“We call upon the wisdom traditions to guide us in their long-held understanding of wholeness in our interconnected web of life.”1
For a number of years, in the month of January just after the New Year, I’ve traveled to the small resort town of Hua Hin, near Bangkok, for a gathering of folks from the organization that I was associated with. We were nearly 100 people from different countries working throughout South Asia – all happy for some down time and looking forward to renewal on different levels.
It was there in Hua Hin that I met John Beeching, who had worked in various countries in Asia and at that time was working in Thailand. All I knew of him was that he was a warm and pleasant person, a Canadian by birth and a trained nurse. He taught English to a group of refugee Buddhist monks in turn for instructing him in their spiritual traditions, and I knew that he faithfully practiced Zen style meditation.
Some years later, I attended a meeting about social justice in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The only thing I clearly remember about the meeting is the totally unexpected arrival of John. I immediately felt overjoyed to see him and we fell into easy conversation stemming from our common background in Asia. What I most vividly recall is a discussion we had about prayer and the contemplative way. From deep within he shared about his experience with the monks, where the experience had led him and how important to his life the pursuit of spirituality had become. He felt he was living an uninterrupted encounter with the Sacred. When I asked how he sustained this, he said simply, “I am drawn”.
During the summer of 2022, John died. As soon as I heard the news of his passing I could only think of his words, “I am drawn.” I felt as if John had bequeathed to me these words as a mantra and an aspiration. It was later in reading the testimonies to his life that I came to know him as an extremely talented and gifted person, present to everyone as they needed him to be. Particularly, I learned that John was influenced throughout his adult life by the life and writings of the Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton. Merton also sought the Holy beyond his own tradition, and his many experiences, generously and eloquently shared, helped to shape the contemporary mystic spiritual path.
John’s death occurred at a time when I was experiencing many shifts internally and externally. Without exception, these shifts seemed aligned with a pull toward giving priority to prayer. This was not a new tug, but there was a new dimension to it. Beyond a doubt, I was being drawn beyond what I had previously known and practiced. Daily I felt John’s presence.
Around this time, I watched at the film Infinite Potential: the Life and Ideas of David Bohm.2 This is a beautiful film that I have seen several times now. Each viewing reveals something new that I previously had missed. It shows Bohm, a physicist, as open and attentive to what is arising within and around him.
As a scientist, Bohm authentically explored his experiences and theories with other scientists. He firmly believed that there is always more to be learned about the nature of the Universe and life, and that most likely humanity will never thoroughly understand or be able to fully describe how the Universe functions. As Bohm points out, we are part of the Cosmos and cannot step back from it to adequately describe it. Furthermore, ours is an evolutionary Universe. Therefore, to be open to new ideas and ways of perceiving is fundamental.
He was never dismissive of spiritual experience. Rather, he tried to understand it better, sensing its relation to the fundamental nature of reality.
He sought out persons of faith within the Eastern spiritual traditions as well as Indigenous leaders and others attuned to the mystery that seemed to lie just below ordinary experiences. It seemed to Bohm that the spiritual grasp of these people was essentially the same: the world around us is arising from and falling back into an unseen order that is in constant flow and is completely interconnected and whole.
This perception aligned with his own. He called it the Holomovement.
As a physicist, Bohm, who died in 1992, was ahead of his time. Now, however, physicists have been able to affirm Bohm’s insights through rigorous experimentation supported by complex mathematics. The time of the Holomovement has come. In the weeks ahead we will continue to explore what this is and what it means for the world of today, scientifically, spiritually and socially.
Meanwhile, I feel gratitude to David Bohm, for his great intelligence, humanity and fearless pursuit of truth. As well as for John, who was open and available to anyone who needed his help and who had a working conviction of wholeness, not because he dabbled in religious and spiritual experience, but because he gave himself over to the practice of encounter with the Holy and its social consequences.
1 A Holomovement white paper, The Flow Between Source and Self that Enhances the Whole. See https://www.holomovement.net/community.