Recognize Interconnectivity

Everything Is Connected

“Walk­ing on the moon will change the weath­er,” is a quote attrib­uted to a shaman in Africa in response to the lunar land­ing in 1969. The resource deple­tion required for space explo­ration offers one exam­ple of the need to rec­og­nize the rela­tions between all mat­ter and energy.

The New York Times front page, July 21 1969

“Con­nec­tion is every­thing. Con­nect with oth­ers, and with your spir­i­tu­al self. Love the truth you find in oth­er hearts, and always lis­ten to the voice of truth in your own heart. Be as fair, hon­est, pos­i­tive and cre­ative as you can in all your thoughts, speech and actions. The heart of our human kind is tol­er­ant, coop­er­a­tive, car­ing and coura­geous.”Gre­go­ry David Roberts

All life, every­where, com­pris­es a uni­ver­sal design. That over­all design reveals com­plex con­nec­tions that account for infi­nite vari­a­tion, as well as repeat­ing pat­terns. The largest objects, like the sun and plan­ets of our solar sys­tem, share sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics with even the small­est ele­ments, like atoms, the build­ing blocks for all ordi­nary mat­ter. Elec­trons orbit the nucle­us of an atom in the same way our plan­et orbits around the sun.1 The struc­ture of the human body also shares many qual­i­ties with the anato­my of our plan­et: each is made up of around 70% water,2 each has chakra points,3 and each is great­ly affect­ed by its rela­tion to sun­light and the pull of the moon’s cycle. 

Buzz Aldrin’s boot­print, NASA, 1969

Earth’s rain­forests behave like lungs. Trees are inte­gral parts of the planet’s res­pi­ra­to­ry sys­tem. Defor­esta­tion and pol­lu­tion are mak­ing it hard for our plan­et to breathe, which in turn makes it very dif­fi­cult for us to breathe. We have to do bet­ter to take care of both our indi­vid­ual bod­ies, as well as our col­lec­tive lands, waters, and ecosys­tems. All bio­log­i­cal sys­tems are con­nect­ed through an extra­or­di­nary set of rela­tion­ships. When one sys­tem is ill cared for, it affects every oth­er sys­tem and its con­stituent parts. The ques­tion that occurs to us then becomes: How can we address the inter­re­lat­ed symp­toms of our soci­etal system—such as inequal­i­ty, pover­ty, and con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed water—as we would address any issue relat­ed to own phys­i­cal health? When the work­ing order of our bod­ies begins to fail, we seek to begin cor­rec­tive mea­sures imme­di­ate­ly. So then why does Flint, Michi­gan still not have clean drink­ing water after five years? Because of mas­sive sys­temic cor­rup­tion and lack of account­abil­i­ty. These issues, in turn, lead to a fail­ure of col­lec­tive con­fi­dence in gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions. The repair to this kind of dis­trust must first begin with acknowl­edg­ing how we are all con­nect­ed as peo­ple and forms of life, and using that fun­da­men­tal rea­son for respect as a jump­ing off point toward prop­er­ly address­ing what ails us the most.

There is a great deal of evi­dence to sup­port the idea that our human design can be under­stood as an exten­sion of oth­er designs in nature. In the ear­ly 1900s, Indi­an physi­cist, Jagadish Chan­dra Bose, stud­ied the ner­vous sys­tem of plants and lec­tured about the ways in which plants exhib­it per­cep­tion sim­i­lar to how humans receive, and react to, infor­ma­tion. Among the var­i­ous devices Bose invent­ed was a cresco­graph, a device used to detect plant growth, very small motions with­in plant tis­sues, and to mea­sure plants’ elec­tri­cal respons­es to var­i­ous stim­uli. Through his research, Bose came to under­stand that plants respond not only to light, but to sound and touch as well. Rec­og­niz­ing this sen­so­ry capac­i­ty of plant-life helps us under­stand how human­i­ty is not the only species that feels. This recog­ni­tion, in turn, can open up a greater sense of aware­ness and appre­ci­a­tion for life in what­ev­er form it takes.

All actions have con­se­quences, whether intend­ed or not. The health of our plan­et and our own bod­ies are well served to rec­og­nize how our actions, and even our thoughts, mat­ter. Think­ing about the var­i­ous ele­ments we incor­po­rate into our lives, leads to a larg­er con­sid­er­a­tion of the abil­i­ty of envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors to influ­ence how we feel, and even who we become. There have even been sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies explor­ing the influ­ence of envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors on a cel­lu­lar level.

Solar array pro­to­type inspired by origa­mi tech­niques, BYU, 2014

In the ear­ly 1980s, Dr. Bruce Lipton’s research on the biol­o­gy of a cell’s out­er lay­er revealed how a cel­lu­lar mem­brane can behave like a com­put­er chip in its capac­i­ty to store infor­ma­tion. Con­tin­u­ing these stud­ies into the ear­ly 1990s led Lip­ton to con­clude that the cel­lu­lar mem­brane also serves as a kind of mis­sion con­trol for respond­ing to the envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions expe­ri­enced by an organ­ism. In this way, the mem­brane is able to change the cell’s behav­ior, and even phys­i­ol­o­gy, by influ­enc­ing the genet­ic activ­i­ty of cor­re­spond­ing cells. This con­cept was foun­da­tion­al to the emerg­ing field of epi­ge­net­ics. This abil­i­ty, for gene expres­sion to be mod­i­fied based on envi­ron­men­tal changes, has been instru­men­tal in rethink­ing the nature of genomes. As Lip­ton explained to the news­pa­per Irish Inde­pen­dent in 2014, “Genes don’t con­trol any­thing, they’re just blue­prints. Where­as ‘epi­ge­net­ic control’—control above the genes—turns every­thing on its head. The envi­ron­ment influ­ences the selec­tion and read­ing of genes. A person’s health isn’t gen­er­al­ly a reflec­tion of genes, but how their envi­ron­ment is influ­enc­ing them.”4 The impli­ca­tions of envi­ron­men­tal influ­ence on gene expres­sion have led to wide­spread alter­ations in what peo­ple eat, where they live, what they do for work, and every oth­er con­ceiv­able lifestyle choice.

Con­tin­ued dis­cov­er­ies of the inter­con­nec­tions deep with­in our bod­ies and envi­ron­ments have the effect of expand­ing con­scious­ness on an indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive lev­el. We are not iso­lat­ed, nor apart, from nature. The more sci­ence has looked the more we see evi­dence of incred­i­ble syn­chro­niza­tion between our­selves and nature. Quan­tum entan­gle­ment describes the phe­nom­e­non in which mul­ti­ple par­ti­cles share the same state. Accord­ing to

Lead poi­soned water in Flint, Michi­gan, 2015

this the­o­ry, an action upon one par­ti­cle effects the action of the oth­ers regard­less of how lit­tle, or how much, space exists between them. This phenomenon—which was also described by Ein­stein as “spooky action at a dis­tance”5—leads to the mys­tery of non-local­i­ty (mean­ing that trans­for­ma­tion­al inter­ac­tions can occur between objects even when those objects do not share the same phys­i­cal space). Some­times this phe­nom­e­na can seem to occur in dai­ly life. Like when a per­son receives a wave of emo­tion at the same time as some­one else they are close­ly con­nect­ed with. Obser­va­tions like these reveal how despite any phys­i­cal dis­tance, we are inex­tri­ca­bly con­nect­ed through the nature of existence.

Recognize Interconnectivity

Consciousness Is the Foundation for Everything

Con­scious­ness is inti­mate­ly involved in all phys­i­cal and meta­phys­i­cal phe­nom­e­na; a fun­da­men­tal truth and orga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple of the universe.

“Con­scious­ness isn’t some­thing we have; it’s some­thing we, and the whole world, are.” Jude Cur­rivan

Does a dog know it’s a dog? How does a bird know to sing in the morn­ing? How do we come to ask our­selves: Why are we here and where are we going? Con­scious­ness plays a pri­ma­ry role in these ques­tions. While no one has yet been able to prove what con­scious­ness is or where it comes from, we can all feel its effects. If we take the hypoth­e­sis that con­scious­ness is not a prod­uct of the brain, but instead a facet of being alive, then the con­ver­sa­tion begins to open up…

What even has con­scious­ness? A liv­ing sys­tem cer­tain­ly has con­scious­ness, a more spe­cif­ic ques­tion is: what kind? A plant is con­scious of where sun­light shines and it reach­es in the direc­tion of that light. This kind of plant behav­ior is well under­stood on a bio-mechan­i­cal lev­el and through the lens of per­cep­tive behav­ior. Per­haps a more appro­pri­ate ques­tion to ask might be: How can we, as humans, adapt our con­scious­ness to con­nect on more of the myr­i­ad fre­quen­cies chan­nel­ing through­out the web of life?

The Music of the Plants research began at Daman­hur in 1976, when res­i­dent researchers cre­at­ed an instru­ment that was able to cap­ture the elec­tro­mag­net­ic vari­a­tions of the sur­face of plant leaves and roots, and turn them into sounds. It took the find­ings on plant intel­li­gence and plant per­cep­tion to anoth­er level.

Ron Cobb, 1969

Around the world, researchers con­tin­ue to explore where con­scious­ness comes from and how it evolves. For the last twen­ty years, at the Ernst Strüng­mann Insti­tute in Ger­many, neu­ro­phys­i­ol­o­gist Pas­cal Fries has been inves­ti­gat­ing how the elec­tri­cal pat­terns of gam­ma, theta, and beta waves work togeth­er in the brain to pro­duce dif­fer­ent types of human con­scious­ness. The hypoth­e­sis of Fries’ research is that rhyth­mic syn­chro­niza­tion between net­works of neu­rons is linked to how the human brain has evolved over time to process infor­ma­tion.6 In look­ing into his research, we won­der how the under­ly­ing mech­a­nisms of neu­ronal syn­chro­niza­tion might be under­stood and lever­aged in the future to fos­ter enhanced cog­ni­tion and deep­er con­nec­tions between individuals.

Illus­tra­tion of con­scious­ness by sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry physi­cian and occult philoso­pher Robert Fludd

We are fas­ci­nat­ed by how brain func­tion relates to the mind’s abil­i­ty to move beyond the bound­aries of phys­i­cal space and time. With this capa­bil­i­ty, the mind can tru­ly become our

Tarot Cards by Suzanne Treister

most pow­er­ful means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­veyance. Per­haps one way to begin to under­stand how the mind might even learn to con­trol mat­ter in the future, is to first rec­og­nize how every­thing in the phys­i­cal world is always in motion. As with all mat­ter, the var­i­ous parts of our bod­ies com­prise chan­nels of ener­gy that vibrate at var­i­ous fre­quen­cies. If we can learn how to syn­chro­nize the fre­quen­cies occur­ring through our bod­ies and minds with the fre­quen­cies of oth­er mat­ter, then per­haps we can actu­al­ly learn to make that mat­ter change its fre­quen­cy and cor­re­spond­ing motion.

At UC San­ta Bar­bara, Jonathan School­er (Pro­fes­sor of Psy­cho­log­i­cal and Brain Sci­ences) and his col­league Tam Hunt (an Affil­i­ate Guest in Psy­chol­o­gy in the university’s META Lab) devel­oped a “res­o­nance the­o­ry of con­scious­ness”.7 Their the­o­ry posits that syn­chro­nized vibra­tions com­prise not only human con­scious­ness, but all phys­i­cal real­i­ty. As Hunt explains,

“Even objects that appear to be sta­tion­ary are in fact vibrat­ing, oscil­lat­ing, res­onat­ing, at var­i­ous fre­quen­cies. Res­o­nance is a type of motion, char­ac­ter­ized by oscil­la­tion between two states. And ulti­mate­ly all mat­ter is just vibra­tions of var­i­ous under­ly­ing fields.”
Tam Hunt 8

In light of every­thing in the uni­verse being in motion, the phe­nom­e­non of res­o­nance offers a frame­work for how dif­fer­ent ele­ments are brought togeth­er through a shared vibra­tional state of exis­tence. We can feel when we res­onate with anoth­er per­son by how we are drawn to that indi­vid­ual; how our con­ver­sa­tion with them can feel instant­ly effort­less and expan­sive. Or, we might res­onate with a cer­tain place, whether it’s a city puls­ing with quick ener­gy or a peace­ful and idyl­lic coun­try­side. Res­o­nance expe­ri­enced through cer­tain fre­quen­cies reveals how con­nec­tions are formed and cul­ti­vat­ed. If con­scious­ness is a uni­ver­sal con­stant between all that exists, and if all that exists is always mov­ing, then we can think of con­scious­ness as the ever-chang­ing con­duit through which every­thing is expe­ri­enced by everyone.

Recognize Interconnectivity

We Are Infants of Our Galaxy

Stars glow for bil­lions of years, while we burn out in about a cen­tu­ry. If not in our infan­cy, our species is still in a nascent form, not unlike ram­bunc­tious kinder­garten­ers or inse­cure teens. In what ways do we want to grow up?

“One day while I was sip­ping some groove juice I real­ized / That in the span of time we’re just babies / It’s all rel­a­tive, time is unre­al / We’re just babies, we’re just babies, man.” — But­ter­fly, Diga­ble Plan­ets, “Exam­i­na­tion of What”

We are made up of the same atoms that were once stars before they explod­ed eons ago. Life and death cycle through­out time and space. The birth of the cos­mos was either the begin­ning of life or the death of what­ev­er void exist­ed before. Regard­less, life and death are just about the only two things we can all count on. Nei­ther can exist with­out the other.

What cre­at­ed the cos­mos? We can’t say for sure, but we do know that unique set of con­di­tions marked a dis­tinc­tive moment in the biog­ra­phy of life. Life ebbs and flows, finds expres­sion in many forms, but goes into infin­i­ty, through an ongo­ing series of begin­nings. And to what end?

“The cos­mos is with­in us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the uni­verse to know itself.”— Carl Sagan

In the book, Liv­ing With the Stars: How the Human Body Is Con­nect­ed to the Life Cycles of the Earth, the Plan­ets, and the Stars, Pro­fes­sor of Pathol­o­gy Iris Schri­jver, and her hus­band, astro­physi­cist Karel Schri­jver, help explain how star­dust finds its way into our bod­ies. Part of that dust is made up of hydro­gen, the fun­da­men­tal ele­ment that was cre­at­ed with the birth of our uni­verse. The hydro­gen in our water and in our bod­ies is the rem­nants of that mys­te­ri­ous ini­tial spark.9

Carl Sagan, CBS, 1974

There are still many mys­ter­ies of our exis­tence to dis­cov­er. The uni­verse is an end­less­ly fas­ci­nat­ing place, evi­denced by the far­thest reach­es of what we have seen. The Hub­ble tele­scope has allowed us to reveal about 100 bil­lion galax­ies in the uni­verse. And, in each galaxy there are approx­i­mate­ly 100 bil­lion stars. Our own Milky Way galaxy is esti­mat­ed to con­tain more than 10 bil­lion plan­ets.10 Thanks to NASA’s Kepler space­craft, the num­ber of exo­plan­ets dis­cov­ered out­side our solar sys­tem con­tin­ues to dra­mat­i­cal­ly grow.11

Neu­ro­science of Con­scious­ness by Mesa Schumacher

Accord­ing to a cal­cu­la­tion report­ed in Forbes, the num­ber of poten­tial­ly hab­it­able Earth-like plan­ets in our uni­verse is more than 10 to the 22nd pow­er.12 The impli­ca­tion here is that there are expo­nen­tial pos­si­bil­i­ties for all the diverse types of life-forms with which we may share the universe.

Excerpt from children’s book “You Are Star­dust”, Elin Kelsey, 2012

Every end coin­cides with a new begin­ning. Death marks an end of a sort, but cer­tain­ly not the end. Life evolves through cre­ativ­i­ty —a potent force as expressed through diverse exam­ples of pro­cre­ation, self-real­iza­tion, col­lec­tive actu­al­iza­tion, and inno­va­tion. Human­i­ty must con­tin­ue to evolve at this cur­rent, crit­i­cal world­wide inflec­tion point, not only tech­no­log­i­cal­ly, but also soci­etal­ly and eco­log­i­cal­ly. We believe in the pow­er of respon­si­bil­i­ty and renew­al to change course from dis­as­ter to the heal­ing uplift of a won­drous rise.

“We are evo­lu­tion evolv­ing through us. We are the great cre­ative process, express­ing itself unique­ly through each of us. We are the uni­verse in per­son.”— Bar­bara Marx Hubbard

To get our­selves onto a path of sus­tain­abil­i­ty, the cur­rent sta­tus quo will have to expe­ri­ence a kind of death. And, in par­tic­u­lar, we will wit­ness death to the oil industry—itself an indus­try of death, drudg­ing up deposits that’ve been dead for about 60 mil­lion years and burn­ing that death in our engines and pow­er plants.

“So we stand for life. Let’s pow­er a new civ­i­liza­tion based on a liv­ing sun, based on the liv­ing wind, based on the liv­ing imag­i­na­tion of our chil­dren and based on the clean­li­ness, and the puri­ty, and the sacred­ness of our water.”
— Van Jones, speak­ing at a Dako­ta Access Pipeline protest

Regen­er­a­tive change begins with learn­ing how to lessen our excess­es and lis­ten to the  wis­dom liv­ing and breath­ing all around us. We should go forth with rev­er­ence for life, the almighty force that con­tin­u­ous­ly finds the most spec­tac­u­lar and beau­ti­ful ways to exist.

We believe that, as a species, we are only just begin­ning to come into our con­scious­ness. And yet, we tend to be pret­ty proud of our­selves already, with some good enough rea­sons. In the space of a geo­log­i­cal blink, we’ve estab­lished our­selves as the pre-emi­nent life-forms on Earth. We even named our­selves “homo sapi­ens”, Latin for “wise man”. Takes a lot of con­fi­dence to call our­selves wise, espe­cial­ly when we quite often act like fools. What we des­per­ate­ly need is humil­i­ty. Our lack of humil­i­ty is evi­denced by how we scar nat­ur­al land­scapes to fit our out­sized needs. Fur­ther proof appears in a hazy night sky, where light pol­lu­tion from noc­tur­nal human activ­i­ty com­pro­mis­es a view of the cosmos.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the cos­mos from “Oedi­pus Aegyp­ti­a­cus”, Athana­sius Kircher, 1652

Dur­ing this time of seem­ing­ly end­less tech­no­log­i­cal accel­er­a­tion, we should remain mind­ful that we’re still strug­gling to grasp some basic fun­da­men­tal truths. We still need to learn how to live peace­ful­ly and sus­tain­ably on this plan­et. We should rec­og­nize the nat­ur­al wis­dom we’re los­ing in our rapid expan­sion across land and through irre­spon­si­ble use of resources. We must also show greater appre­ci­a­tion for the ancient wis­doms of indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties being mar­gin­al­ized in the name of progress.

We feel oblig­at­ed to acknowl­edge that our com­mand of sci­ence is still nascent. We are still so far from any­thing that could tru­ly be described as an advanced species. This recog­ni­tion of our rel­a­tive infan­cy should be a fur­ther call for humil­i­ty in the pres­ence of nature. Our tech­no­log­i­cal abil­i­ty is not in doubt, but how we choose to use it is often ques­tion­able. How else might we focus our tech­no­log­i­cal efforts? As writer Anand Girid­haradas said in response to the devel­op­ment of a super­son­ic jet, “What would that kind of resource of trea­sure and also of intel­lect do if it were deployed to think about pub­lic trans­porta­tion in Amer­i­ca? What would that do if it were deployed to think about the cli­mate change prob­lem?”13

Humans have moved from a pre­dom­i­nant­ly agrar­i­an glob­al soci­ety, focused on grow­ing an abun­dance of food and cash crops, into a large­ly com­mer­cial soci­ety, focused on grow­ing prof­it mar­gins for any­thing that can be sold. Com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion seeps into all avenues of life. This is hard­ly an ide­al sit­u­a­tion. We won­der more what humanity’s next glob­al shift might entail. Our incli­na­tion is that a mis­use of resources could be cur­tailed by first rec­og­niz­ing the rela­tion between our resource use, and the over­all health of our plan­et and its diverse species.

We do not believe a slick mobile app or iter­a­tive algo­rithm will offer the solu­tions to our larg­er soci­etal prob­lems. Rather, we think it’s cru­cial we look out­side of our screens and start imag­in­ing large-scale changes in how we expe­ri­ence our place in the world. What will it take to stop rely­ing on fos­sil fuels for our cars and air­planes and to trav­el with zero emis­sions instead? Coun­tries, like Nor­way, have demon­strat­ed a com­mit­ment to answer­ing this ques­tion in their pledge to achieve zero-emis­sions air trav­el by 2040.14 For the time being, hydro­gen fuel cell pow­er is pro­vid­ing inroads into deal­ing with this mas­sive world­wide issue, but this advance­ment amounts to a baby step in the jour­ney toward com­plete sus­tain­abil­i­ty. Sure­ly, we can all con­tin­ue to exer­cise our imag­i­na­tions more effec­tive­ly toward tack­ling this exis­ten­tial threat to our species and planet.

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