Timeless & Classical Art…Ancient yet Eternal.
Welcome to The Ancient Art of Holistic Thinking. The book, and online classes offered here will engage you in a timeless, dynamic and integrated worldview, a beautiful and reflective way of engaging with the kosmos. Within this ancient framework, philosophy is intertwined with and partly conveyed through nature. Thus image and thought are conjoined, as are natural patterns with ideology, cosmology with religion, conceptual awareness with sensory perception, invisible with the manifest, and theory with practice.
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You are invited to embark upon a journey into an inspirational way of seeing and thinking, a vital legacy left from great civilizations past. Although descended from age-old wisdom, this integrative way of perceiving is as relevant today as it was millennia ago in ancient Egypt and Greece. Whether you choose to take the upcoming online course or study the book independently, both will give you unique insight into an ancient window of thought, yet still available for each of us to cultivate in any time or culture.
I refer to holistic thinking as an ‘ancient art’ for two reasons. First, the ideal of holism as the interrelatedness of all parts in any given whole system is not new. Rather this ancient understanding is being re-learned, rediscovered and is very much needed in our modern world. Second, in the ancient philosophies focused upon (Platonic, Pre-Socratic, Pythagorean and Egyptian) image, symbol, music and art are incorporated as teaching methods.
In each of these schools of thought imagery and various arts were ingeniously employed to illustrate and convey the ideas presented via analogy, metaphor, visual representation of abstract ideas, or other media. Yet the ancient Egyptians are unsurpassed in this symbolic methodology, for their very language called medw ntr or ‘divine speech’ (labeled hieroglyphs or ‘sacred writings’ by the Greeks) is “a perfect fusion of art and language”, exhibiting multiple layers of meaning and a deep philosophical substratum.
Since a holistic mindset interprets and engages the world and everything in it in terms of an underlying interconnectedness, any philosophy of holism must identify certain observable, ordered patterns from which to make connections. Yet this paradigm can be conceived in many different ways.
For instance, in the ancient world the four elements (fire, water, earth, air) were commonly used to categorize phenomena and build a whole-system worldview. Similarly other natural laws or forces, god(s), atoms, number, etc. could each be used to classify and organize the properties of things throughout the kosmos. Each of these arche or starting points is typically identified with a particular discipline: early natural science, religion, cosmology, myth, or mathematics and present alternate ways of conceiving a given totality or whole.
Through philosophical analysis a common thread revealing a consistently formulated ideology can be traced across all of these fields. In the ancient wisdom of Egypt and Greece, philosophy was not limited to abstract intellectual theory, nor was it confined to one subject. Indeed, the Greek word philosophia itself means the love of wisdom, and was a way of life that included both theoria (theory) and praxis (practice).
A holistic or whole-system worldview addresses both personal and universal arenas. For example on an individual human level, physical, mental and emotional states were conceived as complementary parts of the human psuche (psyche) or soul, ideally designed to function as an integrated, harmonious whole. This paradigm of interrelatedness extends beyond the individual and is applicable whether considering a collective of people, a given eco-system, a nation, or the entire kosmos.
The Ancient Art of Holistic Thinking takes a comparative approach to Greek and Egyptian philosophy and opens a dialogue between the two. Although distinct and unique, each school of Greek and Egyptian thought reveals particular aspects of a universal language of holism that ultimately complement each other. When taken together, all contribute to a more complete, amalgamated model of holistic philosophy. The result is a multicultural, interdisciplinary and multi-sensory journey back into ancient holistic perception. Both the book and the online course will outline and explicate how a holistic paradigm is framed in ancient Egyptian and various Greek philosophies.
As we journey back in time across millennia, a perennial model of holism is evident. Once you learn to recognize and interpret shared core elements, different cultural viewpoints are found to intersect. However the farther back in time we progress, the ideology of holism is frequently expressed through esoteric or symbolic language. For instance, the Pythagorean doctrine of number or the Egyptian symbolic mode of thinking and representing ideas.
By studying The Ancient Art of Holistic Thinking readers will gain greater fluency in identifying and interpreting the language of a whole-system worldview, regardless of the way in which it is expressed. You will also recognize how this universal ideal was promoted across various disciplines, whether dressed in the garb of natural science, religion, myth, psychology, or mathematics.
Ultimately you will realize that beneath all of these ancient teachings what was most highly revered or ‘sacred’, was the wisdom and practice of a holistic philosophy itself. For this reason, in the book I also refer to holistic thinking as the ‘sacred aesthetic’. It is this fundamental awareness that humankind was urged to cultivate, and which modern culture is rediscovering and re-learning.
If you’re already versed in other holistic philosophies, you will recognize certain parallels in ancient Egyptian and Greek thought, yet find the ideas articulated in unique ways. And if you’re new to the formal study of holism, then prepare to engage your mind in deep philosophical inquiry, and your senses to a beautiful, inspiring and integrative way of perceiving the world. I hope you enjoy exploring the ancient yet timeless Art of Holistic Thinking!
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