EcoSpirituality: An Outline of a Worldview
Text fragments, PKL, 1997
These text fragments are meant to inspire and challenge to own reflection.
We all need challenges to our habitual ways of experiencing our world – to stay flexible, open to new experiences, and open to new and more appropriate ways of organizing our experiences. I hope this can be one contribution in that direction.
These texts are by no means representative for all ecospiritual views, and barely so for a minority of them. If there is anything here that seems to be of value, it can be attributed to the wisdom of the universe being expressed through people I have shamelessly stolen from. It can also be attributed to direct experiences of the Universe – as it has arisen within and outside of myself. All that is obscure, lopsided, muddled and not grounded, can be attributed to my own obscurations.
As diversity appears to be of immense value both in ecological and social systems, I do sincerely not wish these views to be adopted by all or even a majority. What I do hope is that it will inspire each one that take time to read some of this to reflection, to modification and formation of own views. Even, or maybe especially, if they are very different from those expressed here.
This text reflect only one of an endless number of possible and equally valid and useful worldviews – each fitting in with one or more of the multitude of possible world experiences. It does not reflect any “absolute truth”.
Feel free to read this collection of thoughts and text fragments in a non-linear fashion. Each fragment should to some degree reflect the whole of the worldview they are born from, and at the same time flesh out and give substance to a part of this whole.
The perspectives outlined here are only a few of an endless variety of possible worldviews, models or maps of existence.
As any other maps, they are wrong.
They are based on incomplete experiences of the world, and are also an incomplete reflection of these experiences.
The world is always more than and different from our experiences and maps.
At best, these – as any – perspectives, can be temporary guides for how to perceive and act in the world. They can be aids of temporary value until new experiences and new situations demand different maps. Maps more appropriate to our new situation.
World Views and World Experiences
Our experience of the world is always incomplete and preliminary. The world is always infinitely more than and different from our experience of it.
We create maps of the outer and inner worlds that mirrors our experiences of them. These maps helps us to function in the world and gives us something to organize our behavior and experiences by. They are expressed through – and implicit in – worldviews, myths, models, theories, attitudes and behavior.
Maps are always incomplete descriptions of the terrain. They emphasize some features, de-emphasis others, and leave some out altogether. They are in addition based on our incomplete experience of the world.
Any map, worldview, or model is only of value in a limited set of inner and outer circumstances. When these circumstances change, our maps need to change too. Humanity is today in a different situation, both inner and outer, than in earlier times. Traditional maps are not as functional today as they once were. We need a new understanding of the world and our place in it, an understanding that makes us more able to deal with the unique challenges we face today.
To any set of data, there is an infinitely large number of models that will fit the data equally well (although we may be aware of only one or a few, or none). Which one we chose is dependent upon our cultural background and personal preference.
As our outer and inner situation is in constant flux, our models and guidelines will have to change too. What is good and beneficial in one situation may be destructive and harmful in another, and what is harmful in one situation may be just what is needed in another. As Gandhi once said : “Only fools are consistent with themselves”.
Being open for changing maps in this way does not exclude a commitment to a direction, for instance to awareness, compassion, and to live a life as beneficial as possible to ourselves and the larger whole.
Choosing Models to Operate From
Although it seems that we often do not have much choice in worldviews (they rather seem to choose us!) there are some guidelines to go by when we are to select models to operate from.
A central guideline may be: How will this model influence my experiences and behavior in daily life?
Will it close me off from an experience deep gratitude, compassion and humility? Will it lead to an existence experienced as disconnected from the larger whole?
Or – will it open up for experiencing the wonders of cosmos and of life, will it open up for genuine compassion and humility, will it inspire to unfold my unique talents and skills to the benefit to myself and others? In short, will it encourage living a life to the benefit of myself and the larger whole?
The Universe in an Earthworm
All phenomena reflect – and are interdependent with – the Universe as a whole.
Let’s take an earthworm as an example.
In the earthworm is embedded the history of the whole Universe. It is a direct descendant of the Big Bang, dependent for its existence on the amazing reorganization of energy to simple particles, simple to complex particles, and non-life to life. Its ancestors are primordial stars, supernovas and clouds of stardust reshaped into new solar systems.
In an earthworm is also embedded the history of the Earth. Its ancestors are the first one-celled organisms, the first amazing collections of single celled organism that functioned as one whole, the first organisms that came ashore, and every being in the chain from the first cells up to its own existence.
In the earthworm is also embedded the extent of the Universe. The events described above were all dependent on and embedded in the processes and structures of the Universe as a whole. The Earth would not have emerged or evolved, nor would it exist the way it does today, were it not embedded in the structures and processes of this evolving Universe. It is dependent upon the space, the formation of galaxies, the evolution of stars and the gravitational pull that allow matter to gather into galaxies, stars, solar systems and planets.
Similarly, the extent of the Earth – the Earth as a whole – is reflected in the humble earthworm. The history of the co-evolution of the Earth as a whole and all its subsystems is embedded in this earthworm. All its many ancestors were dependent upon and reflected the state of the Earth as a whole at the time of their existence.
At this moment, the existence of the earthworm is dependent upon the ecosystem it is living in, on the conditions of the Earth as a whole, and on the processes and structures of the whole Universe.
In the earthworm we see the Big Bang, the emergence of matter from energy, the first stars, supernovas, the emergence of the living Earth, the history of the Earth as a whole as reflected in each of its ancestors and the processes and structures of the Earth and the Universe at this moment.
In every phenomenon is embedded the history and extent of the Universe.
Death and rebirth
The Universe and every phenomena continuously dies as what it was and is reborn as something different.
There is nothing to hold on to.
The whole Universe is fresh at every moment.
The Universe is one single dynamic whole.
The perception of causality is a product of a fragmented experience of the world.
Movements in the larger whole appear as changes in the parts.
What appears as causality are separate expressions of these movements of the larger whole.
The Universe is a seamless and continously changing whole.
Movements in this whole is reflected in every aspect of the whole, in every phenomena.
This accounts for what we call synchronicities, “meaningful a-causal coincidences”.
They are beyond causal and non-causal as they are all expressions of movements in the larger whole. They are beyond being coincidences or not coincidences, as they are all brought forth from the same larger processes.
Each phenomenon is a whole and a part.
Each phenomenon is a whole in itself, a self-regulating system encompassing subsystems.
Each phenomenen is a part, seamlessly integrated into larger systems.
The wholes and the parts are aspects of one whole.
Wholes and parts are in continous mutual influence.
Energy fields, atoms, molecules, organs, emotions, thoughts, ideas, psychological and biological systems, individual organisms, social and ecological systems, planetary systems, solar systems, galaxies – all are seamlessly integrated into the Universe as a whole. To understand them, we must see them in the context of the widening circles, up to the largest whole.
Every phenomenon of this Universe is embodied experience.
Every molecule is a manifestation of the evolution and history of the Universe, reflecting how the Universe settled down into certain forms and relations, then refined and recombined these into new manifestations – from electrons, protons, atoms, to simple and then more complex molecules.
The Earth itself is a manifestation of its history. In its shapes and processes are written its evolution.
In every being, the history of its ancestors are embedded and embodied. In your own cells, organs, limbs, is the history of humanity.
Awareness of this opens up for an immense appreciation of every manifested form, each embodying the history of the Universe. Each containing the future of the Universe.
Tools of the Universe
The Universe is engaged in a self-exploration process, continuously expressing itself in a multitude of new ways. Galaxies, nebulae, solar systems, black holes, living planets, flowers, clouds, cities, planes, laughter, tears, books, all these are expressions of the universe and a part of this exploration process.
The Universe has developed self-awareness through some of its aspects. Among these is the Earth, which can be seen as a tool – or an organ – for the universe in bringing itself into conscious self-awareness.
Any living Earth organism can be seen as a sensory organ for the Earth and the Universe. A recent innovation for the Universe is the development of new sensory organs through human science and technology, seeing deeper into matter and further into space than possible through a merely biological form.
Bias of Perception
The Universe develops self-awareness through aspects of itself. These are similar to sensory organs, and could be called “awareness organs”.
These awareness organs, of which humans are one, will all have unique capabilities and limitations, and all experience existence in different ways.
Lets take a look at the sources of the bias that each type of awareness organs may have.
First, we see that the common characteristics of this Universe seems to pose some opportunities and some limitations in regards to experience. There are certain “habits” that this universe has acquired through its evolution, certain ways it operates and certain ways it does not operate (as far as we can tell). These shape how the Universe (or God as a larger whole) will experience itself through these organs.
Then there is the past evolution of the Universe that has led up to the formation of each organ. The Earth, as one awareness organ, is limited by its past history in how it will experience the Universe. The size of the Earth, its gravity, its distance to the Sun, its carbon-based sub-organs, all this shape the experience of the Earth.
Looking at the sub-organs of the Earth, we see that the evolution of each sub-organ again shapes its experience of existence. Some of the factors that influences how the Earth experiences through its sub-organs are the sub-organ’s shape, orientation, size, movement abilities, environmental limitations, neurological characteristics, sensory organ characteristics and survival necessities.
A fish, dependent on water as its environment, will experience the world differently from a bird soaring in the sky. A salmon, dependent on water in rivers and oceans for its life, will experience the world differently from a seal, moving freely between water and ground.
A mouse, being small and low to the ground, will experience the world differently from a giraffe, lowering its head only with difficulty.
A cheeta, running fast, will experience the world differently than a coala bear, moving slowly and laboriously.
A goldfish, able to see both infrared and ultraviolet, will see phenomena hidden from a whale, perceiving a shorter range of photon wavelengths. A bat, hearing high frequency sounds and with limited vision, will experience the world different from a goose depending more on vision than sound. A mole, dependent on touch to navigate, experiences the world differently from a falcon with its sharp vision.
A hawk, continuously on outlook for a prey, has a different experience from a hare, on constant watch to preserve its own life. A whale, not having many predators, have a different experience than a antelope on the African savannah, with predators all around.
Through its multitude of awareness organs, the Earth is able to experience more of itself, to explore itself in the depths of its oceans, under ground, in caves and burrows, from the sky, covering the whole planet.
An additional factor is the background or unique experience of each type of organ. For humans, the cultural background affects the way life is experienced. A fragmented cultural worldview can lead to individual and cultural behavior where the well-being of the larger whole is not considered. A more organic and holistic worldview may lead to a sense of belonging, of meaning, and of natural concern for the well-being of the larger social and ecological whole.
Also individual experiences color the way the world is experienced. Most dramatically, a spontaneous trans-dual experience of the world can turn around a person’s worldview and way of life. These experiences can appear “out of the blue” or can be opened up for through a dedicated spiritual practice, under guidance of an experienced teacher.
It is very possible that the Universe, as the Earth, has a multitude of awareness organs, spread throughout the Universe. Each with a unique bias and way of experiencing the Universe, giving the Universe a fuller and more rich total experience of itself.
Stepping back another step, it is possible that the larger whole that the Universe is part of may have several expressions – multiple universes – each with a multitude of ways to experience itself.
The Living Earth
The Earth is a seamless, living and evolving system.
The Earth is a system displaying some of the core characteristics of living organisms: Self-organization (self-regulation), self-transcendence (evolution or development) and self-healing (self-repair). As a human being is composed of many different types of organs and tissues – bones, cells, liver, heart, brain – so is the Earth composed of many different systems that are embedded in the larger whole, in the processes of a larger system.
Human beings, and human culture and mind, are part of and born from this whole, expressions of the Earth and of the evolutionary phase it is currently in. Through all of its living beings, the Earth can experience and examine parts of itself. Through humans, the Earth can reflect upon itself and its processes.
The Replicating Earth
One of the hallmarks of life is replication, and it is very possible that the Earth itself can reproduce at some time in the future – either through humans or other species.
The Earth, through some human beings, is already contemplating reproduction. This is a process so far named Terraforming. The first “child”, or clone, of the Earth, may be Mars, a planet of roughly the same size and distance to the Sun.
Humans may thus not only be one of Earth’s sensory and awareness organs, but also its reproductive organ.
Humans: The Expression of the Earth (earth perspective)
The Earth evolves in a creative exploration process, expressing itself in a multitude of forms and shapes.
The Earth is a self-organizing and self-trancending whole, continually creating new expressions of itself. It has evolved the first beginnings of an awareness of itself, experiencing itself first in bits and parts, then in a more expanded and richer way. Every living being embedded in this planet is a sensory organ for the Earth, through which it experiences parts of itself.
The Earth has recently evolved new ways of experiencing and exploring itself through science and technology developed by human beings. Humans, as every living being of this planet, is a tool for the Earth to explore and more fully experience itself.
The health and well-being of a whole and of its parts is interdependent.
The Earth is a seamless and dynamic system, and the health and well-being of the Earth as a whole is intimately connected with that of each of its subsystems. Human society and individuals are dependent of the health and well-being of the Earth as a whole for their own health and well-being. Human economy cannot flourish unless the ecosystems flourish.
Cells in an organism allow water and nutrients to flow through them, absorbing what is needed at the moment and letting the rest pass on to other parts of the organism.
Imagine a cell which, through a moment of delusion, thought it could “own” these resources and parts of its environment. If it acted on that thought, in the form of hoarding or overuse, then the whole organism would soon become diseased and die.
This situation, brought about by a delusion, mirrors that of the Earth today. One of its parts, humans, has developed the idea that it can “own” other parts of this living system. Human beings, individually and collectively, attempt to collect as much resources as possible, with little thought of what is needed for other parts of this larger living system.
This idea is a product of a fragmented and alienated perception of the world.
We are all part of one seamless system, dependent on the health of the larger whole for our own health. Realizing this is the first step to learn how to use the resources necessary for own survival and pass the rest on to where they are needed – just as cells in an organism.
A Provincial Outlook
The Earth – in its beginning self-awareness – experiences itself in fragments and in regions.
Each awareness organ (i.e. organism) tends to experience itself as the center of the Universe (which it is, but so is everything else – and nothing), and place a major significance on what it perceives as associated with itself. This is to a large extent necessary for the survival of the organism. The awareness is so low and fragile that it has to be concentrated around itself and its own survival.
Human beings express a large variety of experiences and worldviews. Common to most of these is a division of the world into what is perceived as associated with oneself, and what is not: us and them, Greeks and barbarians, humans and animals, believers and heretics, life and non-life.
Often, one pole of the polarity is associated with desirable qualities, the other not. We are good, they are evil; we know, they do not; humans are worth treating with respect, animals not.
It can take the shape of ethnocentrism, seeing ones own culture as more highly evolved than others. Or of anthropocentrism, seeing humans as more important than non-human forms of life. There is also Gaia-centrism, placing an undue importance of this one planet in the evolution of the Universe.
In any form, it creates a (false) perception of boundaries between that which is really part of one whole. It is born from necessity – from a low awareness that needs to center around itself. An awareness that, on a collective level, seems to slowly expand outwards, slowly including more into what is seen as “us” or what it associates with itself.
In the end, nothing is outside and nothing is inside. All phenomena are born from and expressions of the same whole: of the Universe, of God, the Mind, the Absolute – of that which is beyond all polarities.
Every phenomenon is an expression of the Absolute: that which includes and is beyond the polarities of good and evil, right and wrong, realization and ignorance, mind and matter, life and non-life, being and non-being, existence and non-existence.
The Youth of Humanity
The Earth is a young planet, and humanity is a young species. Only occasionally are there more mature expressions of the mind as embodied by human beings – reflecting a transdual experience of the world.
Today, there are several situations nudging humanity to a deeper realization of the interconnectedness and interdependence of every aspect of this planet: the sciences of ecology and systems thinking, views of Earth from space, global communications technology, unraveling ecosystems, weapons of mass destruction.
Humanity can grasp this opportunity, and the Earth can continue its evolution without too much of a “backward” step. It can be passed, and human beings will end up as an evolutionary “dead end” and other species may evolve to take a similar role. Either way, it will probably be only a minor adjustment for the Earth, having a life span of billions of years.
Expressing one pole of a polarity leads to a fuller expression of the other pole.
Our dualistic mode of experiencing the world has lead to significant advances in science and technology, and to a use of these that harms the network we are a part of. This leads to a situation where are required to realize the interconnected nature of this planet, and move towards a more integrated and less dualistic view.
Earth’s every aspect, and everything we seen when peering into the depths of the cosmos, is an expression of the creative evolution of the Earth and the Universe. Human culture – dance, poetry, science, music, storytelling – is one aspect of this creatve evolution.
Through dance, the Universe is exploring itself through movement. Through poetry, the Universe attempts to describe itself in a way that goes beyond what can be said in everyday language. Through science, the Universe is exploring itself and its functioning in a systematic way. Through music, the Universe explores and expresses its qualities in sound. Through storytelling, the Universe brings its own processes into awareness and explores possibilities not manifested in the physical Universe.
Biological organisms, the sensory organs of the Universe, have their natural limitiations.These limits include size, vision, hearing, and processing of information, to mention a few.
By forming itself into technology, the Universe is going beyond biology and is evolving a more powerful sensory apparatus.
Through technology, the Universe can see deep into space, back to the beginning of its own existence, it can study the evolution of itself, the formation of galaxies and solar systems, and marvel at its own beauty and diversity.
Through technology, the Universe can peer deep into matter, discovering the particles it has created and how they all are expressions of energy, it can examine molecules and quarks, the properties of light, gravity, nuclear energies, electromagnetic fields.
Through technology, the Universe and the Earth can examine the biology through which the living Earth expresses itself.
Through technology, the Universe can hear its own sounds, created throughout itself.
Through technology, the Universe is coordinating some of its sensory and awareness organs (human beings), making them function more consciously as one whole. This is true for the Earth today. Going beyond this, it may be true in the future, bringing communication between the Earth and other sensory and awareness organs throughout the universe.
Human science is the process of systematically exploring and mapping out the world as experienced by or through humans, reflecting the unique human possibilities and limitations.
In contemporary human society, science is often fragmented, reflecting a fragmented world experience. The world is often, in the view of contemporary human beings, divided into relatively isolated compartments. Still, there is an strong and emerging interest in how these relate to, and are expressions of, a larger whole.
In psychology, there is an increased interest in how the human mind is related to a larger whole. In how an understanding of psychology can help us live with higher quality of life and more responsibly as part of this planet and our local and global social systems.
We are beginning to look at how humanity and the mind relates to the subjects of the natural sciences. We are beginning to see the evolution of life and human culture as an intimate part of the evolution of the universe. We are beginning to include the nature of mind in the studies of physics and of the studies of the nature of matter.
We are in the early phase of integrating an ecological perspective into economics, gradually acknowledging how all human interactions are embedded in this planet and dependent on the health of the larger whole.
And in some cases, the study of human politics includes a larger understanding of our place in the Universe and our part in the evolution of the Universe. Seeing how we may be seen as have a mission and responsibility beyond that of survival and satisfaction of short term goals.
Technology and World Experience
Human beings in the western culture have had an uniquely fragmented experience of the world, and it has been especially pronounced in the last few hundred years. .
Each pole in the polarities have often been seen as disconnected from each other and in opposition to each other instead of complementing each other. One pole has been valued as “good”, the other as “bad”, and we seek contact with or to enhance one, and avoid or seek to destroy the other.
This has lead to an experience of inner and outer combat as the main order of life, blinded to the larger harmony that the occasional real strife is embedded in. It has lead to an experience of alienation towards the larger whole as well as the inner whole, of being split off from nature and the larger society, of fear and suspicion for anything new and previously unencountered, to creation of conflict in the outer and inner world.
Our detachment from parts of the inner and outer world has also lead to amazing technological advances. It has lead to a wide range of mechanical devises: computers and spacecrafts, telescopes and TVs, medicines and bicycles. We have in an wholly unprecedented way expanded and enhanced our physical senses and abilities, and can see further, move faster, lift heavier, and dig deeper than ever before. We can hear faint signals from other galaxies, we can communicate across space and with people on the other side of the Earth, we can see inside of the living body, we can watch the dance of the tiniest particles. We can shape and destroy on a scale rarely dreamt of by our ancestors.
We are like a child with wonderful gifts and abilities, but still lacking the wisdom to apply them more consistently to the benefit of our selves.
What was meant to be a paradise, a world where almost every aspect of life is aided by technology and science, has become a world where mass destruction is possible at any time. Where the ecological system is about to collapse under the weight of human activities – bringing us down with it.
Technology, and the application of it in a way destructive to ourselves, were born out of a fragmented and dualistic world experience.
Through separating ourselves from matter and nature we had the courage to explore it in depth, without reverence and taboos. And through the same alienation, we applied the fruits of our explorations in a way where we ignored the interconnectedness of all life. We did not see that through polluting the rivers and the sea, we polluted our own blood stream. By releasing toxins into the atmosphere, we toxify the air we breath. By releasing toxins into the earth, we polluted our own cells and organs. By cutting down trees we are destroying the cells of our larger breath organs. We do not fully realize that through developing weapons of mass destruction to get rid of “the other”, we created a situation where we ourselves could be killed in an instance. We do not experience deeply that by not sharing resources necessary for life with “them”, we are creating a situation where the lives of ourselves and those we see as “us” are at risk.
Setting up a situation where a numinous experience of the larger whole can arise has been a vital part of the education in many human cultures. The purpose is to enhance the well being of the community and the individual. In addition, it gives the Universe and the Earth has a more encompassing context to experience its parts in.
Currently, in modern human society, education is often fragmented, reflecting a fragmented world experience. The main purpose of education has too often been to shape young beings into “good citizens”, not to encourage a joy of creatively exploring all aspects of our existence, asking the difficult questions and exploring our role in the larger whole.
We need an approach to education where the whole person and the larger whole we are a part of are both acknowledged. Here, learning will also be considered a life long process.
This will be an approach to education where creativity, exploration and personal passions are in the center, and where skills and knowledge are gained as part of this process of exploration.
War, Cruelty and Pain
Everything that the Universe and the Earth through humans, experiences as uncomfortable, is also an expression of the Universe and the Earth.
Wars, cruelty and pain, as well as everything else humans find objectionable and unpleasant, are as much a part of the Universe as expressions of love, beauty and art.
The Earth, in its dreaming wisdom, has evolved a habit, through its aware parts, that tends to preserve the life of these parts. What tends to sustain life has a certain attraction, and what tends to end life is experienced as unpleasant. This has evolved through natural selection among the animals and humans of the Earth. The evolving Earth is dependent on this life preserving instinct, embedded in all of Earth’s life expressions.
To sum up, human experience of aversion and attraction is based on natural selection, and is a tool for preserving and continuing life. Humans tend to go beyond what is there, merely an experience of attraction and aversion, and add a value judgment. What we experience as unpleasant or as aversive becomes “bad”. What we experience as pleasant or attractive is labeled “good”. We create in some cases extensive ideological systems around these value judgments.
What is there is one seamless whole, all expressions of God and the Universe.
What is imposed on this reality, is an experience of “good” and “bad”, reflecting merely a life-preserving instinct evolved through the evolution of the Earth.
When seeing this, asking why God “allows all this to happen”, questions about “good” and “evil”, and so forth, all becomes meaningless and falls away.
The Earth, through its species and organisms, has evolved life-preserving habits to ensure the continuation of its life.
These habits have been formed through natural selection and involves mainly an experience of discomfort towards what tends to endanger the life of the organism, and comfort towards what tends to preserve its and its offspring’s life.
One of these life-preserving tools is pain and an experience of discomfort associated with pain, coupled with a desire to get away from whatever is perceived as inducing the experience of pain. For example, when our flesh is damaged, we experience pain and try to prevent whatever creates the pain from continuing or occurring again.
Through examining and observing the mind processes and functions, these patterns and connections can be revealed to the conscious parts of the mind. They can be brought into awareness and seen more clearly.
Through this awareness and insight, habitual patterns can be dissolved. We can experience pain, while choosing not to engage in the impulse to pull away when that is more appropriate in the situation. The automatic, habitual and unconscious response is dissolved.
In this way, we can learn to face painful situations, for instance emotionally painful situations, without automatically retreating or pushing them away.
Pain and its connection with a desire to remove the cause of the pain, is only one of a multitude of habitual and automatic responses in our lives. Although functional and life-preserving throughout the history of our species’ evolution, they may not be appropriate in all situations today. Examining and observing the functioning of the mind, and thus bringing more of its processes into consciousness, can help us see through these habitual patterns and dissolve their links to automatic responses.
Meditation, often over many years and and under the guidance of an experienced teacher, is one way to do this.
The evolution and exploration processes of the Universe and the Earth can seem brutal from the local perspective of their parts. They can also be seen as neutral, or even beautiful and meaningful, from the perspective of the larger whole. Both perspectives are valid.
Humans, in their recently emerged awareness, cling to ideologies created out of a fragmented and dualistic experience of the world. Human beings, especially in the western culture, have created an ideology where the world is supposed to be “fair” as defined by a limited human perspective.
When something unpleasant occurs in the lives of these aspects of the Earth, there is often an experience of shock and of unfairness, of disbelief that something “bad” can happen to “good” people.
What is not seen is that both the situation and the person are part of and expressions of the larger whole, of the Earth, the Universe, and of God, – beyond good and evil.
Why should it not happen to me?
Inside and Outside
Human beings tend to perceive an inside and outside: mind, with thoughts, emotions, sensations, – and the external world, with other living beings, mountains, rivers, oceans and galaxies.
What human beings perceive as inside and outside are both born from and expressions of the Universe, embedded in the Universe. The separation between the two is an artifact of how the human mind currently functions.
Deeper into Both Poles
Through certain aspects of itself, the Universe has experienced itself in its parts and as one whole.
The role of human beings, as one organ for the Universe in this process, may be to more deeply and fully bring both the parts and the whole into awareness.
This involves exploring the phenomena of this Universe, how they interact, how they are embedded in larger processes and how they themselves contain smaller wholes. These phenomena include the stars and galaxies, this and other solar systems, the Earth as a living whole, its subsystems such as ecosystems and social systems, human culture and of central interest, the Mind.
It also involves unfolding and exploring an awareness of the whole, a trans-dual experience of all existence. This is a process mystics and serious practitioners in all major and some minor spiritual traditions have explored, mapped out and created tools to facilitate.
There is also a need to explore how these two interrelate, and to explore how to live more fully in the world with the realization of the oneness of all.
In a very real sense, this endaveour is engaged in not only for the individual, humanity, and the Earth, but for the Universe as a whole.
We – Them
Human beings tend to separate phenomena, with a higher awareness of what seems to separate the poles than of the polarities they are part of and expressions of.
There is often a sense of “we” and “them”, an artificial and arbitrarily separation and split between phenomena, in turn leading to projections, fear, and hopes.
When we expand our sense of “we”, more phenomena are included among those that we feel related to and care for. We can expand our perception of “we” to slowly include more and more of the Universe – from our family and small social group, to nation, and further to the global society, the Earth as a whole with all its manifestations, and to the Universe as a whole and all existence.
In the later phases of this process, we can sincerely say “we” about any and all human beings, about any and all living beings, about any and every aspect of the Earth, about any and all aspects of the Universe. We see how we ourselves are related to it al – to every phenomena of existence. We experience deeply belonging to the Universe – nothing is apart from us – nothing is ultimately foreign.
The Universe is continuously changing, in all its expressions and manifestations.
Galaxies, planets, mountains, stars, the mind, each living being, – all are continuously dying as what they were and being reborn as something else.
The human mind tends to impose “fixedness” on phenomena, to create a simplified experience of the world that is easier to work with and is an approximation of the phenomena themselves. This “fixedness” is an illusion.
Every phenomena is in constant flux, constantly being reborn as something different from what it was. There is nothing fixed to hold onto, apart from realizing that oneself and all phenomena are continuously being born from the Universe.
Saints and Prophets
Through some parts of itself, the universe has experienced itself as one whole.
Among human beings, these are often known as saints and mystics and found in every spiritual tradition. Through deeply experiencing that all is one and beyond all polarities, there is a deep and spontaneous experience of gratitude, compassion and humility. Gratitude, for being part of this immense and beautiful whole, compassion for every being who experience suffering due to blindness to this wholeness, and humility for being an infinitely small part of an immensely larger whole.
As this experience is trans-dual, and words function by discrimination (dualistic), these experiences cannot fully be described by words. Nor can they fully be conveyed by any other means, such as ones life, music, poetry or art, unless received by someone through whom a similar transdual experience is expressed.
Often the people in whom this experience is expressed are seen as saints and prophets, due to their deep compassion and more open experience of the world. They may gather a following, trying to convey their experiences. Their “teachings” – attempts to convey their experience – will often be solidified and written down by their followers. In some instances, the saints and mystics will design techniques and maps to help others towards opening up for similar experiences.
These maps or teachings will be conveyed in a form that is appropriate for the time and place of their lives, in a language that is most accessible to their followers. In some cases, these followers will be attached to the form of the teachings, and be blind to the original experience behind them.
The Universe has developed a rudimentary self-awareness through human beings, among other organisms. .
In human beings, the functioning and survival of this half-awake awareness is often dependent on it perceiving and setting up boundaries between parts of the world. In most cases, it is not yet capable of fully perceive that all phenomena are parts of and expressions of one whole.
The first perceived boundary is between parts of what is seen as the individual psyche. Some parts are known, accepted and identified with, some are unknown and/or unaccepted and seen as “other”. We have a situation of projections and “blind” attractions and aversions. This boundary is worked on in most conventional psychotherapies.
The second boundary is between mind and body when not perceived as expressions of one whole. This boundary is addressed through body-oriented therapies and methods, such as Yoga, Tai Chi Chuan and Feldenkrais.
The third boundary is between individual and larger whole. The individual is perceived as separate from the larger social and ecological whole, and from the Earth and the Universe. This boundary is addressed in Deep Ecology, Process Oriented Psychology, Shamanism and more.
The final boundary is the one between all polarities. Between existence and non-existence, mind and matter, whole and part, inside and outside, and also between right and wrong, good and evil, realization and non-realization. This boundary is worked on through techniques developed in different spiritual traditions and they include meditation and prayer.
The Universe has developed tools for speeding up the process of transcending the boundaries. These tools are expressed in the traditions and methods mentioned above, and many more.
All levels can be worked on one-by-one or simultaneously. Working on seeing and transcending the latter boundaries will always include working on the former boundaries.
In any case, it is usually of vital importance to work with a teacher or a guide that has knowledge and personal experience in transcending and dissolving the boundary in question.
Meditation refers to a technique that is meant to open up for a trans-dual perception of the world.
Often, the approach has a twofold focus: One is to develop a stable one-pointed focus so the energy of the mind can be channeled in a chosen direction, often called concentration. The second is to bring more of the processes of the mind into awareness, often called insight.
A one-pointed focus will be more stable with insight: seeing that life is transient and that it is of vital importance to uncover the nature of mind. Insight will increase with a more stable focus: being able to apply the focus on whatever one wants to bring into awareness.
In meditation, one is faced with the processes of ones own mind. These will, whether one wants or not, slowly be brought into awareness.
After a while, the illusion of “self”, of an independent and separate existence, dissolves, and mind experiences itself without a center and as one with all existence.
Following this initial realization, the experience will – with practice – deepen and become more stable. It will eventually, through some effort, be reflected and embedded in all aspects of one’s life.
Initially, one will often have the paradoxical experience of being both one with all and special. After a while the experience of being special will wear off, and left is an experience of deep gratitude, compassion and humility. In many ways one becomes – for the first time – thoroughly ordinary and human.
From the perspective of the Universe, there is first an experience of itself in bits and fragments, then a vague experience that there is something beyond the fragments, a larger numinous whole. This leads to an effort to directly experience this whole, a first glimpse, and then a more stable and embedded experience of itself as whole and beyond all polarities.
Good intentions, as we know, can pave the way to misery for both ourselves and those around us. Having an idea of compassion, of being of help, will sometimes lead to ill considered actions, to actions devoid of appropriateness and wisdom.
Setting ourselves in a situation where we realize the interconnectedness of everything, where we recognize from within ourselves the qualities we sees in others, where we examine how our own self interests and the interests of others and the larger whole converge, can on the other hand open up for spontaneous compassion and a life more genuinely beneficial for the larger whole.
There is no idea of compassion or helpfulness, only a deep and embodied realization that we are all part of one whole, that the welfare of ourselves is dependent on the welfare of the larger whole, that all beings wants happiness and freedom from suffering. Through this, taking care of the larger whole becomes as effortless and natural as taking care of oneself.
Gratitude, humility and compassion
Opening up for a trans-dual experience of the world leads to a deep experience of gratitude, humility and compassion.
Gratitude, for being part of such an immensely rich and meaningful whole.
Humility, for being an infinitely small part of an infinitely larger whole.
Compassion, from realizing the suffering that is part of the existence of every being.
Compassion cannot be willed but spring from a realization that all beings are one.
One, in more than one way: We are all expressions of and part of the evolution of this universe. We all want to live free from suffering and have our basic needs met. We all share this existence and are “in the same boat”. Beyond that, the nature of our minds are the same, although its expression varies due to biological and other shaping factors.
A deep experience of this, through recognizing in ourselves what we see in other beings, opens for a deep and genuine experience of compassion. It opens for living a life that will enhance the joy of life of ourselves and others and not induce an experience of suffering in others.
Compassion and Projections
The mind has the potential to express and experience an infinite range of characteristics. Often, we see these qualities only within ourselves or only outside of ourselves, and are blind for the existence of them within and outside.
This dualistic way of experiencing the world is natural and fully understandable, given the youth of our species and the Earth. We are still in our early and partly immature phase. It leads to an experience of separation from others and the world around us, and can lead to a sense of alienation and isolation as well.
Deeply experiencing how every quality we see in the outer world is also present in the inner world, and how every characteristic in the inner world is expressed in the outer world, we open up for a deep sense of belonging and for a spontaneous compassion with all living beings. Recognizing from ourselves what we see in others, we cannot help experiencing compassion. Lack of compassion comes from a sense of separation, which falls away as we recognize and integrate projections.
To heal, we need to open up for the wisdom embodied in every phenomena.
The Earth embodies the history of the Universe and the part of this that makes up its own history. Every species and organism embodies the history of their ancestors. There is immense wisdom for organization and healing in this embodied history.
To heal, we need to open up for (and get out of the way of) these self-healing processes. Processes infinitely more rich and wise than the fragments of these processes brought into awareness by human healers and scientists.
Aids to a ShiftThere are many factors that can facilitate a shift in awareness and worldview among human beings today.
We have created a situation where mass destruction is possible by the push of a button. We are all in the same boat. Through damaging the ecosystem we are forced into seeing the interconnectedness of all life. Through space travel we have seen for the first time the planet as one whole, as a small, living whole suspended in space. Through technology we can communicate and spread information around the planet in a fraction of a second, binding seemingly separate minds more into one whole.
Realizing the intimate connections among every aspect of the Universe leads to realizing how the parts and the whole have common interests.
It is in the interest of the individual to be part of a healthy social and ecological system. The health and well being of the Earth as a whole and of its every aspect is of direct concern for us since we are embedded in this system.
From this realization, the interests of the individual and that of of the larger whole converge and are one.
Far reaching and long term consequences
Realizing the interdependence of all phenomena leads to a natural concern for the far reaching and long term consequences of our everyday actions.
The natural and spontaneous question is: Will my actions, and this action in particular, benefit or at least not harm the larger whole that I myself am embedded in and dependent on ?
A Vision of Future Communities
We are nudged by our current situation to explore and find ways to organize our lives, on global, regional, local and individual levels, that are truly sustainable. That are integrated into the social and ecological systems in which they are embedded in a harmless or enriching way. That reflect the awareness that everything is interconnected and part of one whole: that the Earth is one body.
On a global level, there is a need for global governance, democracy on a global level. There is a need to go beyond the idea of nation states as the main unit of governance,and expand democracy to be a guideline for relations within the international community.
On a regional and local level, maybe the most promising existing way to achieve sustainability are ecovillages: small self-sufficient communities with an emphasis on quality of life and sustainability – an harmless and enriching integration into social and ecological systems.
The connection between the local communities and the global community may be facilitated by existing and future ways of communicating. What we see today may give only a faint idea of what may come.
Human Beings – The Expression of the Earth (human perspective)
Human beings often realize that they are part of a larger whole. These experiences often has an numinous (or sacred) quality to it, and most cultures have an image of this larger living whole central in their worldview.
Modern western culture is one notable exception. We often see ourselves as separate from the larger whole, as outside and apart from it. Although illogical and paradoxical for a tradition that prides itself by adherence to logic, this has been a pervading and largely unquestioned worldview.
Now, through science and renewed interest for traditional spirituality, we begin to again see ourselves as a part of a larger whole, embedded in a larger living organism: the Earth. We take part in the larger processes of this planet and are an expression of the evolution of this planet, itself embedded in and part of the processes of a larger whole, the Universe.
Meaning of Life for Human Beings (universe perspective)
Each phenomena is a part of the self-eploration process of the Universe, and each phenomenon thus fulfills its role perfectly, without effort.
So too with humans. Each human being is a perfect expression of the Universe, a product of billions of years of the self-exploration of the Universe. One aspect of one phase of the unfolding Universe.
Each phenomenon expresses in a unique way some of the potentials of the Universe. Through each human, the Universe experiences and brings more aspects of itself into awareness in a unique way.
It is impossible for any individual to not fulfill its purpose in a perfect way. Every moment, the Universe expresses itself in its wholeness through each individual.
Meaning of Life for Humans (human perspective)
A profound experience of meaning is awakened when we become aware of being part of a larger whole: humankind, an expression of the Earth, of belonging to the Universe.
A sense of separation and alienation brings an experience of lack of meaning, of not belonging. A organic sense of connectedness brings an experience of meaning and belonging.
This “carrot”, urging humans towards a more holistic experience of the Universe, is one way for the Universe to evolve into an experience of itself as one whole.
At Home in the Universe
Our worldview naturally colors our experience of the world and our existence.
A fragmented experience of the world, imposing barriers and separations, naturally alienates us from the larger whole. It sets up a situation where we easily are at the mercy of blind attractions and aversions, seeing something outside of ourselves that we do not recognize as part of ourselves. It also easily leads to an experience for blind fear and suspicion towards anything that is experienced as “other”, as we are blind for the connection between ourselves and what is “out there”.
One the other hand, experiencing the world as one whole, as one organic whole that we and all phenomena are expressions and parts of, creates a sense of belonging. All phenomena are brothers and sisters, no matter if our interactions with them are experienced as pleasant or unpleasant. Meeting something new for us is as meeting an old friend.
The Future Role of Humankind
At one point, early in the Earth’s history, simple cells took a leap and reorganized in a dramatic fashion into a collective, thus forming the first multi-cellular organism.
Every mulitcellular organism is a collective of cells, together expressing qualities not present on the level of individual cells. Among the most dramatic examples of these emergent qualities is the mind.
The sensory and awareness organs of the Earth, all Earth species, are continuously reorganizing and evolving. Many of these changes and shifts, as in the example above, appear as amazing occurrences and would not be easily predicted in advance by an observer.
It is likely that the Earth will reorganize its sensory and awareness organs in ways far beyond what we can imagine or predict today.
Diversity seems to be of major importance to the Universe and the Earth. They both produce a multitude of expressions of themselves and a multitude of ways of experiencing themselves.
At the same time, there is a tendency of phenomena to organize into more coherent wholes. In the early phase of the Universe, simple particles emerged from energy. Energy and particles spread throughout the Universe, condensed and created galaxies. From the materials within each galaxy, solar systems emerged. Within solar systems, stars and planets emerged. On Earth, single cells emerged from from water and minerals. These single cells later organized into collectives. Within these multicellular organisms, organs and limbs developed – finns, tail, head, eyes, legs, nervous system and brain. From some of these multicellular organisms, culture emerged – skills and knowledge passed on to new generations, – mythology, agriculture, technology and science.
The following are some possibilities for the future of humankind:
From what is outlined above, it may be reasonable to suggest that diversity, a wide variety of experiences and lifestyles, as well as an organization into a more coherent whole, both will be important in the future of humankind.
A more organic and holistic worldview seems to be necessary. It will integrate the different areas of human experiences and allow our lives and activities to be integrated in the larger processes of the Earth in a harmless or enriching way.
An awareness of our role as a sensory organ for the Universe and Earth may emerge on a larger scale. The Earth may awaken more fully, through humans, to an awareness of itself as one living organism.
The universe, seen as mind, seems to evolve from a state similar to sleep, via dreams and a half-awake state, to a fully awake state.
Minerals and matter, stars, rocks, gases, fluids – in these the universe is as asleep, unaware.
In plant like forms, the universe is as dreaming. In animals and most humans, the universe is experiencing a half awake state, aware of itself in bits and fragments.
In a few humans, the universe is aware of itself as one whole, fully awake. This is a state beyond all dualities and polarities, beyond words and descriptions. Beyond any intellectual understanding.
Mind as Nature
The Universe unfolds its potentials in an unending variety of ways. Galaxies, stars, nebulae, the living Earth, clouds, the atmosphere, the oceans, a flower, forests, ecosystems, experiences, culture, technology, all these are born from and part of this Universe.
The full range of human experience – including pain, suffering, joy, excitement, hopes, fears, greed, compassion, despair, bliss – is born from and part of the Universe. Just as are galaxies, mountains and clouds.
All experiences are natural phenomena – beyond good and bad. They arise and dissolve as do bubbles in a pond, dew on a petal, clouds, rivers, mountains, galaxies, and ultimately the Universe as a whole.
Assigning a value judgment to experiences – as good or bad – fragments our experience of the world. We seek to push some aspects of the universe away and to cling to others. We push some qualities of ourselves away, and do the same with situations and people who embody similar aspects. We cling to other qualities of ourselves, and cling to similar qualities in situations and people.
We do not see how all qualities are all part of a whole, a part of the Universe and the human condition. Part of being a complete human being. We often act out of half conscious aversions and attractions, complicating our own and other’s lives.
Through abandoning value assignment, we open up for space around these experiences. We can let them more freely unfold according to the processes of the Universe embedded in them. We are freed up from blindly acting on them. We have space to more freely choose actions that are more effective and appropriate to the situation.
As we give space to our inner processes, we give ourselves space to more freely choose appropriate actions.
We open for a more rewarding, rich and enjoyable interaction with others. Blind judgment is dissolved, as we are familiar with what we see in others from ourselves. We are not “better” or “worse” than the other. We give the other person space to be who she or he is, as we give our inner processes space to unfold and be what they are.
We open up for compassion through deep empathy – seeing in ourselves what we see in others. A compassion that can be actively lived in a skillful way, respectful for the integrity of the other.
Beyond this Universe
God can be seen as what is beyond all dualities, beyond mind and matter, beyond the Universe and the Earth, and yet encompassing and expressing it all.
The Universe and all phenomena are in God, are God and embodies God.
Every phenomena expresses God perfectly and fully.
Nothing is beyond, nothing is incomplete.
God can be seen as what is beyond all dualities: beyond existence and non-existence, time and space, matter and mind, life and non-life.
Glimpses of this larger whole lead to numinous experiences, of the sacred, of God.
As Gandhi said, “God is Truth”, and truth is reality itself – beyond our experience or description of it. No experience can fully grasp it, no description is adequate. Existence is One, beyond and including all polarities.
Words divide, describe what makes one phenomena different from another. Words – as any human expressions – are inadequate.
What is left is deep gratitude, humility and compassion.
The Universe experiences the Numinous (sacred) when being reminded, often below the threshold of awareness, of its own wholeness.
An experience of the sacred can come through a glimpse of sunlight as a child, peering into the Universe a dark and cloudless night, looking into the eyes of a loved one, experiencing nature, watching the ocean waves washing up on the shore, shifting ones way of looking at an ordinary situation, seeing an image representing the transdual qualities of the Mind, engaging in prayer and meditation.
It is a reminder of our own divinity, as children of the Earth, of the Universe, and if you will – of God – all existence.