I was at my cabin in the hammock, which hangs suspended between two giant trees. Looking straight up, I had a sense of being held in the loving embrace of their boughs. Gradually, my breathing fell into a rhythm that, at least in my imagination, mirrored the breathing of the trees. As they exhaled oxygen, I breathed it in. In turn I exhaled carbon dioxide as they inhaled. We were bound to each other in a symbiotic dance of life, each giving and receiving in perfect harmony.
All life breathes. It isn’t just an activity we all share, like a team sport. It is something that links us one to the other like a net. Breathing manifests a mutual dependence, as we exchange the vital essence that we all require. Not only do we exchange it; we create it. Lying in the hammock, I was actually creating the carbon dioxide that the trees needed to survive. They created the oxygen that filled my lungs and kept me alive.
We think ourselves so separate, so individual. Where did that idea come from? How can we act so selfishly without recognizing that we are, in the most profound and fundamental way, truly all in this together? A Course in Miracles teaches that there is no individual salvation. We all awaken together. Like good Marines, we leave no one behind.
The Avatamsaka Sutra describes the “jeweled net of Indra” to represent the interconnectedness of the universe. This net stretches to infinity in all directions. A jewel is placed at each intersection, likewise infinite in number. In each facet of each jewel is reflected all the other jewels in the net. And within each reflection is reflected all the other jewels and all the other reflections, thus creating a dynamic phenomenon of infinite reflection.
The net’s beauty comes from the interplay of all the reflecting jewels, and its strength comes from the actual connection of all the intersections. Each jewel is supported by the lines intersecting in all directions. If just one line is broken, if just one jewel drops, the net is weakened and the beauty is marred.
All life is reflected in me, and I am reflected in all life. I breathe all life and all life breathes me. The both are infinite.
Understanding the ancient origin is Tao’s eternal thread. ~Tao Te Ching
Note: The Chinese character for thread in the end quote is 纪 which is made up of the left side of the character meaning silk thread, and the right side of the character which means self.