What is Systemliteracy?
The systems view of life is really a totally new perspective of life, science, relationships, religion, philosophy, and art. In the ancient civilizations, and in most native cultures, such holistic a view of life was never questioned. We are the late starters here.
You may have heard of attempts to bring about a fusion between science, religion and philosophy. Theosophy* was a markstone in this process, but by no means the only attempt. Helena Blavatsky** subtitled her Secret Doctrine with: A Synthesis between Science, Religion and Philosophy. The book was published before the advent of quantum physics*** and systems theory which both were scientific achievements of the mid 20th century.
Quantum physics ended up demonstrating even to hardcore materialists that our universe is not primarily consisting of matter, or that matter is a secondary phenomenon, as the real mover in the universe is a subtle energy that today is called the quantum field, and that was through the ages called many different names. It is the Life Force.****
In other words, we have reached the end of a long journey that passed through the standard process of evolution, marked by thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.
However, in this new view of life, one element is missing; this is the missing link I am talking about here. This missing link is art. Science, religion and philosophy are certainly important human endeavors, but what is their value if humans remain brutish and uncivilized? It’s art that brings about real civilization, not science, not religion, and not philosophy. Art is the unifying factor, and it’s the elevating factor as well. Let me explain this a little further.
First of all, I should be more explicit what I mean when I talk about art. When I talk about art, I do not mean the art business, musea and collectors, auctions, and commercial art productions. I speak about art as a human urge that is just as strong as the urge for partnership, for religious meaning, social togetherness, and the urge for scientific investigation, and dealing with the unknown by means of philosophical speculation. It is our aesthetic desire I am talking about here as the linking factor. When I talk about art, I actually mean aesthetics.
Let me explain further. When you want to read a book, you expect it to be well-designed. When you browse a website, you are pleased when it looks well-done and orderly, not throwing all kinds of random colors into your eyes. When you look for a house or flat, you want it to be tidy, with walls painted in an agreeable soft color or offering tapestry, and with furniture of high quality, and well-arranged in the available space. We talk about interior design. It is the same for your wrist watch or your car that please your aesthetic sense through their functional design and their quality engineering. When you go for a vacation you want to stay in a nicely designed hotel where you have all amenities integrated into a comforting setting.
Please understand me correctly. There is a huge misunderstanding in our society about comfort, as it is always associated, by advertising, with luxury. But that is not true. Tidiness, comfort, aesthetic surroundings, good design, and perfect engineering are not luxury, they are basic needs for our aesthetic sense. When you go to a restaurant, you may not want to have loud music played, but a soft soothing background music, so that you can focus on your food and a good conversation with your partner, or your friends. I could go on and on outlining these achievements of culture, which include of course fashion design, perfumes, quality clothing, and good transportation as well.
What I want to convey is that human beings do not need only science, religion and philosophy to be peacefully integrated in a comprehensive scheme, but they also need comfort, safety, order, and beauty. I believe that the systems view of life allows us to see all those things not as separate but organic elements in our lives, which are one as important as the other. It is interesting that architects, designers, engineers and people in the hospitality industry, the fashion industry, the photography business, and generally, artists, know all of this, but this knowledge has not been integrated so far in a general worldview where all those elements are represented equitably, and without a materialistic, or spiritualistic bias.
The materialistic worldview affirms our needs for safety, comfort and beauty, but denies that we also have a need for spirituality, religion and mythology. The scientific worldview acknowledges our need for knowing the truth, and investigating more and more for finding truth in our lives, or studying science to show it to us, but this worldview belittles our needs for both religion and our aesthetic needs, our need for art, and beauty. And when you frequent art circles, you will notice how much they are caring for beauty, aesthetics and the comfort derived from a noble attitude toward others, but they care little for science, and for religion. So you have a bias in every segment of society and systemliteracy comes in here, in my conception, as a unifying factor.
When you look upon life as a living organic system, you cannot continue to foster sectarian views that belittle any human need while exaggerating any other human need. When you study living systems, you will inevitably notice that all the patterns within those systems are related to one another and constantly communicate, in an equitable manner, without one trying to dominate the other.
* Theosophy is a metaphysical doctrine and movement that was founded by Helena P. Blavatsky and others in 1875. The word literally means god wisdom, and the teaching can be called one of going to the source of all religions. Accordingly, theosophy teaches a scientific and rational understanding of religions, and sees in every religion a nucleus of universal truth. However, it also tries to help us see all the madness, the irrationality and the violence that religious dogma and superstitions bring about; in this sense it understands itself as a higher form of religion, a form of religious understanding that goes beyond the appearances and that educates toward true enlightenment.
Theosophy is important in the sense that it tries to heal the split between religions and nature, declaring that nature is intelligent and wistful. Theosophists hold that everything, living or not, is put together from basic building blocks evolving towards consciousness. Theosophy also teaches that every human is inspired and guided by a higher self entity that we should try to get in touch with for enhancing and accelerating our spiritual evolution.
Theosophy teaches that both reincarnation and karma are universal laws, not just specific beliefs of certain religions. However, theosophy denies evolutionary regression; humans will not normally incarnate as animals or plants, once having attained awareness of self. A fundamental element in theosophical teaching is the so-called spiritual hierarchies, and the most prolific writer on this topic certainly was Reverend Charles Webster Leadbeater. In addition, theosophists believe that religion, philosophy, science, the arts, commerce, and philanthropy, among other virtues, lead people ever closer to the ability of understanding truth or reality.
** Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891) was one of the most influential occult thinkers of the nineteenth century. She was a controversial figure during her lifetime. With the aid of Colonel Henry Olcott and William Q. Judge, she founded the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875. This was the starting point of the theosophical movement. Born at Ekaterinoslav, Russia, on July 31, 1831, Blavatsky was the daughter of Colonel Peter Hahn, a member of a Mecklenburg family that settled in Russia. To gain converts to theosophy, she attempted to perform miracles. She did this successfully, but her methods were on several occasions detected as fraudulent. Nevertheless, her commanding personality secured for her a large following.
An enigmatic personality, Blavatsky was raised in an atmosphere saturated with superstition and fantasy. She loved to surround herself with mystery as a child and claimed to her playmates that in the subterranean corridors of their old house at Saratow, where she used to wander about, she was never alone, but had companions and playmates whom she called her hunchbacks. Blavatsky was often discovered in a dark tower underneath the roof, where she put pigeons into a mesmeric sleep by stroking them. She was unruly, and as she grew older she often shocked her relatives by her masculine behavior. Once, riding astride a Cossack horse, she fell from the saddle and her foot became entangled in the stirrup. She claimed that she ought to have been killed outright were it not for the strange sustaining power she distinctly felt around her, which seemed to hold her up in defiance of gravitation.
*** Quantum Physics or quantum mechanics is a fundamental branch of theoretical physics with wide applications in experimental physics that replaces classical mechanics and classical electromagnetism for the subatomic realm. It is the underlying mathematical framework of many fields of physics and chemistry, including condensed matter physics, atomic physics, molecular physics, computational chemistry, quantum chemistry, particle physics, and nuclear physics. Along with general relativity, quantum mechanics is one of the pillars of modern physics.
*** Life Force Cosmic Energy, Bioenergy, Élan vital, Vis vitalis, Spirit Energy, Vital Energy, The Field, Zero-Point Field, A-Field, L-Field, Akashic Field, Human Energy Field, Ch’i, Ki, Mana, Prana, Wakonda, Hado—and many other related terms.