The “Gaia (Earth) Hypothesis” states the planet operates as a singular organism. In order to wrap your head around what Lovelock is saying, let’s meditate on fetal development.
A fetus in essence builds himself. He does so through an interaction of the parts. Each cell in his body contains the knowledge for all cells. What that cell becomes is in relationship to the needs of the whole. If a heart cell is needed, then a particular cell becomes that heart cell.
It is important to contemplate the ramifications of the notion of a fetus building himself. Where does Wisdom truly lie? Is Wisdom in the fullness of Her being within our rational minds? Or is She in the fullness of Her being in Nature? Who truly built you if not your Self? Now, I’m not speaking to your ego self, the self you falsely identify with (that rational part of you reading this article).
To use a simple example of the process, if the body needs a particular cell to become a participant in the heart, then that cell manifests the instructions to meet that need. Its like a symphony in which different instruments come in at different times to give the piece a meaningful order that could delight an audience.
In similar fashion, the Earth, through interactions of the parts, built a planet that is able to supports all the life forms currently inhabiting the planet. Everything on this planet is there for the sake of everything else. As Jesus Christ came for the sake of human beings, then trees manifest for the sake of animals in terms of helping to maintain a healthy balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The participating life forms ultimately act in unison together to create a biosphere that supports life.
This same type of process is happening in the environmental movement; though I’m not sure the folks in the movement are aware of it. It’s also happening in the spirituality movements. Indeed, the spirituality movements are often involved in the environmental movements.
Eisenstein wrote a book titled The Ascent of Humanity: The Age of Separation, the Age of Reunion, and the Convergence of Crises that is Birthing the Transition. That term crisis sure is scary, huh?
Crisis interestingly is defined in Chinese lettering as “Dangerous Opportunity.”
“Opportunity for what?” I ask. “Evolution,” I would answer back. Or, to use a more common phrase, “no pain no gain.” Meanwhile, it’s important to realize that in the Chinese insignia for crises are the symbols that mean “dangerous opportunity.” So, in our modern days of crisis after crisis, are we now facing a dangerous opportunity?
Eisenstein puts forth some pretty scary statistics in his book regarding the notion that we human beings may be devolving. I consider that a crisis! For example, he speaks towards a piece of research in which it was found that people just 15 years ago could distinguish 300,000 sounds whereas, today, children don’t go beyond 100,000. Well, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The average is higher at 180,000.
Is our crisis pointing towards the devolution of the human race?
From 300,000 sounds to 180,000!? See, our lifestyles that are destroying the environment IS destroying us, our beloved children, and the future of humanity.
Depressing is a weak word to capture the ramifications of this! Could it also be that the more de-evolved we become the worse it will get? Who is to say? What if we used this time for the benefit of the Earth? What if we refused to continue living in the same vein that has us destroying ourselves? Could we evolve?
It is interesting in this regard that Christ in mystic Christianity IS the evolutionary potential of all creatures, including us humans. So, if there is evidence of devolution, then what is the anti-Christ?
Let’s not spend too much time here. I’m just bringing it up for you to consider.
While not getting into what I just said, Francis Moore Lappe focuses on how things interrelate to enhance life, which is the most effective antidote to fear and despair. Whew! Lets get this anti-Christ fellah out of here. Lappe has written a book titled, Ecomind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want. This thesis of Lappe when fully understood is really speaking to our evolution. But, the cost is that we need to let go of the worldview that we have.
Can we do that?
Much of the change in thinking has to do with being more process oriented. In a process orientation, there is more of a sense of relatedness. Thus, we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide while trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. We are in a teamwork situation with the trees, plants and even bumble bees. We are not things; nor are we simply competitors. We are ALL working in unison with a universe! Break down that word, uni-verse, one versity. E Pluribus Unim, in the many one. The trees are our Brothers, the Waters our Sisters, the stars our Fathers, and the empty vastness of space, the Womb of all: our Mother.
Ultimately, we are verbs, active participants and not so much nouns, things or particles. We are paticipatories and not so much a part! Of course to say “I play a part” means I am participating….so we can use the word part as long as we don’t take ourselves to be a part. “Be separate no more! Cure thy alienation.” See how important this is? It’s a HUGE reframe!
We are a Happening….an event, and not so much an object.
For me, identifying the consequences of objectivism is important for change. In my opinion, objectivism is a thought trap that has led to a breaking up of the world into parts instead of seeing a relational world in which planets and universes operate in the same fashion as we do.
Frances Moore Lappee has identified other ecologically devastating thought traps in her book Ecomind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want. There is that Word made flesh thing again! To change the way we think we need to challenge and rid ourselves of what we ARE thinking.
What fundamental thought traps can you identify that get us caught up in pollution, constant warfare, etc?
Lappee identifies several of these traps. Lets go there with her!
Thought Trap # 1: No Growth is the answer
Thought Leap # 1: “Since what we’ve been calling growth leads to so much waste, lets call it what it is-an economics of waste and destruction. Then, let’s probe why. Dropping the distracting “growth verses-no-growth” debate, we can embrace qualitative notions of where we want to go, choosing terms like flourishing and genuine progress” that focuses our minds on enhancing health, happiness, ecological vitality, resiliency and the dispersion of social power.”
Thought Trap # 2: Consumer Society is THE problem
Thought Leap #2: Let’s not confuse symptoms with cause. “Consumerism” – too much stuff – is largely a symptom of forces denying us choice. Let’s go for real choice as we delink what’s become an automatic association between buying things on the one hand, and luxury comfort and enjoyment on the other. Together, let’s imagine and create real luxury-rich stimulating and beautiful lives honoring the laws of Nature.
Yes, fast food buffs, have it your way at McDonalds is not a real choice. It’s a joke that has Ronald McDonald laughing all the way to the bank.
Thought Trap #3: We’ve hit the limits of a finite Earth. We must power down to live within the limits of a finite planet.
Thought Leap #3: Because most people know they weren’t invited to the Too Good Party, the message of limits falls flat. An effective and ecologically attuned goal is NOT about more or less. Moving from fixation on quantities, our focus shifts to what brings health, ease, joy, creativity—more life! These qualities arise as we align with the rules of Nature so that our real needs are met as the planet flourishes.
Thought Trap #4: We must overcome human Nature to save the planet. (Burl Hall’s reflection: We are not supposed to be who we are by Nature, which is a violation of Nature.
Thought Leap #4: Sure, we can be selfish, fixated on material gain, and narrowly competitive. But here’s the key to our future: We’ve also evolved deep capacities for cooperation, empathy, fairness, efficacy, meaning and creativity. We can’t change human Nature, but that’s ok. We can change the norms and rules of our societies to keep negative human potential in check and to elicit these powerful, positive qualities we most need now. Let’s focus these with laser intensity.
Burl’s thoughts: yes, there is selfishness. Yet, on a very deep level, as per the Gaia Hypothesis, there is an interaction in which all creatures in playing a part in an ecosystem take part in the entire planetary process. Or as the Three Musketeers say, “Its all for one and one for all.” Thus are we in a dance with the plants and trees in maintaining a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide making our relationship to trees a win-win situation.
It’s often the same in predator and prey relationships. Prey oftentimes exists as those that breed heavily and can very quickly overpopulate. However, the predators, like the lions, are more likely to have fewer offspring and, in taking down the gazelles, will maintain the population to the point that the gazelles won’t overfeed and starve themselves to death. Ultimately, it’s a win-win situation. Not that as a gazelle I’d want to find a lioness coming up on my backside.
Thought Trap #5: To save our planet, we have to override humanities natural resistance to rules. Because humans- especially Americans-naturally hate rules and love freedom, we have to find the best ways to coerce people to do the right thing to save the planet
Thought Leap #5: The Nature of Nature is rules, and humans love rules that enhance our sense of belonging and give our lives structure, shape and meaning. They work and take off fast when people feel engaged in shaping them, and they make sense to us. Knowing all this, we can go beyond rules that limit harm and establish rules that avoid harm to begin with.
Thought Trap #6: Humans have lost the connection to Nature. Now thoroughly urbanized and technology addicted we’ve become so disconnected from Nature that it’s pretty hopeless to think most people could ever become real environmentalists.
Thought Leap #6: We can count on one thing for sure: Humans evolved to love Nature. So, city dwellers, too, can and are rediscovering that natural connection, finding that it enhances our health, learning, and fun. As we reconnect with Nature in all these ways and more, it’s likely that support for public action to heal the natural world will grow too.
Burl’s reflection: I personally have begun gardening within the past 5 to 6 years. This is when I became interested in sustainability and opened my eyes to what was going on with the world. At times, like day before yesterday, as I was planting Zucchini, I sat during the time I was moving soil around and simply played in the dirt. I felt such a deep spiritual connection during this time. I sometimes think, who wants to go to church and sit on hard wooden benches. Let me just play in the dirt!
Thought Trap #7: It’s too late! Human beings have so far overshot what Nature can handle that we’re beyond the point of no return. Democracy has failed—its taking way to long to face the crisis. And because corporations hold so much power, real democracy, answering to us and able to take decisive action is a pipe dream.
Thought Leap #7: It’s not too late for life. And it’s flourishing depends on democracy attuned to all we now know of Nature and to what history teaches: that centralized power cannot lead to the sustained goal of the whole. Plus, today’s crises are so interrelated, vast in scope, and complex that solutions depend on tapping the direct experience, common sense, and passion of people most affected. And, that’s billions of us! With the buy in that comes with having a real voice, most of us want to contribute to solutions that turn the planet to life. So, the Mother of All Issues is removing the power of concentrated wealth from public decision-making and infusing citizen’s voices instead. It’s beginning in surprising places.
Francis ends with a chapter titled “Thinking Like an Ecosystem.” And, I’m going to end with what I said at the beginning:
A particular thesis about the planet Earth that I personally like is James Lovelock’s “Gaia Hypothesis.” In short, this thesis states that the planet operates as a singular organism. In order to wrap my head around what Lovelock is saying, I tend to meditate on fetal development where cells become parts of various organs based on the needs of the whole.
This is how an ecosystem thinks! What does this mean to us? In essence, we are more than particles (i.e., nouns) but operate as participants. Thus we are more verb than noun, process more so than product. Focusing on products more so than productions has gotten us into a real mess in which extinction rates are high, and the human being is alienated.
Who are we alienated from? Nature Herself. Again, as I have said over and over, Nature means Essence and Essence means Self. Who is it that we are truly alienated from? Is God, Nature, Yahweh (I AM) and Brahmin (the Self) truly distinct entities? And, are these separate from you? Who are you if not I AM manifesting as you? Who are you if not “I AM?” Aren’t we all? E Pluribus Unim, in the Many One. Or, as per the Three Musketeers, “It’s all for one and one for all!”
To learn more from Fancis in an interview with this author and his wife on Envision This!, please visit: <div style=”font-size: 10px;text-align: center;width:400px;”>Discover Culture Internet Radio with <a href=”http://www.blogtalkradio.com/envision-this” rel=”nofollow”>ENVISION THIS</a> on BlogTalkRadio</div>
Francis’ website is at: http://smallplanet.org