E. M. Forster’s “Only connect” is probably the truest two-word statement ever uttered. And one can connect on many levels: between oneself and others, between one and nature, and between one and any work of art, be it film, book, painting, or piece of music.
Connection is a state that starts as early as a baby returning a parent’s gaze. We also feel connection to family, others, and our various environments before we begin attending school. Connection usually means that one consciousness recognizes the existence, presence, and consciousness of others. In that sense, there is an inner connection, not just the exterior connection or superficial glancing off ‘the other’ like a couple of billiard balls on the table of life. One of the challenges of living is the extent to which we can connect with the consciousness of ‘the other’, whether in the form of person, situation, object or surroundings.
Our minds and egos typically predispose us to living mostly in terms of self; as expressed by songwriter Paul Simon–“I am a rock. I am an island.” Most of us live inside ourselves and see and relate to the ‘outer world’ in terms of our selves. The challenge often is to recognize the common humanity of other people or our similarity to other species such as animals struggling to survive possible ecological disaster or planetary crisis. There is, then, a large central bedrock of consciousness that connects everything on Earth, and it is that basic field of consciousness recognition that holds the possibility of significant individual growth and positive personal learning.
For instance, when you read a book and are moved by the experiences and ideas of real people or fictional characters, you and your awareness or consciousness are changed by that process. You may end up feeling as if the characters or people are you and feel an indefinable or inexplicable close connection to them. Likewise, if you are on a team that wins a championship, there is a bond between the team members that connects them in a lasting, significant way. Much the same thing happens when people go to a school reunion and remember and relive those old days, roles, and events. There is a sharing of consciousness that accompanies the reconnection.
Hence, consciousness is potentially the important aspect of connection. Just consider the perceptions, awarenesses, recognitions, knowledge, understandings, insights, impressions, and appreciations that occur in such key, moving, and memorable moments.
“Making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationship, context.”–Marilyn Ferguson
And, too–returning to Forster’s quote about relationships–the best of what happens between any two people is often simply the agreements and connected consciousness—the shared experiences and mutual learning that occur in those very close ties. It is the connected consciousness that is the greatest value of whatever significant connections.
It is difficult to talk about connection without mentioning consciousness. When we seek to connect, we seek to know more about who or what we are connecting with. We seek an awareness that is a vital part of connection. And to a large extent, our connections won’t happen or be significant unless they presuppose imaginative empathy or sympathy, other forms of knowing, other forms of consciousness.
Ideally, some of the best connections with other people will arise from talk and ‘comparing notes’. In those exchanges of feelings and ideas, we may potentially experience similarities of feelings, thinking, and experiences that create the bridges of connection and, in turn, connected consciousness.
Over the days and years, our consciousness alters and, hopefully, grows. We learn more about others, ourselves, human nature, nature, society, and the world. As Ferguson suggests, learning occurs through our ability to make connections whether studying a person, a mathematical theory, a period of history, and so forth. Those connections become a part of us as much as we may, as Paul of Tarsus said, become a part of someone, something else, a process–of who and what we know.
Above all, shared consciousness and the seeking of common ground remain basic to one’s fulfillment as a person and as an individual.
(1st published here August 29/2012)