People have defined and manipulated the environment from a painfully arrogant human-centered perspective. In creating modern systems of knowledge we have separated from our indigenous wisdom. It seems that in our intellectual quest we have lost sight of the possibility that the planet and its species do not exist for human benefit alone.
Humans, like other species, are just a small part of a much larger life consciousness evolving. We are a relatively recent and immature species that has the ability to impact the planet in powerful ways. So called "civilized" societies can be seen as branching off from indigenous communities to pursue knowledge and mastery of life that is disconnected from our innate instinct and our diverse somatic intelligences. As such, we have not yet evolved to the level of other species that have already integrated their unique gifts in mutually enriching ways with their life sustaining environment.
In modern society, we are limited by our own notion of separateness, superiority and privilege. This perspective justifies us taking incessantly from the planet without considering what we give back. A visitor to the planet may categorize us as a highly intelligent but dangerous species that leeches off life and engages in the absurd, self-destructive behavior of destroying the environment that sustains us.
The primary challenge it seems, is to move from a narcissistic picture of ourselves to a more humble, interconnected one. It entails learning to see ourselves as ‘a part of’ rather than ‘apart from’ and superior to all other life forms. It means integrating our intellectual knowledge with our embodied wisdom in ways that serve the planet and all its inhabitants.
Our evolutionary transition from a more fragmented view of the planet to a more interconnected one brings with it challenges and opportunities. If we see the planet as made up of separate, independent parts that have a relationship of superiority among them, we can rationalize the way we destroy other species and ecosystems. If however we view the planet as an interconnected living organism we have no choice but to consider the far reaching impact of our manipulation of the environment.
Everything in nature follows a code of interdependent communication. We are learning how the human body functions as an interconnected living system with vital communication pathways between all its interdependent parts. Similarly, we are discovering that the planet itself functions as an interconnected living system. Even though we may not see the connecting communication pathways of our global environment, they exist on subtle dimensions.
In the same way that the brain does not exist entirely for the brain nor the liver for the sake of the liver, it is probable that all parts of our planetary ecosystem have similar local and global functions. When we damage one organ the entire body is impacted. Likewise, when we damage plant and animal species and parts of our environment we damage the entire ecosystem.
When we use the analogy between the human body and the planetary ecosystem we can also imagine how the forests and deserts, waters, minerals and oils are all purposefully located for life to evolve. Similarly, we can assume that each animal species has been precisely designed and located in a way that enables them to accurately, receive, metabolize and transmit information for the benefit of the entire web of life.
On a physical level, for instance, animals distribute plant seeds over vast distances and replenish the flora along their migratory paths. It is understandable that beyond the seeds themselves they transmit a range of vital information through the ecosystem. From this perspective, we can explore more about why ants, frogs, dolphins, polar bears and hummingbirds behave and migrate the way they do.
Humans have severely obstructed nature’s life enabling web of relationships by displacing, harming and eradicating species. In the process we have caused enormous chaos, devastation and suffering. The life threatening process of global warming is a symptom of our interference in life’s codes. Imagine consistently mining a human’s bones, draining the blood, contaminating the body’s air and water, killing functions and displacing organs, while putting the person under constant emotional stress and still expecting the body to continue to function as it always has. Current studies are pointing to concrete evidence of the impact of different species on entire ecosystems. Monbiot's work on the role of wolves in changing rivers and of whales in regulating the climate is an example of emerging knowledge in this area. The extinction of one species often leads to the extinction of other species and re-wilding certain species in their native habitat has been shown to bring with it the renewal of other plant and animal species. This information is crucial to re-balancing the planetary ecosystem and reversing climate change.
Some sacred traditions suggest that the role of animal and plant species in planetary life and evolution is far more than meets the eye. According to Native American tradition for instance, each part of nature holds unique physical and vibrational qualities. Honoring and learning from the elements, plants and animals allows people to align with these vibrational essences and integrate the qualities into their own personal and community development.
The bees for instance are not only vital in physically pollinating the planet, they can be seen as leading the vibrational wisdom of accurate pollination of life. Imagine that as they refine their skill, the code of accurate pollination becomes available to us and other species as well. Learning from bees would thus enable humans to develop our intuitive capacity to invest in life enhancing seeds rather than in seeds that go against life.
This idea can be likened to the theory of the ‘100th monkey’. The theory suggests that when a certain number of animals from a specific species learns a new skill, that new skill becomes available to the entire species irrespective of distance. The theory, using the concept of a collective mind, explains phenomena of ‘new’ ideas simultaneously arising in different parts of the planet.
Similarly, lions and lionesses, the apex predators, are recognized intuitively as the royalty of the animal species. This is because they are archetypally seen to use their power wisely and contribute to radiant harmony in diversity in the ecosystem. We may not yet know scientifically how lions and lionesses cultivate this quality of radiant, integrative power, but when one learns to engage with them intuitively, many insights become available (The-Planetary-Wisdom-of-the-Lions-and-Lionesses). From this perspective, when we kill, displace or harm the lions and lionesses we attack not only the physical lion and lioness, but the regulating leadership function in our collective field that is the compass for harmony in diversity at all levels of our global system. This understanding makes it all the more essential that we ensure the safety of these majestic creatures in their native habitats so that they can energetically lead the regulation of our planetary ecosystem and so that humans can align with their energetic leadership wisdom.
If we follow the notion of co-evolution within a holographic living system, we can begin to imagine into the impact of human thought and action on all species, and of all species on humans. This approach attends to the complex weaving of the physical dimensions with the vibrational and archetypal dimensions of evolving consciousness. We have just scratched the surface of the emerging paradigm of interconnectedness and its implications for restoring health and vitality to the planet and all its inhabitants.
The only way we can heal the physical and emotional trauma we have generated to the planet, its species and ourselves is to restore life to its harmonious balance, and use our multifaceted gifts to learn from nature’s resonant intelligence.
Imagine global policies based on understanding that the ecosystem needs the flourishing and integrity of each species in its precise location no less than the species itself needs the precise conditions in which to thrive. It would become clear for instance, that to reverse climate change and heal the damage we have caused, humans would need to contain our own expansion, re-wild and reestablish nature's accurate migration paths, and ensure that the way we live on the earth does not interfere with the vibrational wisdom of nature. The entire ecosystem would need all communication pathways to be clear so that we can re-align ourselves with pristine life energy and the code of accurate mutual nourishment among all parts of the whole that has taken billions of years to evolve.
With special thanks to Christopher Chase and Kelly Schlesinger for their valuable input in the updated version of this article.
Distressed by the suffering humans are causing each other, animals and the planet, I spent many years exploring diverse healing paths and solution oriented programs.The journey led to the development of a holistic approach for nurturing systemic wellness that draws on a broad range of experience in different countries, traditions and disciplines. The approach offers conceptual and practical frameworks for systemic healing and for nourishing vitality of people and planet. The framework has evolvedover more than 25 years working with leadership and people from all walks of life and across sectors of society and continents. Over the years I have worked as a therapist, consultant, manager, teacher, author, activist, leadership consultant and creative partner in cultivating individual and systemic wellness in groups, organizations and communities. The current focus of my work is to contribute to planetary healing, and to a new form of local and global governance (eco-governance), that puts the health and vitality of the planet and all its inhabitants for generations to come as its core purpose and organizing principle.