There is a qualitative difference between meaning that emerges from our experience and meaning that we impose through some external belief system. I’m not saying this negatively to anybody’s beliefs in particular, but I think that, if I am honest to my personal experience, I recognise that all belief systems come and go. Belief systems are about identifications, when we become very identified with something. But if the meaning comes from our own experience , there is an interconnectedness which is very different from when we are stuck in a belief system. So it seems to me any valid psychology has to come from experience rather than some imposition of ideas.
Even as the relatively conscious being that I arrogantly believe I am, I know I spend large parts of every day not conscious of my identifications. I have a beautiful garden at my home where I can roll on the earth and appreciate the flowers and whatever else, and yet some days it could be the middle of the afternoon before I notice the garden. It’s like: wow, that’s the first time I’ve noticed you all day. So even if somebody who might be slightly conscious, or wanting to be so, or trying to hold a position to be more conscious, they fail. I know I fail. Sometimes the piece of cardboard seems so small and insignificant and I’m feeling a bit rushed so I drop it in the ordinary bin rather than in the recycling one.
There are different figures for this, but let’s say it is 12 billion years that our planet is around for, and say we are at about 6 billion years at the moment, If you put that on a twenty-four hour clock so it’s midday right now, then the first sign of anything even vaguely resembling mammalian existence happened only about a few seconds ago. When we talk about caring for the planet, what we’re damaging and maybe even destroying is the particular biosphere that we are within, but the planet has existed for a very long time before and presumably will be around a long time after this particular biosphere ends, however that end comes. All existence as we know it is just a blink of the eye on cosmic time scales. And yet as I am writing this right now, right now is where the responsibility is. I have a responsibility for how I live my life both in relation to the earth but there’s a two-way flow. When I’m connected to the earth then the earth is connected to me as well.
I might be out in the garden and I see an ant crawling along and I remember when I was about nine or ten years old I spent time torturing ants. I had an old fish tank and I used to put ants in there and then find different ways to torture them. This one ant might really annoy me because its crawling on my vegetables. Yet, it’s like, the same thing that could squash him can come and squash me too, because it’s not just about my relationship with him but it’s being part of a larger relationship with the earth. Today ant, you will not die.
Will Parfitt – www.willparfitt.com