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Wholism and the New Age

Sunday, 25 December 2011 02:12

Written by Diane Brandon

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We find ourselves perched on the "cusp" of a new era, or so we're told -- a "new age." A whole new era will be ushered in -- with the emphasis on newness.

Part of that newness, I believe, will be new thinking, a breaking of the old, the creation of the new. New thinking, new forms. But are we still caught up in the old thinking? Are we marching into the "New Age" dragging our old thinking along? wholism and the new age
We talk a lot about wholism -- "wholistic health," "wholistic living." And I feel that wholism is a form that we are inexorably moving towards, an integral part of the "New Age." But what does "wholism" really mean and what are the implications of wholistic being?

Well, obviously the term wholistic comes from the word "whole." And a whole is the combination or total of its parts. "Wholeness" is considered to be desirable: we strive "to be whole."

Unfortunately the age and culture we live in has heavily swayed us against wholeness. We separate and compartmentalize, rather than uniting. We live in an age of specialization, splitting off parts of ourselves and earning a living doing one thing, thereby neglecting our other talents and interests.

We separate and reject, rather than unite and accept. We compete, rather than cooperate. We fear and push away that which is feared, rather than accept and understand. We judge, rather than forgive and accept. We talk about dualities of good vs. evil, light vs. dark, rather than look at the whole, which is composed of both, and combinations and gradations thereof. We engage in simplistic labeling and thinking, rather than deal with totalities and nuances -- the polar opposites, rather than mixtures or shades of gray.

All of these engrained habits of thinking have been salient characteristics of the Piscean Age, and we have all been under their spell.

So, how do we move toward wholeness, given all the influences on us to the contrary?

The Personal Level
Let's take a look first at wholeness as applied to the individual or personal level. I would think that, to be whole, we must first accept ourselves as a whole. Rather than split off parts of ourselves as undesirable and disowning them, we can accept that everything exists for a purpose. To believe otherwise is to reject creation and second guess the Creator.

Therefore, we can first accept all our faculties: left brain and right brain; logic, feeling, and intuition. How many times have we heard someone say, "I don't think; I feel?" Why not think and feel. Instead of labeling one as "bad" and the other as "good," why not consider that both serve a purpose? Why thinks in terms of "ors" that separate, instead of "ands" that unite? If any of these faculties did not serve a purpose, why were they created? There are times when I don't know where my thinking or ideas come from: from my logic or intuition or feeling. It feels, instead, as if the parts are working together as a whole -- which is a nice feeling, a feeling of wholeness. We can become more whole by reclaiming all parts of ourselves.

Emotions get a lot of bad press. We tend to reject emotions as undesirable qualities, especially "negative" emotions like pain or anger. We suppress our emotions; it's not "good" to be "emotional." Isn't it possible that emotions serve a purpose, perform a function? To me, emotions are indicators, or signals: they tell us when something is going well or needs to be worked on. If we pay attention to our emotions, we can learn and grow.

If the different parts of ourselves are working together, then we achieve a wholeness or balance in our lives. If we suppress or deny parts of ourselves, the energy of the parts disowned does not dissipate; it remains and throws us off balance.

The Role of Fear
Certainly fear is an emotion that is a big bugaboo to us. When we label something as "bad," we push it away. The more "bad" it is for us and the more we push it away, the more we fear it. As anyone who has worked on his or her issues knows -- or as any truly spiritually wise person knows -- fear is our teacher, if we go into it. Fear separates and holds us back; it does not unite. If, however, we face our fear and go into it, we learn from it and reclaim a disowned part of us. We also usually learn that our fear of the fear was worse than what we thought we feared, the object of our fear. We learn that superstition and fear are only shadows, projections from within ourselves with no real substance, projections from our own lack of wholeness. We also gain in self-confidence when we go into fear. We become more whole.

A healthy curiosity can also help with fear, because curiosity opens us; its energy goes outward. An open mind is an inquiring one. A closed mind holds us back. Curiosity impels us forward to learn and grow.

Fear exists in the New Age community as well and, unfortunately, at times is taught to others. There was an idea going around last winter before the first Uranus-Neptune conjunction about "negative space entities" that were going to use the conjunction as some sort of opening to do "negative," bad things to "lightworkers."

I was taken aback when I heard this, as well as baffled and somewhat saddened. Here was fear in all its grandeur, rearing its head again -- this time in the New Age community, a community I had thought was enlightened. New drama, old thinking. The old myth and fear of evil and Satan in New Age clothing. The old need to fear something and project it outward in an anthropomorphic fashion: Satan was now "negative space entities."

Fear wields its power pervasively, especially when one feels separation, and it rules with an iron fist. Unfortunately fear can contaminate and be contagious: we teach our fear to others. Again, we can learn from going into fear and examining it openly, thereby reclaiming our wholeness. A life without fear is a "whole"-some life.

The human potential development movement also springs from a move toward wholeness. As we develop talents that have lain dormant and acquire new skills, we develop more parts of our selves – and thus become more of a whole.

As we start to reclaim disowned parts of ourselves and truly develop ourselves as whole human beings, wholeness is not the only result. Self-development can also lead to self-acceptance, self-esteem, and self-empowerment.

We can also apply wholism and new forms to the personal area of career. I first found myself expounding the following idea during a reading and was surprised by what was coming out of my mouth. An idea had formed, unbeknownst to me, and it was an idea that I could apply to myself.

Basically, I found myself saying that one could assess one's talents, abilities, and interests and come up with a career that combined these, thus drawing on one's wholeness. That perhaps we err in trying to think of having a job or career that already exists in our economic structure -- of trying to fit ourselves into a pre-existing hole, instead of carving out and creating a career that suits us. A new form customized for us specifically.

In our one-dimensional society, we tend to think of people as being or doing only one thing. But this, of course, is the antithesis of wholeness. The eclectic person tends to be whole. And that eclecticism can be incorporated into how one earns one's living. This idea runs counter to our era of narrow specialization, but I feel that we are truly moving toward just this sort of whole living and career, and away from specialization that cuts us off from things.

Wholistic living does not imply a closed system. The moment we think we have all the answers and stop seeking and questioning and adding to our whole -- we close down and cease learning and growing. Closing down -- not being open -- also implies separation.

The Societal or Larger Level
Which brings us to another area of wholism -- the societal, or our interactions with others and our world. How can we apply wholism to our interactions with that which is outside us?

Just as being whole means accepting all our own parts, it also implies accepting other people. It means feeling a connection, rather than separation. Just as Native Americans view all of life as interconnected, wholism as a world-view implies that we are part of a whole. We are not only connected to other humans (both those we deem "bad," as well as "good"), but to all of life: animals, plants, rocks, air. We are part of an interconnecting and very complex web of life -- the ultimate symbiotic relationship. Any time we separate ourselves from the whole, we are negating not only the whole, but also aspects of ourselves.

There are many ways in which we separate ourselves from the whole: by judging others; by seeing ourselves as separate or different or better; by criticizing; by "shoulding" other people; by labeling.

Personal Causes of Alienation
Why do we feel this separation (so strongly that at times it is more alienation than separation)? One of the reasons is that old word "ego." We are trapped in our egos -- and the ego need to feel important in comparison to others and separate from things. And the ego need to feel important comes from not loving ourselves, from low self-esteem. Which ultimately goes back to not accepting ourselves -- and all our parts and traits. Ergo, learning to accept ourselves -- all of our parts -- is a step towards loving ourselves, as well as loving and feeling connected to others.

Another cause of separation is our own pain. And our pain comes from different things -- from not accepting ourselves, from unresolved issues from the past. The more we go into our pain (similar to going into fear), the more we resolve and heal it – and heal ourselves. As we heal our pain, we become more whole. Pain closes us in into ourselves. It pulls our energy in and prevents that energy from radiating out. As we heal ourselves of pain, we feel our energy flow outward -- thus connecting ourselves to other things and people.

Even our language may contribute to our feeling of separation. We define by difference, rather than similarity or commonality. We want to know how something is different from something else. We have a need to distinguish by differences. It is interesting to note that many Native American languages do not have nouns, only verbs. In these languages, what we see as things or people are instead processes or actions -- a dance of energy, rather than something fixed or immutable. It is very hard to label something that is in movement and thus changing. And once we label or define, we cease seeing something or someone as unique; we cease seeing them afresh. It is a mental shortcut to label and define -- we no longer have to deal with the more involved process of seeing freshly.

Our very society has influences for alienation. As our population has increased and increasing urbanization has crowded us together more and more, we increasingly tend to view other people as objects -- as obstacles that get in our way. We have to "fight" through traffic. We have to stand behind others in line. It is hard to feel connected to others when we feel others are "in our way." So some of us seek a more "wholesome" life in less urban settings.

The very idea of competing for things -- competing for food, for jobs, for space -- has been a hallmark of the Piscean Age. The Aquarian Age, we are told, will be one of cooperation, rather than competition or domination. Some people speak of the shift from the Piscean to the Aquarian Age as a shift from the dominating, paternalistic force to the rise of the cooperative, feminine principle.

Certainly cooperation is a facet of wholism -- the parts of a whole cooperating or working together, rather than fighting or abrading against each other. But striving for wholeness in society or the world ultimately begins on the personal level. A whole entity cannot be working together smoothly and "wholesomely" if the individual component parts are not smooth, whole-functioning microcosms of the whole.

Charity Begins at Home; Wholeness Begins in the Self
Perhaps healing our pain, working on our issues, shining a light on our less-illumined areas, accepting ourselves, striving to be whole within ourselves, developing our potential, having an open, curious outlook, and changing our thinking -- all of this together is the first step. It is no coincidence at all that there has been an intense flurry of activity in the past several years as more and more people have been "working on their issues." This is definitely happening for a reason, for we can't bypass the personal work to leap into the divine. Ofttimes an intense desire to immerse oneself in the New Age movement without having done one's personal work may represent an unconscious desire to escape from pain -- a denial of one's reality and diversion of attention from one's problems. (Denial is not just a river in Africa!) If we are here for a purpose, then part of the purpose may be to fully experience life and learn and grow -- here and now.

I often hear some people refer to themselves as "lightworkers," who are on a mission to save people. That we are now in the throes of a struggle between light and dark. That people are being forced to choose between "life" and "death." And woe to those who choose "death."

This is a very seductive idea. But does this picture feel right to you? It encompasses a lot of the old thinking and pulls people in through fear and separation. It taps into a lot of ego needs and pain-based needs. Physician, heal thyself.

We first have the duality of light vs. dark, the totalitarian and simplistic thinking dividing things and people into polar opposites -- no grays, just black and white. People are good or bad, light or dark. Period. There is no in-between. We also have the old separatist thinking of Us vs. Them, the Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys. (If we wanted to give it a Western touch, we could add white and black hats -- just so people could tell at a glance who was who.) We also strongly have the element of fear: if you don't choose life, you get death. It pushes people's fear buttons big-time. (If you're not good, you'll get coal in your stocking; "so you'd better be good for goodness' sake....")

And, after it has pushed all the big fear and separation buttons, it then gives a pay-off, the Reward, by pushing the ego-need button. The need to feel good about oneself. And not just good -- superior. Superior to others. A savior. A "lightworker," separate and above others (except for those other lightworker members of your exclusive clique). Who needs a country club when you can have your own New Age substitute version? This, for many, is an enticing notion, coming out of pain and need, but, unfortunately, at the expense of others: others must be seen as in the dark and needing to be saved in order for the "lightworker" to be exalted. For anyone with low self-esteem, who feels alienated from others and has deep-seated fears, and who has not done his or her personal work, this is very strong stuff.

And it is exactly the same heady brew of button-pushing that we have seen in religions over the years. Take a populace that has fears, is alienated from itself as well as others, and is into separation (Us vs. Them) and, voila: we have the Crusades and other variations on a theme. We can all be susceptible to such ideas.

We all have a mission and a purpose. Otherwise, why are we here -- any of us? But are we divine saviors? (Or are we all not divine saviors?) Must others be base, foundering in the dark and needing to be saved -- by us in our elevated and rarefied position? Or are we all not a mixture of light and dark -- somewhat less than perfect (and yet perfect because we are where we are meant to be)?

In reality, we are all at different places on our respective paths, and we all contain grays and gradations of light. We are all in this together and are connected. We all learn from each other, and we all have something to contribute.

And, as we contribute, there is an exchange of energy, which can be wholistic as well -- a circle, if you will. With wholistic energy, the cycle must be complete: if it goes out, it must be returned. An equal give and take. As we teach, so we learn. As we give, so are we given.

Transitions are not easy. As we go through change, a lot of dirt and discomfort are stirred up. We are, however, inexorably moving towards wholism. All our separation and fear and underlying dualistic thinking are gradually dying away. The old rigid and separatist forms and thinking are winding down. More and more people are changing their thinking, working on their issues, healing themselves, and becoming whole. And seeing themselves as part of the whole. And as we heal and grow, the whole reflects our change by also healing. The throes of change may be discomfitting, especially when the change is fundamental, but wholism will be part of the future. We can be healthy parts of that whole.


Diane Brandon is the Host of “Living Your Power” on the Health & Wellness Channel of and the new show, "Vibrant Living" debuting late May 2008 on, as well as an Intuition Expert & Teacher, Integrative Intuitive Counselor, and Speaker. She is the author of "Invisible Blueprints" and several articles on personal growth topics, as well as a contributing author to "Speaking Out" and "The Long Way Around: How 34 Women Found the Lives They Love." Her private work with individuals focuses on personal growth, working with dreams, and personal empowerment, and she has done corporate seminars on intuition, creativity, and listening skills. More information may be found on her websites, and She may be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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