for Youth

New Village:

The Modern Roots of Holism

The Ancient Roots of Holism


Holistic Politics


The American

The American Reconstruction

of City and Rural
Areas Authority

the Course,'
an education









Health Care








The Science

Upcoming 2013 Science Debates
Science & Economy and Solar Energy



"The adoption of a holistic worldview globally may represent humanity's greatest chance for a promising future to be shared by all." yasha husain














The New Village: Finding Holistic Solutions

From Chapter One, "Experiencing Holism"

Imagine feeling both totally grounded - and totally uplifted - at the same time. This is the promise of holism.

The essence of holism is the merging of the old with the new in a dance with nature that is on the one hand uniform, and on the other, chaotic.

Bringing otherwise polar realms together, holism might just be the missing link between the age we’re in, which is unfolding as an age of frustrating contradictions, and an age in which there is utter harmony between the past, present and future.

This future age would be defined by the application of widespread practical wisdom incorporated into inventive, peaceful uses of technologies and spiritual practices, in a world that is both flexible and intelligent, and built upon human insight combined with intuition.

But, what is holism? How will it make a difference?

Holism is the result of timeless, cultural wisdom that's inherent in us when we choose to access it and, too, it is the result of what is learned.

To understand holism in its totality, we reflect in this book on examples of extraordinary human achievement, achievement dreamt up and out of that sense of wonder we have for the world, and the people and animals in it.

What we learn is that it is actually in the journey of “becoming” that we all can discover the mystery behind making what is real whole, and what is sincerely wished for, come true. To think like the great holistic thinkers of our time we just have to be able to see whole, and act on our visions.

People are fortunate to see with great clarity, simplicity. That is, the simplicity before them that takes place in the family unit, community and earth’s natural surroundings.

Beyond that, in order to understand with accuracy the most complex of mathematical, scientific, philosophical, visual or sense-perception problems, people, too, must be able to relate to a series of simply understood hypotheses and equations.

People must be able to make sense of things they build abstractly and materially, as they are building, in a manner that ensures each step they endeavor to take on their journey makes as much sense as the one before. (This is a way to continually see whole, by way of the simple, using associations as we build!)

The “clarity” with which people build, however, can be difficult to place because what people know about what they do is only truly clear when understood wholly, and thus simply, and we are unfortunately living in a complex but, often times, fragmented world. It's a world in which there is a global village, but not the necessary ties between people and ideas for there to always be cohesiveness. The end result is less than holistic solutions.

The good news is that it is also a world touched by dynamic, accessible achievements born out of whole visions, created, as is the nature of things, from communities.

We as individuals, and members of communities, certainly don't need to be mathematical geniuses, inventors or heart specialists, in order to continually devise or utilize holistic solutions for our lives and world. Holism is available to anyone open to finding and following their true inner path.

With holism manifest, and it will hopefully become a worldview which is adopted this century, each person has what it takes to excel, and is empowered to live life without feeling torn to pieces, or out-of-sync, with his or her environment.

Holism does require a willingness to believe in the simplicity before us to help us carry on – in fact, holistic solutions mirror nature's simplicity in many ways.

Going forward, holism may also require taking back what has been lost when people have been deceived by clarity's imitation, so that people can, in the 21st century, build only that which is whole.

The Experience of Holism

I've experienced what it's like to be in surroundings that seem utterly whole and have been fortunate to be touched by people and places that were evidently, as I look back on my encounters with them, more holistic than I at the time of meeting. The evidence for this lay simply in the fact that after brief brushes with what represented holism, to me, I noticed how refreshed or inspired I'd become.

Think of going for a hike along a beautiful, awe-inspiring stretch of nature only to return later that day to the hustle and bustle of the city, or the slow pace of a uniform, small town. Usually, in the hours and days to come, one longs for a return to the sense of tranquility and wonder about nature that was experienced on the mountainside or riverside.

Now imagine that same sort of exaltation that’s experienced in nature's surroundings emanating from a person or place at home, school or work, in that city or town to which one has returned.

What happens after saying goodbye to that special person, or newly-discovered place, which has made you feel just a little bit lighter than you did before?

Is it a bit like saying goodbye to the mountain or river? Likely, there's a longing again for a deeper or extended connection with that unique sense of well-being or wholeness that was found.*

In these moments that are enveloped by grace, whether on a mountaintop, or in a favored locale of an inhabited city or town, alone or surrounded by people, and during points of discovery of what are life's truths and universals, holism breaks through.

It's now broken through for me time and again, and made me believe perceived barriers to progress and happiness might be transcended.

When experiencing holism, viscerally, emotionally and physically, it has the power to move and enlighten.

As a result, I've searched for it, without writing off what might be construed as momentary or chance, or trite and unimportant, such as the smile that someone wears, or the intricate design of an alternative architecture.

In a holistic minute, I would say from experience that what is so intriguing is the ease with which there is dynamism wrapped in the shrouds of all-encompassing thought. There is hanging in for the moment a centered state of peace, built upon awareness, that manages to reach out from a middle ground, and bring satisfaction to everybody in its fold.

The satisfaction stems from understanding.

The people involved in creating holistic minutes understand the workings of nature well enough to arrive at solutions that are increasingly competent. The energy they project is the result of the all-encompassing thought they've obtained through understanding, and it's like a springboard to both holistic thinking and being.

In holistic minutes, it's the near total understanding that creates a protective layering and grace.

Fortunately, holism manifests in many forms in everyday life and is not limiting to people who adopt or simply grasp it. It stands out only because it exists alongside a more fragmented world and can bring relief from it.

Solutions to the worst of today's problems, whether at home, in local communities or in the global village, exist within the framework of holistic thought and action. This is because people, when they have found themselves whole, and in whole environments, devise solutions that are whole, too. They see the big picture, and its potential for harmony, and act in light of it.

So harnessing what is essentially a rather simple psychology, the psychology of holism, could prove to be incredibly valuable for mending the diverse issues facing people today, including stemming from personal biases and technological shortfalls.

It's important to point out that holistic solutions, when applied, can be medicinal, yes, this is the aspect we're most familiar with, but they can also be political, scientific, technological, sociological and cross-cultural.

If holism becomes a common denominator in public and private affairs, I believe it will commence a very powerful shift in thinking and behavior, by effectively changing the way people traditionally use the 'power' within them as a bargaining chip – transforming that 'power', or capacity to innovate, into a means for open and peaceful development.

Now the question becomes how can people maintain such a positive way with so much work to get done in the world?

If the question is how, the answer has to become what is known.

By acknowledging “holism” as an underlying value that unites us, the shared understanding about the world that holism manifests will translate into productive and timeless efforts benefiting the whole circle of life.

What is learned, understood and applied tomorrow, which is holistic by nature, will still benefit society 1000s of years from now, just like holistic wisdom from 1000s of years ago still benefits people today.

In holistic settings, work will be done as a result of a deep sense of respect for the kinds of works produced, which answer to the whole. Learning will be ongoing, and so too, spiritual growth. Shared, overlapping interests will create friendships and working relationships amongst and between groups. Meanwhile, the maintenance of individual rights and liberties born out of democracy will remain in tact and help facilitate serenity in each person and family unit, about past, present and future.

Holism, the right of individuals to continue to live and act wholly, can ultimately be adopted into a worldview with positive consequences, even as the notion of holism itself won't take center stage, but the people, their surroundings and their dreams that manifest it, will.

An example of people and their dreams taking center stage is Nader Khalili, a visionary earth and space architect I met and began to write articles about, who's featured in this book. Ever since I had the opportunity to meet Khalili, in 1999, where he lived and worked on the outskirts of a small town at the edge of the Mojave Desert, in southern California, I've thought that holism first and foremost emanates from a person who, as a result of his or her heightened perception of the world, doesn't intend to and doesn't hurt others, but to the contrary, because of his or her deep level of understanding, only lifts people up in spirit.

The perception of a whole person is a respectful one, respectful of others and their needs, and that perception leads a whole being to become by nature a symbiotic brother/sister, teacher/listener, giver/taker, all for peaceful means, and to all.

I witnessed Khalili live life, and live it joyfully, and because of what I witnessed I was moved enough to take on this book. At his architectural site in the Mojave, the atmosphere of which I describe in the second part of the book, I brushed up with holism again and again, through Khalili's presence, but also the presence of those who came and partook in the spirit and practicality of his buildings, and through the prototypical buildings themselves.

Incidentally, Khalili devoted the second half of his life to developing affordable, earthen architectures suitable to the poor and homeless, but that would befit the rich and middle classes, too. The results of his dedication to a cause, wanting to design and build reliable, adobe homes for the poor in his native country of Iran, but the world over too, is that his holistic buildings combine ancient and modern know-how; are earthquake-, flood-, fire-, and wind-resistant; should remain standing for a 1000 years or more; utilize earth, not wood; can be built quickly, by members of small groups after they receive minimal training; and all of it for minimal amounts of money.

Khalili's story is one of extraordinary human achievement, but if not for his holistic lifestyle, none of it would have been possible. He had to experience the natural stages of development and only by mid-career did he step back from his position, working for and running a competitive, mainstream architectural firm, to see things more simply again. When he saw things simply, he could experience the breakthroughs he went on to make in design and architecture.

Stories like Khalili's, though extraordinary, at the same time represent the universal potential for holism today, and in the future, if it is adopted into a worldview.

My hope, simultaneously, is, and it's been the hope of thinkers past and present, that more people are better able to achieve the holistic lifestyle starting at earlier ages, in this century and for centuries unending.

Rather than waiting until midlife for a transformative experience to come that inspires one to act on the accumulation of wisdom, and holistic moments, that is the attainment to self-realization, with communications between youth being what they are today, so interconnected and nonstop, and by extension, education and understanding is increased, it seems plausible that the underlying, but dynamic, concept, holism, may have a chance, in the modern era, of surfacing sooner on in each person's intellectual development, quite simply as a result of an evolving worldview, enriched by that which reflects what is whole.

By people experiencing and re-experiencing what holism offers, chiefly, love, respect, understanding, forgiveness, trust, truth and creativity, through its continued adoption, it may regularly manifest in 'the individual, the community, man-made works and the environment.' But it's through the experience, first, that we come to recognize holism in all of its myriad forms and learn how to adopt it ourselves.

*We find, too, these moments of exaltation come from our inner selves being in touch with the other, or ocean, or outer world, and likely have, on and off, since we were young. We each experience epiphanies or revelations about “the whole world” that foster a holistic future. Because the experience of holism is a draw itself, when we feel and sense it, it's something about which we naturally want more. When I was a little girl I spent a morning with my mom in a ravine at a local shrine, where I found myself spinning in circles in the grass, looking up at the tall trees, and I experienced an epiphany there, probably by the age of five. I felt one with the sky and earth, in rapture with the joy life, in its totality, brought. What happened that day always stayed with me as a comfort and example of what I would like to experience more from life. In that instance, though I was surrounded by nature, my growth experience was also inner-derived. The moments of discovery that are also inner-derived come to us spontaneously, but in holistic settings, and stay with us forever.

From Chapter Two, "Defining Holism":

To Do and To Be Cultures

The Cultural Continuum of To Do and To Be cultures is described in the 2008 book, co-authored by Dr. Gary Weaver and Adam Mendelson, America's Midlife Crisis, The Future of a Troubled Superpower.

Weaver, a professor in the School of International Service at The American University, Washington, D.C., who's my old professor, has for a long time used the Continuum to help explain contrasting values between world cultures.

The Continuum works in the following way: You start with perpendicular lines. Along the horizontal line, all of the cultures of the world are listed. To the left of the vertical, or dividing, line, you have the To Do cultures, and to the right of the vertical line, the To Be cultures. Those cultures that have less pronounced To Do and To Be attributes fall closer toward the middle point, where perpendicular lines meet, while those that are more extreme To Do or To Be cultures, are a further distance from the center.

According to Weaver, To Do cultures can be defined by the words: 'self-reliance, individual achievement, earned status, equality, independence, individual competition, guilt, the future, immediate family and class mobility.'i These cultures tend to be motivated around individualist actions taken toward progress which are often propelled by personal dreams or ambitions. To Do folks may think 'outside-of-the-box' to come up with sometimes highly inventive solutions and in order to make their unique contribution to society. People in To Do cultures also tend to anticipate rewards and acknowledgment, and potential for earning profits.

Conversely, To Be cultures, Weaver says, can be described using the following words: 'ascribed status, affiliation, stability, extended family, reliance on others, interdependence, cooperation, collectivism and past or heritage.'ii People in To Be cultures tend more to think by feeling, instead of in abstract terms. They're busy being. Instead of imagining what life would or should be like, they tend to go out and live it. Extreme To Be folks, for example, don't define themselves by how many and what kind of books they've read or written, or awards on paper they've accumulated over the years, nor is their worth based on the amount of money they have sitting in the bank. To Be people also think primarily in associative terms and non-linearly, and tend to be more physical and alive in the moment.

Along the continuum, the To Do cultures that think more linearly, and in the abstract, such as America and Germany, would be placed far to the left of the vertical line. The people of these countries are typically very punctual, ambitious, independent-minded and goal-oriented. The cultures of say, Greece and Kenya, on the other hand, would fall somewhere to the right of the continuum, and are more To Be. In these nations, there's greater interdependence between people, a higher degree of a collectivist spirit, and more frequently, ascribed status.iii

To Do and To Be cultures with less extreme To Do and To Be attributes, like Greece and Kenya, fall closest to the middle point. There's likely a melding of both cultural types toward the center of the continuum.

But within each nation's culture, too, there are subcultures that may, regardless of the nation's overall cultural imprint, fit anywhere to the right or left of the continuum, or on the middle point.

For example, an urbane youth in America is more likely to be To Do-oriented, while an elderly American living in the countryside could easily be considered To Be, based on lifestyles and local traditions. Generally, urban cultures present To Do type personalities, and rural settings, To Be folks.iv Still, as an exception to that rule, you can also find a construction worker, carpenter, fireman, caregiver or nurse, living in the city, who values and takes on many To Be attributes, and an attorney, writer or intellectual, living in the countryside, who's more of an abstract thinker and utilizes today's digital technologies to communicate with people who are less remote than him or herself.

It's worth noting that for decades modern American and To Do attributes have been adopted by nations looking to develop into advanced countries - so much so that it can now be viewed as a struggle to uphold the ancient wisdom of the past, of all nations and peoples, in light of the pressures of modernization. This book takes part, not exclusively, but assuredly, in the discussion related to ancient wisdom where and when it merges with modern, to produce holistic solutions.

It's a topic which can be addressed, too, using the Cultural Continuum of To Do and To Be cultures.

In the end, Weaver's continuum is a simple means for differentiating between varying ways of doing and being, thinking and feeling, attributable to culture. It can be helpful for understanding what makes diverse cultures, and the people partially defined by them, tick.

Where the two distinct cultural types, To Do and To Be, find the most convergence, toward the middle point of the continuum, may be where we're increasingly headed in the 21st century, and so the logic in coming to know each type, as well as their potential for convergence.

Culture, in any case, serves to help us define why we think, feel and act the way we do, and as a result, can help us come to terms with what we know to be true, so that we are better able to become whole.

People can find where they fit along the cultural continuum, and from this vantage point, hone the place where they and their country are at, and potentially, in time, where they will move to.

From Chapter Three, "Holism and Current Affairs"

With certain technical advances on Smuts' holism, systems theory and cybernetics went a long way to advance holism in select circles.

Systems Theory takes nature's consistently co-dependent or synergistic actions and ideally traces them, systematically, in accordance with the definition of holism, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Using complex mapping of inputs that mimick naturally-occurring feedback loops, systems theory attempts to cover the ins and outs of culture and the human persona, both, and the ins and outs of interactions that take place in nature, or nature's cycles, too. Systems Theory was intended to not miss out on the physical, emotional or spiritual realities, and the interactions that take place between what a culture labels and categorizes as specializations. If Systems Theory is used smartly, it can enlighten what we know to be true about Self, our planet and the Universe, as everything to be understood by it should be perceived according to its whole, with the caveat that by way of mapping inputs and outputs alone, without the full use of the senses merged with the work of systems theory, the work itself may still miss out on the sum being greater than its parts, the completeness of the emotional, physical and spiritual realms.

Systems theory, and its partner, cybernetics, received more clout than Smuts' organic ideas, which they also built on, and their uses were widespread across fields, from the military to computers, to business, to psychotherapy. In the strictest terms, systems theory and cybernetics describe whole visions of systems by mapping them as self-regulating networks that use feedback loops to self-correct.i The complex systems being mapped become a series of inputs which represent the relationships, or the feedback loops, between parts.

The organizing principle by which systems are mapped is always the same, and is not dependent on what kind of parts make up the whole, only on the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, making it so systems theory and cybernetics can be universally applied to different disciplines. Systems may be physiological, encompassing climate science, global and local ecosystems, and our bodies; or they may be cultural, and involve human cognitive properties. Systems may also be part machine and part human. The Internet is an example of a network of feedback loops that are part human and part machine. It operates upon the sharing of information between different ports, not to be confused with the fact there are not yet community interfaces manipulating the Internet, but only individualized ones.

In nature, a simple example of a feedback loop system is a frog knowing just when to stick its tongue out to catch a fly. It sees the fly and feedback from its brain tells it to open its mouth and stick out its tongue. Once it's caught the fly, it knows to close its mouth again. A man or woman steering a sailboat, using cues from the immediate environment, is another example of a feedback system.ii In climate science, carbon accumulating in the atmosphere ushers in warming in yet another feedback loop.

The parts of the system essentially act in relationship to one another based on information inputs from the whole environment so that the total relationships in a network, described by inputs, or feedback loops, comprise systems theory or cybernetics, representing as near to the whole as possible. Well-devised systems theories and series of cybernetic feedback loops, because they are representative of the whole of a system, allow whole solutions to systematic challenges to arise.

According to the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science, “The General System Theory was a kind of mental tool for allowing humans to realize that humanity could no longer afford to ignore the fact that all humans are located on Earth as if it were a spaceship system. R. Buckminster Fuller compared humanity to an unhatched baby bird that has eaten all its readily available nutrient and must now break out of its shell to live: “We are faced with an entirely new relationship to the universe. We are going to have to spread our wings of intellect and fly or perish.””

General Systems Theory “envisioned the biosphere as a whole with mutually reinforcing or mutually destructive interdependencies.”iii

But according to Bertalanffy, systems theory originator, people could choose to be mutually reinforcing parts in relationship to the whole.

In their article “Systems Theories: Their Origins, Foundations and Development” (1998) Alexander Laszlo and Stanley Krippner describe more recent approaches to systems theory that are advances on the work of Bertalanffy. One is called systems design. It seeks to have solutions emerge from a whole vision of an entity and an understanding of “a situation as a system of interconnected, interdependent and interacting problems.” Systems design endeavors to allow for a design of the future that's based on the “informed understanding of the dynamics that govern evolutionary systems.” An important aspect of it is the implication that we take responsibility for the “creation of the future” in “co-evolutionary interdependence with our social and physical environment.” It can be viewed as a technical approach to incorporating the human side of holism.

According to the article by Laszlo and Krippner:iv

Systems design is participatory by nature: significant social change can be brought about only if those who are most likely to be affected by it participate in soliciting it, and choose how it is to be implemented. Since in societal systems human beings are the critical factor, change must necessarily both emanate from and incorporate them. Systems design advocates anticipatory democracy, where people actively apply their skills to the analysis and design of socially and ecologically sustainable systems by becoming active participants in shaping their future. Groups of people engaged in purposeful systems design form an evolutionary learning community, and such communities make for an emergence of a culture of evolutionary design.

Evolutionary systems design is yet another recent trend in systems theory. It “seeks to develop 'evolutionary competence.' Evolutionary competence refers to the state of self-actualization (of individuals and groups) that is marked by the mastery of the knowledge, the abilities, the attitudes, and the values required for co-evolutionary actions, and therefore, for the pursuit of sustainable modes of being. Modes of being concern both the products and the processes of change in terms of the degree to which they are:v

-socially desirable

-culturally acceptable

-psychologically nurturing

-economically sustainable

-technologically feasible

-operationally viable

-environmentally friendly

-generationally sensitive

Through observing these elements of an operating whole, the process of development (individual, societal or global) can be said to be “evolutionary” when there's a degree of adaptation, or an adaptive strategy, which goes to serve the “continual maintenance of an increasingly robust and supportive environment.”vi

Systems theory was well-funded by the US government in the 1970s but lost its funding in the 1980s, and ultimately fell into the realm of a handful of scientists still pursuing its goals.vii

Alternately, cybernetics, long a tool of the US militaryviii was instrumental in developing the Internet. Cybernetics, too, inspired the likes of many famous figures, including Margaret Mead, the renowned anthropologist known for the quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”ix

Modern science still puts greater emphasis on specializations that are influenced by reductionism. The furthest promise for systems theory and cybernetics lay in their ability to devise whole systems from which more holistic solutions can emerge. This may prove fruitful for tackling global warming and environmental pollution, natural resource shortages and poverty. The two theories lay out the possibilities for a future course that may be utopian. They are certainly holistic when understood according to their birthright. For their fulfillment, they require people attain to understanding that equivalently, implicitly, requires people live and experience the holistic life.

From Chapter Four, "Nader Khalili and his Superadobe Architecture"


Amidst the challenges of growing up relatively poor, surrounded by the love of family, yet where typical neighborly skirmishes between boys erupted, there was the genuine search for whole answers. The young search, which revealed the architect's way, involved an appreciation for both schoolwork and the incorporation of the timeless wisdom of the country's famous poets. It involved, too, an admiration for the artfulness of mosques, particularly what they conveyed, their truths.

Khalili's childhood and teen years provide a lot of insight into the trajectory the visionary's life took.

His youth also represented a connection to the land and the people that would never be forgotten by Khalili, not in the years when he journeyed as an architect alone through the desert of Iran, this period only reinforcing the connection, and not when he moved to the United States and worked with prototypes in the desert region of southern California. He formed strong bonds too with the people of Iran, during his five-year motorcycle journey. And while in the American Southwest, he also formed strong bonds, there, firstly with the many races and diverse cultural identities, but also with the Native Americans of the region, feeling a certain kinship to them, since they were reminders of the people he'd known at home.

In Iran, at the time of his youth, there weren't upper, middle and lower classes, but the divisions described by Khalili ran between the “one-thousand-families” class, the “civil servant” class, and “the rest of the people” class. The first included the royal family, and laid claim to much of the wealth of the nation. Civil servants, by way of their service, were seen as connected to the one-thousand-families. Their social status was often higher than their income. While merchants frequently made more, it would typically be to a civil servant's family you would want to marry your daughter. As long as civil servants fulfilled their duties, Khalili wrote, they would receive fringe and retirement benefits, and wouldn't be fired. The rest of the people class is self-explanatory, it comprised the remainder of society, living in 65,000 villages and cities of Iran. Khalili's family was among the latter group.i

Back in his old neighborhood, in Tehran, Khalili lived in a modest house he helped build with his mother, father, grandmother and seven of nine siblings, the oldest daughter having married and moved away.

As reflected upon in Sidewalks on the Moon:ii

Our slice of neighborhood from early childhood was poor but not a slum. In Tehran, like most cities in the Third World, slums as they are known in the West don't exist. There are many poor neighborhoods, but each has very strict internal moral codes. A woman, for example, would be safer at night there than she would in large American cities. However, with all the group moral codes, many neighborhoods harbored behaviors viewed sometimes as primitive in other societies, in relation to religion, for example.

Khalili's childhood neighborhood in Tehran, filled as it was with tradition and love, was also, on the part of groups of boys who were riled up, mostly about soccer matches, a place where there was an excuse to have occasional heated disagreements, and even fist fights. Khalili, and friends from his 'block' who formed a team, would usually venture over to nearby neighborhoods to find teams to play against, and find any good patch of neighborhood to play in, be it a half broken-down house or empty lot (there were only one or two 'bonafide' grass fields that Khalili could remember).

Disagreements would usually be sparked, or a spirited fight would ensue, when it came time for one side to admit defeat and sign on the dotted line that they'd lost. This is something no team ever wanted to do. In order that they wouldn't be found out, and punished for fighting, there was a ritual that spanned generations, of wearing beat-up tee-shirts called "war-shirts," that could be torn and then hidden by the boys, from their parents.

Both proverbial sides respected the war-shirt tradition, being that the kids in these neighborhoods only had one good set of clothes, and no one wanted their respectable outfit to get damaged.

Of the hours Khalili spent with his friends, getting into trouble via superficial arguments with neighbors, one memory in particular would forever stand out:

He and his friends, while about a half-hour from their home, were in a fight with a bunch of kids from a school with a long and unfamiliar name, and a few of their shirts were torn. These kids didn't know or follow the war-shirt rule. Soon, a man on a bike rode by the boys, whose pride, for the most part, had been injured, and to add insult to injury, he yelled out, to the one and only child who was physically hurt, and crying:iii

Hey. You, chicken-hearted baby, all of you, shame on you. You were just beaten up by a bunch of Jews.

One of the kids asked how the man knew the boys were Jews. And the man responded, by the name of their school.

All the adults knew, only these children, according to the man, didn't realize the boys they'd just been beaten up by were Jews.

The kids couldn't even pronounce the long name of the school. Now for the first time their fight took on a new meaning. In the adult slang they knew, Joohood, Jewish, meant “chicken-hearted or stingy,” making it all the more important that the boys make up for the loss.

Within minutes, Khalili and his friends spotted a boy with a leather backpack walking down an alleyway. The injured boy among the group responded: There, look at his school bag. He is a Jew, I swear!

The boy with the bag began to run.

Right away, Khalili's friends started to run after the boy, and Khalili, being the fastest, was first to catch him and pin him to the wall. Soon enough, the kids were punching the boy's face and stomach. The injured boy from Khalili's crew tore the innocent boy's shirt, and he began to cry out:vii

Why are you beating me? What have I done?

You are a Jew, one youth yelled.

What can I do?, was the response.


Why are you a Jew?

My father and mother made me a Jew. It wasn't my fault. Believe me, he said, as he cried.

Khalili was quite sure amongst those identified as the other kids in his own neighborhood, some or one of them must have been a Jew, but they'd never been identified in that way before.

The 13-year-old Khalili began to recognize how wrong it was to beat up or gang up on someone because they were a Jew. He didn't know either, at that age, like the boy receiving the beating, how a Jew might become a Muslim or a Muslim become a Jew, though the boy with the bag swore he would become a Muslim to stop the beating.

Khalili, first amongst the kids to do it, chose to stop the confrontation as fast as he could. He told himself it must be a sin, what they are doing, and moved to protect the boy by jumping in front and claiming he'd been the one to catch him. Still finding an excuse to save the boy, he said something like:x

I know the boy's father owns a pharmacy that my father knows of. His uncle is a colonel in the armed forces.

Look, look, his uncle is coming, let us run!

The stories Khalili told stopped the event as quickly as it could be stopped.

Khalili's friends all ran in one direction, while the boy ran in the other.

Not ironically, this wasn't long before Khalili began, intellectually-speaking, to question religion, the questioning persisting into his late teens, by which time many important answers would unfold.

One thing that took up even more of Khalili's free time in his early years was reading. Khalili excelled from a young age in intellectual pursuits.

When he was a boy, Khalili’s ability to memorize and harmonically chant the Koran won him recognition at school. By his teens, he'd already read and studied the world's great poets and philosophers.

His grandmother also pushed him to learn and memorize the ancient poetry verses of their land. She was illiterate though she chanted the Koran and knew by heart thousands of Persian poems, which she'd recite for Khalili at night before bed, or more spontaneously, when the words of the great poets seemed to fit the mood of the 'everything'-room in their crowded house.

It was a long and narrow room without the customary furniture of Western homes, in which nearly everything took place. The wall of the everything-room in fact grew to signify a mini-comfortable abode and Khalili and his siblings would create many different ways to sit against the wall, sitting crossed-legged, laying on their backs with their legs in the air, and so on, making the room, again always filled with love, but sometimes also arguments, a permanent fixture.

Khalili would less often be called upon in the midst of his studying, while in that room, to do chores. His parents would often leave him and his brother to study, asking other children to take on a share of the chores instead.

So it was as an example of the grandmother reciting poignant poetry in the house, that one day, as Khalili studied physics and mathematics in a corner of the busy room, his grandmother encouraged him to learn something "useful," which meant, the holy book, or, lines amongst the 1000s of classic verses of the country's great poets, Rumi, Hafiz and Saadi, among them.

“It will help you all your life,” she would say.xii It was to impress upon Khalili that poems were useful that she began reciting the verse:xiii

Have you ever heard of a person who is present, and absent, at the same time?

I am amidst the crowd, but my heart is somewhere else.

In such an environment, the only way to learn is to get lost. “To be absent while being present.” And that is what Khalili learned. He later had trouble understanding the necessity for a writer to be isolated in order to write. He'd write surrounded by people also active with busy days, whether they were answering calls, attending to family, worrying about getting taxes done, or cooking, washing and vacuum cleaning, this all going on all around.xiv

Of the thousands of verses his grandmother culled from, many were infused by spiritual longing awoken by the loving condition.

Khalili lovingly mocked his grandmother, exclaiming how what he studied was all modern stuff that she didn't understand, and adding anyone could memorize these lines of poetry.

But he was, nonetheless, incredibly moved by the poetry, taken by it whenever she would interrupt him long enough for him to pay attention.

While he sometimes jokingly rebuked his grandmother's advice to put down the school books long enough to recall lines of the famous Persian poets, the poets she loved added tremendously to the 'knowledge' he obtained.

Khalili was so strongly affected by the classics and poetry itself, that by 17 he was inspired to try writing himself, envisioning he might even make a living at it. Part of the journey of the next leg of his life then involved what Khalili, for so much of his life engaged in, reaching out to other shores, to discover the truths that lie there, to inform his own mind and senses, and writing.

He set out on a trip at 17, a long bus ride away from home, without telling his parents where he was going. He was traveling to the city of Shiraz to visit the shrines of the Persian poets, Hafiz, who'd never left his hometown of Shiraz, and Saadi, who as Khalili put it, had an 'inner fire that burned like his feet blistered by the desert roads.'xv His only disappointment was that he couldn't go to Rumi’s shrine in Turkey, since he was too young to obtain a passport. But Hafiz and Saadi, alone, were a great inspiration.

On the bus journey, Khalili met a conservative clergy member in black robes and struck up an empassioned conversation about religion and poets. He meanwhile didn't miss out on the signs of diversity within his own culture, for example, people, more from the countryside, dressing in bright colors, as opposed to grays and blacks.

In retelling the conversation with the clergyman, Khalili wrote how in Persia secular and clergy always bought Hafiz' book and argued over it, unable to decide if he was prophet, saint or sinner. Did his words refer to the love of god or women; did wine translate to holy water? As a 17-year-old, on the bus trip to Shiraz, Khalili, skeptical of religion at the time himself, proved his own knowledge of the Koran to a skeptical clergy member. He stood up for himself, a lover of poetry:xvi

My grandmother wanted me to become a clergyman like you. And as a matter of fact, I was given an award for chanting the holy book with beauty and skill in school.

But he went on to include, he'd studied philosophy and science, too.

Khalili referred to, in particular, Sadegh Hedayat. Hedayat in time became an opium addict and killed himself. But his writing always translated to truths about life, Khalili felt, otherwise seldom heard.

Why did Hedayat die young? Khalili, who didn't use drugs of any kind himself, couldn't say. Why should his writings, reflections of truths about life, not be read, Khalili had less of an answer for, and argued we can't judge what we can't understand. Yet the writings speak for themselves, as do, presumably, the verses of Hafiz' poetry.

Khalili next remarked about the work of Maurice Maeterlinck:

Who says humans are at the top of the heirarchy of life, that we are the highest beings in God's creation, so that we may judge, and not in accordance with nature?

Maeterlinck studied insects and how they organize themselves, one to the other, in civilized ways.

Khalili and the clergyman arrived in the holy city of Qum where they would part, the first leg of the young man's bus journey being over. The clergyman made a point of telling the young Khalili how impressed he was with the many poems and philosophers that he quoted from memory, but how he wished too he could stay with him on his journey, not leaving him alone.

While in Qum, Khalili visited a beautiful, ancient mosque, whose silver-clad doors had been touched by so many passing pilgrims and worshippers that they were worn smooth by hands enfolding their surface, kissing lips and rubbing cheeks.

The sensation of touching those doors is filled with human love.

Inside the shrine, there were thousands of tiny, reflecting mirrors and plays on the natural light that could make eyes dance like moonlight does.

The shrine incidentally held many innocent childhood dreams for Khalili.

The people praying within swayed, moving their torsos, back and forth. In front of one of the panels was a man reciting from the prayer book, and the men and women behind him repeated his words.

During his brief time in Qum, Khalili also witnessed three boys taking money from a tombstone late in the day, at one of the shrine's he visited, and decided to help protect them escape persecution, which might have been a long imprisonment or beating to death, perhaps not so unlike in Les Miserables, in which the lead character goes to jail for 20 years, and does hard labor, for having stolen a loaf of bread as a hungry boy.

When a clergyman entered the space they all happened to be in, Khalili struck up a conversation so he would be distracted and not see the boys. Khalili would just afterward chase after the boys, mostly out of curiosity, wondering why they'd done something he would think is unthinkable. Khalili always sought understanding.

As a child, Khalili had tested the limits of his own fear by going to graveyards at night, and occasionally jumping in freshly dug graves again and again. Yet, to take from a holy shrine was not something in his vocabulary, just like it wasn't in him, he revealed, to beat up a boy because he was a Jew.

Khalili's youthful rebellion was of a different kind than the three boys. It amounted to him questioning his religion's codes.

While in Qum, he rebelled by just once not adhering to the typical mannerisms of Muslims when he was told to, upon entering the shrine. But even as he entered, he still took the time to appreciate the giant shrine doors, that as a kid he liked to feel, with their indentations of impressions left over by many years of people visiting the holy place.

At another stop before arriving at his destination, Khalili witnessed something reminiscent of his early youth, the neighborhood Jahel, which is a word that literally translates to ignorant and uneducated, but it is the name for a cowboy-like figure in Iran who is simultaneously known as an enforcer of moral codes.xxix

In Khalili's youth, a neighborhood Jahel came and stopped the beating of two dogs found copulating in the street. Two local shopkeepers, with sticks, began beating the dogs. Khalili would otherwise have not questioned the actions of the local shopkeepers, except for this public beating which seemed to him grossly unfair, since both the dogs were innocent, and the type of punishment, cruel.xxx

For Khalili, lessons for life came from many sources of truth that instilled his faith and wisdom.

He'd held tight, too, to his learned embrace of his God, he'd 'wrapped in silken cloth', since his earliest years, even despite a new penchant for questioning what prejudices were not truth, and that embrace remained to be reflected in everything.

For, even amidst his period of rebellion, or questioning, as a teenager, he continued to sit up at night and pray to and consult with his God, between his favorite hours for thought, two and four in the morning.xxxi These, he wrote, were hidden hours in the middle of the night that led to many epiphanies and new directions.

Later he admitted his father's daily prayers were the simplest and most effective communication with God, even as he continued his searches to discover truths and answers in those late hours.xxxii

Khalili, at 17, was ultimately feeling out his oats. He wrote, as well, that what he did in this period was to 'question established values, fight superstitions and break away from many required behaviors'.xxxvi


From Chapter Two:

iWeaver, Gary R. and Adam Mendelson, America's Mid Life Crisis, The Future of a Troubled Superpower (Boston: Intercultural Press, 2008) 107.

iiWeaver and Mendelson, 107.

iiiWeaver and Mendelson, 106-107.

ivWeaver and Mendelson, 106.

From Chapter Three:

iWikipedia contributors. "Systems theory." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Jun. 2012. Web. 28 Jun. 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_

iiHari Kunzru, “You Are Cyborg,” WIRED, 1993, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02

iii“Systems Theory: 'To Envision the Biosphere as a Whole,' and 'General System Weltanschauung',” Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science. http://www.bertalanffy.org/system-theory/general-system-weltanschauung/.

ivAlexander Laszlo and Stanley Krippner, “Systems Theories: Their Origins, Foundations, and Development,” J.S. Jordan (Ed.), Systems Theories and A Priori Aspects of Perception (Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 1998) Ch. 3, 47-74. Manuscript version submitted for publication in 1997. 20. http://archive.syntonyquest.org/

vAlexander Laszlo and Stanley Krippner, “Systems Theories: Their Origins, Foundations, and Development,” J.S. Jordan (Ed.), Systems Theories and A Priori Aspects of Perception (Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 1998) Ch. 3, 47-74. Manuscript version submitted for publication in 1997. 21-22. http://archive.syntonyquest.org/elcTree

viAlexander Laszlo and Stanley Krippner, “Systems Theories: Their Origins, Foundations, and Development,” J.S. Jordan (Ed.), Systems Theories and A Priori Aspects of Perception (Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 1998) Ch. 3, 47-74. Manuscript version submitted for publication in 1997. 21-22. http://archive.syntonyquest.org/elcTree

viiJohn Michael Greer, “The Political Ecology of Collapse, Part Two: Weishaupt’s Fallacy,” The Archdruid Report, December 16, 2009, http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com

viiiAntoine Bousquet, “Cyberneticizing the American war machine: science and computers in the Cold War,” Cold War History, Vol. 8, No. 1, February 2008, 77-102, http://birkbeck.academia.edu/Antoine

ix“Foundations: The Subject of Cybernetics, History of Cybernetics, Chapter 2, The Coalescence of Cybernetics,” American Society for Cybernetics, Jun. 30, 2012. http://www.asc-cybernetics.org/foundations/history2.htm.

x“Systems Movement,” Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science, Jun. 30, 2012. http://www.bertalanffy.org/system-theory/system-movement/.

xiJohn Michael Greer, “The Political Ecology of Collapse, Part Two: Weishaupt’s Fallacy,” The Archdruid Report, December 16, 2009, http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.

From Part II, Chapter Four:

iNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 25-26.

iiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 27.

iiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 26, 29-31.

ivNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 26, 29-31.

vNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 26, 29-31.

viNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 26, 29-31.

viiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 26, 29-31.

viiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 26, 29-31.

ixNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 26, 29-31.

xNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 26, 29-31.

xiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 26, 29-31.

xiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 192-193.

xiiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 192-193.

xivNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 193.

xvNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 44.

xviNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 10.

xviiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 9.

xviiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 12-13.

xixNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 13.

xxNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 13.

xxiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 13.

xxiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 20.

xxiiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 19.

xxivNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 20.

xxvNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 20.

xxviNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 21.

xxviiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 23.

xxviiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 7.

xxixNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 40.

xxxNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 39.

xxxiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 322.

xxxiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 322.

xxxiiiNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 80-81.

xxxivNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 81.

xxxvNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 82-83.

xxxviNader Khalili, Sidewalks on the Moon (Hesperia, California: Cal-Earth Press, 1994) 40.

The New Village: Finding Holistic Solutions
will be available soon.