Truth of Existence (Part 1)
Transcript from a talk (Translated from Japanese)
Is the sense of separateness a truth of existence?
On an individual level, group level and national level, we humans (humankind) are suffering from various problems. We can say that ultimately, the root cause of all of these problems is egoism of humans, and this is different from other animals. This means that if egoism were the true nature of humans, it would basically be impossible to resolve our many problems. So, is egoism the true nature of humans? This is, in fact, a very important topic. Egoism is the way of thinking and way of life, “caring only about myself,” (or “as long as it is in my interests,”) and this comes from the “sense of separateness” in which “everything in this world exists separately from each other.”
“Truth of existence” ? Humans
So, is the sense of separateness a “truth of existence?” First, let us think about the existence of humans as the closest thing we can relate to. There are over 60 trillion cells in the human body. If we examine one cell, it is made up of many components including genes, cell fluid, cell membrane, etc. These cells form the tissues of our body such as membranes, blood, other bodily fluids, and muscles. These tissues form our organs such as the stomach, colon, heart, liver, kidneys, eyes, nose, mouth, blood vessels and bones, etc. Further, these organs form our body parts such as head, neck, chest, abdomen, hands, feet and so on, and these parts form one individual human body.
The existence of each individual human is not just a physical body. We are formed from various components such as our senses, intelligence, knowledge, ideas, memory, emotions, heart and mind. In other words, an individual human existence is formed from many components at different levels such as cells and tissues, organs, body parts, as well as intelligence, memory, emotion, and heart/mind. These components are continuously breaking apart, coming together, circulating, being active, or stopping. In other words, these components do not exist separately from each other, but are at a level that is clearly beyond simply having a close relationship or connection. Their relationship cannot be broken apart even if you try. They are inseparably related, complement each other, help each other, and circulate to sustain each individual human life.
In this way, each human existence is a microcosm. “All cells, tissues, organs, as well as intelligence, memory, emotions, and heart/mind cannot survive without each other.” They exist, circulate, and function harmoniously in a “relationship of giving each other life, and being given life by each other.” To say it another way, it is a relationship of “All for one, one for all.” In other words, "All (everyone) for the sake of one (one person), one (one person) for the sake of all (everyone)." This means, each existence is not separate from others, or has a shallow relationship of being slightly related, but we have a very close relationship with each other. We can even go as far as saying, "I am you, you are me," "everything is me, I am everything." Maybe it is suitable to express this situation as, "a relationship where we are one body, and cannot be separated apart," "one indivisible body," or simply "one body."
Just as human existence (life) is one body and an indivisible microcosm, the macrocosm itself is one indivisible body. The planets revolve around the sun following laws in an orderly way. Moons and satellites revolve around planets in an orderly way. It is said that in the Milky Way, there are about 200 billion solar systems like ours. With the best telescopes of today, we have found approximately a billion galaxies that are about the same scale as the Milky Way. Our universe is a macrocosm with an infinite, uncountable number of stars, planets, galaxies, and matter among the stars and planets. These all move in harmony following laws and circulating in an orderly way. In this way, the macrocosm obeys the laws and moves in an orderly way. It is a world that is one and indivisible.
The microscopic world is also called a small universe or microcosm. For each type of atom, the size of a nucleus is different. In the various atoms, a fixed number of electrons revolve around the nuclei following the laws and without becoming disorderly. These together with the nucleus express the workings of one atom. In addition, each atomic nucleus is formed from various micro-particles. The whole is in harmony. It is the same for molecules. Atoms and molecules are one body.
Nature is the same. Nature is formed from various components such as the sky, clouds, rain, sun, moon, snow, rivers, oceans, mountains, soil, desert, grasslands, minerals, plants, animals, microorganisms and so on. All of these components are related to each other, circulate, and are one overall. Nature is also a world of coexistence as one body in harmony.
By the way, there are different opinions about the concept of “in harmony.” For example, lions eating deer is a grim fact of the law of the jungle. If we look at natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, we say that nature cannot be considered to be in harmony. However, that is only the way we humans look at things with our head according to our own convenience and self-serving ways. We look at things on the surface level and only at the parts from a relative point of view. The true form of nature is also a world of coexistence in harmony.
Plants and animals
Let us think about nature a bit more in detail. For example, plants create the components of their body by photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, plants use the sun’s energy to make the components of their body from carbon dioxide absorbed from the air and water absorbed from the roots. At the same time, plants product oxygen and release it to the air. Grass-eating animals such as deer eat these plants. Meat-eating animals such as lions eat these deer.
Through respiration, animals absorb the oxygen produced by plants, and at the same time, animals produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and release it into the air. Plants use this carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. The oxygen absorbed by animals is used to break down and digest the food they eat and to provide energy for their activities. Waste materials from the animals and the dead bodies of animals are broken down as food for microorganisms, and in the end, are scattered in the soil and air.
The components that are scattered into the soil become nutrients for the plants. When the plants themselves wither and die, they are broken down by microorganisms and return to the soil once again to become nutrients for the next plants. At the same time, some components are also scattered into the air. The various components that are scattered into the air, in fact, circulate around the world through circulation of the atmosphere, are absorbed by the soil, plants, and animals again, and enter a different circulation pathway.
In a similar way, water not only circulates among the rivers, ponds, lakes, oceans, clouds, rain and snow, but becomes components of the bodies of plants and animals. In addition, water is excreted out of the bodies, and for example, goes into rivers in the end. This circulation follows unimaginably complex pathways.
In other words, nature and the human body are similar, and there are a countless number of levels of components that compose them. All of these are “existences that are necessary and vital, ” that complement each other, support each other, circulate, and are in harmony. Nature, which is one huge life, is sustained and works by all of these components. In this way, nature is indeed a world that is one indivisible body.
Similar forms of one indivisible body
If we observe in this way, aren’t the things in this world created similarly to each other? Probably, “similar form” is an unfamiliar expression. To put it simply, “similar form” means “various phenomena follow common patterns.”
As I explained for the human body, for all things in this world, the components at each respective level follow the laws of nature. The laws of the universe, are related to each other, affect each other, complement and cooperate with each other, form one harmonious universe overall, and form a component of one level above. In other words, it can be said that the components at a particular level are unified together to form one body, and live “one life” [not each being separate lives] as one indivisible body in the level above. Then, the components of the level above gather together, and in a similar way, form the components of the next higher level.
If we look straightforwardly at the cells, tissues, organs, and the entire body that are the components (world) of the life of animals, plants, and microorganisms, and further, if we look at nature and the universe, perhaps we can clearly see and grasp the similar forms. Simply put, originally, everything is not separate, but is one and indivisible. In addition, all existences beside humans or human society are in harmony, following laws as they move, circulate, and relate to each other.
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Thursday, January 29, 2009