All is one. This is the basic realization of both science and religion. The planet we live on is one integrated system that again is part of our solar system, galaxy and universe. The dictionary definition of universe is ” matter and energy, including the earth, the galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space, regarded as a whole.” We all agree that we live in the universe, which is defined as a whole, one single thing. If we are living beings then the universe must be alive, so the universe is one living being which is infinite and eternal, though in a state of ever change and movement.
If we look at our own body we can feel and observe that if we experience something pleasant such as taste a piece of chocolate the whole body feels good. If we on the other hand cut our finger the whole body and mind feels the experience as a whole. Imagine that individual cells in our body maybe experience themselves as separate entities. We experience them as an integrated part of the system we call the body, which we perceive as a single entity, though the body can be split into billions of different parts down to the sub-atomic level and beyond. Imagine that we are also just cells in a much bigger system that we call Planet Earth. We also perceive Planet Earth as being one. So in the same way that when something affects a part of our body, the whole body feels it, so whatever people do, affects the whole system that we call Planet Earth. So when we desire comfort, health and pleasurable feelings for our body, we should extend that desire to the whole earth and its inhabitants. Doing good and spreading joy will definitely come back to us amplified. We all have the capacities to do good, and in general people do.
Our mothers took so good care of us, and we gave them so much joy when we were infants. The basic realities of life in general, are that we enter a world full of love and nurturing from our mothers. So we are loaded with those qualities from the very beginning of our lives. That being said life is also very painful, we are born screaming and crying in a pool of blood, but out of that comes this amazing experience we call life and consciousness, the ability to perceive the myriad of miracles that surrounds us all the time, the ability to experience the miracle of life itself.
So if taking care of each other and nature is fundamental to our own well-being, why is the world then so full of suffering and ecological destruction created by human actions? The actions that lead to these negative effects are based on the fundamental assumption that we are separate beings and that negative effects suffered by others through our actions, really don’t matter to us since we gain some sort of advantage. All ancient and present wisdom traditions advise that we do good to others, so that we will also experience good in the future. Karma is the belief that our actions cause a reaction that will reverberate back to our experience and affect it either positively or negatively according to the qualities of the original action. Actually karma works instantly too, since doing a good action makes us feel better in the moment, and vice versa.
So if doing good to others and the eco-system is beneficial to ourselves, how do we train ourselves in being more conscious of doing so, and not creating harm to others and the planet?
All our actions start as a thought, so to know why we act as we do we must know our thoughts and the values and ideals that motivate us to do what we do. To get to know phenomena we must observe them. The same applies to our own minds. Most of the time we are immersed in thoughts about the past or the future. Rarely are we fully present in the moment acutely aware of all the sensory information that’s being conveyed to us. We can turn our attention inward and be aware of our thoughts as they arise and our emotional responses to them. That way we can become aware of our thought patterns and the values on which we base our actions. Then we can creatively redirect our mind, thoughts, emotions and actions in a way, which is more positive.
The technique for becoming aware of the present moment, our senses and thoughts is called meditation or mindfulness. This technique was famously taught by the Buddha 2500 years ago, but was practiced long before that in different cultures. Buddhist meditators have practiced and refined these techniques over millennia and they are available to us today to study. I mention this to give credit to where most of the meditation instructions I have received come from. To gain the full benefit of these techniques one should study Buddhist philosophy, psychology and meditation.
Continues in part three.Photos by Gerd Altmann, Germany
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