You may like to think of yourself as a distinct individual who is independent and free, but this is just an illusion. When you examine the evidence, it turns out you are so utterly interconnected with the rest of reality that you could not survive in sheer isolation.
1. You Are Not Just Human After All
Perhaps the biggest case against your claim as an autonomous being is the fact that scientists now believe the human body to contain a greater number of bacteria cells than human ones.
The latest research suggests that there are 10 times as many bacteria living in and on your body than actual human cells. Since these bacteria are much smaller than the cells of your body, they don’t make up a significant part of your overall mass, but you probably couldn’t live without them.
They help you extract energy from your food and protect you from other more hostile invaders. You might be home to hundreds of different species of bacteria at any one time and you should rejoice in this fact.
Humans, then, are part of a symbiotic relationship with bacteria and not a discrete and disconnected species after all.
2. You Are Your Interactions With The World
Every second of every minute of every day, you are interacting with the world in a mind-boggling number of ways.
Just think about what is supporting your body right now; a chair perhaps. And this chair is resting on the floor, in a building that is resting on the earth below it. You are not so much sitting on this chair as much as you are being supported by it and by the floor and earth in turn. You could not sit if there were no chair, no floor and no earth.
You are breathing in air of a particular composition and breathing it out again with certain things missing and other things added. This air then becomes a part of the wider atmosphere and the waste product from your body is used by plants to generate energy.
You buy a magazine to read, but you owe this experience to a tree that was once alive, many journalists who find and tell the stories, the people and events contained within those stories, the shop that sold you the magazine, the people who work in that shop, the money you used to buy the magazine, the job you have to earn that money, the company that employs you to do that job, the customers they have that keep you in work, and so on and so forth.
Your entire life is as a thread woven through the infinite tapestry of the universe, touching and tangling with an infinite number of other threads at any single moment in time.
You are impacted by the world just as it is impacted by you; there is no one without the other.
3. Your Brain Structure Is Altered By Your Experience
Your brain and the conscious mind created by it are forever changing. This is happening because of the way you experience the world, the things that happen to you, even the very thoughts in your mind.
Your brain may be physically separated from those of others, but it most certainly isn’t immune to their influence. And we’re not talking telepathy or mind control here; we’re talking the physical effects on neural connections of the actions, behaviors and words of other people.
And it’s not only other people to which your mind is linked – you are influenced by the whole world around you. A sunny day might bring a smile to your face, while a rainy one might bring a frown. The call of a songbird, the smell of freshly cut grass, the feel of sand beneath your toes at the beach; they all change who you are in some small way.
You are not just you; you are the result of every second of your existence, every person, every event, everything you have ever encountered and more. Your mind is a reflection of your life and the world in which you live.
Whichever way you look at it, your life does not happen by itself. You cause ripples throughout reality and are, equally, under a constant barrage of ripples from other people, other creatures, and other objects.
There is nothing about you that isn’t, in some way, linked to the rest of the universe. Yes, even the stars and galaxies themselves influence you and are influenced by you. Every speck of dust, every grain of sand, every atom, every molecule; they have all been touched by you.
But why should you care? Well, when you begin to understand that you do not exist alone in isolation, you start to appreciate the sheer complexity of life and the beauty contained within it. You see the importance in every little detail and you rejoice in the whole of creation as a wondrous and precious thing.
Seeing your place as part of a greater whole is an uplifting and, at the same time, liberating thing; you come to realize that you have a great responsibility as part of the system and that you have a choice as to how you use your thoughts and actions to influence the world around you.
What does it mean to you to know you do not live in isolation, but in an infinitely complex web of life? Leave a comment below and let us know.