Open-Mindedness and Open-Heartedness

If we can see ourselves connected, yet ignorant of most of the connections,  then we have little choice but to be compassionate. Donald Michael

In 1995 I published an article in the Counseling and Values Journal with the same title Chaos and Compassion and the same lead quote by Donald Michael. I was promoting compassion as a new symbol of competence (instead of control) for counselors and their clients. I now regret that I did not mention open-heartedness. Compassion of course involves a sensitivity to self, others and the environment. Doesn’t this sound like open-heartedness?

Today I am writing this blog with the same title and quote to emphasize open-heartedness. It seems necessary to me because of the conditions of the world today. And the need still to replace control with compassion as a symbol of competence.

One of the most powerful lessons of chaos theory is the concept that everything is totally connected to everything else in an unbroken wholeness. It is the notion of totally connected, everything else, and unbroken wholeness that is powerful — and seemingly incomprehensible. Accepting it is one thing, understanding it is another, and applying it is something else. We are all connected, but we don’t understand most connections.

Today the world clearly is experiencing chaos: disorder, uncertainty, confusion, unpredictability and a system extremely sensitive to various conditions. Before chaos theory, most of our concepts of personal life planning, decision making and world peace came from our desire for order and our need for control. With chaos theory we need to see things differently.

For years I have been promoting a way of seeing called positive uncertainty, and promoting a collective worldview that is open and inclusive. This way of seeing leads to open-mindedness, creativity, connectedness, and as Donald Michael suggests, compassion. This adds another dimension to positive uncertainty: open-heartedness.

Without an open mind there is no creativity and without an open heart there is no compassion. Compassion is needed when we don’t know all the interconnections to living species. Creativity is needed when we don’t know all the interconnections of everything else. Creativity suggests open-mindedness and compassion suggests open-heartedness. Compassion excludes the possibility of being exclusive.

My future of promoting a collective worldview that is open and inclusive needs to now emphasize open-mindedness AND open-heartedness.


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