The Sanskrit term, samadhi, describes the meditative revelation of oneness with all that exists. We are interested in how coming to this universal realization with greater frequency will contribute to expanded consciousness between individuals. Humans have a long tradition of being wary of the unknown and resistant to change. Yet, with change as the common denominator for our radically divergent period of technological, scientific, and spiritual development, individuals and collectives are becoming more accepting of difference. In this more open common space, we hope humans will also be able to better harmonize the interconnected bonds between all life.
Unification, in its true sense, does not dull or suppress, but rather honors the fullest expression of diversity. The ways in which we each unify the different parts of who we are—our aspirations, limitations, and realities—and weave them together defines who each of us are as individuals.
Though we might not always be aware, we are indeed all integrated within a state of inter-being. The more we fail to notice the ever-present interconnectedness of life, the more we mistake our place on this planet. One of the greatest errors we as humans make is to see ourselves as separate from nature. This sense of separation can have drastic consequences.
E pluribus unum / One from many
There are two different ways of regarding relationships: either through a lens of atomization or through the perspective of holistic integration. In sociology, atomism refers to a framework in which the individual is the primary unit of analysis by which everything else is understood. In contrast, holistic integration states that all the various parts of a system are interconnected. We believe in the importance of describing systems such that each piece of the puzzle is acknowledged for its necessity. In this way, a sense of belonging corresponds to balanced integration and interrelation.
The collective requires the individual many times over. Conversely, the individual vanishes without the collective to supply context. Among the nearly infinite expressions of life, the web of human activity is distinctive in its emissions of light and gas. We also significantly contribute to outpourings of love, which occurs through resonant connections between individuals.
“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together” — John Lennon, “I am the Walrus”, 1967
When we feel a sense of connection, we are more in touch with our true selves. The acknowledgement that everybody is going through some great journey, struggle, or even suffering can serve to alleviate the heavy tension that sometimes dominates the thoughts of our daily experience. We can feel elation when we exercise our innate drive to connect with others or with a place. Feelings of separation from one another and the environment also cut us off from ourselves. When we feel deprived of supportive relationships, it becomes more difficult to find meaning, so we substitute meaning with sensation. We end up looking for solace in temporary distraction, living only for isolated instances of sensory stimulation. With repetition of over-stimulation, our senses can become dulled, leaving us perpetually dissatisfied. In this state, we are in great need of finding ways to come together.
Community plays a critical role in the development of unity—it’s built into the word itself. How might we conceptualize and examine the idea of a completely unified civilization? Adopting different perspectives than our own may help. Even shifting between different points of view within our own outlook can help open our minds and modes of experience.
In The Practice of Everyday Life, the writer Michel de Certeau describes two points of view within a city: that of the voyeur and that of the walker. The walker is always in the midst of experience. Vision is limited to what is nearby. She or he only experiences the sights and the sounds of what is immediately in front of each step taken. However, for the voyeur, experience is shaped by her or his vantage point high above. From this perspective, everything appears more expansive. The voyeur is able to see what’s around every corner, and over every hill. She or he can see the wider scope of our world with greater context, although perhaps less detail.
Each perspective holds value. Whereas the walker experiences the immediacy and intimacy of life down on the street, the voyeur’s position allows for a view of how the city is organized on the whole, and provides insight into the inner workings of governments and corporations. Yet, isn’t the wisest option to find a way to experience both perspectives? We believe that only by having first-hand experience as both a walker and a voyeur can one really understand how best to maneuver the various interconnected facets of contemporary life.
Unification need not imply uniformity. What are the principles that will enable all people everywhere to be valued for their unique gifts?
“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”— Margaret Mead
“Unity in diversity” is a millennia-old concept, although, it could be said that it has never been more important to understand it than today. Globalization, for better or worse, has shrunk the world, and the state of our future depends on our ability to create a unified human response to the problems we face.
Sufi scholar Ibn Arabi, born in the 12th century, wrote on the idea of a “unity of being”. This metaphysical worldview positions God as the one truth, the single entity that defines all reality. All other beings or beliefs emerge from this God as a singular source of life. All diversity is considered to be rooted in this essence, countless valid expressions spring from this one, single truth. At the risk of appropriating and diluting a rich corpus of philosophical thought, adopting this idea may prove helpful to overcome the challenges of widening disparities in modern globalized society.
The bold vision of teamwork, we believe will empower all who participate, relies on a radical diversity of skills, perspectives, and identities. Humans have the capacity to overcome linguistic relativity by learning more languages and by becoming more familiar with other cultures. An old eastern European proverb imparts, “The more languages you speak, the more human you become.” The more we can each embrace and incorporate diversity into our own lives, the more we will contribute to a more diverse, and wholesome, network of interactions.
We are always in flux. Change is still our most reliable constant. And with change will come conflict. But conflict is not to be feared. Conflict creates opportunity for the emergence of points of view that did not previously have a platform. The clash between differing points of view can come to define culture and help us understand historical moments. We will likely never eliminate conflict. It might even be occasionally necessary. But conflict can be dealt with productively if we accept that it is the means by which new modes of thinking and living can come to be.
The basic building blocks of human life are all the same, no matter who you are or where you come from. We each need clean air and water, nutritious food, suitable shelter, and authentic human contact. And crucially, we all need the planet in a healthy state in order to continue to help provide us with these necessities. But beyond these base needs, we have more higher-level priorities like: the need to feel understood, to be loved, to be respected for who we are, and to live in alignment with our personal values. At our most fundamental levels, we share these unifying requirements of our being. All diversity of viewpoints ultimately emerges as interpretations of these shared needs.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, some uniformity is required to protect diversity. Intuitively, we understand that all people must have equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal freedom from oppression to adequately thrive. Even more paradoxically, some forms of intolerance must be maintained in order to maintain tolerance. The need to be intolerant of those who advance intolerant ideas was explained by philosopher Karl Popper in his 1945 work, The Open Society and its Enemies. Within its pages, Popper wrote:
“If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. ” — Karl Popper
While supporting the use of rational argument as the first line of defense against intolerant ideas, Popper concedes that responding with force can become necessary if the intolerant group in question have themselves denounced the practice of rational argument and begun to use violence.
Despite all the variance in our experiences and perceptions, we can still generally find a way to connect to each other on a human level. We all have to figure out how to make our individuated, and ever-changing, thoughts and intentions work in harmony with one another, so we’re not in a constant battle zone of conflicting patterns.
Various ways of constructing and interpreting reality show us the incredible variance of the human condition. To be a human is to be a tiny dot on an immensely, vast spectrum of experience. The entire human species itself represents another dot on an even larger spectrum of being that stretches through time and space. To hold that truth in your brain is one step toward a greater tolerance for others. This acknowledgement of unification through difference might help ease the tensions that arise when our unique differences come into conflict with one another.
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- Environmental Actors
- Economic Priorities
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