If someone with multiple personalities
threatens to kill himself,
is it considered a hostage situation?
~ George Carlin
Joanna Macy writes, “Because the relationship between self and world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened and then acting. As we work to heal the Earth, the Earth heals us; there is no need to wait. When we care enough to take risks we loosen the grip of the ego and begin to come home to our true nature. For, in the co–arising nature of things, the world itself, if we are bold to love it, acts through us.”
Can you be bold to love the world? Can you put your love for the world first? When you do, when it’s the real thing, you discover that “you” is not really “I,” it is “we.” Such a fundamental identity shift is disruptive and liberating.
Can a plant be intelligent? Some plant scientists insist plants are intelligent, since they can sense, learn, remember, and even react in ways that would be familiar to humans.
For the longest time, even mentioning the idea that plants could be intelligent was a quick way to being labeled a ‘whacko’, but no more, which might be comforting to people who have long talked to their plants or played music for them. The new research is in a field called plant neurobiology -- which is something of a misnomer, because even scientists in the field don't agree that plants have neurons or brains. They have analagous structures. They have ways of taking all the sensory data they gather in their everyday lives, integrate it, and then behave in an appropriate way in response. And they do this without brains, which, in a way, is what's incredible about it, because we automatically assume you need a brain to process information.
WE CONTAIN MULTITUDES
Interestingly, we may have been measuring intelligence in an unintelligent way! And perhaps our search for alien life forms should start closer to home? We are not alone as the only conscious species on this planet; we have never been alone, and we can never be anything but destructive as a single, separate “I.”
Individuation, the psychological norm for “growing up” -- programming human isolation and domination over every other species -- turns out to be a passport to insanity. We are not meant to exist in narcissistic bubbles as separate individuals. We live in a community of many, within and without. Walt Whitman wrote, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.”
Aspects of these multitudes show up as “selves” but we get stuck on a few of them, so much so that we may assume that this “one” is who we are. Then, without warning, that crazy self pops out like a cuckoo, embarrassing everyone. We all have a few of those characters in our cast. A little too much wine and out he or she comes.
Our inability to control the many may explain our quest for the one.
Who do we worship in the western world? What is the nature of our God? One old man. He has no wife and no family but for us, His eternal children who never grow up, apparently. He is our God, our one and only God; how many millions of people believe that fervently?
Today, here in the twenty-first century, when we can transplant hearts and send people into space, it’s still heretical to dare suggest there’s a feminine aspect to divinity. How many millions believe that their particular angry male God is the only one and all others are abominations? Some believe it with enough white-hot passion to kill those who disagree.
Indigenous cultures knew God as spirits that animated every form. They did not worship a belief; their Spirit lived in nature and permeated all living things. There was no life without the Great Spirit. The white man’s preference for concepts and harsh rules seemed crazy to them, and it’s even more insane today. How many millions have been killed in centuries-long religious conflicts, shrinking the complexity of divinity into a single being? Madness.
So, the problem has two faces: a personal identity limited to the singular, (when we all contain multitudes); and a Divine being limited to the singular (when the Great Spirit lives in all and everything).
There’s a further error. Howard Clinebell wrote in Ecotherapy – Healing Ourselves, Healing the Earth:
To all these interdependent alienations must now be added the two-fold alienation from nature – from our own inner ‘wildness’ and from organic bonding with nature. This alienation is a bottom–line cause of violent behavior toward nature, toward our bodies, and toward others perceived as ‘wild.’ Healing and preventing this violence involves healing the Earth alienation that is at their roots. Helping people learn to open themselves to be nurtured more deeply and often by nature is one crucial focus of holistic healing, teaching, and parenting.
OPENING THE HEART
We may justifiably fear the multitude we sense within us. Our complex and numerous emotions are ultimately uncontrollable, yet we are inhuman without them.
We can stuff our feelings, damning ourselves to a twilight limbo of robotic existence, but sooner or later we will feel. This can produce outbursts of destructive, irrational behaviors – witness employee shootings that surprise everyone (“He was so quiet, polite, I would never have guessed...”).
How many more lonely individuals are out there feeling separate and alienated from others?
THE REAL TEACHER
Walter R. Christie wrote in Howard Clinebell’s book: “Nature is our teacher, because much of who we are is indistinguishable from her, although mystics who have gone before us say that in the higher realms of consciousness is revealed a world of pure light and energy that permeates all natural forms. However, we still have much to learn; we are gifted creatures, but we are dangerous creatures too."
To survive and thrive requires opening our hearts to feel what we’ve feared to feel, to realize that we are only special in the same way that every other species is special. We are not singularly exceptional after all. We are uniquely ourselves, as is every other species. We are peers and we are connected.
We are a multitude.
Copyright 2016. Natural Wisdom LLC.
Reprinted with permission of the author.
Now or Never: A Time Traveler's Guide to Personal and Global Transformation
by Will Wilkinson
Discover, learn, and master simple and powerful techniques for creating the future you prefer and healing past traumas, to improve the quality of your personal life and help create a thriving future for our great grandchildren.
About the Author
Will Wilkinson is a senior consultant with Luminary Communications in Ashland, Oregon. He has written and delivered programs in conscious living for forty years, interviewed scores of leading edge change agents, and pioneered experiments in small scale alternative economies. Find out more at willtwilkinson.com/