The Interdependence of All Things
Last week, I came across a 2018 article from Scientific American entitled, What Would Happen If Everyone Truly Believed Everything Is One? It summarizes the results of a series of scientific studies by Kate Diebels and Mark Leary looking at participants’ thinking about the interconnectedness of all things. In these studies, unlike similar ones, the researchers asked about people’s thoughts about oneness outside of the context of spirituality or religion, using a six-item “Belief in Oneness Scale” they developed that contains the following items:
Beyond surface appearances, everything is fundamentally one.
Although many seemingly separate things exist, they all are part of the same whole.
At the most basic level of reality, everything is one.
The separation among individual things is an illusion; in reality everything is one.
Everything is composed of the same basic substance, whether one thinks of it as spirit, consciousness, quantum processes, or whatever.
The same basic essence permeates everything that exists.
Unsurprisingly, Diebels and Leary found that participants’ scores on this scale were strongly correlated to a sense of connection with other people, nonhuman animals, and nature. As obvious as this sounds, this has important practical implications for our world. Cultivating this attitude in individuals could positively affect our ability to see past superficial constructs that divide us, and get us to the point of really being able to see and hear each other. It would also greatly influence our behavior towards animals and the environment, in ways that all would benefit. The world would most certainly be a happier, healthier, kinder place if everyone spent time contemplating this idea.
Last night, I watched a streaming film Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of Richard Bohm, which addresses this same issue, but from a different angle. Bohm was a highly intelligent, accomplished quantum physicist who studied under Robert Oppenheimer and worked with Albert Einstein. But he had a rough go of it because his ideas went against the grain of the established field of physics. He felt that quantum particle behavior wasn’t random, and it wasn’t just some organized-but-unknowable cause. Rather, he believed, physical reality starts with an underlying process from which particles and space-time emerge; information, or essentially universal consciousness, acts on quantum potential to create physical reality.
Not finding models for his ideas in Western science, over time he began to draw from Eastern philosophy, spending time in dialogue with Krishnamurti and the Dalai Lama. His ideas were met with much resistance, and even hostility, by many of the most brilliant scientific minds of his time, who felt that he was stepping away from science into the realm of spirituality, and this made them very uncomfortable.
I believe we are in a time now, when people are being asked to let go of this old, dualistic way of thinking. Why can’t it be science and spirituality? Or, better yet, finding a way to describe “reality” that doesn’t rely on just one or the other, but rather draws from the best of both worlds? If we are to get to the point of embracing the concept of oneness, we need to begin by examining all constructs that artificially divide things and people into this and that.