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When matter takes on meaning


Thought for the Conference

It was gratifying to read in the reviews of the conference on International Law and the State of Israel at University College Cork by Deedee Halleck1 and David Collier2, that despite their disagreements, they were united in their critique of Thought for the Day. Thought for the Day consisted on the first day of a one minute silence; on the second day a three minute conversation with a neighbour; and on the third day drawing an analogy that Israel and Palestine should develop an organic justice, out of an inner human identity.

The conference showed the openness with which Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Israeli’s, lay people and academics could communicate. It also showed how law has historically protected the ownership of property while leaving outside the courtroom procedure the original status of colonial land. The challenge for the conference is more the hall of mirrors in which the debate happens. By replacing the names Judaism and Palestine with symbols which have no other meaning than their visible forms, “/” and “\”, this helps us see the distortion of these mirrors.

“/”understandably has not been able to face as a collective the pain of its historical past. It is almost unspeakable.  This first mirror is a concealment where “/” cannot talk of who it is, but can only refer to itself through the terrible wrong that has been done to it from outside. “\”discovers a collective identity in the safety of revealing a cause in justified reflection of and response to the concealment of the other side. The mirrors “/” and “\” lose sight of what is at issue, in this particular land with this particular people.

Thought for the Day is a reference to common values of silence, communication and transformation. These values are lost when we try to look at them through the complex mirrors that hide one set of behaviours within another set of behaviours within another. A deeper reflection is possible of who we are, when we do not try to understand ourselves through the mirror. The suggestion that “we are all equals” is often dismissed as “New Age” even by Deedee Halleck. My question to Dr. Atef Alshaer whether it was possible to realise an anthology of Hebrew and Arabic poetry on the experiential journey we are in together was almost beyond response for David Collier. The simple values of integral reality are lost in the division of identity in the faces of the mirror.

There is always a third shared reflection of “/\”, in which we know ourselves through the reality of the other and Thought for the Day gives us a moment to reflect on that.  



Cycle 3... The premise of Holistic Science is that the language of nature has to be wholly experienced and cannot be reduced to thought objects that become more real than the phenomena themselves.  Developing the practice of Goethe (1749-1832) the MSc in Holistic Science on which I teach, has run at Schumacher College since 1989. On 30th June 2016 we arrived in Tokyo for a six week tour, invited by Schumacher alumni and hosts Takuya Goto, Miho Koshimura and Mai Goto in Japan, Benjamin Butler in Korea and Ziwei Fan and He Longxiang in China.... read more here

Cycle 2... arriving in India, my deliberations are put in perspective in a bicycle rickshaw journey through a teaming street in Amritsar. Haring into the flow of traffic, the driver somehow projects a prayer or a meaning ahead of him that we should all survive the next manoeuvre, which always by some unexpected space appearing at the last minute, succeeds. Soon, after the tenth such clenching of teeth at imagined consequence, I decide to relax into a completely calm acceptance of the driver's method, after which I thoroughly enjoy each encounter he engages. While the west has an expertise to get particles in the Large Hadron Collider to collide, testing existence, I learn more in the way of the rickshaw trusting emptiness, how he did not collide.  

Cycle 1... As modern experiments such as those at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern and University College London’s Weak Measurement Tests, seek to penetrate into the heart of matter, a background story that is beginning to emerge is the parallel journey into the expression of meaning. Are we with our knowledge and science at a crossroads of how we integrate our understanding of matter into a wider question of meaning? The event brought together physicists, philosophers and poets around this question between matter and meaning, asked by Philip Franses in his book Time, Light and the Dice of Creation.

Travel with us cycle 1 of When Matter takes on meaning here...(pdf link)

Click diagram to travel cycle 1 of When Matter takes on Meaning

When Matter Takes on Meaning event at Swedenborg Society on November 24th 2015

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Time, Light and the dice of creation

A thought-provoking journey to discover the mysteries of the universe through physics.
This stimulating book unravels the knots that surround elusive concepts such as matter, chance, time, light, darkness, emptiness, and form. Explores how we as humans relate to time and the world around us. Floris Books

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The creative relation of whole and part


Philip Franses

Our starting point is a simple shift in the relation of whole to parts. Normally we imagine the whole as something already there and the parts as the logical constituents. This article follows a long tradition, where the whole comes into being through the part; and the part is representative of the whole. The whole and the part are in a dynamic interaction. There is no whole without the part, and no part without the whole. The relation of parts to the whole inhabits the novel, which is thereby given the means of expression.

Discover more about the creative relation of whole and part here (pdf link)