Leading Toward Wholeness

why wholeness?

The title of this blog is Leading Toward Wholeness. Why?

So many people are hurting. There seems to be endless bad news coming to us. We hear about and experience political fighting, prejudice, discrimination, and harassment. We all live with repeated warnings about the potentially dire consequences from global warming. We witness as growing numbers of people fall into drug addiction. Mass shootings happen so often now that I barely even feel surprised any more. So much in our world feels divided or broken.

Something in me often wonders, “What am I to do with all of this?” How can I, just one fallible human being, respond to all this heartache in ways that are meaningful or beneficial? How can I avoid succumbing to the siren songs of disappointment, despondency, and despair?

can you relate?

Do you sometimes get caught in patterns of negative reactions to the difficulties within and around you? Perhaps you sometimes feel confused, frustrated, angry, or overwhelmed about how to respond in our world. Do you ever feel alone – like no one quite understands you?

Maybe you find yourself habitually doing things to escape your discomfort. Perhaps you catch yourself checking your smartphone for the 17th time in the last 30 minutes. Maybe you watch “just one more episode” when you know you need to go to sleep. Perhaps you go in search of something sweet to eat even though you already feel full.

what’s it for?

If so, this blog is for you. And me. This blog is for those of us who are touched and moved by the pain and suffering in and around us. It’s for those of us who want to lead a deeply fulfilling life of service. It’s for people like us who refuse to give up on the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we can help heal the divisions in our world. It’s for those of us who long for and appreciate warm human contact, and kindness, and generosity. It’s for those of us who are determined to do our best to honor our life… and all of life. It’s for those of us who are willing to try and find our way toward more wholeness and do what we can to lead others there too.

recognizing wholeness

So, what do I mean when I say “wholeness”? I like this definition offered by merriam-webster.com: something constituting a complex unity : a coherent system or organization of parts fitting or working together as one.

To me, wholeness represents a quality or state which allows us to inhabit our life and world without leaving anything out. As such, wholeness becomes a worthwhile destination. It can be a trustworthy guiding star. I recommend that we orient toward wholeness as a sensibility, a point of view, a lived experience. This wholeness reveals itself as we start to remember or recognize that all boundaries we see, believe in, and react to, have been made up. Wholeness transcends boundaries and divisions – and includes them.

what’s it like?

Can you remember moments when you felt like you were dissolving into a boundless expanse of warmth, tenderness, and well-being? Maybe while you were hiking, the colors in the sky at sunset took your breath away. Perhaps you were sitting quietly in a coffee shop noticing the sadness or delight in others’ faces. Maybe the aromas of the ocean mixed with the cool sting of coastal fog evoked a deep sense of belonging.

When I experience the warm embrace of wholeness, my clinging, fearful sense of self often softens. My sense of isolation and loneliness recedes.  When I abide in the experience of wholeness, the noble qualities that I want to be present in me and my life (like gentleness, love, courage, kindness, humility, equanimity, wisdom, humor, and clarity) emerge without effort.

pain is not the whole story

What can we do when faced with such disturbing problems, division, and brokenness? We can begin to recognize that the difficult, painful events are not the whole story. The clamoring, troublesome headlines are not the whole story. The inner voices I sometimes hear criticizing me are not the whole story.

Those painful experiences and stories may each be true in their own way. And, there is so much more that is also true about us and the world. People who are being portrayed as aggressors and victims are so much more than that. The writers of headlines, and those aspects of us who fixate on our fears, don’t seem to notice or talk about the countless acts of tenderness that also happen in every moment. They don’t seem to see or appreciate or acknowledge the acts of courage and wisdom and generosity that are happening so often within and around us. But we can.

seek more of what’s true

We can intend to seek and discover more of what’s true about us and our circumstances. We can learn to acknowledge, and be with, and perhaps eventually accept all of what’s true. We can pledge to look and move beyond the boundaries and divisions that stop us from connecting and contributing more fully. We can commit to become the type of person who recognizes, and cultivates more wholeness in us, in others, and the world.

Fortunately for us, many people and traditions (both modern and ancient) have explored, and continue to explore, this rich territory. These integrative sensibilities recognize and describe wholeness as innate to human beings and all of life. If they’re right, that means each of us has the potential already within us to gain more access to, and become more familiar with, this expansive way of understanding and participating in life and work.

And when we do, our experience of our self and our life changes in profound ways.

For me, seeking and leading toward more wholeness in our self, our families, our work and our world is the most important thing we can be doing. Will you join me on this joyous and humbling journey of discovery, healing, and service? I will be honored to walk it with you.

Photo by Christian Holzinger on Unsplash.

About Ken Kirby