In Buddhism, wisdom comes from deeply understanding that everything changes, everything is interconnected, and everyone suffers when they deny those two facts of life.
Impermanence is easy to recognize in the changing of the seasons, in our aging bodies, and in our lives. We may have strong feelings about it, but we know it exists. Seeing the intrinsic interconnection of all life can be more challenging for those who feel it’s safer to see the self as separate, independent, isolated, even though they would be hard-pressed to define exactly where the hard edges of self are, what with breath, pores, food nourishing cell growth, the ability to sense the mood of others, and many other clues to our inherent interconnection.
For interconnection deniers and enthusiasts alike, there’s a great documentary Intelligent Trees (now available on Amazon Prime) that gives a scientific accounting, complete with fascinating lab experiments, of what happens in pristine forests. It’s intelligent life, a matrilineal culture with roots that work much as our brains do, reacting, planning, retaining and sharing information, and forming deep bonds, all through an underground mycorrhizal network that benefits from the sugar the trees provide. These natural forests make all life sustainable on this precious planet, unlike the single-generation mono-culture created after clearcutting where the trees are a kindergarten of orphans, disconnected, uninformed, and unable to fend for themselves. They need their mama!
And we need natural forests! We all need each other. And we all need to understand how connected we are, and why that matters. Coming to an understanding of the physical interconnection of all life helps us live more lightly in our habits and more lightly in our being.
Watching this documentary makes it challenging to deny that all life is interconnected. Our bodies are just as connected to all life as the trees, and this makes us more safe, not less. If that doesn’t feel true for you, recognize the fear (perhaps of disappearing?) and question it. No one is suggesting that you move into a commune and give up your worldly goods. Only that you see more clearly, that you soften into greater understanding, that you follow your breath and see where it takes you, how it bridges what you thought was a great divide, when it is, in fact, one of many invisible threads that hold the fabric of all life together.
What does this bring up for you? Please share!
A brilliant book, a novel on the subject of trees and human destinies, is THE OVERSTORY, by Richard Powers, and I recommend it to anyone with time to read. It is a major work of over 500 pages and profound. After reading it, I wanted to plant myself in the middle of the forest and just stay there.
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Hi Judith! YES, the Overstory is such an amazing book. The first chapter alone transformed my homo-sapien-centric view! I found some chapters less compelling, but hung in there and was ultimately rewarded. Thanks for the recommendation!