“How many “selfs” make a “Self”?” ⇒ Larry Glover on Wild Resiliency Blog

Reader’s annotation

The question is very old, “What the soul is and the body be?” Each we have own perception and thought to deal the question mark. This oldie question of relation between the body-and-soul is little opaque today due to the modern scientific advancement. The thousand year’s philosophical and theological investigation tried to tell lot about the relation of body-and-soul. This metaphysical journey stands on a new wave of scientific investigation, where the thousands years old metaphysical inference (and reasoning) now tried to reconsider the whole thought again in light of the latest scientific pragmatism and assumption. Science also tried to discover the biology of body-machine more precisely in light of new observation, lab-experiment and to use the mathematical models.

However, I don’t think science could add any new question (or doubt) to the fact that was not raised in previous by the ancient philosophers of Greece and the Orientals. There was lot more contradictory pattern (the relation and fate of this body and soul) already existed in previous inference of western and oriental philosophical schooling. They tried to conclude the question by include it with the materialistic and non-materialistic cosmic events and be including the creator of all these events too. I think the thought is old but the way to investigate it with detail that is more pragmatic, is new, and scientific progress helped us to do this at great extent.

The brain-function now reflects the reason of mind-function and the complicacy here is lot and diversified.

Modern science now tried to glance the whole fact by using the new wave of technologies and mathematical models. They helped us to realize the tiny-structure of the body-machine with pragmatic detail (I mean data) which was not available and accessible at remote past. Quantum mechanics, genetics, molecular biology, neuroscience, anthropology and linguistic is truly necessary to rethink the whole fact of bodied existence to reconstruct (I mean re-consideration) the oldies thoughts.

The question of “soul” now turn to the question of “self” more ever than the past, because our pragmatic detail capable to inform us about the mechanism of the body (how it works and in which way it is die), but not the soul. Scientific pragmatism and reasoning yet not find anything abstract (like the “soul”) in the body-machine but stunningly discover the communication channeling of millions organic cells. The brain-function now reflects the reason of mind-function and the complicacy here is lot and diversified. I think it’s more important for us to think about the brain-function rather to the “soul”.

Question is hypothetical but fact is realistic.

Scientific data now able to tell clearly about the function and doom of the body, but the after-sequence still be opaque and greatly depend on the cosmic philosophical question that, “we’re the byproduct of star-dust, whereas the atomic structure gets its new fate to hide-and-converts it in the million miles wider surface of milky-ways, —the star-factory of life indeed.”

We now stand on the modern perspective with the same old question of our fate that, “which is happened after dooms of the body-machine?” Today we’re more curious to deal the “true self” rather the “soul”. What the “Self” is and what do we wanted to mean by “Selfness” or be the “Selflessness”? Question is hypothetical but fact is realistic. We need to dig it for our own interest to understand the relation between the bodied world and the incessantly germinate universe.

I think this is just the beginning of a new philosophical investigation about life’s objective and destiny. Today’s post is also the moment of beginning and it will continue in greater space at near future. I wanted to start the journey with the poetic (includes the scientific visionaries) vision, because scientific inference toady by the context, more poetic than the past, where metaphysical question leads the scientist to infer new theory (and model) of everything in the universe. Larry Grove perhaps reflects the fact in his poetical journey, where he packed and bonded the pragmatic and ethical issues in one package. I believe reader will enjoy the narration to the last.

sunlight in resilient pine tree

I am not a fickle lover
by Larry Glover

Today I fell in love with light

the way it freely falls from the sun
and hangs like diamonds in the sky
gathered by green pine needles
as though this tree’s life depends
on such attraction of fire.

I saw light penetrate and
illuminate a leaf wearing nakedness without shame inviting vulnerability of me
enough for embracing and drinking of this life.

Such a simple thing

to brighten my heart so.

Tonight however, I shall fall in love with darkness too
for I am no longer a fickle lover
but drawn to intimacy with the unknown and unseen
and am held in truth’s unclothed revelation
entwined as one with birth and death
bedded under a moonless sky.

I am a lover spent and content and seek no other
than this entirety of the world.

Originally published on: wild resiliency blog; Published Date: September 26, 2016


How many selfs make a Self?
by Larry Glover

Pardon me,
but perhaps you can help?

You see,

I have become,
much to my chagrin,
a lover of questions
and now I am indeed confused
for I wonder,
What is the self?

And how many selfs
does it take to make a Self, anyway?

Since over half of the 60 trillion plus cells,
in your body and mine too,
some three pounds of micro-critters
are bacterial and fungi and viral…,
rather than human cells,
tell me, is your true self human
or is your true self perhaps bacterial?

And is not each bacterial cell a self
and each human cell a self too?

And now, stay with me please,
do not all these some trillions of cellular selfs
make a self too, as in your self?

Or take a tree if you wish.
And take the species and even particular tree
of your choosing, please.

resilient leaf

Now if this oak or aspen or cottonwood or ash or maple…
if this tree does not, can not, live on its own
but only through the ecological commerce
of symbiotic relationships with other species,
you know, various and specific bacterial and fungal species…
that allow the tree’s intake of mineral nutrition
and that foster its immune system for example,
might you tell me please,
where does this tree’s self begin—or end,
exactly now?

And if this tree, say a pine tree,
also has fungi living inside the body of its needles
much the way you and I have mitochondrial bacteria DNA
living inside each one of our human cells,
tell me, where does the self of this tree end and begin?

And what too of a human self?
If you or I, if our self be woven biologically
of more micro-critters than human cell selfs,
some 10,000 various species of bacteria at that,
and if our self be woven too
of stories—of stories of identity
interweaving ancestral lineages of family
and religion and profession and ethnicity
and economic status and—wait!

Who are you anyway?
What are you?

And what is this thing we call a self
and how many selfs does it take to make a Self, anyway?

Or perhaps, might you know,
How many selfs does it take to carry a soul?

Might you help me please?
For I have come to see
we are more like the forest and the trees
than we are different and now…

Now I see that the forest and I
and the soil and sun and rain
and that cute bushy-tailed tasseled eared Albert’s squirrel
and you too, yes, seems to me, we are a self too.

What now, what am I—are we—to do
with all these selfs anyway?

Do you suppose, perhaps,
there are enough of us for a party?
A Grand Self-Celebration of Our Selves, of Life itself, you know!

I wonder,
who else might we invite?

Aspen Sky sm

The awakening of our wild resiliency is also an awakening to the ‘interbeing’ or interdependency of our entangled nature with each other and all of life. I (and others) reference this as ‘the ecological self,’ meaning that we are in fact ecological beings in the very essence of our nature; ‘superorganisms’ as science is coming to understand this nature.

This is not a reduction of human biology, spirit or of soul as some might fear. Rather it is an opening into deeper wonder and awe as we open to the mystery of what it truly means, this being human. It is also the reclamation of our birthright of innate belonging and worthiness for life.

Below are a few of the references at play in my field as I wrote the above piece.

They’re All Part Fungus (Science News); Finally, A Map Of All The Microbes On Your Body (NPR)
Humans Carry More Bacterial Cells than Human Ones (Scientific American); Scientists bust myth that our bodies have more bacteria than human cells (Nature Journal); How Bacteria “Talk”  (A TED Talk with Bonnie Blasser); Who are “Me, Myself and Us?” ( A TED Talk with Jonathan Elsen); Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People (The Atlantic)

Originally published on: wild resiliency blog; Published Date: August 28, 2016

Larry's resilent smile

About Larry Glover: A lover of wild nature, author, speaker, retreat facilitator & wilderness guide, revealing all the while we are more like the forest—than we are different. View all post by Larry Glover.

“Question is hypothetical but fact is realistic.”