control. That focus then draws your attention away from the moment.
“But remember, ‘that which stands in the way is the way’; the fact that the unknown lives in the moment, yet is instrumental in drawing you away from the moment, means there is a portal involved, and paradox, of course. Any time you feel anxious or obsessed with a situation in the future, use it as a check to return yourself to the unknown in the Now. Use it to return to presence.”
I reply, “That is significant. It makes a lot of sense. I can apply it to my tendency to get caught up in worries. You know, if only I could apply all these teachings to myself—I could really make some progress!”
“Don’t worry about worrying. Otherwise you will have to start worrying about worrying about worrying. There is no end to that.”
I laugh. “You do have a way of saying things, V. How about I go back to the subject of this chapter. The whole is much more than ‘the parts taken separately,’ as Buckminster Fuller said. Am I a whole being? Or am I a partial being? There seems to be a choice here.”
V is silent. So I continue, “I obviously fluctuate between wholeness and part-ness in my life. If I focus on the ‘sum’ of All That Is, then I am whole. If not, I slip into a lesser, partial state. Unfortunately, this is most of my time.”
V interrupts, “I must say, it is not ‘unfortunate’. It is your job to experience the separation and duality of being just a ‘part’. By so doing, you prepare the whole for expansion. It is a vital role that all humanity and all creatures in duality play.”
“Yes,” I sigh. “But it is awkward, to say the least; it’s tragic in many instances.”
“Agreed. However, there are ways to integrate the part and the whole. Tell me about those!”
“Me? Shouldn’t you be telling me about that?” I wait, but she says nothing more. Sensing another opportunity to use my insight, I reconsider. “All right. It’s up to me again. Let’s see. I was sitting with a group of people last night in a meeting. As I listened to one of them, I silently invited presence into the setting. Of course, I knew it was there all along, but the invitation helps bring it to my awareness.
“I waited, observing, and nothing happened. Nothing changed. The same, rather boring meeting continued at its snails pace, covering each topic on the agenda. It wasn’t as though presence didn’t help, however; it was just different from what I was expecting. I saw into the mundane discussion on a slightly deeper level. I saw into the roles of each person and persona a little more than usual. At first, this was rather discouraging.
“Each persona was a mask for the presence, yes. I could tell it was looking out through these faces—in an unawakened state, mine included. We were each performing the ritual of gradual, slow movement toward insight. I saw how many layers there are to the masks we each wear in such activities, all the time. Once in awhile something stirs within one or two faces, some degree of passion and interest. It animates the feelings and thoughts and sends out waves of motivation. Then it gradually subsides again, as the energy dissipates and finds equilibrium back within whatever level of awareness the group can muster—usually the lowest common denominator.”
“What does this say to you about the part and the whole?”
“I saw that the group was acting more like a ‘part’ than some of the individuals were; the group had a dampening effect on the sense of wholeness. At other times, I’ve seen groups go in just the opposite direction. They can gather truly soulful presence. In this case, they can be the embodiment of wholeness; they gather up the individuals—the parts—into a higher level of alertness and sharing.”
V asks, “And so, now let me ask how each of these situations reflects that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?”
I ponder for a moment. “Well, it’s easy to see it in the latter. When the group is soulful, it feels and behaves greater than any of the individuals in it. When it is not soulful, the wholeness devolves upon the individuals themselves to be whole or not. If the group is manifesting a lowest denominator effect, any individual within it can still be more than the ‘lowest’. Each person adds his or her contribution to wholeness independently from the group. Here the ‘part-ness’ of the group can trigger the individual to ‘wake up’ and find her or his own connections to the whole.”
“A wise observation, my friend. And, finally, what does ‘soulful’ mean in the context of ‘presence’?”
“Ah, presence again. You certainly are asking penetrating questions. I’m seeing soul as a portal for presence in this. I don’t mean that in a diminishing way, though. You could say that soul is many things, but the most important role it plays, in fact in every function it has, is to hold forth presence to us, for us, and in us. Presence is why the soul exists, you might say.”
V nods gracefully. “I might say indeed.”
ⓒ 2014 Robert Lee Potter
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