Monday, March 30, 2020

Uncommon Sense -
Finding Wholeness in a Shattered World

Imagine a world of wholeness, where everything is contained in everything else and we are all part of each other, like drops of water in a pond. On that imaginary planet, the reality is that things are not what they appear to be: objects are not separate, apart and solitary, but all are part of the same thing, like facets of a jewel. And everything sensed and experienced on that planet comes from a shared and common ground of existence, as the inhabitants realize that they are all manifestations of an incarnating, creative spirit or, from a naturalist perspective, the result of binding an underlying sea of energy into building blocks of particles that, in turn, form larger, visible objects.
Of course, I'm saying that imaginary world of wholeness is actually our own planet, that all of us are part of each other and, indeed, are part of the earth itself. We are generally unaware of that basic underlying fact because at least three things sustain our illusion of self-hood, of being alone and apart when, actually, we are not that way at all.
1. Language divides the world into separate subjects and objects, operated on by verbs.
2. Our senses - touch, taste, small, vision and hearing - indicate, on a physically built-in level of awareness, that each of us is a unique individual separated from everything else, which we apprehend through the senses.
3. Social custom and tradition reinforce the idea of being alone and isolated from each other and the world. We are trained from early awareness that this is the way the world is and have little encouragement to consider other possibilities for explaining how reality works. Even questioning the basic tenets of the world view we inhabit can seem absurd and heretical.
In fact, I cannot convince you with words or mathematics to reexamine the foundational premises and axioms on which our shared world view is constructed. There are no logical theorems or mathematical formulas I can use to convince you to change your mind, nor can I ask you to take what I say even on faith, because each of those methods relies on higher cognitive functions while the underlying ground of being to which I'm referring operates on a much lower, nearly pre-cognitive level because it is the baseline of our existence. So, how do we get there?
I suggest going into nature, wherever you can find someplace to be completely away from other people, whether it's a forest, a desert, a river bank, the sea shore, a high plateau, a mountain ridge, even a park, someplace, any place, where you and you alone can immerse yourself in nature and, in that isolated place, ask one question: "Is this all there is?" Meaning, is what you're experiencing at that moment the sum total of existence, all this vista and creatures around me? Then be quiet and just listen. If the answer you hear is "Yes," then you've simply had a hopefully enjoyable experience outdoors. And I include in this answer any traditional religion, philosophy or spirituality that divides the world instead of uniting it.
But if the answer is "No" or "Maybe not," then you begin a journey of miraculous discovery and you will never be the same again. You will realize that you are not just connected to everything else, but are actually part of, and contained in, everything else. Your very values will change, as you will want to unify, to enlighten, to harmonize and to heal with the world around you and of which you are now a conscious part of and not apart from. You will find yourself on a new path on which you will increasingly want to interact with yourself and others with kindness, patience, humility and respect born from unity and harmony.
In that society of newly-changed people, we will seek cooperation, not competition, because what sense does it make to compete against others when all it means is that we are working against ourselves? By working together, we can heal the planet instead of just using it, because we are healing ourselves as well.
Instead of consumerism, we need communalism, with the entire planet as our community, where everyone has shelter, food, health care, education, transportation, and engagement in productive activities. All of that is possible by working together and not against each other. We can finally have lives of accomplishment measured not by how many things we can make and sell, but in the amount of good we accomplish for each other and the planet. And we can get paid to do it because a market economy values whatever its users value, and now our values are changing. Let us achieve projects instead of making products.
Let robots and artificial intelligence make the widgets we need for a civilized life as they will eventually take over all production anyway. That will free us to nurture the planet, which makes sense if we think of it as a giant flower, with us as its gardeners, providing fertile soil, nutrients, clean water and fresh air so that the flower grows into its fullest potential as a strong, healthy, beautiful, vibrant plant and planet.
So go into nature, ask the question, "Is this all there is?" and follow the answer wherever it leads.