Thursday, February 15, 2007

Communities


OK, so I'm weird.


I don't find arthropods creepy. I tend to see almost all biological forms as beautiful, even dangerous poisonous ones. I've eaten scorpions in China and gotten up close and personal with tarantulas and big snakes. No problemo.

Two nights ago, I had a dream where I was pulling creepy little things out of my orifices: centipedes, mites. The oddest thing about it was that it did not bother me. It seemed entirely natural that my body would be host to these other organisms.

I woke up and processed that for a while. It didn't make sense. Why have a dream like that?

Later in the day it struck me: the dream was true.

We don't think about it much, but at any given moment our body is host to billions of other living organisms, including countless types of bacteria, nematodes (microscopic worms which are found by the trillions everywhere) and mites (you probably don't want to know this, but you have a mite living in the follicle at the base of every one of your eyelashes. Every single one of us has them. They are so ubiquitous that biologists think they may even be necessary for some reason we don't quite understand yet.)

OK, now that I've finished totally grossing you out, let's go on. The interesting thing is that we are habitats for other creatures: we are their world, their planet.

Wow, I thought. Amazing. This dream was telling me the truth in a very simple way. It was pointing me towards another important understanding about ourselves.

There is a tremendous similarity between men and planets. Human beings have all the characteristics we associate with planets: There's wind, in the form of our breath. The wind exchanges substances, creating weather (evaporation and precipitation.) Our bodies are filled with oceans called blood that run in currents. We have a hot core, eruptive volcanoes that release heat (sweat), and an atmosphere composed of our outward manifestations. There's material falling in from outside the atmosphere- the impressions we take in. Our bodies are affected by and run on a complex set of electromagnetic relationships.

This analogy refers us back once again to the idea of our inner solar system. From our level, we want to become like a solar system: we want to form an inner sun. However from the point of view of all the life forms that inhabit us we are a planet.

Now recall what Gurdjieff said about planets wanting to become suns and perhaps you'll see a bit more about why this analogy is so utterly, incredibly appropriate. You may also recall how he urged us to think about the idea of worlds and exactly what it meant.

Perhaps more important, when we understand ourselves as planets, we begin to see ourselves as the custodians of a community. We are composed of different communities: communities of cells, communities of organs, communities of biological organisms, symbiotes, parasites. You name it, it's all in there.

So perhaps this idea of the microcosmoses that make up our body can help us to make more of an effort to see ourselves within the context of the larger communities we inhabit.

It's all part of that work we were made to engage in here in the middle kingdom: serving as a bridge between levels, connecting the bottom to the top.

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