“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” ~ John Muir
“True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self elements. There’s no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected” ~ Nhat Hanh
Across most if not all religious, spiritual and mystical traditions, the ultimate state, the supreme realization, is one of Unity – the separation’s we observe through our sensory systems are illusions. Even in the world of quantum physics, “at that deepest subnuclear level of our reality, you & I are literally one.” (John Hagelin, PhD).
Medical science has also shown us that the large magnetic field which emanates from our heart’s, have a direct effect on the heart’s of those around us through the induction of current. We are all familiar with how you can “sense” the tension of an agitated person when they walk into room. Although body language plays a part in this, so does the electromagnetic connection or influence which surrounds us from the people in close proximity to us.
The Buddhists believe in something called Dependant Origination. Everything in the Universe is connected with everything else. In Hindu traditions there is a concept known as Indra’s Net or the Net of Gems. Each connected gem reflects the image of its neighbours, which in turn reflects all the others. A symbolic metaphor for the fundamental interconnectedness in the Universe. In South Africa there is a social philosophy called Ubuntu which translates into a basic humanity towards others or “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity” (Wikipedia). Once again the message is the same – we are all connected. And when 9 the year old Oglala Lakota (Sioux) called Black Elk had his transformational vision , he saw that “the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle“. Once again, a symbolic metaphor nearly identical to the Hindu Net of Gems – we are all connected.
“Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father.” (Nicholas Black Elk)
So we have medical science, spiritual traditions dating back thousands of years, social and psychological sciences and even quantum physics which are all giving us the same message – we are all connected. It is this realisation and experience of Unity and interconnectedness which is at the heart of the profound transformational effect of all religious and mystical experiences. Once you “know” this in the core of your being, once you know that you and every other person, every other form of life, every tree or flower in the forest, every grain of sand on the beach and all the stars and planets in the galaxies are literally connected with you at some level, nothing ever looks the same again.
When you experience or realise this fundamental interconnectedness, you then understand with perfect clarity that the way you treat other’s and how you perceive and interact with the world, directly and literally effects how you are treated and how you perceive and experience the world. The thoughts, emotions, actions, judgements and intentions you put out into the world, are what comes back to impact your own life, your own thoughts, emotions, actions, judgements and intentions.
Psychological science has also demonstrated that the happiest people in the world are those who give more to others, rather than take for themselves. The more selfless and grateful we are, the happier we are in our lives. When you combine all the evidence or suggestions of interconnectedness from our spiritual and scientific traditions, with the psychology of happiness, there would seem to be one conclusion which should shape our behaviour in this world. This conclusion is compassion. Although there is an obvious moral compulsion to relieve the suffering in others, there is also a very practical and even self-serving reason to be compassionate. By helping others to be relieved of their suffering we directly and indirectly relieve the suffering in our own lives, which leads to happiness.
It would seem the Dalai Lama had it right all along.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”. ~ Dalai Lama
The Science of Interconnectedness