‘Connectedness’ – A Zen Riddle to be solved?

Can the complexity and intricacy of life, be explained by the simple idea of ‘connectedness’? Everything we think, feel and do is connected in some form or other to the fullness of what we experience as ‘life’. So if we seek a union with the divine, the eternal; if we wish to move from this life to a new reality, do ‘connection’ and ‘disconnection’ play their accepted roles, or must we first venture into a new

‘Connectedness’ – A Zen Riddle to be solved?

What sort of images come into our minds when we hear the term ‘connectedness’?  What do we mean by it, how should we define it, and most importantly, what impact does it have on our lives?  There is of course, the obvious pull, the invisible ties, the strong connections to family, friends and loved ones.  There are also our connections to our culture, our nation, our race, even to the whole of humanity, which we equally feel as compelling.

Then there are the connections we nurture and support from a personal perspective – our interests, our dislikes, our allegiances, and those desires whose fulfilment we cannot deny.  All of these we understand in their myriad expressions and are familiar with how they make us feel, how they can pull us into certain thoughts, feelings, and even actions.  Yes, even our dislikes, our aversions, create the same inner connections that pull us in certain directions.

Of course, there are also other ‘connections’ we experience that are primarily external to us; connections which are so intrinsic to our lives, that we are barely conscious of their presence or activity.  Think for instance of gravity, time, space, movement, change, etc.  These manifestations not only form the nature and fundamental signature of ‘life’ as we understand it, but are also deep, inner connections that we are compelled to follow and that we cannot ignore.

So, to come closer to an understanding of what is meant by ‘connectedness’, let us begin by examining the two fundamentally different types of connections we experience – the external and the internal, though often these connections are felt as intimately within, as much as coming from without.  Of course, we should also keep in mind the differing intensities and levels of expression that each ‘connection’ can and will manifest.  We can easily recognise those ‘connections’ we experience that have a strong, direct impact, but what about the more tenuous ones that appear more hidden, more ambiguous.  Is guilt connected to atonement; is a lie connected to a truth; is power connected to fulfillment; is a smile connected to a tear?

From an external perspective, we know that there are principles to which we are connected, that do not express themselves in isolation, but form a synergy, a whole,  and so we are in essence, ‘connected’ to a fullness, a life system with purpose and meaning.  Change moves within time and space, while each action results in a reaction, a new expression of change.  And all the while, we experience this change as moving between the poles of opposites (duality) – the pendulum swings between positive and negative, good and bad, forwards and backwards, life and death.  Gravity then holds this ‘whole’ within the life sphere of our earth; it connects all of these activities within the radius of action of its influence; it ‘connects’ us by bringing together the life activities of ourselves with our Mother planet as one unit, one ‘macrocosmic’ life system.

From an internal perspective, we can see these same ‘laws’ actively moving us in the same synergistic way – I know I am connected to time as my mind moves one thought after another in a sequence that gives me the impression of movement.  And this movement is constantly changing.  My thoughts and feelings drive me to actions that cannot but manifest a reaction, a new expression of change.  My life experiences are moulded by the duality of the changes that move me between opposites, and my ‘self’ is the gravity that holds these experiences within my individuality.  My connections to these ‘laws’ are my life!

So from a wholistic perspective, it is easy to understand the interrelationships and interconnectedness of all of these activities, as they are all aspects of our life system; aspects that in essence demand absolute adherence.  We cannot disconnect ourselves from them.  They are intrinsic to our lives, and form the ‘rules’, the guiding principles that manage our life experiences.

But are they truly absolute!  Do they rather, form a prison of ‘connectedness’ that we cannot transgress?  Are we but pawns within a cycle of connections from which we cannot unravel ourselves, cannot escape?

Let us approach this conundrum from the point of view of consciousness.  Consciousness from the perspective of the life system, has a two-fold activity.  Firstly it is the link, the nexus between the external and the internal.  It filters and ‘experiences’ what life outside brings into itself; it creates awareness and substance.  Secondly, it is the tool of expression of the internal.  Not only does consciousness absorb and interpret, but it also subjectifies and reacts.  Its simple awareness is at the same time, a reaction, a response. So now the question arises: can a connection exists if there is no consciousness present?

All of our life experiences, are just that; they are experiences because we are conscious of them.  Without awareness, there is no link, no connection between an external life and an internal life.  No movement, no change, no time, no existence!  Consciousness is the connecting link that brings experience (movement) into meaning.  So it is the primary ‘connector’, not just the ‘connection’, for without consciousness, purpose becomes meaningless.

Now if we return to the connectedness we share with the laws of change, cause and effect, duality etc, and their ‘absoluteness’, we are faced with the dilemma of what we call, ‘free will’.  We know we have free will.  We exercise it in countless situations each day, both consciously and unconsciously.  But we also understand that our free will, our freedom of choice, is limited in its impact.  For instance, freedom of choice can be exercised to influence and direct our actions, but it has no impact on determining the response, the outcome of our actions. Our free will exercised upon our actions, can push the pendulum of cause and effect in a determined direction, but it cannot influence the return swing of the arc, the effect.

So we are connected to outcomes that we have no freedom to influence, but whose activities still only move within the range of duality – we may ‘will’ ourselves to perform a good act, but the outcome can vary anywhere between a good or a bad result.  I can choose to deny the law of gravity for instance, and jump off a cliff, but I cannot deny my connection to that law, nor can I ‘will’ an outcome separate from what the effect has determined.  Gravity will play its role regardless of what I ‘will’.   I may choose to believe in the power of absolute goodness, but this does not disconnect me from the law of duality – a law that will bring me face to face with evil as well as good.

But … if duality is an indisputable law, and we are indisputably connected to it, then connection must also imply the possibility of disconnection, for they appear as opposites, they are life expressions ruled by the law of opposing forces.  If what goes up must come down; if what is born must eventually die; if what is weak will always be challenged by what is strong, then what is ‘connected’ must also contain the possibility of ‘disconnection’.  So now we begin to move into the realms of philosophy, for if we are to remain consistent in our understanding, then the rationale must also remain consistent, and we must accept that connection and disconnection are the opposite arcs of the same swing of the pendulum.

But in this instance, the pendulum does not seem to be moving.  We seem to be ‘connected’, but the presence of ‘free will’ does not introduce the possibility of disconnection.  Freedom of choice may alter the degree of connection, the swing of the arc, but it is impotent in disconnecting us in an absolute sense.

So to find a ‘solution’ to understanding this relationship, we must fall back onto ‘consciousness’.  If we accept the hypothesis that consciousness is the essence of connection, then we must also accept that the quality, the vibrational signature of the consciousness will determine the quality, signature, and strength of the connection.  In other words, consciousness can, if focused correctly, move the life system from connection to disconnection, but not within the law of duality.  Let us explain.

We recognise that there are ‘opposites’ that are not ‘connected’ by a linear arc of movement between strong and weak, coalescence and dispersion, intensity and vagueness, but are manifestations that fill the spaces of ‘absence’.  Think of light and dark!

Is light the opposite of darkness, or is darkness that which fills the space left in the absence of light?  We know that darkness cannot exist in the presence of light, so from this can we say that the law of duality would in this example, only work as follows: When light is present (the cause), then darkness is absent (the effect), but when light is absent (again, the cause), then darkness is present (the effect)?

So the ‘disconnection’ is only manifest when the cause is absent.  In other words, the law of duality does not apply without context.  Light is not the opposite of dark, but the absence of light is always replaced by darkness.  The absence of knowledge is filled by ignorance; the absence of truth is filled with falsehood; the absence of peace is filled by disharmony!  So we see that there is also a ‘law’ to which we are connected that is active on the premise that there is no such thing as emptiness, no such thing as vacant space.  Herein, lies a deep spiritual truth to which consciousness, awareness and insight, play a significant role.

If we now seek to understand this in the context of a spiritual language: to move ourselves from the mortal to the immortal, from transience to the eternal, from absence to fullness, then we know this cannot be done within our connection to the law of duality, but only in the absence of a connection can we create a true disconnection, hence replace what is, by what is not.  Thus, we are given the keys to understanding this from the Spiritual Masters throughout history, when they talk of: ‘non-being’, ‘emptiness’, and terms such as, ‘he who loses his life’.

When discussing a spiritual path, we often hear words and phrases such as: purification, raising of vibration, higher consciousness etc., but they are all movements within the law of duality, and hence of change, cause and effect, time etc.  Moving from impure to pure, lower to higher, unconscious to conscious, are all movements within the constructs of duality, and as such, our ‘freedom of will’ cannot control the consequences of any actions in this regard.  All our efforts will only move the pendulum from positive to negative and then back again.

So when the ‘Masters’ talked of ‘non-being’ and ‘emptiness’, they did not talk of using  ‘free will’ to move the life system from lower to higher, but gave us the key of insight, by explaining that the path from the material to the immaterial, can only be achieved by having the consciousness stand in neutrality and objective observation of the ‘connection’, and by not reacting, not engaging, filling the void of ‘non-being’ with a ‘disconnection’.  In simple terms: if we stop reacting to the swing of the pendulum, then the space created by the absence of a reaction, will automatically be filled by that which is not of the same nature: in other words, the mortal will be replaced by the immortal, the eternal will replace the transient; the light will fill the void vacated by the darkness; ‘disconnection’ will fill the space left by the dissolving ‘connection’.

So, now we come to the point of ‘solving the riddle’.  Are ‘connection’ and ‘disconnection’ linked so that we can move from one to the other, or is ‘disconnection’ purely a term we use to describe the absence of a ‘connection’.  Can they be both, or does the linkage apply only to the transient, while the latter is true only for the eternal?  Can we therefore say: in this impermanent world a question is always linked to an answer, while in the eternal, the truth is found only in the space where we stop asking the question, and do not seek an answer?

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Date: October 10, 2022
Author: Manny (Netherlands)
Photo: Gerd Altmann auf Pixabay CCO

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