Insights from The Old Testament: Part One
Reading the Bible, I had some insights. I have written my thoughts and split them into two parts (it is too long). I share with you below, part one. Next week, I will share part two.
The story of creation in Genesis, the first chapter of the Old Testament, presents, I suggest, the PAEI sequence in the process of creation.
In the beginning, there was (I): “the Spirit of God”, Ruach Elohim. (Ruach in Hebrew means wind. “Wind” is related to neshima, “breath,” which shares the root of the word (nshm) with neshama, “spirit.)
Notice that (I) was never created. It was there all along, hovering over the tohu va vohu, the chaos. God was present before creation. It has no beginning and no end. It is permanent. Not created. It was there the whole time and will be there forever. That means to me that interdependency (I) has been and will be.
On the first day of creation, God made the distinction between day and night. For separating day from night there must be light. And light is, for me, illumination, a new day. It is (E) to me; it is fire.
On the second day, God made the distinction between the water above and the water below. To me, water is (A); Water unites, like air, everything.
The third day was the separation of earth from water, earth being (P), that is where fruits, weeds, and almost anything alive grows. (Notice the parallel with Greek ancient philosophy of the four elements for creation: air, fire, water and soil, earth)
For me, the biblical narrative of creation follows the optimal PAEI sequence for building a company or creating anything new. First there must be (I), the “platform” that regulates all the forthcoming roles. (Notice that to discover life on other planets we look for air, or at least water. (I) and (A) can be substitutes for each other. They both serve the role of being the “glue” that regulates interdependence of components. We are all one enormous system with components that are interrelated. They share the element of oxygen and without it there is no life.)
When there is (I), there is no waste of energy and for (E), for creating something new, a lot of energy is necessary. To channel the energy of (E), (A) is needed and then (P) can be created. So, the optimal life cycle sequence is: (I)>(E)>(A)> and then (P).That is the optimal path for building a company, creating a new product, or anything new.
I have found more material in the Old Testament to ponder.
In the first chapter, during creation, God gives a name to each thing He creates. This scene in the Old Testament made me think about how to resolve conflicts. Start by defining the keywords central to the conflict first. Ask what those words mean to all the participants in the conflict. They must first agree what they are talking about before they can discuss it or disagree. Disagree about what?
It is interesting that for the Jewish people, the name of God is Ha Shem: The Name. Everything must have a name, so we know what we mean by the word we use. For example, try: What does love to mean to you, and to your loved one? What does democracy mean to a left-wing person and what to a right-wing person. To avoid confusion which can generate conflict, follow what God did: call things by name, so we all know what it is when we use the name. Once we define what we mean by the words we use, once everyone involved knows what they are talking about, it is much easier to resolve conflict.
I have also concluded that God is not a Zeus-like entity watching the world from wherever He or She or IT is located, (Avinu ba shamayeem: Our Father in Heaven), judging people and driving the wind and the sun and whatever else there is.
For me, God is an algorithm of an operating system, and everything in this world is an application of that operating system. It is this algorithm that created the world and is running the world. If the algorithm is violated, the operating system will crash and we will suffer from many collateral repercussions.
What is the algorithm? Interdependent growth. Synergy with symbiosis. Synergetic forces interacting with symbiotic forces. Growth, but not in a way that disintegrates, but that nourishes, and is beneficial to all parties involved – mutually beneficial interdependence.
What enables synergy is mutual respect, recognizing the undeniable right of other entities to be what they are and which enables learning from each other’s differences. As we learn from each other’s differences synergy occurs.
What enables symbiosis is perceived common interests. For its mutual trust is indispensable because, in the short run, there is no sustainable common interest. However, if there is trust, one might have faith that if one sacrifices his or her interests in the short run for the benefit of the other party, the other party will, in the future, reciprocate and thus there can be common interest in the long run.
If God is the algorithm for a system to nourish symbiosis and synergy driven by mutual trust and respect, we are violating the demands of mutual trust and respect: in-fighting each other’s differences (no respect) and/or violating the environment. We are not seeking common interest with the environment or with each other. In our actions, we follow our own interests although they might violate the interests of the mountains, air and rivers. (I feel I am becoming a Bahai as I write this). Violating respect for each other’s differences and violating the rights of others in order to exclusively serve ourselves, we are violating God’s will. The Bible and subsequent religious writings tell us that violating God’s will, will bring disasters to our world.
We do not share a common interest among ourselves and with nature. We exploit nature for our benefit. We violate the environment. We pollute the air, the water, the oceans. There is no mutual trust in our relationship and no mutual respect for each other’s differences either. More people were murdered by other people in the twentieth century than put together in the history of mankind.
First there was communism that negated diversity. Now fascism is taking its place in negating diversity. And it is growing. The result is a significant and disastrous change in the climate and increasing human confrontations with potential to end our civilization as nuclear armaments proliferate and thus might be used.
There is unprecedented destruction from tornadoes and floods. As we disrespect nature—changing whatever we can change for our benefit, disregarding the needs and interests of nature—nature responds just as our religious texts have predicted and nuclear wars, that have the capability to bring more and more disastrous destruction of the world, are not improbable.
This is the end of part 1. Next week part 2.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes
Founder and CEO, Adizes Institute Worldwide