Issue No. 36
The Unity of Life
I. Why Important
II. The Unity of Life
III. Some Evidences
IV. The Implications
Our conflict with people and with nature is due to our failure to see our deeper links with them. We commonly think only in terms of the interests of ourselves and our immediate circle. As a result there is war, crime, environmental destruction, and unsustainable development. Such self-centeredness is also the cause of personal unhappiness.
Life is that which is the core or essence in living things. It causes things to move by itself, to grow, to multiply, to feel, to be conscious. We tend to think that my life is mine and your life is yours, and that they are different. When we look more deeply into nature and ourselves, we begin to realize that this is not necessarily the case.Example: Let us take the case of a leaf as a starting analogy. One leaf is separate from another leaf. And when one leaf dies, the other does not. Hence if the leaf were conscious, it would say that it is completely separate from the other leaves, and its interest is only to sustain itself, and others should take care of themselves.
But if we look at the essence of the leaf, its life is not in the green thing that we see, but in the inner sap that goes through and sustains the green outer body of the leaf. If these saps and nutrients are cut off, the leaf will die. What are these saps and nutrients? Does it belong to just one leaf? These sources of life circulate around the branches and the tree. Now we regard the tree as if it is but separate from other trees, but the source of life of the tree does not just come from itself. When we look deeper into the root of life of each living thing, we see that it has interconnections with other things, and they are not entirely independent of each other but interdependent.
To some people, the unity of life is a fact. To most people, it is not so obvious. There are however a few objective evidences which point to the reality.
1. Morphic Resonance
Biologist Ruperr Sheldrake has found evidence that animals of a common specie share a consciousness. When an animal learns a new trick in one place, other rats in other places seem to learn it more easily. There is apparently a common bond that mutually influences all the rats in the world. Experiments are now being conducted to further explore the implications of this phenomenon, including people.
2. Collected Unconscious
Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, also found in his clinical cases, that people seem to deeply share a consciousness which he calls the collective unconscious. It emerges from the deep psyche of people of whatever culture, and that these appear to be similar to each other.
3. Mystical Experience
Mystics from the ancient to the modern times, of whatever culture, speak about the experience of the oneness of life in the cosmos. This is not merely a theory but an experience.
1. Brotherhood and compassion
Our conviction regarding our unity with other people will awaken in us a sense of brotherhood and compassion towards the suffering of others. As such the quality of love and caring will arise eve for complete strangers. This conviction may start intellectually, but will gradually be confirmed by one's experience.
Seeing our unity with others will develop tolerance towards other people who may think or behave differently from us. We can accept differences without feeling hostile or being threatened, thus resulting in a more harmonious relationship despite diversity.
3. World Peace
So long as we do not see the vital links and essential unity of all humanity, war will continue. When the essential brotherhood among peoples is realized, people would be more willing to exercise patience in ironing out differences and conflicts, for it is better to waste time than to waste lives -- and creating widows and orphans in the process.
4. Kindness to other living things
The insight on unity will similarly awake in us a compassion towards other kingdoms of nature, such as plants and animals. We begin to feel that we should avoid inflicting suffering on animals, for example, just to produce cosmetics or furs. They can feel pain as we do. This is also the reason why many people decide to become vegetarians.
5. Environmental preservation
When we see the unity of life on earth, we begin to respect more the balance of our natural environment. If this balance is destroyed, humankind may eventually perish. Thus the need to care and work for the preservation of our environment.
Copyright 1995. Permission to reprint is granted provided acknowledgment is made to:
Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba St., Quezon City, Philippines
"If five percent of the people work for peace, there will be peace."