It’s difficult for us, as individual human beings, with the feeling of distinctness and separateness we have, to comprehend that everything is interconnected.
Indeed, we’re so alone, at times, in this physical form which seems to differentiate each of us from the rest – where all our fortunes seem to be varied and changing. We feel like we are each born to compete with others. We observe the vast differences in the fortunes of one man compared to another, and we perceive that each living creature’s existence is a fight for its own survival, oftentimes at the expense of other living creatures.
On the ground, in real time, this is an undeniable reality, at least as the world is now.
However, once you get past your immediate perception of what is going on; once you abstract your view from the limits of your subjectivity, it becomes clear that everything is interconnected. We are all, spiritually speaking, philosophically speaking, and scientifically speaking, an indivisible unity – in other words: we are all one.
“He dwells in us, not in the nether world, not in the starry heavens. The spirit living within us fashions all this.”
~ Aggripa Von Nettesheim
The big bang theory, or the scientific theory of the creation, suggests that all things are interconnected and made of the same substance. According to the big bang theory, the entire universe and all its contents were contained within a single point of infinite density and zero volume. When this mighty explosion took place, the contents of that single point – a sea of neutrons, protons, electrons, anti-electrons (positrons), photons, and neutrinos – formed the universe in its original state, and those particles cooled, forming stars.
“Nature is passion; we are sons of stars.”
~ Alexander Gesswein
Physicist and Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss explained in a lecture in 2009, that:
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded, and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand….You are all stardust; you couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because all the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, and all the things that matter for evolution – weren’t created at the beginning of time, they were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars. And the only way that they could get into your body was if the stars were kind enough to explode. So forget Jesus – the stars died so that you could be here today.”
Quantum theory also suggests that all things are interconnected. The phenomenon of superposition, i.e. that, at the quantum scale, particles can also be thought of as waves, shows that particles can exist in different states. Indeed, in quantum mechanics, particles are thought of as existing across all possible states at the same time. This is very difficult to conceive of – and of course, we can’t just interpret in ways that suit our purposes. But the idea of non-locality – particles having no definite position and being present in more than one position at the same time – suggests a unity in everything.
“Nor is it divisible, since it is all alike, and there is no more of it in one place than in another, to hinder it from holding together, nor less of it, but everything is full of what is. Wherefore all holds together; for what is; is in contact with what is. Moreover, it is immovable in the bonds of mighty chains, without beginning and without end; since coming into being and passing away have been driven afar, and true belief has cast them away. It is the same, and it rests in the self-same place, abiding in itself.”
From as far back as Parmenides (b.506 BC), a Greek philosopher who came earlier than Socrates, there have been philosophers who saw the universe as a unified whole within which all things that exist are subsumed.
Baruch Spinoza (b.1632 AD) attempted to prove the existence of a single infinite substance, which is the cause of all things, of their essence and existence¹. Furthermore, he believed that the recognition of the union that the mind has with whole of nature is the highest good because happiness and morality can be derived from this, in something he calls the intellectual love of God (amor dei Intellectualis).²
150 years later Arthur Schopenhauer (b.1788) identified Spinoza’s universal substance with the Will, the striving for life, existing in every living thing.
“The depths of my soul produce the fruits of this world”
~ Alexander Gesswein
Spirituality has often reached the same conclusions through intuition that philosophy has arrived at through reason, and science through observation of phenomena. The central texts of Hinduism, the Upanidshads, contain texts that talk of the unity of the mind and the world.
Buddhism also contains the principle of oneness esho funi: e (the environment), and sho (life), are funi (inseparable). Funi means two but not two. Buddhism teaches that life manifests itself as both a living subject and objective environment. Although we perceive things around us as separate from us, there is a primal level of existence in which there is no separation between ourselves and our environment.
Even Christianity, with its essentially dualist view of the cosmos: that is, of God as creator and man as created thing, when seen as a metaphor, seems to hint at a similar view of things, God is manifested on earth in human form. In Christ, God becomes man. The One becomes the individual and the many. Subject becomes object. The Will is objectified.
“The indivisibility of all things suddenly dawns on the subject. He is one with all, and his concern for himself necessarily leads to concern for others to which he is identical. Morality is founded thereon, the knowledge of which suddenly becomes the most powerful affection one has ever known: an extension of your power to infinity. At last you are able to be at peace with all around you, and are equipped with an imperishable source of pleasure. This is the definition of happiness.
Finite man now stands before Nature in rapturous confidence: The One and All, I am God: the world is my representation. This is the greatest legacy of philosophy; and without our teachers of old, our necromancers, we would be unable to transcend the painful temporal succession, finally rising to the conception of our true freedom, sub specie aeternitatis[under the aspect of eternity].”
~ Alexander Gesswein
¹. Baruch Spinoza, Ethica
². Baruch Spinoza, The Emendation of the Intellect ; see also: Alexander Gesswein, Ethics.
- Parmenides: Poem of Parmenides
- Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation
- Baruch Spinoza, Ethica
- Alexander Gesswein, Ethics – Maxims and Reflections. Selected Essays, Beginning with the Inellectual Love of God, 2016.*
*This exciting new work of philosophy was edited by the author of this article. Kindle edition available now, final printed edition available from 25th November 2016. Please follow the link above to get a copy if you are interested in becoming more deeply acquainted with the ideas described above.
Do you feel interconnected to all things? Do you recognize a unity in the cosmos? Join the discussion.
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Caroline HindleCaroline Hindle is a freelance writer, editor, and translator living in Athens, Greece. She has an MA in Ancient World Studies, but has a wide spectrum of interests, including philosophy, history, science, literature, politics, morality, and popular culture.
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