Picture a mighty river, say the Amazon or the Irriwady (Ayeyarwady) which empties through a vast delta region into the Andaman Sea east of the Bay of Bengal. You live in a primitive community along one of the innumerable bounteous flowing branches threading their way through the rich silt-clogged delta lands. The territory is immense and fertile, but are you aware that the many rivers, streams and streamlets which comprise your world are actually one? That what are innumerable branchings in your circumscribed little world are all part of the one mighty flow that is the timeless Irriwady coursing down from the distant unassailability of the Himalayan range?
Or, let’s play imaginatively here, you’re an ant or tiny tree mite out on the extremity of an ancient venerable old Oak tree. Twigs, leaves, branches and boughs are all around. Can you possibly know that it is all one world, all one giant living organism?
But that’s not accurate for my purposes here. Imagine, rather, that you are a leaf, twig, or acorn of that very same tree. That is, part and parcel of that living immensity, however minute and peripheral. One with it all.
We humans were and still are One with the entirety of flowing Life, only culture, very gradually developed over the last million odd years, then civilization, less gradually, indeed ever more rapidly over the last ten thousand odd years, has led us somewhat astray.
The machinations of our minds and their incredible ability to hold on to static images, thoughts, ideas and sound bites, and then tool-wise to manipulate them to gain an advantage over other species and ultimately even nature herself has all but elevated us above the Flow, hoisted us above nature herself.
But that is a trick our minds play upon ourselves. A dangerous illusion. Hubris the gods, meaning the Flow of Life we fool ourselves into believing we have risen above, will one day avenge.
All is not lost though, for here and there throughout the ages men have taught the oneness amidst the illusion of many unique individual branches. These teachings have even grown to widespread ‘universal’ religions. In Hinduism Atman are the unnumbered individual branches each of us in our own way embody, Brahman the totality. Buddhism teaches the way out of the illusion of individuality and back to the totality.
Different starting points, different perspectives, different languages, different imagery, but all one message…
That we are all One…