Health comes from wholeness. This is true for every individual body on the face of the planet right up to the Earth itself. If the spherical (3-dimensional) network of interconnections is intact and working in harmony, we enjoy good health. Damaging those connections and setting up division between body and soul, body and earth, ourselves and others, creates a loneliness that we compensate using violence and competition. Violence to part is violence to the whole. We undo the fabric of life this way. Whenever we insist on the “rights of the individual”, we chip away at those connections. (see Jessa’s comment on the last post) How do we practice unity and health? How do we take up a posture of balance in our relationship to Creation or the Universe? Do we have the maturity and courage to desire this responsibility on our own so that it isn’t an “obligation”?
This morning, I have been reading an essay by Wendell Berry called “The Body and The Earth” from The Unsettling of America published in 1977. It is an extremely articulate and broad analysis of that “spherical network” that moves fluidly from agriculture, to Shakespeare and suicide, to sexual differences and divisions, and more. Here is an excerpt from the beginning which describes the mythic human dilemma:
“Until modern times, we focused a great deal of the best of our thought upon such rituals of return to the human condition. Seeking enlightenment or the Promised Land or the way home, a man would go or be forced to go into the wilderness, measure himself against the Creation, recognize finally his true place within it, and thus be saved both from pride and from despair. Seeing himself as a tiny member of a world he cannot comprehend or master or in any final sense possess, he cannot possibly think of himself as a god. And by the same token, since he shares in, depends upon, and is graced by all of which he is a part, neither can he become a fiend; he cannot descend into the final despair of destructiveness. Returning from the wilderness, he becomes a restorer of order, a preserver. He sees the truth, recognizes his true heir, honors his forebears and his heritage, and gives his blessing to his successors. He embodies the passing of human time, living and dying within the human limits of grief and joy.”
Last night, Steve handed me his own definition of living holistically: establishing (or re-establishing) a personal responsibility towards all aspects of the universe. He defines responsibility here as love, that is “presence with or an acknowledged relationship with” and the desire to improve that relationship. He noted that this responsibility comes from free will, not as an obligation. This is the posture of openness, the basic attitude to begin any discussion about living sustainably or in unity and harmony. Think of it as the beginning of a tai chi exercise or a yoga session. You take a balanced position: heels together and toes out for tai chi; heels together, toes together, palms together in front of your heart for yoga. Breathe deeply, opening connections to the respiratory system, the digestive system, the circulatory system.
This is only the beginning, but as Mary Poppins would say, “Well begun is half done.” This part takes practice, just like meditation. Return to your breath. Return to a position of openness as you try to save the planet. We are not gods and we are not fiends. We are humans who love the universe, who desire to improve our relationship with every aspect of it.