"...They are one person,
they are two alone,
they are three together,
they are for each other..."
- Stephen Stills
I love CSN's song "Helplessly Hoping." In the 1993 film Phenomenon John Travolta is transformed by a paranormal experience that increases his perspicacity. He becomes a voracious reader with a hunger for information that is insatiable. Sharing insights from the booth at a country fair he expounds on a fact that has his character animated with fascination.
He explains that for many years scientists believed that an aspen grove near the Continental Divine in Western Colorado was a sea of individual trees. Tens of thousands of willowy, delicate populas tremula stetching down the ravine, across a high country meadow and along the ridge at tree-line as far as you can see. But in 1992 scientists discovered that it was one organism.
I had to know if this was just great film writing, or if it was true. My research led me on a journey through scientific journals and academic papers, magazines and newspapers that confirmed the screenwriter's research. One source reported "Many people think when they're hiking through the mountains that they're hiking through an aspen forest, but in many cases what they're hiking through is aspen clones," says Dr. Jeffry Mitton of the University of Colorado. Along with two colleagues, Dr. Michael Grant and Dr. Yan Linhart, he nominated the system of cloned aspens as the world's biggest organism in a letter in the Nov. 19 issue of Nature. Common Root System
"If you could look into the soil and trace the roots of all these things that look like independent trees," Dr. Mitton said, "you would find that they are in fact connected by a common root system, like the leaves on a silver maple tree are connected by the branches and the main stem." As the organism sends out its roots, he explained, it also sends up new sprouts, called ramets.
The result, he said, is a single organism "that can literally climb over mountains and across meadows." (New York Times Dec. 15 1992)
This information stunned me in the most wonderful way. It was the perfect illustration of something I had been pondering all summer…the nature of individuality. The word "individual" comes from the root "in (not) divided". But how often do we think that our individuality is found only in what makes us different from one another…what separates us. But I was discovering that the root of our spiritual individuality is our indivisibility from our divine source, our wholeness…the root system.
Just like each tree in the aspen grove, from above ground, seems to be an autonomous entity, but is in fact just a branch or offshoot of the source root system, so do we seem to be autonomous entitites with personal histories, proclivities, wills, impulses, and trajectories. But are we really? I am convinced that this is just a "surface" corporeal (or skin-defined) sense of what constitutes our individuality.
Could it be that we are really just one undivided entity? One divine whole. With God, Mind, the source of all consciousness, as our singular root system. Could it be that it is only as we allow a very fine layer of dermis (skin) to convince us that everything inside that layer of skin is "me" (or you) and everything outside of this same layer of skin cells is not me (or you)…is something outside of our individual selfhood, or ego that we feel this separateness and isolation from one another.
But, what if what we "are" is what is included in our consciousness, what we include in our thought, what we love, embrace in our hearts. And what if this is loving is impelled by a self-assertive Mind that is God. What if what we call "free will" is really only an indication of how intimately near that Mind that is God is within our own being as consciousness?
Perhaps we really are…
It reminds me of the Biblical admonition,
"For as the body is one, and hath many members,
and all the members of that one body,
being many, are one body:
so also is Christ.
For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say,
Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body;
is it therefore not of the body?
And if the ear shall say,
Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body;
is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye,
where were the hearing?
If the whole were hearing,
where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members
every one of them in the body,
as it hath pleased him.
And if they were all one member,
where were the body?
But now are they many members,
yet but one body.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand,
I have no need of thee:
nor again the head to the feet,
I have no need of you.
Nay, much more those members of the body,
which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
And those members of the body,
which we think to be less honourable,
upon these we bestow more abundant honour;
and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
For our comely parts have no need:
but God hath tempered the body together,
having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
That there should be no schism in the body;
but that the members should have the same care one for another.
And whether one member suffer,
all the members suffer with it;
or one member be honoured,
all the members rejoice with it.
Now ye are the body of Christ..."
To me this means that we are all the same. We all reflect the wholeness of the original. We can all do EVERYTHING, but we have, in each moment been assigned an office, a task, a calling...sometimes honorable, sometimes comely, sometimes I may seem to be lacking, but in that lack I may give another the opportunity to be more abundant, generous, giving...and sometimes we may find ourselves humbled that another may discover their capacity for mercy or forgiveness.
One "moment" I may be the foot of the body of Christ, another the hand, another the heart…but I, you, everyone…we are each, and all, wholly equipped as the full and complete offshoot of the rootsystem, capable of anything and everything that the rootsystem gives each of its offshoots the capacity to do, and to be.
My individuality is not in my differences from you, or anyone else…my individuality is defined by my undivided-ness from the original…the root system. My identity is discovered in my identical-ness with the Source…but then so is yours.
"...We are one person,
We are two alone,
We are three together
We are for eachother…"
Or, at least, shouldn't we be…