Monday, January 4, 2016

Undivided Wholeness

- along a wilderness trail -

Our youngest son is working on his doctoral degree in the neuroscience field, which often leads to some exceptionally interesting table conversation when he comes home to visit and talks about  the work he is doing. At dinner yesterday he was telling us about his current research into the genetic structure of “fruit flies.” At first I couldn’t quite understand why a neuroscientist would have even the slightest interest in studying the DNA of a fruit fly until he explained that everything is all interconnected and belongs together, and so when you look at any one part (even the tiniest part) you see something of the whole.

Imagine that, the DNA of a tiny little fruit fly shows us something about the human brain and one day the genetic composition of fruit flies may even lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

I think of something John Muir once said:

Tug on anything at all and
you will find it connected to everything else in the universe.

The answer my son gave about everything being interconnected was, in fact, a deeply spiritual insight, demonstrating to me yet again that the “new” scientists of our day, the quantum physicist, biologists and neuroscientists may have become our “new” theologians and mystics who have as much if not more to teach us about “God” than many who may stand in pulpits and preach.

As I listened to my son at dinner last night I thought about how myopic I often am in my own thinking. It’s hard for me to imagine that I and a fruit fly or a bird or even a rock have much in common, let alone that we all “belong” to one another and no matter how hard I try I often imagine “God” to be somehow apart and separated from me. I am often limited by the restraints of the dualistic Western worldview in which I was formed, so I continue to see “me” and everything else is “other” than me. But it’s not like that - all the many are ONE and the name of that ONE is “God.”

This morning when I got up I looked up something I recently read about the scientific principle of quantum entanglement:

All reality is nonlocal, in other words
things can affect one another despite distances or time space coordinates.
Nature is not composed of material substances
but of deeply entangled fields of energy.
The nature of the universe is undivided wholeness.

As I read this I thought to myself, this scientific view of the world is just exactly the world that all the great mystics, poets and spiritual teachers saw. Jesus saw the universe as undivided wholeness, so did the Buddha and mystic poets like Rumi. When they looked at the world they didn’t see parts, they saw the undivided “whole”- everything and everyone belonging together.

Many religious people are all worried nowadays because church attendance is down as fewer and fewer people identify themselves as being “religious.”  I think maybe it’s a good thing that the old religions are fading away. Maybe this will allow us all to make room for a new vision of “God,” and it just may be that the scientists of our day will point us to that way.

The ancient Taoist, Chuang Tzu, once observed:

The Universe and I came into being together,
and I and everything therein are One.

This sounds pretty similar to what a scientist said to me at dinner last night.  


  1. Happy new year to you and yours. Nice and simple, yet profound words.

    1. Thanks so much. Happy New Year to you also.

  2. Thanks Paul. I notice that the longer I spend with something be it a person, a flower, a tree or just gazing at the sky the more intimate I feel with them/it. And with the intimacy comes a connection and this connection leads to a relationship. And then whooosh...we are in a relationship and I care so deeply! I guess it's called communing but it helps to bridge that divide that you talk about - of them and us. Communing with nature, or 'God'. And funnily enough these things then become like friends or sanctuaries. And if we take the time to commune they are everywhere and we are surrounded by friends! It's marvellous! xxx