Part 2: Connectivity

95. Arm-in-Arm

A couple of years before finishing this book, I stopped working to earn money so that I could write without distraction.  I sold my house to give me the living expenses to support this work.  I don’t think I could have taken this risk without sensing what I call Arm-in-Arm.  

I first began to sense Arm-in-Arm about three years ago.  I would sit down in the morning to read, and almost immediately start writing without knowing ahead of time what I was going to write.  The writing just poured out of me.  Within a few months of that, the words Arm-in-Arm popped-in.  These words fit well with the seemingly new type of sensing I was beginning to be aware of. 

I had written for many years in business, personal studies, and at university.  But the pouring out that spurred this book was far more fluid than anything I had experienced before. 

This sense I call Arm-in-Arm feels like a partnership with neither partner in charge.  There is no boss in this partnership.  It’s a sense of creation that I like very much, adventurous and fun.  It’s also a delicate learning process for me because I cannot directly make happen the creativity that arises.  I cannot push/force it.  The fluidity in my writing seemed to begin only as I was able to allow, rather than control.

It doesn’t flow if I try to be a boss or direct the process.  But at the same time I’m not powerless, I have some sort of influence that I don’t yet understand.  It strikes me as a delicate, soft, gentle, nurturing relationship with all that surrounds me – internally with my mind stream and especially the energy of my inner body, and externally with the social and physical environment.

As an example, when the words “A Whole of The Whole” popped in, it was as if they came from nowhere.  I didn’t plan or try in any way to bring them out.  They just popped in while I was walking toward a table in a coffee shop.  When I sat down, I wrote the words in my notebook. 

At first I thought the words didn’t make any sense, but I liked them.  During the next few weeks, whenever I read the words “A Whole of The Whole” I still liked them.

Later, I realized that these words fit what I’d been gradually sensing as I experienced Connectivity with people.  I thought: it’s not that I’m a part and you’re a part; it’s not that we are all parts that make up a whole.  It’s different from that.

To say that I’m a part of a whole conveys separateness.  It is to mistake wholes that grow out of a complex unified sort of Connectivity with the manufacturing we do when we “glue” pieces together – it confuses natural wholes with manmade fabrications.  

I find “separateness” to be a confusion coming out of failure to recognize the limitations of word-tools.  I now view separateness as more of an illusion and see Connectivity as more aligned with reality.  Sure, it’s obvious each of us is separate.  But now I view this separation as an exaggeration of skin, highlighted by the limits of word-tools.  As this-not-that devices, they cannot carry the Connectivity that science has now verified regarding energy flow through and across entities.

But when I’m lost in concepts, that’s what I feel: the separateness of being a part, as if I existed in a vacuum.  I also feel the me-vs-them that our this-not-that word-tools fit so well.  When lost in concepts, I don’t feel the Arm-in-Arm of coming together and walking together.

My mind argues with all this.  It protests by saying: Come on, Steve, it’s obvious that separateness is real.  There are separate things all around us.  I look out my window and see a separate person, a tree, a flower, a building.  What are you talking about?

Then when I let go of my closed, constricted frozen form of knowing, I remember that the person, tree, flower, building are all interrelated in countless ways.  They all are supported by the Earth and the energy and light of the sun.  They all use water.  People rely on plants and animals for food.  Countless people contribute to producing this food and all the fabricated things that surround me.

When I allow these interrelationships to enter my consciousness, it is as if there is a swirling of the so-called separates that doesn’t support the notion of any one of them being independent.  Their interrelations bring them much more together, and it becomes much less reality based to view them as apart.  

The Connectivity of walking Arm-in-Arm is everywhere when I don’t close it out by believing my word-tool conditioning as “the truth”.

It’s the limitation of word-tools – the this-not-that severing and shrinking of the whole of reality – that makes “difference” appear as reality-based separation.  The creation of a grouping that omits uniqueness, along with inability to embrace Connectivity – this is what leads to emphasis of boundaries.  And those boundaries turn out to be less reality based than the interconnectedness through uniqueness that is more prevalent, but less immediately apparent.  The boundaries we take to be so real are illusions created by lack of awareness of the limitations of our communication tool.  

Yes, there are surface differences between that person and me.  But the deepest aspects of being human are the same for all.  Now that it’s more widely known and accepted that energy is emitted by all – the person, the tree, the flower, the building, and everything else – we more clearly see the essential sameness and Connectivity all around us.  I now more frequently sense being immersed in Connectivity rather than in the illusory separateness created by the inadequacy of word-tools.

Once again, words/concepts are not the type of tool that can carry either this essential sameness or the Connectivity all around us.  Word-tools are limited to the functions of forming groupings and differentiating those groupings.  And it’s so easy to jump to the conclusion that difference in groupings equals separate.  But it just isn’t so.  

It’s difficult because we are so accustomed to fabrications in our world – things put together by assembling separate parts.  Alan Watts writes, “We must make a distinction between an organism which is differentiated and a machine which is partitive”.  Our extraction of concepts from the whole of reality and our use of words to convey these conceptual differences doesn’t mean there are actually parts that are real as separate entities.  Words are not reality – they are only symbols we create to put name tags on reality.

Again, I review in my mind what a word is: a this-not-that tool; a frozen/fixed packet pulled from an ever-changing energy flow; a tiny sliver of information; a synthetic symbol we use as a shortcut to skip the effort of actually experiencing firsthand the full reality of what we are trying to meet.  

Then I recall the value of what I don’t know, and I remember that I don’t even know what I don’t know, and that I’ve seen things I never before conceived come into my tiny radar-screen range of surface knowledge.

Now I can ask:  What types of knowing, what types of communication, might be possible that no one has yet conceived of?  Could there be alternatives to our word-tool system?  What non-language types of communication tools might be possible?

My mind rebels by saying: If you can’t put it into words, how will you explain it and how will I understand it?  

I answer my mind by asking:  What about physical touch?  Isn’t that a non-word way of communicating?  What about music and art?  What about when a dog, or other animal, interacts wordlessly with human beings?

When I say there can’t be communication without words, I’m like a fish unable to see outside the world of my word-tool water that seems to be all there is because I am immersed in it.

Finally I also notice how superior I feel standing above reality, placing people, situations, events, etc. into the confinement of my word-tool judgment buckets.  Do I want to stay on my high horse of superiority and continue to exclude every possibility that does not fit my particular word-based system?  Do I want to keep believing the fallacy that I own the truth?

For some reason, this reminds me of a quote frequently attributed to Mark Twain: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Arm-in-Arm doesn’t go with superiority.  Arm-in-Arm can feel like confidence, but it’s a humble confidence without any edge of self-importance or of having an upper hand.  It’s a confidence that doesn’t know for sure, because it arises from the whole and is outside the splintered type of knowing that is cognition based, outside the this-not-that world of word-tools.  It is more like a calm, peaceful sense of feeling grounded in an all encompassing way.  All-encompassing is something word-tools can’t do.

It’s understandable that we fall into the error of misusing our word-tools, that we forget that life came before words, that we view separation as real while remaining unaware of Connectivity.

It’s understandable that we have a very difficult time giving up control, even though we find over and over again that making things happen doesn’t work.  My mind comes in and says, Maybe next time it will work.  But once I sensed walking Arm-in-Arm with life, which I believe so many others have also realized, it also becomes understandable to feel a partnership that is beyond words.

Words indicate tiny aspects of what is.  But “what is” is one interconnected whole that cannot be separated into pieces except through imagination.  

If we acknowledge these limitations, we can use words constructively and with wisdom as the tools they actually are.  We can use them for simple, practical tasks, and for building “stuff” we fabricate, such as cars, planes, buildings, computers, etc.

If we misuse them and allow our surface self/ego to dominate, we become destructive.  Then words become tools of battle we call judgments.  They set our minds to seeing enemies that aren’t real, enemies we created through misuse of these tools that exclude all of life but their one grouping.  When I’m lost in my enemy-mode, Arm-in-Arm doesn’t exist and separateness seems indisputable.

So I remind myself of two things: (1) I want to use words carefully, and (2) I don’t want to take them too seriously.  These two things are a delicate coming together, not unlike the sense of walking Arm-in-Arm with life.  The two may appear contradictory – how can I use words carefully and at the same time not take them seriously?

I use them carefully to undo the misuse I’ve been conditioned to embrace – the misuse that leads to destructiveness.  And I don’t take them seriously because I no longer believe that my stream of thinking represents the truth; I don’t believe the separateness and enemy-mode thoughts, because I’m aware they are so easily supported by the this-not-that nature of word-tools.  The symbols themselves invite distortion until we realize their limitations and that they came from but cannot represent the whole of reality.  

A human being is an interrelated whole.  Reality is the interrelated whole.  These wholes simply are what they are.

As an example of my own conditioning regarding the title of this book, my word dominated surface self asks: How can a whole be “of” The Whole?  If a whole is everything how can there be more than one?  

My reply is: I don’t know, not cognitively, not in a way that words can describe.  My whole-self reply is: An answer in cognitive terms is not important and is perhaps impossible, and if I remember that words are only pointers to reality, not the reality itself, I’ll be able to accept this.  My whole self has found that “A Whole” and “The Whole” can walk Arm-in-Arm when I am able to allow and sense the delicate interrelationships involved.

So how can I use words to write this book?  Am I being inconsistent?  Perhaps.

Or perhaps I’m using a different kind of consistency, one that fits a wider view of “what is” by including the reality of interrelatedness.  I say again:

Use words in such a way as to highlight the Connectivity from which they come rather than the separations to which they lead.

That is one of my favorite pop-ins.  It came out of a sense, a feel for moving forward, that I do not fully understand: the sense of being Arm-in-Arm.  And for me it’s okay that I don’t understand, because I’ve experienced a different kind of knowing, one that shows me that Arm-in-Arm is different from being lost in concepts, that Arm-in-Arm works for life not against it.  

Alan Watts, Tao: The Watercourse Way, Chapter 3: Tao, pages 50-51 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1975). Although frequently attributed to Mark Twain and included in the movie The Big Short, many assert that Mark Twain did not originate this. Though familiar to many, there seems to be no definitive author for this quote.
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