The ancient and eternal truth of the relatedness

Among anthropologists, it is widely accepted, and has been writing about often, that the people in primitive societies had a more all-encompassing relationship with nature; felt themselves to be part of nature in a way that we do not; and understood that there was, or is, an intermingling of their own selves, with nature.

I do not know whether any anthropologist has ever suggested that there might be something necessary about the views these traditional people held. It may have seemed too quaint to suggest that we ourselves might have, or must have, such a relationship.

We think how wonderful it was that people saw the world like that, and regret its passing — what a shame the world is no longer like that. But, of course, we consider it as fiction, the thinking of primitives. It has not occurred to us, that what the Indian chief says might actually be true. Literally true. That the relation he and his people spoke about, and felt, between themselves and all things, was a relationship that is actually there, but one that we no longer see, or acknowledge, or are willing to experience, because in our cosmology it is not understandable that such a thing could be true.

The essence common to all these cases, is that people really saw all of nature as a single embracing whole, of which they were a part. Their sacred relationship to this whole was the foundation of their lives. It hinged, I think, on the awareness that they and it — we and it — are not separate, cannot be separate, are two halves of a single whole.

In a non-traditional form, in a new cosmological form consistent with modern physics, I too wish to make such a claim. I wish to claim that there is such a thing as an “I”, lying behind matter, and that all living structure (though certainly not all structure) is connected, necessarily, with this I. I shall claim, too, that, on examination, this relatedness will turn out to be part of physics.

In order to sustain this claim, we must begin by grasping it as something rooted in experience. That is, we must learn to acknowledge the experience of relatedness with living things, and the depth of this relationship. Once we have it, and it is rooted in our experience, we may then go on to ask what kind of physical explanation might make sense of it. But we must start with verifiable experience.

(Page 58)

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