As we approach the dark period of the year, this year’s dark period seems to be taking on some unusual significance for me. In the next month, I have my talk to deliver at the TDN conference and the background work I’m engaged in at the moment is providing me with some deep spiritual realizations as to the nature of the interactions I have been engaging in. The effects of the loss of daylight upon human communittees, for example in the Scandinavian countries is well documented. And as a Heating engineer, this time of the year signals the “busy half” of my working year. Yet, the work for the talk has given me some grounding as to the nature of my interactivity with both the human world and the natural world.
I think the biggest problem in today’s global society is that now the world has become a “smaller” place and we realize the scale of the numbers of other humans alive at this time and one can’t help but find themselves questioning what possible influence or difference their own interactions or place may have on any useful outcomes. How could one individual possibly make any difference whatsoever? It easy to slip into a depression if the answer is conceived as “none”.
My work into the Religion of the Soil hypothesis suggests the theological position indicated by a communal burial system is that death somehow “strips” an aspect of individuality away from the deceased by the act and subsequent transformation of the remains of the dead. Clearly, it may have been considered to be the case that a return to a communal ancestry was the desired outcome. Yet, for an organism whose very existence emphasizes the individuality of it’s existence, this presents conflicting emotional responses. We value our individuality, especially if it empowers us to live as fully functioning self reliant entities, but when we don’t “see” the results of our endeavours, and unfortunately in a society increasingly demanding instant results this is often the perceived outcome, then we feel that our actions have failed. We haven’t made a difference.
Yet if it is the case that the result of the transformative process of death is the return to a collective, we are left to wonder why we are given a life form that emphasizes the individual? Why not just have a collective style of life form? Biologically of course, the answer is that we are a collective. A collective of bacteria and other biological processes that somehow conspire to be “greater than the sum of it’s parts”. And therein may lie the answer to our dilemma. The cell in the body is capable of acting as a fully autonomous entity within a collective, capable of all the functions we use to classify it as a living entity, respiration, reproduction and autonomous movement.
So how could one cell have any influence whatsoever on the actions and effects of all the other trillions of similar lifeforms present in our body? Primarily of course, the programming of the cell is the answer. The autonomy of the cell allows for it to react to different situations and the interactivities it engages in may have a consequence for all other cells, for example the creation of a pattern of behaviour that destroys cancerous growths. Therefore the individuality of the cell must give the collective an advantage by which the organism may evolve. If this is indeed the case, then the return of the individual dead to the collective makes more sense and also goes some way to explain why life appears to be programmed to enhance this collective with an individuality based life form.
Of course, not every cell may be as influential as the one that develops the new equipment by which to further enhance the collectives evolution, however, it is the results of this interaction, driving and modifying all the other cells behaviour and the subsequent advantage gained, that points to us that life, by creating individuality, is actually driving a collective. A collective we emerge from and a collective we will ultimately return to. Modern culture suggests that we are only judged on results, but these results are subjective whereas it may be that the fate of the majority of us is that we contribute in less pronounced ways, but contribute, we surely will by the very existence of our individuality.