You might recall here how ‘Space’ is regarded in ‘Star Trek’ as the ‘Final Frontier,’ to be breached by Human ‘Enterprise’! Turn that perception around and you have the foundation for a radically new comprehension of reality. I have called this ‘natural inclusion’ (see, for example, http://www.spanglefish.com/exploringnaturalinclusion). In brief, natural inclusion is the evolutionary process through which all material form comes into being and diversifies as flow-form: a mutual inclusion of space and circulating energy in receptive-responsive relationship. This inclusion occurs at the boundaries of betweenness. It may not mean much to you on first reading. There’s an irony here because this language and the underlying awareness differ so much from what many of us have become habituated to by deeply entrenched perceptions of interconnection.
It is possible to understand natural inclusion by reasoning quite simply from everyday experience. But in order to do so, you may have to lay aside all your preconceptions of reality based on what you have been led to believe is true, and accept instead what you are able to work out and imagine for yourself. You have to liberate your thinking from what has been prescribed and networked by generations before us and get back down to basic principles that may have been evident to you as a pre-school child at play. That’s what I had to do!
On my website I have described a process of self-enquiry that may help you to do this. Essentially it entails recognising why a material body cannot exist without volume and so must be formed by a mutual inclusion of intangible spatial stillness and circulating energy. Pause here and notice how you feel in the presence of another living creature, such as a squirrel, a bird or a tree. Stay quietly with this presence for a while. Doesn’t it feel enlivening and soul-restoring? This is the sense of mutual inclusion you experience when you envisage your own and others’ living bodies in an intrinsically dynamic way, as receptive and responsive expressions of natural energy flow. We are sentient beings with our own agency, not just solid lumps of matter driven by external and internal forces beyond our influence.
To get back to the problem facing the Star Trek crew, most especially Mr Spock. When we are led to believe that material objects ultimately have sharply definitive boundaries that exclude space, we will envisage space as a distancing ‘gap’ or ‘barrier’ between ‘things’. We will imagine that these things can only be brought into communication with one another by ‘connecting’ them forcefully together.
Recall how problematic Newton himself, as an observer objectively detached from what he was observing, found the idea of ‘action at a distance’ implicit in his conception of ‘gravity’? Recall too, how ‘The Age of Reason’ preceding the Industrial Revolution constructed a distanced, rationalistic view of reality. This view dismissed emotion as ‘subjective irrationality’ and treated human beings as no more than sophisticated machines with varying abilities and efficiency. It set the scene for the Darwinian conception of life as a competitive ‘struggle for existence’, along with the rise of capitalism and communism, social discrimination and the devastating arms races and ideological wars of the twentieth century.
Does this history sound painfully familiar? This is what results from the fiction that the atomistic logic embedded in the foundations of conventional mathematics and objective science has been telling us, and teaching our children for millennia. Added to our natural fear of death, pain and uncertainty, this fiction has served to drive us damagingly adrift from one another and our natural neighbourhood to such an extent that our emotions now cry out for ‘connection’ and ‘healing’ as the only means they can imagine to ‘bridge the gaps’ in our divided psyches and communities.
Awareness of natural inclusion enables us to recognise that in reality we were never isolated from or by space in the first place, and couldn’t have been if we were to have any material existence as more than a dimensionless point or dimensionless gathering of points! The very idea that matter and space are mutually exclusive is paradoxical. Space is a receptive, frictionless, intangible presence that pools us together in natural communion and allows free passage of matter and energy. It is not a substance, but what makes substance possible.
Pooled together in space we dwell inescapably within one another’s receptive and responsive influence. This influence radiates intangibly through the space between and within our material bodies, whether we are tangibly connected or not. Planets can orbit within the sun’s gravitational and energetic influence without being attached to the sun. I symbolise this receptive-responsive influence in my painting, ‘Honeysuckle Sharing Circle’, above. For me, a flower epitomises radiant receptivity in its invitation to pollinators and attractiveness to us human beings.
None of what I have said above is to deny the importance of natural connections and networking. I mean only to place these phenomena within a much more comprehensive panorama than is afforded by abstract perceptions that isolate or conflate matter from or with space. The formation of tangible linkages between one locality and another enables energy to be channelled along pathways between them in a more focussed or concentrated way than is possible otherwise.
The stronger these pathways become as conduits, the more they will attract energy away from other possible routes. For example, the first person to cross a field of tall grass will create in their wake a narrow path of least resistance — i.e. a path of less obstructed space — that others will prefer to follow rather than make the effort to form own paths. A self-reinforcing (‘autocatalytic’) process results, in which the original path is widened and flattened. This process therefore both eases passage across the field, and constrains its direction.
So, the formation of connective conduits can both liberate life and restrict its possibilities for future evolution through a process of reinforcement that imposes increasing conformity with what has gone before. As this happens, the need to stray individually from an established path may be vital to open up new possibilities, but it will require increasing effort until or unless the established path degenerates. This is why I had to free myself from previous thought in order to open my mind up to the possibility of natural inclusion — and why I earlier invited you to do the same. The evolutionary sustainability of a living system requires both collective coherence and individual non-conformity.