“We are all connected; to each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.” ~ Neil DeGrasse Tyson
What does it really mean to be connected? Let’s look at some similar terminology: linked, associated, related, allied, coupled, joined, attached, fixed, tied, bonded, united, and coalescent.
When it comes down to it, no single word can define the concept of everything being connected to everything else. Even the word “interdependent” falls short.
Even the term “quantum entanglement” doesn’t seem to do it justice. And, really, we shouldn’t expect our limited terminology to describe anything accurately. Our words are just tools we use to communicate an experience that ultimately cannot be communicated. And that has to be okay.
But there’s no reason why we can’t have fun trying to communicate it anyway. And there’s no reason why we can’t attempt to reconnect the disconnected by teaching them how everything is already connected. If we are to “turn our weaponry into livingry,” as Buckminster Fuller once suggested, we must first connect the disconnected.
Those who are disconnected (the majority) believe whatever they are conditioned to believe. Their minds are inflexible. But if we can get them to see how everything is connected, then maybe we can achieve a social dynamic where we are flexible enough to transform our weaponry into livingry.
We’re connected to each other biologically
“The strategy of self-distancing from the world has impelled and shaped the modern self –differentiating it, empowering it, but eventually so isolating it that it has come to dwell inside a solipsistic prison of its own assumptions.
Worse, in its inflation and increasingly manic desperation, the civilization possessed by that objectifying stance has now become a centrifugal force of destruction and self-destruction in a world too intimately interconnected to accommodate such a titanic juggernaut so out of balance with the whole.” ~ Richard Tarnas
Beyond the psychological archetypes, beyond Jung’s theoretical collective unconscious, beyond Greene’s hypothetical metamorality, there is an organic connection we all share as human beings; a living, breathing, natural biology that connects us all on a visceral level.
Perceptually, we are all experiencing the human condition individually. But actually, we are all connected by the human condition interdependently.
Realizing the latter helps to alleviate the inherent suffering of the former. We are first and foremost social creatures.
The very idea of our “self” comes from using other “selves” as mirrors. We are each of us walking, talking, psychophysiological mirrors for each other. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we will become more compassionate and sympathetic, and the more likely we are to practice vulnerable empathy and fearless forgiveness.
We need to think less like desperate and isolated islands and more like robust and interconnected oceans. Like Arne Naess said, and Aldo Leopold before him, “think like a mountain.” We do this in order to harmonize ourselves with each other and with Gaia.
To become eco-conscious and eco-sensual, that is aware of our connection and interconnection to the micro and macro cosmos. We must bring our creativity to bear upon our egos and then imagine ourselves as oceans or mountains: greater eco-centric beings connected to all things.
But there is a prominent fear dwelling at the heart of the human condition. Most people are scared of facing their truer interdependent self. Indeed, the lesser independent self has a seeming stranglehold on most people’s perception of reality. This is because facing a difficult truth means disrupting the comfortable lies we’ve been telling ourselves.
Like Carlos Castaneda said, “People are afraid of connecting with their natural selves. This is because our modern lifestyles have become controlled by the Corporate Illuminati and are now disconnected with the spirit of Mother Nature and the spirit of planet Earth.”
Too long have we overfed the Ego at the expense of the Eco. We too easily forget that we are also connected to the earth.
We’re connected to the earth chemically
“Talk to a tree, which is more deeply rooted in God than any cross because no cross has roots, it is a dead thing – that’s why it kills… a tree is alive, with roots deep into the earth, branches high into the sky, connected with the whole, with the rays of the sun, with the stars – talk to the trees!” ~ Osho
The Earth is a living system of which we are all an aspect. Human beings are fundamentally interconnected with the Earth and with all its lifeforms. The boundaries we have set up between nature and the human soul are illusory at best and self-destructive at worst.
Neither the Earth’s environmental problems nor humanity’s unsustainability problems can be resolved without first taking full account of the interconnection between human nature and Mother Nature.
If we can become more attuned to the subtle forces of the ecosystems we inhabit, and more responsible with the not so subtle forces that we contribute to, then we can rediscover innate aptitudes that will help us to mend ourselves, our communities, and the planet.
The sooner we realize, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe did, that “nature has neither core nor skin: she’s both at once outside and in,” the sooner we’ll get to a state where we can heal the alienation between person and planet, and establish a healthy relationship between the two.
There is an innate drive to live in harmony with the natural world and its primal rhythms. We have suppressed this drive through self-induced nature deprivation, and we are disoriented and suffering because of it.
As Carl Jung intuited, “Civilized Man does not understand how much his “rationalism” has put him at the mercy of the psychic ‘underworld.’ He has freed himself from superstition (or so he thinks), but in the process he has lost his spiritual values to a positively dangerous degree. His moral and spiritual tradition has disintegrated, and he is now paying the price for this break-up in the worldwide disorientation and dissociation.”
The human soul cannot be saved while the biosphere crumbles. Our sanity is linked with the health of our environment. A healthy human being naturally develops a responsibility for their environment. Likewise, a mature human being naturally develops a responsibility for the power they wield.
Our quest should be the integration of science and spirituality, of nature and the human soul, a vision which reminds us of our connectedness to the inner self, to each other, and to the planet.
We’re connected to the universe atomically
“What you do is what the whole universe is doing at the place you call the here and now. You are something the whole universe is doing in the same way that the wave is something that the whole ocean is doing. The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around. The real deep-down you is the whole universe.” ~ Alan Watts
Perceptually speaking, everything “exists” along an improbable line of probability. On a long enough timeline of probability, what’s possible and what’s impossible begin to merge. Perceptually, everything is separate and finite. But actually, everything is connected and infinite. It is this infinite connection, despite our limited finite perceptions, that makes us one with the cosmos.
Like the physicist Niels Bohr said, “We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.”
The mental connections we establish are the stories we tell each other. There are non-fiction laws to the story that is our universe unfolding, but it seems more like a work of fiction.
We are the stymied and astonished readers of this story; blinded by the miraculous interconnectedness and supersymmetry of it all to such an extent that we consistently forget that this very compelling story abides by the laws of non-fiction. One might even argue that our minds inject a kind of fiction upon the non-fiction story that is our universe unfolding. Thus creating paradox.
But we can always flip the tables on ourselves and our outdated worldviews. Try this: I am somebody (individual, unique, ego, concerned with the self) subsuming everybody (social, collective, egoless, concerned with the human condition) transcending nobody (cosmic, interconnected, immanent, concerned with an interdependent cosmos).
When it comes down to it the lines of separation drawn between us and the universe is an illusion. We can no more be separated from the cosmos as from the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, or the bacteria in our stomach that digests our food. The guts of the stars that died before us are the same, atomically, as the guts in our bodies. We are star stuff doing star stuff in human form.
How amazing is that? And when we combine the precepts of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Schrodinger’s equation, Zeno’s paradoxes, and the many-worlds interpretation of the quantum wavefunction, it stands to reason that an infinite interdependent multiverse is at hand, and paradox only occurs because of our bias toward finitude despite the infinite interconnectedness of the cosmos.
At the end of the day, we are the universe frolicking in human form for a while. We are an interdependent universe playing the role of independent verses. We are tiny human-shaped waves emerging from a gargantuan cosmic ocean. We are the almighty infinite wavefunction that has collapsed into finite waves for a paradoxical amount of time.
We are an infinite God godding its godhood into finite godlings who vainly attempt to pierce through the veil of ignominy; who dare to burst through the Doors of Perception and into the vastness of infinity, knowing full well that we will most certainly fail, but flourishing forward anyway, ever so closer to that unattainable enlightenment that casts its shadow back upon us.
But it matters not, because we know –balls-to-bones, ovaries-to-marrow– that the journey is the thing.