Writing this entry has been an exercise in moving from the particular and personal to the very general and the sublime. Then it changed name a couple of times and finally morphed into a series.
As so often, it started with the need to explore a troubling ‘felt sense’ in my own inner life, and broadened out to engage the kosmos in un-looked-for ways.
The entry in my journal from 8 July reads: “I am engaging in a simple thought experiment. It is very revealing to sit and observe the feelings in my body as I contemplate the idea of resigning from my work and going to live full-time in Ransberg. There are all sorts of subtle pushes, pulls and tightenings. The more real I make my imaginations, the less subtle the sensations become! I can interpret them as a mix of emotions ranging from abject terror to an existential yearning for freedom, to sublime joy.”
Not knowing quite where to take this experiment, I had been waiting for synchronicity to show up. It did so in the form of Dave Pollard’s blog entry entitled “Living in our own Worlds” which, typically, had been open in my browser, awaiting my attention since the previous morning, before I started writing this piece.
He writes: “Just as we are part of a culture (and/or subcultures and/or “alternative” cultures), we are also a part of a greater whole, the organism of all-life-on-Earth, which has collectively self-regulated for more than a billion years to optimize the survival, diversity and joy of our lives.
“And we are, in turn, made up of organisms, which have given us the illusion of being a single creature by evolving a collective ‘consciousness’. That collective consciousness is extremely useful, allowing the organisms that make up ‘us’ to act ‘single-mindedly’ (especially useful in times of fight-or-flight crisis).
So we are constantly processing three sets of messages that produce three different worldviews of who we are:
- Messages from our component organisms, both conscious (directed through our brains) and subconscious (instinctive, programmed and somatic).
- Messages from our culture, telling us who ‘we’ are, what to believe and what to do.
- Messages from the global organism (‘Gaia’) telling us how to adjust our behaviour and adapt to changes for the optimal well-being and balance of all life on the planet.
I think this is a really rich and valid perspective – although, as always, the picture (and its meaning) changes as soon as we change our filters. But this explanation certainly sheds light on some of the warring sensations in my body. I have a tendency, these days, to align in favour of Gaia, but Gaia won’t be helped by having another sick and disempowered organism bumbling around causing mayhem on her surface, so I am nevertheless called to do what I need to stay healthy in body, mind and spirit.
Aloneness is a perspective
The rest of Dave’s blog – well worth reading – is a pondering about how to proceed to ‘save the world’, based on the premise that “we are all, despite our a-part-ness, ultimately utterly alone. We may live in the same place, walk the same streets, but it is as if we all live in different universes.” That statement struck me as being only partially valid.
I am of a growing conviction that “people are as we see them”. In other words, they respond to our unspoken (and often even unconscious) assumptions about who they are. Personally, I feel alone only when I am feeling disconnected from Gaia. When I am in nature, in my garden, or engaged in some grounded activity around the house, I feel the presence of All-That-Is within and around me. When I engage with others from that space, whatever I do is Gaia’s work – the re-weaving of the torn subtle fabric of community that binds us to each other and to our planet.
Dave says “We can only care about what, and who, we know”. I think the key lies in what we mean by ‘know’. There are different depths to knowing, and in the dominant discourse of our society, we only really relate to the most superficial kind – the kind of knowing that is based on cognitive, discursive knowledge, filled in with a lot of opinion, judgement (our own, other people’s, and received from our culture at large) and – let us not forget – projection. When our knowing stays at that level, Pollard has a point.
But there are deeper levels of knowing that I can access and learn to live in, particularly as I sink into a more intimate and wordless relationship with Gaia and her nature, that leave me able to deeply know and care about things and people that I not only have never met, but will most likely never encounter, let alone get to know at the superficial level. In that organic place of conscious symbiosis there is implicit knowing that there is no separation. It’s a different quality of knowing that has nothing to do with the cognitive and discursive – perhaps it’s instinctual; perhaps we share this capacity with all the other creatures that cohabit this place. But whatever it is, it is of the ocean, not of the waves.
In the next part of this series, I want to look at some of those levels of knowing that are starting to emerge into human awareness.