When I came to prison in 1984 for killing a man in a bar fight I was about as messed up as a human being could be. As I faced what I'd done and the 60-90 year sentence that was now my life, it occurred to me that I essentially had two choices: I could try to figure out how to live in a way that made some kind of moral and spiritual sense or I could just give up and put an end to the whole mess.
I chose the former course of trying to figure out how to live in a way that made some sense. What has emerged over the almost three decades since is a philosophy of life I call wholeness ethics or simply wholism. It’s a way of thinking and living that puts a premium on wholeness, defined as soundness, well being, and ongoing realization. I arrived at this as a central thing because the absence of wholeness most comprehensively defined my failure. It was what was missing in both my inner world and in the mark I left on the world outside of myself.
I also observed that wholeness seems to be the thing all life strives for. All things want to be whole, to fulfill their larger purpose. Our life energy is the currency we are given to fund this endeavor. It’s meant to be spent on increasing wholeness in ourselves and in the world. Whenever we use it for something contrary to this we're acting unethically.
Everything I saw around me and in me that was good was an example of life energy being spent to increase wholeness. I asked myself why I considered a small act of kindness, a bit of honesty, or a display of honor to be good. The answer was that these things advance wholeness. On the other hand, why did I think of thieving and lying and petty cruelty as bad? It was because these things reduce wholeness. This then became my measure and compass. It’s expressed in the maxim of wholeness ethics:
Do only what increases wholeness in yourself and in the world.
This blog will explore the various ways this maxim applies to our lives. Your questions and comments are welcome and invited.