The Certainty of Interconnectedness
The life of each person can be considered as a record of Interconnectedness with the surrounding environment.
One's life since birth is connected with others – physically, emotionally and intellectually:
“No one exists in isolation. We are connected to parents, to teachers, to friends …
We are also linked to people who we have never met: [those] who harvest and distribute our food,
manufacture our clothing, write our books and shape our thinking – in fact we are connected to
everyone whose efforts help hold together the fabric of society”. (*)
Reality of phenomena is examined and described by science, revealing the interconnectedness of properties of various objects. Any law in science can be regarded as an expression of Interconnectedness of the factors appearing in the description of the law. Yet the concept of interconnectedness was not given consideration nor was a focus of interest in Western philosophy. Among some views on the subject, one of the 17th century philosophical insights was the principle of 'the unity of all that exists', as Spinoza suggested, (**), which comes close to the essence of interconnectedness, however his views were not widely celebrated.
Western philosophy valued Dualism of objects rather than their 'connectedness'. Interconnectedness, however, does not deny distinction of identities of observed objects. Observed objects are distinct and unique in their identity, yet they manifest a mutually connected existence engulfing them together. This concept may seem similar to Monism, except that Monism advocates one substance, while interconnectedness (of two objects) accepts the twoness of distinct objects, but regards them as “two-but-inseparable”. Nonduality is another expression of Interconnectedness.
Nonduality: the essence of Interconnectedness
Objective and complete observation of a process or relationship is possible only through the perspective of the wholeness of connected parts of the process. The sheer existence of a relationship between two objects requires obviously both objects, inseparably.
The essence of nonduality lies in the view that uniqueness of objects does not necessitate their separateness (from other objects or phenomena) – not even from those being their opposites. In his book on Nondualism, (***), Todd Lorentz mentions:
“The first aspect of nonduality necessarily involves the notion that it is logically incoherent
to utilize dualistic terms as a way of establishing an ultimate metaphysical standpoint.
As Loy explains, dualistic thinking is:
“thinking, which differentiates 'that which-is-thought about' into opposed categories:
being and nonbeing, success and failure, life and death, enlightenment and delusion,
and so on….we cannot take one without the other since they are interdependent:
in affirming one half of the duality we maintain the other as well”.
There is no reason why distinctiveness of objects would prevent their inseparability. It is Dualism, which proved to be an impotent instrument in philosophical investigation, which stops at distinctions and separation - creating a view of an artificial gap between things or phenomena (rather than acknowledging the view of inclusion). Assuming divisions and separateness reflects rather our the observer's inconsistent modelling of phenomena.
The deep implication of accepting the dualistic separateness regarding ethnic or social groups - is encouraging a divisive outlook and behavior, casting its influence on social matters and allowing for conflicts.
To avoid the awkwardness of dualism, other perspectives in philosophy - such as Monism and Property Dualism – suggest alternative perspectives based on 'oneness'. However, the answer to the two-ness (of two aspects) is not necessarily their one-ness. Nonduality does not mean oneness, as philosopher Thich Nhat Hanh clarifies:
"Non-duality means 'not two,' but 'not two' also means 'not one.'
That is why we say 'non-dual' instead of 'one'. ”(^^)
The physical world of nature provides uncountable examples of various processes, which manifest the 'principle of inseparability' of distinct objects. In fact, any physical law is an expression of the principle of inseparability of its own components.
Connectedness in the physical world
Science is concerned about how phenomena and objects are interconnected. Different objects - when involved in one process - become inseparable within the process, if by eliminating one of these participating objects, the whole process ceases to exist. All chemical processes are manifestations of the inseparability of participating elements in observed events. For example, the phenomenon of photosynthesis taking place in plants can be seen as an expression of inseparability of distinct objects in one occurring process. When light energy penetrates leaf's pigment of chlorophyll, in effect oxygen is released. Lack of any of the participating factors would have the whole process terminated.
In the process of photosynthesis, although the participating factors (light energy and chlorophyll tissues) are quiet distinct, the reaction, which takes place, can be seen as a process of exchange in energy levels between atoms of chlorophyll molecules and incident energy of light. In this analysis: all factors, which are described as 'distinct', share - at the deepest level - the same of laws of energy transfer between their particles. This means that what we externaly distinguish as 'distinct objects' - in fact share common binding attributes at the deepest level of their structure.
Interconnectedness at the Quantum level: A demonstration of the principle of interdependence of individual particles - is found in the phenomenon of Entanglement in Quantum Mechanics. Two particles are generated in such a way that a change in the state of one particle results in an immediate change in the state of the other particle despite their separateness in space. The entangled particles are distinct and separate in location - but they are strictly interrelated within one entangled whole.
Entanglement is explained by the concept of non-locality (or immediate interconnectedness). However, other phenomena, described in the perspective of locality - such as changes in weather conditions as stated by Chaos theory (The Butterfly Effect) – also indicate a profound connectedness of distant and diverse phenomena.
(*) The Buddha in Your Mirror p.72 Way Press, 2001 SGI-USA ISBN 978-0-9674697-8-2
(**) Spinoza and the Scepters of Modernity, p. 44 Michael Mack, 2010, ISBN 9781441173447
(***) Nagarjuna, Nondualism and the Nature of Nothing, p. 45,Todd Lorentz, Vedanta Publishing, 2012,
(^) Nonduality: A study in comparative philosophy, page 1, David Loy; New York Humanity books 1988
(^^) The Virtues of Asian Humanism http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/budhumanism.htm