Saturday, December 12, 2009


The theme of connectedness is emerging all around us. It’s not hard to see why.
Our shared environment is a conspicuous truth in the digital “noosphere”. That was a word that philosopher/ theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin used to refer to the atmosphere of consciousness in which we participate. He saw individuals as thinking molecules in this larger whole, contributing our perception to a larger inclusive awareness. The Internet mirrors this, is isomorphic in structure. Every individual mind is the hub of a wheel of connections and life experience that creates a personal viewpoint that influences and is influencing the whole. Similarly, in the physical world, just as we are always adjusting to our surroundings, our surroundings are always adjusting to us. I walk down the path and the birds fly off. Leaves and twigs are displaced by my steps and the air currents my presence initiates. Squirrels that know I have peanuts run toward me. There is no way of standing outside, and those are just the visible reverberations. Whenever new ideas start pouring from me. I say an inner thanks for the creative source for which I’m privileged to be a conduit. The role of the being I am with its accumulation of knowledge and unique perspective are the material that tune me to new meanings and are my language to communicate. Increasing my learning increases what is available to me to access, like familiarity with the music played in a concert can increase appreciation of the meaning given to it by the musician. I’ve heard my husband Michael play the same jazz standards uncountable times, but they still have the power to stop me, make me listen and sink into the expression he gives it at that moment. I Ching speaks of the holiness of music and its power “ to loosen the grip of the obscure emotions.”
There’s a purity to our connection with music. It can capture us. As Peter Gabriel said recently in an interview,” I love music because it plugs right into the emotions.” He felt it was more of the spirit than the other arts. John Dewey said, ”vision is a spectator, but hearing is a participant.” Vision can support the illusion of something outside of us, and we can choose to look the other way. Hearing seems to happen right inside us and is harder to shut out. It seems to merge with our personal awareness.
David Bohm used the word “artamovement” for the continuous act of “fitting” that is the essential quality of the whole. Rather than building blocks in the world machine, we are melodic lines in the symphony of consciousness. We fit what we have to offer into the structure unfolding around us like jazz improvises around the shape of the tune.
Thinking of many modes of vibration in harmony would be a better image to contemplate Bohm’s conception of individual elements as abstractions from an unbroken wholeness. The worldview that sees reality comprised of separate building blocks leaves us alienated. The emphasis on competition for resources creates opposition and antagonism. With an image of a deity outside of ourselves, this separation underlies everything. In a worldview that sees all as continuous movement in which we participate, we are naturally inclined to cooperate, to add our bit to the ongoing creation. Guided by the image of music, we try to blend with the group, work together, harmonize, fit what we have to offer into a larger whole. We feel a greater sense of responsibility toward each other and our environment when we feel like part of the same thing, the body of life, and the entirety of consciousness.
A Muslim reader wrote to me about how the Christian image of God could get in the way of seeing the deeper, more comprehensive view of the Spirit. Even images can begin to operate like labels, replacing the reality of a subject with the definition and dogma that builds up around the image/concept. “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”
Just as Viktor Frankl concluded that the specific meanings are not as important as the search for meaning, we might be better off not clinging so tightly to the current images that emphasize separation and search for new images, lots of them, to help us reflect and gain access to the pleasure of our connection.

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