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Personal Well-Being, Ecological Health & Holistic Peace
Dr. Yitzhak I. Hayutman, Cybernetician

1. Introduction

"The Academy of Jerusalem" was founded through the Hayut Foundation for a new vision of Zion. The Academy is concerned with the literal concept of "Jerusalem" as "Yoru Shalem", that is of teaching wholeness, teaching what wholes are. We are concerned with wholes within scientific thinking and paradigms and other areas.

Our overall subject of this conference is "the Anatomy of Well Being", and we may first regard what does "Anatomy of Well Being" look like from Jewish tradition {figure 1}.

figure 1

The text in the figure shows that "well" is like the German word "wohl", which is, in turn, connected with the English word "whole" - which is also connected with "holy". Likewise, "Being" is what is, what was and what will be. In Hebrew the word for "Being" is called "HaWaYaH", and we say about the divine "HaYa, HoWe WeYiHYeH" which means "was, is and will be" and it comprises three times the set of the four letters found in the word YHWH - which denote the Holy Name of God. This structure of the four--letter Name is then expanded, according to various traditional accounts, into the structure known as "the Ten Sefirot". The letter Y'od is associated with the Sefirah of Hokhmah (Wisdom), the letter H'e is associated with another Sefirah, called Binah (Understanding). Then the letter W'aw, which has a numerical value of six, is associated with the six lower Sefirot, and the last H'e is associated with the bottom Sefirah of Malkhut (Kingdom).

So in a sense, through this chart of holiness we have here an anatomical chart of Being and of Wholeness. The earlier speaker, Andrew Cherniak, has already alluded to the connectedness and pattern of relationships within this structure from which many kinds of insights can be derived. I shall first give a certain interpretation (Halevi, 19__) which I do not fully agree with), how we may look at the body, at the psyche and at their interrelationship within this very same structure {figure 2}.

figure 2

Without going here into the details, let me mention that we can see in it, in the middle, the metabolism, with the catabolic processes on one side and the anabolic processes on the other side, by an interpretation of the concept of Left and Right. Breaking down materials in order to release energy and energize the body on one hand, and tying up materials and synthesizing and giving form on the other hand, according to his notion of the Line of Force on the right and the Line of Form on the Left.

In the former Dead Sea conference I showed some slides of this structure, and they represent another view of the meaning of Left and Right in this structure (Hayutman, 1993; figures_, _, ...)

In order to avoid the specifically Jewish terms, we may cull from the Kabbalistic notions a certain image of the whole, or of a "Holon", as a template of things which are whole, and which can then be applied in various areas {figure 3}.

figure 3

On the right hand of this slide we have a picture of forces interpenetrating and influencing each other, and on the left hand a structure of ten nodes with a number of connections between them. In the traditional Hebrew version we note 22 connections, which is the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Yet there are different forms for this structure with the same ten nodes, but with somewhat different 22 connections. Here I have put a simplified form with 26 connections between 10 nodes, which correspond with the 26 letters of the English alphabet. With this structure I shall now present a certain psychological structure of well-being.

First we shall start with a person, and use the concept of a "Psychological Individual", or "P--Individual", which is taken from the Conversation Theory of professor Gordon Pask, a veteran and prominent cybernetician. The concept of a P-Individual is basically for a human person. But there can be several such P-Individuals within a single human being - which can be in conflict or in harmony - and a P-Individual can exist as a system of beliefs, such as a cult or a scientific research program, which is common for many people. Those P-Individuals can, and do, interact in various ways and on several levels {figure 4}.

figure 4

Next we show a slide of what can be called "A Tree of Death" {figure 5}. This is an interesting notion. The first structure which I've shown, the Kabbalistic chart of Whole Being, is called in Hebrew "Ilan haSefirot or "Etz haHayim", namely, "The Tree of Life". This relates to a very old and important myth. The very rationale of early Christianity had to do with a particular interpretation of the myth of the Tree of Life and of what they call "the Fall". In counter to that, there developed in Medieval Judaism a notion of a "Tree of Death" which was often used in derogation of Christianity, speaking of the Cross as "the Tree of Death". We do not have to go through these historic polemics. But what is meant here is that "a tree of death" is any of those divisions which separate and cut the whole. So I am speaking here of Alienation as separating two persons. There can be alienation between me and you. Already the story of Genesis says that humans became encapsulated by skins, by hides, which work to hide them from each other. The separation by skins is supposed to bar against any telepathy or deep emotional rapport between the self and the other. I am responsible to what goes within my skin, and you are to yours. My problems are my problems and your problems are your problems. There is separation and our hides hide us from each other.

figure 5

But also within ourselves we are split by various disjunctions between our different levels of being. I could have talked at length about levels of being. But I shall put them here within just one interpretation, the cybernetic-psychological version of Conversation Theory. I would like to follow, in this progression of slides, the development of the social sciences as a process of growth along this pattern of the Tree of Life {figures 6.1-6.9}.
I start in Parson's development, in the 20's, trying to develop a comprehensive science of sociology as the science of Action. Then there came various models and paradigms. There is, for example, the notion of Interaction. Two entities: two concepts, two people or two cultures, affect the material realm. They do not look at, or refer to, each other, but because they are they operate within the same environment, they are connected through a certain physical medium, and what they get is not necessarily what they intend, but a joint product within this environment.

figure 6.1

figure 6.2

Then there is also what I call here "Normal Inter-Action", because there are some social norms which limit the ways in which they can operate their environment. They may still not look at each other, but they obey certain set of norms.

Then there are various manners of cooperation in which people do communicate. And there is a paradigm which developed later called "Symbolic Interaction" where people interact with each other not only by actions but also by intentions. They perform acts in the environment which hold symbolic meanings and they do them in order to communicate these meanings to others, and they do various rituals in order to effect the behavior of others. There is a great deal in the social sciences which deal with these types of behavior.

figure 6.3

figure 6.4

Then there was a development called "Game Theory" which was proposed as an exact way to investigate, and predict, the way that people behave in certain structured situations. In such situations people do not communicate, but they obey certain more or less explicit rules which constrain the ways in which they behave, concretely and symbolically. Following it came also (Howard's) "Theory of Meta-Games" which allows for a certain amount of negotiations about the behavior and there are some rules about the rules of the game, including rules about changing the rules of a game. There are certain logical levels of rules of behavior within interaction.

figure 6.5

figure 6.6

Then there are also schools, mainly in psychology, about inter-personal transactions, or "Transactionism". Famous names include R.D. Laing and E. Berne. The latter created a widespread therapeutic "movement" called T.A., for Trans-Action. In these schools there is recognized a coherent center of beliefs, the P-Individual (to use Pask's not so common term) and many levels of interactions.

From here we can come to the constructs of Conversation Theory. This theory offers us a certain formalism to define the structures of interaction. The P-Individual is a multi-level structure of beliefs, controlling "Memories", which in turn control the "Concepts" with which the individual acts upon the environment. These entities have in this formalism certain distinctions between Right and Left side - the right effects certain parametric changes which affect the domain it thus controls and the left makes observations and judges this domain. These happen to correspond fairly well with the Kabbalistic notions of Right and Left. Generally, the concepts with which we operate are constrained by being our concepts. I cannot have just any way of doing things but I do them in "my way", with a characteristic style, which is consistent with my memories, with my upbringing and particular heritage. Yet I also have my system of beliefs, which can even modify, at times, the memories and habits. There can be communications along any of these three levels, including upon this higher level.

Conversation Theory is also characterized by putting much emphasis on externalization of the processes of communication and transactions and building various modeling facilities, recording media and explicit "Language processors" in which the transactions and multi-level communications processes become visible, so people can observe what is happening in the processes of learning or of interpersonal interaction. To the extent that we can build such modeling facilities for social processes and for cultural interactions, presumably we can overcome these  kinds of separation which I defined here as "the Tree of Death".

figure 6.7

figure 6.8

Now I come to the last paradigm, which was developed in my doctoral dissertation, which is called "Human Reconstruction". In this, two parties (which can be two sides in the same person) engage in interaction. (I did not mark the many lines of connections between them in this figure, but the idea is that) You can have all the levels of communications between them. Why I marked the middle line between them as "Line of Laughter" was explained in my presentation in the former Dead Sea conference. In short - humor is a kind of transcending discipline which allows to shake out of frozen or ossified behaviors which became barriers between us; and while each of the side lines is of an individual, the domain of "I-More", this middle line is the domain this potential of "You-More" in the Buberian I-Thou sense and "Humor" in the everyday sense. Also added in this paradigm is what I placed here at the top middle section, called "Redemptive Scenarios". These are some scenarios, connected with "transcendent values" about how we may overcome our conflicts, our interpersonal or intercultural conflicts. These can be "Messianic" or other types of scenarios which assert that this overcoming is at all possible. The existence of these common scenarios allows for new types of communications to take place and to form "Human Reconstruction", namely changes and innovations in the system of beliefs and allow the production of new understandings.

The checking, monitoring and production of understandings, the nurture of understandings, is very much the domain of Conversation Theory. Generally the social science disciplines and the common social observations look for accords, for agreements rather than for understandings. The conventional wisdom about conflict resolution is about how to build agreements. Conversation Theory makes explicit the structure of logical levels - agreements, understandings and beliefs. All of them can be reconstructed by appropriate means and procedures (which is not to say that they are equally easy, or that the means and procedures are equally known and available).

2. Ecological Health

Let us go now into the realm of ecology. Admittedly, "Ecology" is a certain buzzword nowadays, and it is around the word ecology that many of the new beliefs and belief systems - probably new religions - are emerging nowadays. It is worthwhile, apart from using it as a buzzword, to seek for substance in the notion of ecology. The way that animals and plants and nutrients and so forth interact with each other, can teach us a lot about how the mind works. In fact the cybernetic Conversation Theory regards the domain of the concepts that we hold as a mental ecosystem. There is a certain scientific use of terms of an "Ecology of Mind" which Bateson discussed, and its control principles in humans, and an "Ecology of Values" which Vickers discussed (Vickers, 196_). In other circles people may consider according to many traditions an "Ecology of Spirits" which interact. Conversation Theory uses the stratified domains of an ecology of concepts, an ecology of memories and an ecology of P-Individuals. So it should be possible to discuss "Spiritual Ecology" (Hayutman, 19__).

With these comments, we can now discuss what comprises Ecological Health and disease. For instance Odum, in a classical article about "The Strategy of Ecosystem Development", characterizes the stage of growth and stage of ecological succession. A mature ecosystem in the state of succession is very resilient to changes and perturbations, but it is not the kind of ecosystem that we, human beings, prefer. This is a system which takes care of itself, while we would rather have a system to exploit. Most of the energy circulating in it is kept in its large biomass, whereas we prefer to have agriculture, to have fast growth of very few types of plants with no animals to eat them, then harvest and exploit them before the system reaches the rich interconnectedness of a mature ecosystem.

To the extent that ecology is becoming a religion, it is worthwhile mentioning a mystic who was also a scientist, who is becoming a paragon of these new types of beliefs, whose name is Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard speaks about the whole global ecology building up and transforming itself, building beyond the natural ecology of the biosphere (this now common term was his invention) that surrounds the earth two additional spheres: one is what he called "the Technosphere", made of human inventions and products which fill up the environment. All these various machines are proliferating, and we know that they are often in conflict with natural species. We do not have tigers running here as they used to do some time past, because we made room for all our technical products instead. So there is the Technosphere, but then Teilhard speaks also about the additional "Noosphere". This is a very coherent sphere of mind and of cultural creations which is eventually growing around this planet and going to transform it, going to become a self-conscious entity encompassing the whole planet and all humankind.

So here is a figure that shows the formation of these three spheres around the earth, and identifying them with three "worlds" that the Kabbalah discusses: Olam Assiyah (world of Action) corresponding to the Biosphere, Olam Yetsirah (world of Formation) corresponding to the Technosphere, and Olam Bri'ah (world of Creation) corresponding to the Noosphere. And all these are connected by the structure of the Tree of Life as the agent for building up this Noosphere, because obviously the Noosphere, like the Technosphere, is being built by a particular type of animals, namely us humans, developing also the spheres of concepts and of memories and interacting with them and making new inventions thus forming the technosphere. These human animals have sense of identity and have self consciouseness. The identities interact, and new ones are created, and these create the Noosphere. Now each one of these special animals with the structures depicted here are us and our interactions. If we are whole, if we interact on all the levels of our being and all the channels from A to Z (as depicted here), if we open up all these various channels and remove the blocks to our interactions, then it is a matter of putting back the Tree of Life upon earth.

In saying this I am referring again to the mythological realm. What I am trying to show is that we have been recapitulating the story in Genesis through us growing this Tree over this planet. We have first regressed to the Tree of Knowledge and then the Tree of Death, and there are real threats of total death - nuclear war or global ecological disasters - but there is also a growth back, there is the growth of the Tree of Knowledge through our sciences to a holistic stature until this full Tree of Knowledge may reconstruct the Tree of Life and make the whole planet a success.

<add conclusions about developing holistic science and the whole stature of the "tree" of the Adam-Adamah relationship>

Contents  |  next section 3. Holistic Peace

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