This week I learned that scientist J.J Thomson won a Nobel prize for proving that electrons are particles. Then his son George won one for proving that electrons are waves. According to this article, elements like atoms and electrons are not really waves or particles, but something else for which we don’t yet have a word or any familiar analogy.
The same article explained that if we could squeeze all the space out from between the atoms in our bodies we could fit the entire human race into a single sugar cube! As much as we may feel solid and separate from things around us, everything actually consists of more than 99% space. The lines that divide us fall away when we view the universe at the subatomic level.
OUR LINES ARE LYING
We love to draw lines to emphasise the differentness and separation of things: earth and sky; living and non-living; human and non-human; rich and poor; sinner and saint. But when we examine the lines we’ve drawn we soon begin to realise that they are illusions.
In a few days, the USA will be voting along lines that divide most of the nation’s people into Republican or Democrat. The conflict between these two political parties is real and destructive. Yet there is no essential difference between the humanity of Democrats and Republicans. The same is true of racial, gender, sexual, economic, educational, or national divisions. Our lines are lying.
SEEING PAST THE LINES
Reflect on your day so far. I bet you can identify dozens of lines that have impacted your life and relationships. How different might your life be if you started questioning some of those lines?
Almost every astronaut that has looked back at the earth from space has been moved not by the lines and borders they see, but by the lack of them. Edgar Mitchell, the lunar module pilot of Apollo 14, expressed it this way:
You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
ERASING THE LINES
In last week’s post, I spoke about the connectedness of everything and how our separateness is an illusion. And I suggested that growing into spiritual maturity is a journey from being egocentric to ethnocentric to cosmocentric. Today I want to explore, in more detailed and practical ways, how we can consciously and intentionally embrace this journey as the essential work of our spirituality.
(Find all the previous posts in this series on this page)
To shift from divided, lines-based thinking and behaviour to inter-related, systems thinking and action is a profound paradigm shift. But the truth is that we’re all a mix of different motivations, attitudes, priorities, and actions. We are far too complex and connected for simple categories and definitions. It’s time to erase the lines.
LIVING WITHOUT LINES
So, how can we recognise our inter-relatedness and begin to erase the illusory lines that divide us from one another and the natural world? Whole books have been written in answer to these questions, but here are some simple ideas that we can implement right now.
- Whenever you find yourself focussing on differences and divisions, pause and intentionally search out the connections and relationships.
- Make a habit of embracing what astronauts call an ‘orbital perspective’. When we step back and open ourselves to a broader vision, we change our responses to people and situations profoundly.
- Start to notice how small actions have big effects. Be aware of when you are surprised by the results of things you do or say. Allow these observations to lead you into a deeper awareness of systems and patterns. And then let that awareness shape how you relate to people and events in your world.
FROM DIVIDING LINES TO ALL-EMBRACING CIRCLES
We don’t automatically see or experience how everything inter-relates. But we can learn to overcome our divided, lines-based thinking. And this is what spirituality is about. We need to combine what the sciences show us about the interconnected nature of our reality with what spirituality teaches about love and compassion. And when we do, we see lines far less and all-embracing circles far more.
You can create some small shifts in your own life right now by choosing one of these simple actions:
- Share this post with others.
- Create deeper connections in your own life by speaking about these ideas. Why not start in the comments?
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- Or, If you’d like to connect more deeply and intentionally with others, consider joining our online community at the EvoFaith Tribe.
I look forward to continuing the conversation together!
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