How can something be both separate and unified?
Take heart dear friend,
As we approach every day we have the opportunity to choose how to relate to our life, and therefore existence itself. Most of us regularly make choices about how to live while taking so much for granted. While we would probably be paralyzed by awe if we fully perceived the complexity of living, opening ourselves slightly to the hidden context of life might give us a fresh perspective from which to make new choices.
The present reality of most people, regardless of where in the world we might live, is some degree of alienation. Whether we see ourselves as an individual, family member, community member, citizen, or member of a species all the variety of identities and identifications we hold are layers that keep us separate from each other, and ultimately from life itself. We know ourselves through our relationships, but even our relationships are colored by the social, economic, political, cultural, and historical differences that inform of us of who (and how) we are. We are likely to feel confusion or conflict when we are confronted with the world's wisdom traditions, which tell us to let ourselves rest in what is not wrapped up in separateness. How can something be both separate and unified?
As you read this, hundreds of thousands of imperceptible chemical and energetic exchanges take place within and around you. Every breath, and every blink of your eye could not account for the number of processes that make it possible simply to exist in these human forms. We are the inheritors of every chemical and biological process that has ever taken place. Every simple life form that has carried carbon molecules, and every protein strand that was temporarily housed in some cell membrane have been recombined and recycled by life itself. Our breaths are recycled dinosaur breaths. Our footsteps tread the tracks of billions of previous forms of life. Every molecule of water that moves into and out of our body has or will pass through every part of this planet at some point.
All the phenomena of nature appear to be completely separated by time, by kind, and by scale, and yet they all exist in the space of this one planet. However, this one planet, is only one point of reference for life and all the various processes that can happen. If we were to expand our view beyond this planet, and consider the vastness of the cosmos, the seeming endlessness of space, and the unfathomable amount of time, our view of what is possible, of what life can be like, becomes much more broad.
While there might be some social and material rewards to operating within the narrow confines of norms and ideologies we lose possibilities, choices, and potential. When we have the humility to recognize the vastness of context that gives rise to life, we may have the opportunity to share our vulnerabilities, to bridge the gaps of ideas that keep us separate as humans and as living beings. If we could hold our differences lightly, even celebrate them, and see the common causes and effects of our actions, words, and thoughts, we might heal the wounds we have inflicted upon each other knowingly and unknowingly. With an awareness of the "both/and" nature of life, we are in a powerful position to choose how and who we might become. We can solve the problems that we ourselves have created, and find elegant and enriching ways to live beyond what we have known. What would it take for each of us to rise to meet such possibilities?
Inspired by Camaron de la Isla - "Como El Agua"