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.