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To truly know what it means to be human, to feel fully alive, is to deepen awareness of our interconnectedness with the greater web of life. This awareness is innate; we are born with it. But as we are indoctrinated into the social and technical complexities of the industrialized world, maintaining that awareness requires conscious effort. Our innate human senses are dulled by the assault of distracting forces in our hyperactive, social-technological systems. Such is life in the human-built world.

But life can be richer, more glorious and refined, when we use our eyes, ears, nose and skin to return home to that ancient awareness of our interconnectedness with the vast web of life. The cry of a crow, the scream of a hawk, the burble and rush of a moving stream can be re-woven into the fabric of our being, and remind us of our origin and our destination as part of the wholeness that is.

When we use our senses to experience the “other”—the variegated leaves of a plant, the drone of a humming bird, the winds of an approaching storm —we bypass the intellect with its need to abstract and filter experience. Notice the scent of a bloom you pass. Hear the raccoon cry in the night. Take in the dancing flames of a campfire. Use your senses to go deeper, down to your core. In that wordless place, you will be better able to realize your true human nature, which is your interconnectedness with all life.

If a barred owl should grace you with landing on a pine bough outside your window, receive this gift as a greeting from one being to another. Yes, we are all connected in the Great Spirit. If a leashed dog passes you on the sidewalk and glances into your eyes, she may be saying, “I see you as part of me.” Stand beneath a magnificent tree, lean against its trunk. Take in all your senses tell you. The tree may speak to you; sense you and its connection to you, simply and wordlessly acknowledging your presence.

Such silent communications with the natural world are real; they flow continually among all living species and elements of this earth. If we cultivate the habit of tuning in to them, the plants, animals and elements too, we deepen our sense of belonging to this Earth and its complex, interconnected systems. This opens our tiny ego-selves to the much vaster and more intelligent web of life, and helps free us of the anxieties inherent in the egoic mind.

So I invite us all to smell that connectedness. See it. Touch it. Hear it. Taste it, every day. Feel the awareness coming toward us from others in the web of life. If you do this faithfully, you will be seen, heard, watched, smelled, noticed as a valued one of many belonging to the Wisdom that unites the Earth.

The more you practice in this downward way of using the senses, the more alive, joyful, and peaceful you will become.

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As a university associate professor of “Science, Technology and Society”, Rosalyn Berne studies and teaches about the role and function of the moral imagination, personal belief, mythology and metaphor in the pursuit of new technological developments. Seeing the capacity of science fiction to provoke reflection and stir the imagination, she both writes and teaches that genre. Her novel, Waiting in the Silence, explores human procreation, privacy, aging and spirituality in a world where novel technologies have emerged from the convergence of biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technologies and cognitive science. Its sequel, Walking on the Sea, is soon to be completed.

Rosalyn is also the non-fiction author of Nanotalk: Conversations with Scientists and Engineers about Ethics, Meaning and Belief in the Development of Nanotechnology (2005). Her newest book, Creating Life from Life: Biotechnology and Science Fiction (forthcoming summer 2014), combines non-fiction essays written by scientists about their fields in biotechnology, with science fiction short authored by Rosalyn and other contributors. When the Horses Whisper (2014) may represent her truest vocation—the study of interspecies communication, and sharing with other humans what animals have to teach us. For this, Rosalyn offers “Deep Listening” workshops and “equine-empath” services for horses and their human companions.

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for your truth and focusing our awareness on the beauty of the moments in nature that are before us NOW. If we can listen and honor these moments, then the clarity of their message will be revealed to us through grace. A great and vast healing can occur through the realization of our interconnectness.

  2. mmm :)… I had a visceral feeling sensation when reading these beautiful moments described here…we have all had them, we just need to slow down enough to have them more often. Thank you Ros! I hope you are well.

  3. Beautifully said. I love your statement about our interconnectedness with life. When we tune into that connectedness, not only does it bring an awareness of what is beyond the surface level, I believe it also open us up to infinite possibilities and potential for living a life beyond what we can imagine. I look forward to hearing more!

  4. This is why everyone needs to just slow down sometimes and appreciate what’s around! Thanks for sharing!

  5. When I do the interconnected I forget of the pressures of life, and find serenity. I love everything at that moment. Thank you for making so easy to connect.

  6. Ros, prior to reading your beautiful piece “peace” I was on my iPad, texting on my iPhone, reading the L A Times, and multitasking at the same time – while outside on our front patio, enjoying the sun, slight wind, and a little front yard nature. After reading your ” peace,” I paused and stared into my own inner core. Our inner calming nature is ALWAYS there, as is the natural beauty around us. We just have to practice being a part of it :)……I’m so blessed to have you as my big sis!!!!! I Love you!

  7. Being a farmer’s grand-daughter and an avid gardener, I love to watch my plants grow, groom and prune, mulch and marvel at the magnificence of nature. I feed birds to hear them sing and raise their young. What a gift it has been:)

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