Readings on Interdependence

“Everything is interwoven, and the web is holy, none of its parts are unconnected.  They are composed harmoniously, and together they compose the world.” Marcus Aurelius

“Spirituality is consciousness of infinite interrelatedness.” Felix Adler

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” John Muir

I cannot exist without in some sense taking part in you, in the child I once was, in the breeze stirring the down on my arm, in the child starving far away, in the flashing round of the spiral nebula.
Catherine Keller

At the deepest level of ecological awareness you are talking about spiritual awareness.  Spiritual awareness is an understanding of being embedded in a larger whole, a cosmic whole,  of belonging to the universe.
Fritjof Capra

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.
Albert Einstein

Small as is our whole system compared to the infinitude of creation, brief as is our life compared with the cycles of time, we are so tethered to ally by the beautiful dependencies of law, that not only the sparrow’s fall is felt to the uttermost bound but the vibrations set in motion by the words that we utter reach through all space and the tremor is felt through all time.
Maria Mitchell, 19thC Unitarian Astronomer

“For All”
Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up,
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
northern rockies.

Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
cold nose dripping
singing inside
creek music, heart music,
smell of sun on gravel.

I pledge allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
one ecosystem
in diversity
under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.
Gary Snyder

“Look more deeply, and you will see yourself as multitudes, penetrating everywhere, interbeing with everyone and everything.” Thich Nhat Hanh

In London I had a growing sense that I was being introduced to people who, in doing whatever it was they did, were part of something much larger. I saw them as bright lights in a vast interconnecting web. This image is archetypal — one that arises from within as an ‘original idea’ in many people, as it had in me.
I have often felt myself to be a point of light, connected to everyone I have ever loved or mattered to, each also being a point of light, in turn connected to those they love, so that somehow we are all part of a vast web of twinkling lights. I think that each individual light can grow brighter or dimmer in the course of a lifetime, and that whenever a light goes out on this web, it affects me. It feels as if everyone who acts compassionately, works to raise this consciousness, to save the planet, to make a difference in some significant way is linked to everyone else who also does.
This image of the web of lights came to me many years ago, when a former patient of mine who has moved across the continent wrote that she had not been able to commit suicide after all. In a period of despair, she had finally decided to exercise ‘this option’ that she had talked about for so long, only to find out that she could not do it. When I heard from her, I was greatly relieved that she was alive. And I knew that even if I never heard from her or saw her again, she and I were connected. The image that came to mind with this realization was of a web of lights; when I thought of her as dead, I saw and felt a light at the end of a long strand that connected us go out. There would be darkness where she once was, and it mattered that she was alive.
In Europe, my sense of the size of that web grew enormously. I was touching in with those people whose strands reached around the world, and I felt that I was plugging my American web of lights into a great network.
Jean Shinoda Bolen

All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. . . The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.
Aldo Leopold

Everything is integral and interacts with everything else. This means that nothing is itself without everything else. There is a commonality, an integrity, an intimacy of the universe with itself.
Thomas Berry

To experience Anokhi [I AM], in Its/My fullness, is to shatter all expectations and assumptions, to connect us with the All and with the Whole, and to fill all the deadly, deadening places in the world with life.
We have lived long enough in the era when we understood the process of Creation as Division: Dividing light from darkness, land from sea, plant from animal, human from earth, man from woman. In that world, every relationship between the separated beings has been a wrestle — close, intimate, and yet a struggle.
Let us enter the era when we can affirm these distinctions — and yet Create a world by Connecting. The era when across each separation, our beings can see more clearly what connects us, can take our differences as part of the delightful music of the universe.
Let us move from the Wrestle to a Dance.
Arthur Wasko

Life is Niagara, or nothing. I would not be the overlord of a single blade of grass, that I might be its sister. I put my face close to the lily, where it stands just above the grass, and give it a good greeting from the stem of my heart. We live, I am sure of this, in the same country, in the same household, and our burning comes from the same lamp. We are all wild, valorous, amazing. We are, none of us, cute.
Mary Oliver

“Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.”  Hildegard of Bingen

“For me…the “soul-life” is enhanced when we commit to being fully present, aware of all our relations, interconnected and interrelated. Nothing exists in isolation.”  Terry Tempest Williams

Longer Texts

A look at interdependence and covenant in Unitarian Universalism from UU World.

A mindfullness blogger explores the spiritual value of interdependence.

This article contrasts the American vision of independence with a new way of thinking.

Scientist Fritjof Capra looks at the importance of interdependence in eco-systems.

From the on-line Aeon Magazine comes a reflection on buddhism and ecology.


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