Chapter Two: Part Four – The Balance Between Order and Chaos

The Separation of Everything

 

         As far back as the 5th century BC, the Greek philosopher Democritus put forth the theory of atomism.  He, along with his teacher Leucippus, proposed that everything in the universe is composed of small, indivisible, and indestructible units called atoms.  The idea was revolutionary at the time, suggesting that the physical world is made up of fundamental particles that combine in various ways to form all matter.

         Approximately 2000 years later, people like Rene Descartes and Sir Isaac Newton led the movement to separate science and religion.  Science was the study of the known, physical and material world.  The physical world was the world we could see and experience with the five senses.  This was the world of the body.

         The spiritual world fell to the domain of religion; this was the world of the mind.  From this, we began to treat the mind and the body as separate things.  There was general agreement that these two domains, the world of science and the world of religion, should not interfere with one another.

         The propensity to separate and compartmentalize increased.  Science exploded as the desire to understand, classify, and quantify the visible universe took hold.  Different branches of study evolved – biology, chemistry, and physics.  People developed specializations in different fields.  Similar developments took place in the social sciences, in business, and in government.  This led to incredible discoveries, propelling unbridled growth in societies across the world, leading to profound improvements to the quality of life and the development of more and more robust economies.  The divisions within fields increased, leading to tremendous innovation as we shifted from the Agricultural Age and into the Industrial Revolution.

         As we continued to progress and evolve, different nations defined to what extent God belonged in certain aspects of everyday life, like school and government.  This makes sense; more developed nations enacted liberal policies around faith and welcomed different belief systems, leading to more diverse cultures, inviting people away from totalitarian regimes and nations with more oppressive policies.

This limitation on faith in specific institutions is practical thinking, which is why it overlooks the obvious – God is in schools and government, because those institutions are filled with people.  This doesn’t mean God should be taught in schools, or that governments should operate by a single faith, nor does it mean that we should ignore what is equally evident – just because we cordon off sections of society from the universal intelligence that created us does not mean it doesn’t exist where it isn’t discussed.  Furthermore, should we abandon our inner moral compass based on what building we’re in, or what functional aspect of our lives we’re currently performing?  Should we only love our neighbors on Sundays?  Are we to take a break from being compassionate towards others when dealing with classmates, coworkers, or government officials?

         We live at a time when we get great reception on our smartphones from almost anywhere on the face of the earth, and the time is soon coming when global wifi coverage will be a reality.  I don’t need to locate a phone booth to make a phone call.  Isn’t the same true for Jesus?  Do I need to go to a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue to communicate with the infinite being responsible for my salvation?  While it is true that the people working in these buildings may have studied texts or ideas specific to a particular faith more deeply than the public, it should be clear to all of us that they cannot take the journey on our behalf.

         This outdated mode of thinking perpetuates the idea that we need to look outside ourselves for a moral authority, that a teacher, church leader, or politician is the governing voice on how we should behave, or what we must believe.  I am speaking from personal experience, as it took me nearly three years in the Marines to realize that the highest-ranking person, while technically “in-charge,” didn’t know everything.  Someone unwilling to be questioned knows…they don’t have the answers.

If we allow such thinking to persist, we deny ourselves the ability take full ownership for our lives.  We have given ourselves an “out” as we can always assign blame to someone else for the way our lives have turned out.  This illusion eventually evaporates, as all illusions do, and we realize that our lives, and most specifically our eternal ones, are our responsibility.

         Don’t get me wrong; instruction is useful and necessary.  At the same time, it must be scrutinized, evaluated, and tested.  Religious teaching is important; it too must be assessed, and the authenticity of its message internalized and reconciled.  The greatest gift we have been given is the treasure inside of us.  As mentioned, there is a dragon guarding the treasure, and it is uniquely and distinctly our dragon to defeat.  That is the hero/heroine’s journey.

         In my coaching practice, I am no longer surprised when I hear clients make breakthroughs.  Usually, it is in one of two areas.  The first is when someone discovers they don’t need to keep looking outside themselves for guidance.  One of my clients, Shawna, admitted when she first started working with me that she had the idea to go around to her fellow coworkers, asking them the kind of things they were asking of their coaches.  Finally, she determined the answers were within her.  Instead of finding out what everyone else was doing and doing the same thing, she decided to ask questions specific to her life.  Early in our sessions, she was still asking me for answers.  I replied with more questions and watched with delight as she discovered she can trust herself.  She made the shift, changed her approach, and her fulfillment from life and her career has taken off!

Another client, Jane, admitted having to go to therapy; she couldn’t understand why she constantly felt the need for validation from her boss.  I asked her how much of who she was in her personal life showed up in her work life.  I asked this, knowing that she practices yoga and meditates regularly.  She replied with a crisp, “zero.”  We compartmentalize ourselves.  When we do this, our integrity of being is reduced, because we aren’t bringing our “whole” selves into the various facets of our lives.  We have surrendered our sovereignty; in her case, she needed to be reassured that she was doing a good job, then became a nervous wreck when her boss would “yank her chain”.  She had developed an unhealthy dependency.  Her boss has since left the company, and she realizes she needs to be true to herself, knowing that if she is guided by her desire to serve the best interests of the company, her compass is pointed in the right direction.

This compartmentalization is left-brain thinking.  The left hemisphere of the brain is the logical and rational side of the brain.  Most men are left hemisphere dominant.  This is why these specialized areas developed; there is a tendency for left-brained thinkers to specialize in one field or endeavor.

The right side is the creative side.  Creativity is a pathway to emotion.  When we see art, watch a movie, or hear music we like, we are experiencing an emotional response to someone else’s creation.  The corpus callosum is the membrane that connects the two hemispheres of the brain; it is thicker in women than it is in men.  Women think more holistically than men.  This explains why, historically, men are not good at expressing their emotions – they compartmentalize themselves and reduce their emotional output to the bare necessities.

         We must develop, trust, and refine our internal compass, and strive to think more holistically, guided in the knowledge that, as we deepen that internal sense of navigation, the true beauty of life will unfold before our eyes. Yes, we want and need to learn from others.  It’s who we learn from that matters.

 

Later this week, we’ll review the importance of role models and how faith and technology are intertwined.