Man is a microcosm, or a little world,
because he is an extract from all the stars and planets of the whole firmament,
from the earth and the elements;
and so he is their quintessence.
It’s a lonely human world when we are, together, just one. Without ‘plus one’ life becomes drab and lonely. The common ‘spiritual’ notion that ‘we are one’ is a perspective based on a direct perception of collective consciousness, which is expansive, and inclusive; wholistic and all-encompassing. The intellectual construct of a collective consciousness is different than a direct perception of it. Collective consciousness is not a perceptible reality for anybody enmeshed in the conflict and struggles inherent in a personal life restricted within the framework of individualized consciousness, which defines itself within the construct of exclusivity. Individualized consciousness is characterized by polarities, opposites, extreme difference at the far reaches on the continuum, hot and cold, which help define, give shape and meaning, to each other. Our experience of an individual ‘self’ is defined by that which is perceived as ‘not-self.’ That ‘not-self’ is ‘the other’ whether that other be a person, or a group, large or small, or the ‘external’ environment. This dichotomy between self and ‘other’ can give rise to experiences of alienation and isolation. So, although we may perceive ourselves as one whole person, that one whole person is defined by another, one, or a group of ones, from which we are distinct and different. There is me, and you; us, and them. The polarization of these dualities generates exclusion and the experience of individual singularity, and which can easily bring about feelings of ‘lonely.’ It has been said that one is the lowliest and loneliest of numbers; but two can be as lonely as one.
One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one
-Three Dog Night
And, another which again emphasizes the loneliness of being one, with another
You don’t have to be alone to feel alone
You can have someone
And still feel alone
– Richard Marx
To be one with another is to be lonely together.
The counter to this polarized individualized consciousness that excludes so much and is so susceptible to loneliness is collective consciousness, which incorporates expanded connections into a coherent functional whole. Individuals are an integral part of this functional collective whole. Life, in it’s larger sense, is not singular, no more than time is linear. Life is an explosion of creative plurality happening all at the same time. Life is not ‘one’ – it is ‘many.’ That plurality is objectively obvious in the many life forms observed in the geological biosphere, a grand collective, the individual being just a small expression of that larger inclusive collective life. A notion of ‘oneness’ which attempts to nullify plurality in the name of unity to form a singularity of ‘oneness’ is going to be a lonely place. This tendency to impose upon plurality singularity, in much the same way a social system imposes itself upon the individual, in an attempt to achieve the appearance or belief in ‘oneness’ via uniformity, does not just contribute to a sense of loneliness, but to one of tyranny as well. One World. One People. One God. One Love. One Leader. One Goal. One Way. It all sounds so very……limited, and oppressive. What about Freedom? Beware of those who want to save the world by imposing their view of ‘oneness’ upon the multitudes.
The savior who wants to turn men into angels is as much a hater of human nature
as the totalitarian despot who wants to turn them into puppets.
– Eric Hoffer
If we are all a unified one, and there is no plus one, no two, or three, or any expanding diversification, a plethora of multitudes, it’s a barren place. The notion of oneness contains dangers of uniformity, and the oppression of pluralities into a singularity to achieve that aim. Many examples throughout history suggest a tendency towards using various forms of coercion to attain collective ‘oneness.’ Perhaps a more apt term than ‘oneness’ is ‘wholeness’ or ‘wholistic.’ We are Wholistic. I am wholistic. You are wholistic. The planet is not one, it is multitudes. You are not one, you are multitudes. The multitudes acting in coherent integration is wholistic intelligence in operation. And what a phenomenal operation it is, from the complex integration of micro-organisms to the movement of the planets; from the mineral elements contained in soil around the world, to the global play of insects, plants and animals. It staggers the human mind, and yet that mind is part of the inter-related, inter-dependent, inter-laced, inter-woven spheres of life we call our world system. To say this vast complexity is one is to insult it, degrade it, devalue it, diminish it. It is way more than 1; it is more representative of infinity, which is the polar opposite of 1, and that which upholds infinity, and 1, is wholistic.
Wholistic is defined as the ‘tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution.’ One of the best and immediate examples of wholistic is one’s own biological organism, one’s own body. The physical body is a collection of parts or components, a collection of multitudes, microbes, molecules, cells, nerves, tissue, organs, muscles and senses working as a whole unit, a universe unto itself. The world as a planetary organism is a collection of multitudes functioning as an integrated coherent whole. The ecological intelligence required to sustain and evolve interwoven life in a planetary system is…..wholistic.
The counter point to wholistic is atomistic. Atomistic is small, compartmentalized, limited, exclusive. Wholistic is large, open, expansive and inclusive. If atomistic is singularity, wholistic is plurality. Atomistic is details, wholistic is generalities. Atomistic is the microscope, wholistic the telescope. Atomistic is local, wholistic is global. Atomistic is the microcosm, wholistic the macrocosm. The plural wholistic macrocosm is replicated in the singular atomistic microcosm. The collective is contained within the individual. The global is contained within the local. A close up photograph of nerve cell cluster in a small mammalian brain resembles to a remarkable degree an astro-photo of a large galaxy cluster. The basic premise of this macro-micro cosmology is ‘the universe’s mechanism has a pattern that repeats itself in all levels of nature.’
From a distance out in space, one can see our planetary orb as an integrated coherent whole. Continents and oceans, plants and animals, the land, sea and sky, all functioning quite well together as complex system of many different life forms. Living in our town or city, we hardly see the town or city as a whole, composed of many components, multitudes, and each of those multitudes, such as one lonely person, itself a whole made up of multitudes, many components, or parts, ie, particles. We might think we are alone, entrapped in our one singular microcosmic body; and, yet, at the same time, we are the macrocosmic collective mind, for the fundamental structures, patterns and ‘laws’ of both is contained within both. The macrocosm is contained within the microcosm. The large is replicated in the small. The collective resides within the individual. Inclusiveness encompasses exclusiveness.
It’s a lonely human world when the small singular individual defines itself against the large plural collective, and the global mind is submerged in a local body. Because the large macrocosm is contained within the small microcosm, and because human beings are a special species, any single person can come to realize that their own singular individual atomistic intelligence contains within it the creative plurality of collective wholistic intelligence.
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
– William Blake