The Wise Path
Holistic Understanding
—Knowing why

Being There

People who understand have extensive knowledge, keen insight, contemplate options from multiple viewpoints, have well developed human-focused values, and make decisions based on their significant purpose of improving well-being for all people. understanding They are fully aware not only of the meaning of something but also of its world-wide and long-term implications. Their essential insight is the understanding that all humans, with all of their diversity, are citizens of this one world.

Holistic understanding requires interpreting knowledge from an enduring global perspective. What are the full implications, good and bad, now and long into the future, for us and for all of them, here and way over there, intended and unintended, obvious and subtle, of this fact, or this plan, or this action, or this decision?  What insights can we gain? Who are all the people who will be affected by this? What do they have to say about this? How can this impact human well-being? People who understand not only find out what, but they find out why. They often have extensive real-world experiences, and may be well educated. They combine formal education with self-study and life experiences to learn throughout their lives. They creatively apply this abundance of knowledge to generate alternatives and find optimal solutions to difficult problems.

People with holistic understanding exhibit several strengths that transcend themselves. While anyone can appreciate beauty and savor the awe of nature, people with holistic understanding have a particularly deep appreciation of aesthetics, beauty, and excellence. They are grateful, hopeful, and while they are concerned about the future they are also optimistic about the possibilities. They have a sense of purpose that may originate from a deeply felt spirituality. They are forgiving and merciful, playful and witty. They have a zest and passion for life.

When we can reflect on our reliable and broad knowledge, exercise good judgment, and apply it to solve significant problems to enhance human well-being we begin to understand the world as it is. Examining knowledge from multiple viewpoints, adopting a global perspective and long-term view, understanding interrelationships, and gaining insight all contribute to our holistic understanding of the world. Being curious about what happened, creative about what can happen, and open to new possibilities allows us to make surprisingly good decisions that benefit all.

Getting There

Learning from the following resources and conscientiously practicing the skills they describe will help you move from Knowing to Understanding.

Recommended Study:

Recommended Reading:

Reading these books will increase your understanding.

Moving On

Continue to Understand as you work toward Wisdom.


The diagram shows the states that neighbor this one. This can help orient you to this state both horizontally, showing the action and emotion states at this level of development, and vertically showing the cognition levels before and after this one.

Doing Good Understanding Compassionate

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All rights reserved. © 2010 by Leland R. Beaumont. Progress Toward Wisdom.