I had the great pleasure of hanging out in Skopje yesterday with graduate students in Prof. Blerim Reka’s course on international relations and diplomacy at South East European University. Quite a challenging experience and one that got me thinking about David Bohm, my favourite quantum physicist of all time.
Let me tell you why.
During a rather intense, two hour discussion we kept coming back to the challenge of how to move forward in situations where things are so obviously going from bad to worse. I had a very hard time responding in specific terms beyond saying that in these situations we would benefit from a greater capacity to stand back and look at the emerging whole as something more than a collection of individual parts.
In other words, what happens today in Skopje is connected to what happened in Pristina yesterday and what will happen tomorrow in Brussels…
But too often we miss seeing these critical connections.
David Bohm describes this challenge much more eloquently than I ever could:
“The notion of a separate organism is clearly an abstraction, as is also its boundary. Underlying all this is unbroken wholeness even though our civilization has developed in such a way as to strongly emphasize the separation into parts.”
― David Bohm, The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory
So, what to do?
“To end this illusion requires insight, not only into the world as a whole, but also into how the instrument of thought is working. Such insight implies an original and creative act of perception into all aspects of life, mental and physical, both through the senses and through the mind, and this is perhaps the true meaning of meditation.”
― David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order
This may help my colleagues to understand why I am such a yoga fanatic…
Of course, as much I would like it to happen, I don’t think we can expect everyone around us to take up meditation or to suddenly understand that these lovely boundaries and divisions (cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, national, etc.) that we spend so much time and energy cultivating and defending so passionately are in fact just abstractions. But we could start at least by thinking a bit more about how we think. We would all benefit from paying more attention in these difficult situations about how our own thinking too often gets in the way of moving forward.
I’ll give the last word on this topic to Dr. Bohm:
“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely
rearranging their prejudices.”