A Quest for Wholeness: Weaving a Rich Tapestry Interleaving Science, the Arts and the Sacred

poster for Pari Center's Longing for Wholeness

This is an excerpt from one of the presentations featured in the Pari Center’s event Longing for Wholeness, in Pari from August 27 to September 3, 2024.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~ Jalal ad-Din Rumi

The human quest for understanding and meaning transcends disciplines, bringing together the seemingly disparate realms of science, arts, and spirituality. Each offers a unique lens through which we seek wholeness, a fundamental state of completeness and harmony. This presentation will explore how these three domains—science, arts, and the sacred—though distinct, share a profound connection in their pursuit of wholeness, addressing our deepest yearnings for understanding, beauty, and a connection to something greater than ourselves. 

Drawing on notable contributors to this human quest across the ages and spaces, including Johann Sebastian Bach, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung and Teilhard de Chardin, this presentation will consider the synergistic nature of the different realms in the human quest for wholeness. It will be shown how, together, they offer a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the world and our place within it, addressing our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs.

The second part of the session will take the form of a Bohm Dialogue, which will give participants the opportunity to reflect on what the quest for wholeness means for them, and to listen to what others have to say. The initiating question will be: How can we, individually and in community, satisfy our longing for wholeness in ways that will lead to the healing of ourselves, wider society and the planet? The intention is that a deeper wisdom and understanding of ourselves will emerge from the dialogue. 

Dr Joan Walton is a researcher in the School of Education, Language and Psychology at York St John University. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Scientific and Medical Network, a member of the Galileo Commission Steering Group, the Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Network for the Study of Spirituality, and an Honorary Research Fellow for the Alef Trust. Joan has had an interest in the intersections of science, the arts and spirituality since her late teens. Her PhD, completed at a later stage of her career, was a narrative account of her own lifelong search for wholeness. Entitled Ways of Knowing: Can I find a way of knowing that satisfies my search for meaning?, the thesis integrated intellectual and experiential ways of knowing. Her current research is located within a postmaterialist worldview, with the belief that consciousness is primary and universal providing an ontological grounding. With a colleague, Laurel Waterman, she is currently evolving a Consciousness Educators’ Network, which will contribute to creating synergistic connections between science, the arts and the sacred.