This latest lockdown for many has been a time of disconnection and misery; for others, it’s been a time of reflection and self-discovery. For me, it’s been a pretty mixed bag. But, one thing for which I’m grateful that has arisen from yet another extended period of social isolation is my transition from being really quite a die-hard atheist to feeling what I can only describe as ‘spiritually awakened’.
This isn’t to say I’ve suddenly subscribed to any singular God in this time. On the contrary, my ‘awakening’ has much more so taken the form of one core realisation: in essence, we are all well and truly the same. Animals; plants; particles floating through the atmosphere; all of us. We’re all just elements of partial consciousness of the Universe, trapped in the bodies of our flesh vehicles. We’ve always been led to believe that we each are individuals experiencing the Universe when in fact, we’re the Universe experiencing individuality.
It sounds potentially quite radical; yet, the evidence for this has always been resting right before our collectively hazed vision.
If we observe animals, we can see them exhibiting the same emotional range as us people: dogs become excitable when greeted by those who they love; cats bristle when they feel their independence is being invaded. Pet owners will swear that their non-human family members can understand and really endeavour to provide comfort on particularly hard days. There have even been cases of elephants encasing lost humans in the desert, shielding them from the harm of savage hyenas. Humpback whales have acted similarly, keeping seals safe from killer whales.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, even plant-life has heart-warmingly been known to behave in similar such ways, displaying high levels of empathetic intelligence. After 30 years of studies led by ecologist Suzanne Simard, we have discovered that trees in temperate forests specifically have an intricate system of communication in the soil through their roots, which extends for kilometres into the forest as an underground “Wood” Wide Web. This communication system is so complete and effective that it significantly aids the continued survival of the collective flora. In action, this occurs via the empathic actions of strong individuals within the network in passing the necessary nutrients to those individuals under threat in the network, protecting them from pesky pests.
Yet, we could only imagine living in such a society which upheld such selfless aims of true caregiving and solidarity. Our capitalist structure causes us to become so self-interested that we totally lose sight of this gentle magic that is happening around us.
We ignore this magic because it enables us to, without conscience, abuse our environments in the name of our short-term happiness; in the name of conformity to our broken system, devoid of empathy. We trivialise these connections that animals and plants alike share with each other because it hurts us to admit that we – the ‘superior species’ – have ‘advanced’ so far that we’ve severed our own sense of connection, not only to those around us, but also with ourselves. We have unintentionally stripped ourselves of that most powerful knowledge of which we would be naturally aware, if we just allowed ourselves to breathe with the world and not get so overwhelmingly wrapped up in our own constraining constructs.
We have allowed ourselves to become our Egos and thus become too wrapped up in attempting to create impossibly fixed ‘identities’ for ourselves, as opposed to merely using our Egos as tools to navigate the world that we have created. As a result, we generally identify far too strongly with each of our passing emotions.
We – at our core – are never completely those who are happy, sad, angry, or in love. Instead, as the little parts of consciousness of the Universe that we are, we are merely the observers of all of these emotions that comprise our experiences of individuality. Critically, the sooner we recognise this, the easier it becomes to let go of emotions and thought loops that don’t serve us, for that is not who we are; we have the power to form and reform our ‘identities’ at any given moment.
There is no quick or easy way to begin truly believing these realisations. All you can do to follow this path is to live life with intention and make conscious efforts to be at one and present with all things around us. However, as I can attest, once you start to think in this way and begin living your everyday life by these ‘core’ truths… that’s when you’ll see your world explode.
Header image credit: CNN