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Conscious Companionship



Reading a few things lately by Daniel Pinchbeck, I appreciate the way that he’s willing to talk about consciousness. Even so, I find myself wishing he would go a little further. I want to step beyond the lonely, claustrophobic bubble of humanism, and frankly, the techno-utopias of transhumanism give me the fucking willies.

We need to shift our consciousness to include a sensing of how we are companioned by other beings. We need to rejoin the others. This has to be something that we experience and live on a daily basis. Not just an intellectual concept, but a way of being that is woven into our everyday schlepping and shuffling. It must be a seamless part of every aspect of human life.

I wonder… what do our food systems look like when we see plants and animals and soil and rain as conscious beings? How would the lived understanding that we are co-creating the world with other beings alter our economic activities? How would we change our energy and waste systems? How would our social networks, arts, healing practices, education, housing, decision-making institutions, and spirituality shift if we understood our lives in a way that included the more-than-human world?

How would I be changed if I knew the gooseberries I picked this morning were conscious? Maybe I would tell them how much I admire them, their perfect roundness, lucid skin, and fine, pale green veins. How glad I am to have them with me in this place I call “my” garden. How glad I am that they took form here. How I have been watching them these many weeks. How the young neighbor boy has also been awaiting their ripening. How I love their tang and taste that truly has no adjective but is a thing on to itself. How I will exalt them in jars of jam and keep them with me through the winter.

What would I do differently if I understood the fragrances wafting through “my” garden as dances of consciousness? Could they be blessings or messages? Requests. Questions. What if I could grok the intention in the sharpness of the lemon balm? Surely there is something there that wants to penetrate me. Or the bubblegum vibration of tulsi that seems to want to be my friend and comes into my dreams at night. And the root beer scent of sunset hyssop, which fills the garden shed where I dry cuttings for tea, prompting smiles and memories.

What if I am not projecting? Or what if I am projecting and there is also something else, some other truth, some other presence? There are others with us and they have been with us all along. What utter heartbreak to realize we have been ignoring them for so much time.

And now… Now. How will I be a companion to them and not merely the one companioned?


  1. Such beautiful and profound reflections, Ruth. To see all in the universe as conscious – the light, love, and wisdom that emanates from and embodies everything.

    (It reminds me of a passage in Madeleine L’Engle’s (1973) “A Wrinkle in Time.” “Aunt Beast,” a being who is differently sighted, sees the essence and that which is eternal in things rather than their outward, temporal superficial appearance. Aunt Beast and her companions had mastered the sense of connection to each other and their world.)

  2. There is fear that a mystical language ( rather than a rational language) is approaching madness rather than reality. This hampers exploration by limiting the metaphor that language and understanding always relies upon. The drudgery of the lowest common denominator. Recently, I have been considering the ‘end of all things’ ( ie. us) and am coming to see that ‘human’ as a discrete, bounded entity is an anachronistic redundency and that what is needed is a new concept of ‘human’ as a system of synergistic, adaptable landscapes. We must learn that the skin is, after all, an internal organ, and that to survive, we must include what surrounds us as part of us…..

    • Yes. It is long past time for that version of us to end. How do we bring that ending about in our own daily experience?

  3. Lovely post, Ruth, such an eloquent expression of oneness. It seems to me the only way humans can regain reverence for life, which we have lost. Truly, a thoughtful and thought-provoking essay.

    • Reverence and resacralizing. The task is cosmological, isn’t it? And experiential. And ordinary.

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