Take a Big view of our life as Earth's. What we believe we are makes the world of difference in how we treat Earth as 'resource' we can thoughtlessly grab and spoil and kill, or as living being of which we are part, and care for. Humanity? Perhaps we're Earth's way of knowing herself, and the stars' way of looking at the stars
approx 1780 words.
Took millions of years for Earth to get it together, but She sussed it! Step by step, increasingly complex. First building a firm foundation of chemical combinations, including a lot of tricky stuff with carbons. Somehow no one could have predicted it! those combinations collected into groups and became our ancestors, who's generations still live on today: the single then many-celled micro organisms. . . But this isn't another telling of the evolutionary view. It is to lead you to look in a different way of what that story led to.
The soil, minerals and chemicals, and miniscule microbial lives, the soil joining together with the astounding stuff we know as water. Adding a breath of air, Life's wind. Some say its all a dance of water and fire.
The Earth gets up and moves, and breathes. A bird's body: Earth is up and flying. The fish: Earth swims. Look down at your body. Look, now, deeply into your body, sense with your outer senses and with your inner senses. This is astounding! Your alive body is part of Earth, is Earth!
Its ALL Earth: every bit of your body and breath When you eat, what is it you are eating? It might now look like a potato, or rice grains, or a piece of meat. It is also Earth that has swum and grown and flown, and waked upon Itself. It is also Earth's water that has been carried by the sun's warmth and by wind from the seas, over the lands, through the lands, cycled countless times from and to the seas, through and as part of our ancestor's bodies microbial and homo sapiens, and as part of fruits and vegetables and other animals. The Earth puts down roots into Herself and builds trees so high that a human neck can get strained looking up so far. What those trees once were is now also this body you feel, and live with, live through.
We so live in our bodies from moment to moment that it becomes easy to, firstly, overlook what an incredibly miraculous phenomenon the human body actually is. Again, feel it now. In the physical-sense sense, you are feeling Earth's minerals, Earth's chemicals, Earth's water. (We'll talk later about the electricity and magnetism we also feel.)
Is this body what I am? Secondly, we so live in our bodies day to day that it becomes easy to identify with them. "I need to eat; I can be threatened and hurt and killed; I am warm. . . " Listen to all the times each day you say "I", and note well what you are calling "I". This is no word game or exercise of rhetoric. This observation is a way to help us see what we really believe we are.
Identity directs what we do (and not!) This is very important because our sense of identity what we really believe ourselves to be, motivates and directs our behaviour, sets our attitudes and values. Identity also determines how we relate with everyone and everything else including our Earth, whether in fear with disease promoting violence, or in love, care and compassion with joyous creative harmony. Commonly identifying with our body has led us into manifold painful mistakes, into suffering for ourselves and for our Earth.
Looking closer at Earth's human body However, we are not this body: it is Earth living, moving, breathing. Forms change, the dance remains the same. Bodies come and bodies go. Earth's forms, rising and passing away, an awesome dance of material which is never lost, only re-formed, the forms continually changing, Earth becoming one form then another. Yes, there is more to Earth's Great Drama than minerals and water and wind and fire and 'forces'. Before pondering the 'more', let's view another aspect of what all Earth's bodies are made of.
The whole of our physical world is composed from astonishingly few chemical elements. All that you see, eat, breathe, drink, your whole wonderful body is made from these most basic building blocks. We can talk about them in many ways: as individuals and groups of perceptible quality, such as 'the metals'; as values on a Periodic Table via which we can talk about how the elements and their interactions behave according to predictable patterns; and as fields of energies or morphogenic memories.
Putting it another way, the vast array of Nature is founded on relatively few patterns, most of which are usually predictable, and which we can talk about in many different ways and from different points of view. These patterns are common to the mineral, vegetable, animal realms, though each realm expresses and experiences the various basic patterns differently. (There is also the fungi realm, without which the whole play would not work.)
You body is not what it seems Another take on these basic elemental patterns:
Look at your body, feel it, observe it with all your senses. Seems solid, eh? What is solid? Unchanging, or...? You already easily know that it is in fact changing a lot every moment (cells come and go, water and chemicals flow. . .). Can't poke through it? That is because of, put most simply, electromagnetic forces. Or, try this: a conker on a string. Twirl the string really fast. While the string is moving fast the conker appears as a 2-D circle. Try to poke your finger through. It appears that you can't poke through without bashing your finger as if it is solid. Now imagine a football field of people standing close together and all twirling their conkers over their heads. From above it all looks solid. That football field-full mass of twirlers is like, say just a few cells on the tip of your nose.
All of the parts of each atom of each molecule of each cell on your nose are twirling around even faster, even closer. Making it all seem very solid indeed. And what is even more bizarre is that between each whizzing part of each atom is loads and loads of space. And it gets weirder: Those parts aren't really solid either. Closer to the fact could be 'vibrating bits of energy'. As is said in Eastern wisdom: All is sound. The Word spoken 'in the beginning' is still singing, and it appears very solid indeed.
Form as energy as memory patterns. Physical form expressing more subtle forms.
So this brings us to another way of looking at what Earth and all her bits and bodies 'are'. Energy. And fields of energy. Memories of pattern fields. Form as memory.
Who or what is it that remembers? Just hold that question for now, working on the back-boiler of your mind. Because now we are going to take a side step into another point about form.
Form is all energy; all energy is form. Form is not only what we perceive as physical (solid or otherwise). Form is also what we experience as the 'stuff of life' that we don't see or touch: emotion, thought, patterns of personality. If you aren't yet convinced that there are patterns of personality, just watch many newborn babies for a few weeks: the sleepers, the 'good baby' smilers (though muscles don't do it yet, you can sense smile-ness), the ones needing encouragement, the fussers and fretters, and so on. Each one both utterly individual, and each as if part of personality families.
It seems clear that these subtle forms are also mirrored by or inform chemical activity, can come to be expressed in physical form. Worry thoughts become wrinkles on the brow and acid in the stomach, the weight of life experiences become the bowed back and crushed heart; the inner loathing, shame or other ill outlooks and beliefs becoming disease in the organs and in life situations.
In more subtle ways, the personality structure the baby is born with becomes increasingly outwardly expressed in the body: the impatient stance, the child with 'ants in their pants'; the dreamy eyes; the upright body glowing pride and inner strength. These subtle qualities of form aren't only formed into skin and posture, they are also an important part what in-forms the working of all the internal organs, systems and anatomical activities.
We could say then that not only does Earth get up and walk and fly and swim, Earth also feels, and thinks, builds and maintains energy fields (forms) of belief, attitude, ways of seeing the world.
So back around to: "What are we?" Our identity and that of all those lovely newborns is not the physical bodies we usually call 'I'. Nor are we our emotions, life stories, thoughts, personality patterns. All these forms are what we are doing, an incredible relationship with Earth, not what we are.
So what are we? I suggest right now, give a pause. Breathe. Bring your attention to your sense of being. We might describe this inner essence, being, as our identity. SO we might talk about ourselves as the light of awareness, the force that gives purpose and meaning to that which decides form, and that which directs form's evolution. Maybe we are the "that which remembers", so giving the apparent constancy to forms, deciding the 'shapes' of fields of energy. Or, one of my favourites: We are the stars' way of looking at the stars. We are Earth's way of looking at Herself, feeling Herself, knowing Herself, and being able to get up and walk and fly.
Oddly, as I increasingly experience whatever it is that I am as distinct from Earth and all her forms experience my sense of being, I also feel less separate from Her, do feel closer, and, yes I dare say, more in love with Her.
Feeling the wonder of Earth, in love with life, one with life This is what I hope for you too: In your own way again feeling wondrous about what you are doing with Earth, amazed and in love with all of life. Aware that Earth, every particle, whether it appears as 'animate' or 'inanimate', is alive, is consciousness*, is what makes our life here and now. To feel Her vibrant, tingling life pulsing through your whole system, feel compassion and love for it, no matter what shape or ability it lives as. So in love that you will look to any way to care for and protect the whole of it not just your personal walker. For, because of what Earth is and what we are, we cannot just 'heal' or care for one little spec of transient form, cannot awaken and mend just humanity as something separate. We are bigger than 'this life' I know as 'mine', far more even than a few billion human bodies, the human species. We can get big enough to take the whole of the planet into our hearts, into our hands, and love her fully into life again.
* For further stimulating thought on the 'ground' of everything as consciousness, click to go to Peter Russell's article "The Primacy of Consciousness".
Cynthia Alves, copyright 2008
You are welcome to CONTACT Cynthia if you would like to tell about how you came to know yourself as a living part of a living planet. I can't guarantee an answer, but all comments and questions go toward sharing a better understanding to encourage our awakening.