History behind Holism (Holistic living)

Disclaimer :

Following content is the compilation of research on ‘Holism’ from various sources and not my own content .The intention of this blog is to Emphasis on the concept of holism which began even before human civilization had formed and continues to be practiced today in many alternative medicinal practices

While I was researching on the history of ‘Holism’ I was amazed to discover the roots of holism interrelated with the ancient practice of ‘Yoga’ which was introduced by Saptarishis .Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between your mind, body and spirit.

The practice of yoga is believed to be have started even before the dawn of civilization, where religions and beliefs were yet to be born. So as per the Hindu scriptures it is believed that the very source of yogic tradition emerged on the banks of kanti sarover, a glacial lake in Himalayas, where Adi yogi ( Lord Shiva) through his realization poured out his profound knowledge in to the legendary Saptarishis ( Also called as the seven sages ). This sages are believed to have carried this powerful yogic science to different parts of the world .Fascinatingly the modern scholars have found parallels between the ancient cultures across the globe .

The former Defense minister ‘Manohar Parrikar’ rightly said while giving the mythological lessons to the defense scientists that the Sages of our countries back then were probably great scientists.

Coming to the history of ‘Holism’ during 20th century, the term holism is generally conceded to have coined by the South African Statemen Jan Smuts in 1926 as a way of viewing living a whole life and viewing body as a greater than the sum of their parts. It is interesting that although smuts coined the term ‘Holism’ early in the twentieth century it was not until recently that the word has found its way into the vocabulary not only of a social and health science but also of certain approaches to religion . The word holistic begins to appear mostly connected with health in the middle of 70s

During his undergraduate years in Cambridge, the subject of ‘Personality’ intrigued him a lot. He had even written a short study on “Evolution of Personality” but it never got published .Yet this subject continued to engage his attention at odd intervals in his life. Gradually he came to realize that personality was only a special case of much more universal phenomenon namely the existence of wholes and the tendency towards wholes and wholesome in nature.

He was Prime minister of South Africa from 1919 to 1924 and again from 1939 to 1948. Shortly after his first term as Prime minister he wrote and published his 3th book on “Holism and Evolution” in 1926 which introduced the concept of Holism and Holistic approach to life and health. It is a book neither of science nor of philosophy ,but of some point of contact between the two.

It was Smuts expressed conviction that a time would come when a true holistic and integrative approach to science would emerge .He believed that the compartmentalization of science into separate disciplines created both limitations to knowledge and understanding and the ability to deal with some of the worlds most intractable problems. He said this book might still come to be seen as one of the most important of the 20th century.

Albert Einstein had a deep affinity with Smuts as well. After he read ” Holism and Evolution” Einstein wrote that two mental models would guide human thought for the next millennials i.e Relativity and Holism.

In Smuts article on ‘Holism’ he says ‘ Eternity is contained in time ,matter is the vesture and vehicle of the spirit ,reality is not a transcendent or other wordly order, but is imminent in the phenomenal’

Today evolution, for most of the educated men and women is just as much part and parcel of their general outlook of their intellectual atmosphere, but the holistic approach to life is much more deeply in tune with everything that happens in the world around us that it naturally stirs something profound and satisfying within us .

Originally looked upon with great skepticism in the western world , holistic health has become so accepted today that a larger number of traditional medical groups include chiropractors ,acupuncturists and Reiki practitioners. As an approach to understanding systems holism is used in psychology as well as in other areas including medicine ,philosophy ,ecology ,and economics. In order to understand why people do the things they do and think the way they think ,holism proposes that it is necessary to look at the entire person rather than focus on just one aspect of the problem, it is necessary to recognize that various factors interact and influence each other. It is only when we take holistic approach we understand how all the pieces work together.

Time and again ‘Holism’ has been reinventing its roots through various studies inspite of various contradictory statements. Its time we understand and approach holistic living with a more open mind, the way this world is turning in to some dystopian society with the advent of deadly virus, we all need and deserve a desperate dose of emotional and physical wellbeing to beat the blues and bad energies created by the negative news around us.

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