A WHOLE NEW VIEW: How to Keep the Great Idea Alive

“Of course you can fix the fragment of a piece.  But then it will deteriorate because what it is connected to has been ignored.” (From the film Mindwalk).

We can no longer afford to look at the world in terms of isolated pieces. That is a deluded view of reality. Because the truth is that we live in a web of interdependent relationships. The value and the power is in the relationships, not the parts.   We’re talking about interconnectedness (what Thich Nhat Hanh calls “inter-being”).


Martin Luther King, Jr. put it like this:

“I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be in until I am what I ought to be. We are, all of us, inextricably linked.”


Albert Einstein put it this way:

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


This short clip from the film  Mindwalk  illustrates all this perfectly.   This is revelatory :).   The film explores systems theory, a more feminine view of the world which should take the place of the masculine Cartesian view.  The Cartesian view just looks at the parts of things as though they are unrelated.   It assumes you can fully understanding something just by taking it apart and looking at its pieces.  “Your home:   It’s 5,800 bricks, 18 windows, is located at latitude x and longitude y.   That’s what your home is.   I understand it now.”    “Your sister:   She is brunette, 38 years old, lives in Toledo, works as a social worker, has two dogs.  Now I understand your sister.”   We’re ALL MOSTLY STUCK IN THAT DEAD END MINDSET THAT GIVES US AN INACCURATE VIEW OF THE WORLD.   We’re all guilty of falling for reductionism, but it is most damaging when that viewpoint is held by our political leaders.   They make decisions under its influence that they think are fine not realizing the consequences.    It makes them blind.

They see each problem being in its own individual unrelated silo. Until we fix that problem of perception, our efforts to fix individual economic, political and social pieces will unfortunately only end up in those problems popping right back up again. We have to stop thinking that putting drops of water on little parts of the campfire will put it out. It just regenerates itself. We need to see the fire as a whole. We need to see how one part affects the others.

Again, we can no longer afford to look at the world in terms of isolated pieces.  That is a deluded view of reality.  Because the truth is that we live in a web of interdependent relationships.  The value and the power is in the relationships, not the parts.  Cartesian reductionism blinds us to that truth and makes for all kinds policy that harms citizens and the environment.  We’re talking about interconnectedness.   Check out this 2 minute clip:

(There’s a second powerful clip from the film Mindwalk at the bottom of this post and you won’t want to miss it. It reviews patriarchy, its destructive effects and a discussion of how to restore balance between the masculine and the feminine).


Here’s how Dostoevsky put it in his masterful novel, The Brothers Karamazov:

“Today, everyone asserts his own personality and strives to live a full life as an individual. But these efforts lead not to a full life but to suicide, because instead of realizing his personality, man only slips into total isolation. For in our age, man has been broken up into self-contained individuals, each of whom retreats into his lair, trying to stay away from the rest, hiding himself and his belongings from the rest of mankind, and finally isolating himself from people and people from him.

And while he accumulates material wealth in his isolation, he thinks with satisfaction how mighty and secure he has become, because he is mad and cannot see that the more goods he accumulates, the deeper he sinks into suicidal impotence. The reason for this is that he has become accustomed to relying only on himself; he has split off from the whole and become an isolated unit; he has trained his soul not to rely on human help, not to believe in man and mankind, and only to worry that the wealth and privileges he has accumulated may get lost.

Everywhere men today are turning scornfully away from the truth that the security of the individual cannot be achieved by his isolated efforts but only by mankind as a whole.

BUT AN END to this fearful isolation is bound to come and all men will understand how unnatural it was for them to have isolated themselves from one another. This will be the spirit of the new era and people will look in amazement at the past when they sat in darkness and refused to see the light. . .
. . . Until that day, we must keep hope alive, and now and then a man must set an example, even if only an isolated one, by trying to lift his soul out of its isolation and offering it up in an act of brotherly communion, even if he is taken for one of God’s fools.

This is necessary to keep the great idea alive.”


The award-winning film “PLANETARY” is a great reality check, but it’s also full of real hope.  We can turn this thing around.   This is a whole new view.   Transforming our mindset can transform our political, economic and social systems in very profound and practical ways.  Check out this visually stunning 2 minute preview:


Watch full film “Planetary” here for only 99 cents:


Once we realize that we have more in common than we have dividing us, we can make decisions from a position of unified strength rather than making demands from a position of divided weakness.




Edgar Mitchell was an American naval officer and aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, and an Apollo 14 astronaut.  He was the Lunar Module Pilot and the sixth person to walk on the Moon.  Mitchell was a true man of science. He had earned his doctorate in Aeronautics and Astronautics from M.I.T. He developed ingenious solutions that helped save the lives of the crew of Apollo 13 when their craft developed a dangerous oxygen leak (a triumph that earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom). Edgar was no slouch.

His time on the moon during the successful Apollo 14 mission had a profound impact on him.

“Edgar Mitchell was on his way home. Two days before he had been on the moon collecting rock samples, and now he was speeding through space accompanied by two other astronauts. Gazing at the earth and the stars through the tiny window of Apollo 14, he was engulfed by a new and startling sensation: an all encompassing aura of universal connectedness. All sense of boundaries dissolved, and he saw that he, his companions, and everyone and everything on the shining planet in the window were held in a luminous web of consciousness. What is more, he knew with absolute certainty that, as he put it later, ”the glittering cosmos itself was in someway conscious.”

“I had studied stellar formation and knew how the furnaces of the stars and galaxies created our chemical elements,” Mitchell explained. [Edgar D. Mitchell, The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut’s Journey Through the Material and Mystical Worlds].

“My job as lunar module pilot was to be responsible for the lunar module itself and responsible for the science on the moon. So, when we started home, I had a little more time to look out the window than the other guys because most of my responsibilities were completed. We were in a particular mode called the “barbecue mode” [slowly rotating]. . . every two minutes a picture of the earth, the moon, the sun and a 360 degree panorama of the heavens appeared in the spacecraft window.”

“I’d studied astronomy and I’d studied cosmology and fully understood that the molecules in my body and the molecules in my partners’ bodies and in the spacecraft had been prototyped in some ancient generation stars. In other words, it was pretty obvious from those descriptions, we’re stardust. Well, that was pretty awesome and powerful, particularly since I had a little more time at this point to be reflective and to think about it.”

from interview with Edgar Mitchell in the film “the overview effect” http://space.stackexchange.com/questions/12114/how-many-astronauts-have-had-spiritual-experiences-while-in-space

“On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious.”


“TO HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE OF AWE IS AT LEAST FOR THE MOMENT, TO LET GO OF YOURSELF, TO TRANSCEND THE SENSE OF SEPARATION. So it’s not just that they were experiencing something other than them but that they were, at some very deep level, integrating, realizing interconnectedness with that beautiful blue green ball.”

– David Loy, Philosopher (during interview in the film “The Overview Effect”)


The 2 quotes by Franz Kafka and Thich Nhat Hanh here at this link really capture that feeling:


earth from space

Here’s how Carl Sagan put it the idea of us being made of stars.  (He’s so young and fresh faced here :):


Buddhist monk Jack Kornfield said something related to astronaut Edgar Mitchell & Carl Sagan (regarding us being made of the same material as the stars):

“To find equanimity and peace requires an acceptance of the mystery of life itself. Modern science tells us that a big bang started the universe, hurling matter through space. Some of this matter formed stars, and some of the residue formed the planets. In this way everything on the Earth—stones, frogs, clouds, and our own living bodies—is formed out of the same material that formed the stars and planets. As the cosmologist Brian Swimme says, “Four and a half billion years ago, the Earth was a flaming molten ball of rock, and now it can sing opera.”


We’re not separate.   It’s not so much that we NEED to unify.  We just need to recognize that we already ARE unified.

PARAPHRASING THICH NHAT HANH from his delightful little book “Peace is Every Step”:   We are not as separate as we think.  Look at a piece of paper.   It is not separate.  It needed the logger, the tree, the parents of the logger, the sunshine, the clouds and the rain.  In fact if you look close enough, that piece of paper is connected to everything on earth. Nothing exists with an independent existence. Everything inter-is.

Here’s the essence of the Dostoevsky quote above:

“. . . Now and then a man must set an example, even if only an isolated one, by trying to lift his soul out of its isolation and offering it up in an act of brotherly communion, even if he is taken for one of God’s fools. This is necessary to keep the great idea alive.”

– Dostoevsky from *The Brothers Karamazov*


Here’s to millions of “fools” keeping the great idea alive   🙂



HERE’S AN ASTOUNDING SHORT CLIP FROM THE FILM MINDWALK (set at Mont Saint Michel in France). This beautifully lays out one of our main challenges and offers a powerful solution. This is truly fascinating. The female lead character (a scientist played by Liv Ullman), describes patriarchy and the current imbalance that is the root cause of so many of our surface problems. FAST FORWARD TO 3 minutes in and watch from there. The key moment comes at 6 minutes in.




GOOD REASONS TO HAVE HOPE.   We’re going to turn this world around:  



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