From quiet stillness comes positive action

‘Doing’ without ‘being’ has led humankind down a troublesome path, says Giles Hutchins. Now is the time to transform the way we exist in the world

We live amid shifting tectonic plates in our mythological, philosophical, scientific, cultural and socioeconomic models. Core to this shift is a questioning of who we are, why we are here, and how we live sustainably. The dominant materialistic perspective of life as purposeless with organisms as separate entities struggling for survival in an innately competitive world has had its day. A new worldview is dawning whereupon we recognise that life is continually expressing itself through dynamic reciprocity, diversity and interrelatedness. The closer we look, the more we realise that nothing is absolutely separate from anything else. Separateness is an illusion created by an outdated mindset corrupting life itself.

Quantum scientists are now confirming the existence of an all-pervasive presence which is everywhere, permeating everything; a spacious presence flowing throughout reality from which all energy and form is birthed. Energy (which is what matter is) is not separate from space but immersed within and birthed from it, a responsive, energetic, tangible form spawning from an intangible receptivity – there is no separation, only a dance of receptivity and responsiveness. Scientists call this all-pervasive spaciousness the quantum vacuum, zero-point energy, bio-force or life-force energy. It is the same phenomenon the ancient philosophers, prophets, seers and shamans have long spoken of: Akasha, Tao, Shekinah, Divine Ground, Motherly Space, Aluna, Cosmic Mind, Great Mother, Spirit. As the brilliant quantum scientist David Bohm said: “The true ground of all being is the infinite, intangible, spirit that infuses all living beings.”

“There is a wisdom running throughout nature which we have forgotten to attune to. There is an immense beauty within each moment that we have forgotten to remember.”

To attune with the ground-of-all-being is the most radical of all actions. The more we allow this spacious presence into our daily consciousness – through contemplative practices, mindfulness, embodied experiences, deep nature immersions, awakened leadership, presencing, prayer, sacred geometry and such like – the more we begin to perceive a deeper reality beyond the atomising lens of materialism.

As anthropologist Gregory Bateson knew well, our materialistic sense of separation from this cosmic mind breeds an ‘ecology of bad ideas’ where we delude ourselves in to believing we are separate from and in competition with each other and the world around us. It is this corrupting logic which fuels our carcinogenic way of living. Enter the contagion of consumerism, diabolical socioeconomic debt slavery and rampant cultural decline.

As world leading scientists and spiritual leaders have agreed, we need a new global ethic where efforts to safeguard our wellbeing and environment are infused with a vision of the sacred. We find ourselves at the rip tide of the prevalent materialistic worldview giving way to a new one that draws from a blend of ancient wisdom traditions and pioneering new thought. This blend of spiritual and ecological awareness is vital for the transformational times we now live in. The ability to perceive life beyond the illusion of separation by awakening our senses, psyche and soul to the sacredness of our daily interrelations is our destiny. It is in these small daily actions taken with conscious awareness and loving, sacred attention that the insanity of our current approach is robbed of conscious energy.

Deep knowing – an embodied spiritual knowing, or ‘gnosis’ as the ancient Greeks spoke of – is of primary importance for us to develop, individually and collectively, if we are to transcend the cancer in our midst. In addressing the US Congress, former prime minister of the Czech Republic Václav Havel said: “Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, the catastrophe towards which the world is headed will be unavoidable.”

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It is in the rediscovering, or rather the remembering, of the sacred mind flowing throughout nature that we recognise the reciprocity and receptivity innate within our daily interrelations. Without this reshaping of how we perceive and relate within this world, our sustainability initiatives – no matter how sophisticated and well-intended – will be ungrounded and ultimately fruitless.

There is a wisdom running throughout nature which we have forgotten to attune to. There is an immense beauty within each moment that we have forgotten to remember. There is an innate love within us that we have forgotten how to let flow through all we do. This forgetfulness is now costing us life on Earth. The time has come to wake up to the fresh yet ancient knowledge that our minds, bodies and souls are nested within a cosmic mind. Our destiny demands it.

So what to do? Well ‘doing’ without adequately ‘being’ is what has got us in this pickle in the first place. And so, while it may seem contrary to our urgency, what we do not need more of is our headlong rush into techno-fix solutions without first considering the underlying logic that created the problems in the first place. Or rather, as Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh says: “Don’t just do something, sit there.”

“The closer we look, the more we realise that nothing is absolutely separate from anything else.”

Yes, most certainly we need to transform and so change things in an outer way, but first and most importantly we need to change our way of being in the world, our sense of place and purpose, our mindset, our logic, our way of remembering and knowing. For this we need to align the wisdom of the head and the heart, the left brain and the right brain, the mind, body and soul. It is here that we begin to open up to the deeply wise world of nature within and all around us, whereupon we recognise the grammar of life: reciprocity not dominance; synchronicity not separateness; balance not extremism; empathy not egotism; sacredness not materialism; connectivity not competition. For this we need do nothing more than be still and open up to the receptivity within and all around us, and then be at one with it.

It is from this stillness that right action flows. And so it may be understood that the ‘non-doing’ of contemplative stillness is the highest form of action. As the ancient Chinese sage Lao Tzu put it: “the Master does nothing, yet leaves nothing undone.” This is to embody the wisdom of nature, and in so doing, begin the path of true sustainability.

Giles Hutchins’ book The Illusion of Separation is published by Floris Books.