I have been reading on Zen and non-dualistic texts and there is the belief that humans are connected with their environment and the universe. Can someone expand on this topic for me and help me learn more about it?
To me there is no distinction between us and the universe, the difference is an illusion, a psychological construct that is useful for our consciousness to navigate and survive. If you consider your consciousness as a node in the universe, that the sum = the parts, the sum being the universe and the part being your consciousness.
When you touch a table, is there a difference? Both your hand and the table are made of atoms. We are the universe made self-aware, so self-aware that we don’t recognize the universe as ourselves. The ego is the only thing that keeps this illusion up, with any mind-altering substances that rid you of your ego, you experience what it is like to not perceive that separation, what Aldous Huxley explains as the “reducing valve” of the mind.
Everything is made of the same thing. We are all made up of stars that died billions of years ago. We are 100% dependent on everything. We are also never the same. We are also made up of everything around us.
I like to see it as everything is one. It always has been and always will. Humans and life is just a small part of this.
I have read some good books on this. If you need I can try to find out what they were (I have read so many now I forget which is which)
The universe is us. Saying “we are the universe” is saying that we arise from the universe. I believe it’s the other way around – the universe must have consciousness in order to exist. Therefore, the universe is us. It is here because of consciousness, or rather…consciousness is the only thing that truly exists.
@ccapocci, Non-dualism is the way go, assuming the existence of a separate reality is the only reason why terrifying concepts of heaven and hell, an afterlife and an Abrahamic God can even exist.
Anyways, If you observe the singular reality we live in, then you can objectively apply scientific analysis to find that we are all connected. All organisms on Earth are derived from Earth, Earth is derived from our solar system, etc following objective data all the way back to the big bang.
You can’t objectively assume that there is some sort of spiritual consciousness that holds everything together, but I think that kind of stuff is more social symbolism that religions use to unify people and inspire passion.
I don’t know much about Eastern Philosophy, but I’ve read a lot against dualism.
I’m a little lost on what your asking. Regardless of a zen way of thinking, I think it is obvious that we effect and are connected to our environment. On a deeper level, one could say that we are connected with everything on this earth and in the universe threw energy or of some phenomenon of that nature. Quantum entanglement might relate to this.
Coming at this from a non-dualistic way of viewing things, I think I can see how everything is connected. Removing duality from the equation leaves everything in a state of awe. We think we are seperate because we can see the physical seperation from one another just as we can tell black from white or good from bad, but those things only become apparent in a comparison. Without that comparison, everything just is. If you really saw things as they are, without a dualistic comparison view of things, what would you see? Are we each seperate from each other as we appear or are we really connected?
I cant really give you a zen explaination of things because I haven’t really studied zen, but your question does peek my interest enough to look up zen teachings. While browsing google I came across this conversation about zen “seeing”:
The disciple asks: What then is it [i.e., no-thought]?
The master replies: It is nothing like ”what is.“ Therefore, we can not explain ”no-thought.“ The reason why I am speaking about it now is because you have asked about it. If you haven’t asked about it, there is no need to explain it. Suppose that there is a clear, transparent mirror. If it does not face a thing, no image is reflected in it. To say that it mirrors an image means that because it faces something, it just mirrors its image.
The disciple asks: If it does not face any thing, is there or is there not a reflection in the mirror?
The master replies: That the mirror reflects a thing means that it always mirrors regardless of whether it is facing or not facing a thing.
The disciple asks: If there is no image and since you do not give an explanation, how can all beings and nonbeings become an issue? Now when you say that it always mirrors, how does it mirror?
The master replies: When I say that the mirror always mirrors, it is because a clear, transparent mirror possesses an original nature as its essential activity of always mirroring things. Analogously, people’s mind is originally undefiled, and naturally possesses a superb light of wisdom that illuminates the perfect world of nirvāna.
The disciple asks: Insofar as people’s minds are originally like that, when do people get it?
The master replies: It just sees nothing.
The disciple asks: When it is nothing, what can it see?
The master replies: Seeing is not like something you can call a thing.
The disciple asks: If it is not like anything one can call a thing, what does it see?
The master replies: it sees no-thing. That is the true seeing. It always sees.