Our modern societies have taught us one basic lie that had and has disastrous consequences.
We are told from the beginning of our lives that we are individuals. A closer look at the word is already giving the key ‘Individual’ is Latin and means Undividable…but that is not what we are taught. We are told ‘to be an individual’ is what makes us proud, we are unique and separate; we shall not forget that! And the education, science and media all support the same – since the last few hundred years…
We are proud to be different… Yes you are different, that’s true… yet at the same time it’s a lie!
The reality is that we live in total interdependent relationships with all other existence. Everything affects everything else. What our modern, so called civilised cultures miss is ‘the way the world actually works’.
For the last few hundred years more and more the physical world has been perceived as an aggregate of separate entities. Things, objects, matter, people… who exist (‘exist’ is another interesting word also Latin and it means…standing out).
With the event of science each thing that exist is considered as a separate, individual thing worth of investigation, and the investigation focusses on what things are made of and how they function.
What has not been seen until recently… or rather we should say what has been forgotten in the so called scientific advanced world, is the relationship between the objects.
People have failed to see that reality is dynamic, ever changing… and interrelated on all levels to infinity. This misconception/misbelief has caused an enormous, vast range of suffering. It can be easily seen by a look at the medical system.
Modern allopathic medicine treats every sickness by itself, a thyroid illness has to do with thyroid; Cancer has to do with the cells. Our bodies are like a machine of bio-parts working like clockwork.
Our education systems are the same, students are isolated units that can be made to fit, educated to fit into the machine of the relevant society and/or its economics.
Our psychological authorities are based on Freud’s theory that separation from the family is necessary for a healthy way to become grown-ups, functioning independently in the world of an economy driven society.
Our houses and offices are by and large built with no consideration that there is a link between human health and natural light and space.
Our communities are often deliberately fragmented in order to separate the individual so as to maximise individual consumers (otherwise we could share cars, washing machines etc…)
On a global sphere this fragmentation means the ‘highly advanced’ societies have unspoken permission to throw toxic waste material into earth, water, air and space… because it will have no effect on them.
Luckily on all these aspects in recent years, slowly a more real perspective is gaining ground. Especially from the medical side people wake up to the effect that without healthy air we cannot be healthy, however wealthy.
Without clean water, clean food, less stress…we cannot live.
And moreover, recent research shows we cannot live a healthy and happy life without friends!
You might have all heard about the first of the list above (including that illness arises from organ malfunction or nasty viruses) but the latter… illness arising from a lack of personal relationships?
Yes you heard right! And numerous scientific studies have confirmed that in the last ten years! It was for example found by medical research in 2002, that a small circle of good relationships for an elderly person is preventing dementia more certainly than doing puzzles or other mental exercises.
In 2007 it was found that for people of all ages, 10 minutes of personal conversation with another person, boosts mental performance and memory, as much and more as doing crossword puzzles or other mental acrobatics.
It was found in 2009 that the more social contact a person has the higher their mental functioning. I.E. the fewer social interactions older people experience the more rapid their decline of motoric functions, such as walking, gripping and balancing. And…listen to this, the more the contact with others consisted out of service to others, such as volunteering and helping others in some way or other… the more physical health improved, and the longer the life-span was!
It even has been found that one’s IQ is influenced by the place in the order of birth amongst the siblings. I.e. our IQ is significantly influenced by the relational dynamics in a family!
And furthermore, it has been found that the IQ scores are affected by spanking a child, for this is experienced as a violation of the relationship; traumatising body and mind… traumatising the psyche.
Anyone of these discoveries would have been dismissed even a couple of decades ago, because the human being was and in many circles still is considered as a self-contained BIO-machine.
But there is more… Recently discoveries have also been made of how our behaviour is influenced by others in our environment of social interaction situated near us. I.e. someone might take to over-eating…because someone in their circle is ‘unhappy’.
Equally we might be happy because others are happy; there was an article in the New York Times asking, “Is happiness catching?” And yes it is.
These new findings really challenge many assumptions about how we and the world relate, i.e. how ‘we’ have been living for a few hundred years. By and large we all have been educated assuming we all exist as separate, autonomous (wrongly named…) ‘individuals’. Even when we look at the various religious or even some spiritual paths and traditions, we are taught that higher spiritual evolution comes via our individual progress, our individual salvation, our specific tradition, or worth; my religion, my political view, my…XYZ.
What does this ‘my’ mean? It means it is other than yours; there is clear separation… for ‘it’ belongs to me!
The result is mine versus yours… the result is conflict, the result is the violence we see in our present days… in politics, in many different countries.
People everywhere though are waking up! Luckily there are signs of change. Slowly the perspective gains ground, that we are relational beings, each in one great complexity, inter-related complexity. “We all live in multi dynamic and reciprocal relationships”.
As Swami Rama, Master of the Himalayas indicates, when he writes:
We “cannot separate ourselves from the problems and concerns of the rest of society. How is it possible to disregard the problems of our neighbour? There is no way to be happy if our fellow beings are suffering from disease and poverty …To have concerns for others is to be human…we must strive for peace and happiness as a group… we have to raise our moral status and design a new world that is free from complexes and inequities…” And “Removing differences and moving from diversity to unity are the essence of real spiritual practices. This process has to occur at every level of our individual and social lives…We will find ourselves to be a part of the universe and vice versa”. (A call to Humanity)
This has been known by the wise of all manner of traditions, for example in Tibetan Buddhism it is called, ‘interdependent rising’. Yet in modern society this wisdom of old has been lost.
We have been told and believed and thus think that all entities of the natural world, including ourselves (our bodies and minds) are essentially separate and interact in mechanic ways.
But, we are waking up!
Slowly we realise, “all entities in the natural world, including us, are thoroughly relational beings of great complexity, who are both composed of and nestled within contextual networks of dynamic and reciprocal relationships. We are entirely made of relationships, as is the whole of the natural world”. (Charlene Spretnak: Relational Reality; the above is inspired heavily by this book).
Means …? In all levels of your being, within all aspects of your life, within all aspects of existence – you are ‘relational existence’!