I recently read that a scientist has measured electrical pulses being sent out by mushrooms through their mycelium, which is their interconnected root network. The pulses are of different lengths and consist of intricate patterns. If they would be compared to human speech, the “vocabulary” of the mushrooms would amount to about 50 different words. His discovery joins many other such studies, primarily about the ability of trees to communicate through their root networks. Trees can send different kinds of signals to other trees, and the other trees then take certain actions in response.
More and more the scientists are finding out that plants and animals have some capacity for sending and receiving information, which is a feature of their being animate. Yet most scientists, and almost everyone else, refer to all other things as inanimate. In the popular view, a river, a mountain, the earth itself; all are deaf and dumb, as is the sun and all the billions of other stars. Why is this the popular view? Is it because we define higher intelligence and consciousness as the prized attribute of human beings? So, then, of course humans are the most perfect possessors of this human consciousness. Filled with this hubris, we either marginalize or completely exclude the consciousness and intelligence of the rest of creation. It is a word game.
The mystics take a different view. There are no objects. Everything is a subject, possessing it’s own form of agency, it’s own way of being in relation to everything else at its level. And the levels themselves are in relation to each other.
This knowledge, the understanding that the universe and all its levels, all of the cosmoses, is alive and engaged in an ongoing conversation, is based on a special kind of direct experience. The perception of this experience is unavailable to most of us, at least most of the time. But not always. So we call ourselves seekers, seeking for a way to stay with this special kind of understanding that we have come upon in rare moments. We seek to stay with it and deepen it.
Some artists are fellow travelers with us on this search. The photographer Minor White once said, “Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence.” These words are so profound that they could have sprung from the lips of the great Zen master Dogen. For this indication given to us by White is a one sentence instruction manual for becoming available to the Conversation. It is only necessary to try. Again. And again.
“Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence.”
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