(An excerpt from Indivisible)
Have you had the experience of suddenly perceiving everything at once, of all things working in harmony and ease?
Once, driving down the highway in the Sonoma springtime, I had a sudden awareness of everything growing around me–all of nature, with no help or planning or control, working together of a piece, a perfect system that required no toil or effort. It just was. And I wasn’t separate from that system. I pulled over to the side of the road, and let my awareness stay in a temporary bird’s eye perception of the hills and countryside, the bay and the mountains, all deeply interconnected. When the awareness passed, I turned on the car and continued driving home.
Later, I would learn from my friend Bernie Krause, a pioneer in soundscapes, that ecosystems govern themselves through sound. If a species moves out, the species that moves in sounds at the same pitch and at the same time of day as the species that left. The natural world self-regulates through harmonics–species are always communicating their presence. So it is in the world of bacteria and viruses- they are continually sending signals to one another, both to coordinate actions and to regulate the distance between themselves. Mushrooms convey signals to one another, as well as on behalf of other plants; Mycelium networks form a sort of telecommunication system in the soil. There is an invisible network present between humans also, what my friend Reese Jones calls the limbic internet – a group awareness and emotional governance that requires no verbal communication. In other words: Connectivity and networks are the fundamental design and nature of all things.
Connectivity and networks are the fundamental design and nature of all things.
That day driving in Sonoma wasn’t the only time this kind of supraperception has happened for me. Once, up on the coast, I had the distinct sense perception of everything merging: my own molecules indistinguishable from what was around me. I was the water, I was the mist above the water, I was the sand, I was the space between the sand and the water.
Over the years, there have been other moments of seeing reality differently. I remember one time walking into a conference room where very sophisticated, powerful people sat around the table, and having a fleeting perception of all the gathered as seven-year olds, with children’s faces, just trying to figure the world out. It hit me in a flash: We are all our ages at one time.
Or this: When my father died, I was too far away to be with him in person, so I went into a deep meditation and talked with him for a long while. Near the end of the conversation, I told him, “You were a great father, you can go now, release the pain. Thank you, I love you, please forgive me, I forgive you. ” I came out from the meditation, only to stare at the walls in the roadside Best Western until morning. My son, who’d arrived days before to my father’s house, called at sunrise, and reported that the evening prior, my dad had been in an agitated state, saying my name a lot, and that he had fallen into a coma, coincidentally, I discovered, at the exact moment I came out of that meditation. He died in the night.
These direct glimpses of what is really going on at the tiniest level, and the systems level, are both bewildering, and somehow have created deep moments of peace. To know that I am connected to all of life, to all beings, at the cellular level, and that we are all acting on each other all the time is exciting, it has so much potential.
There’s a zen proverb that says: “After Enlightenment, the Laundry.” I’m not saying I’m enlightened, what I’m saying is that these mystical experiences are always followed by dropping back into the more common reality.
Taking the sense of the unity experienced in those moments back into my ordinary life takes actual practice and skills. To remember unity when the bills are piling up, to remember unity when someone’s cheated you, to remember unity when the political sphere is filled with ugliness. To live from profound love, to live with an attitude of truly seeing the other’s divinity, to live with an internalized love of life and all beings, to seek unity and similarity over division, to join with the other first.
Some people think this ‘connective’ attitude is soft, that it’s an easy way to live, but it can actually be quite challenging. The easy thing is to fight. To insist. To overpower the other. The harder path is understanding. To be able to practice profound love isn’t a soft or optional skill–it’s a necessity for evolving our lives together in a civil society.
Find the full text: Indivisible