The puzzle of the missing link: an evolutionary theory of relationship
The theory of evolution leaves us with the puzzle of the "missing link” – the idea that a fossil will one day be discovered which will reveal information about human lineage from apes. If we look at evolution from a fuller relational as well as a linear perspective we may discover that part of the evolutionary mystery may actually lie veiled in the tantalizing phrase “the missing link”. What if the phrase refers not only to a consecutive chain of physical events but to the quality of the links – the relational code – that determines the nature of relationships among co-existing species at any given time?
What is the code that enables not only one species but a community of species to thrive and evolve together?
At this point, animals seem to have a far healthier relational code with each other, than humans do. The presence of apex predators in nature usually enriches the diversity of eco-systems. Humans however are behaving like unusually dangerous predators that are causing depletion, damage and extinction of other species and of the entire environment. Unlike other animals humans are using their power in ways that destroy rather than enrich life. As a species they have brought the entire planetary eco-system to the brink of destruction.
So what is it that animals know that humans have yet to learn about cultivating a harmonious eco-system? How can understanding the relational code among species in healthy eco-systems contribute to human evolution and to the healing of the planet?
One may say that the predominant inner and inter-species relational code of humans appears to be a relatively primitive fear and aggression based one. Humans invented the popular idea that animals function according to a relational code that they coined “the law of the jungle”. This phrase is used to describe a framework of a world of ruthless individual and tribal (species) competition over scarce resources in a cruel environment where only the fittest survive. This idea seems to be more of a description of the human mode of relationship projected onto the animal world than an accurate description of the relationship among different animal species. It reveals more about the limits of human perception than it does about the nature of the mutually inter-dependent cooperative links that exist between co-evolving species.
The predominant relational code among animals actually seems to be one of profound mutual enrichment and accountability that enables all species and the environment to flourish. In healthy eco-systems diverse animal species live together in relative harmony and instinctively co-invest in each other and their shared environment.
As we learn more about the dynamics of living system human frames of reference are changing. Systems theories, quantum physics and the psychological exploration of groups and the collective unconscious have alerted us to the unseen dimensions of existence. There is increasing study of the unseen codes, processes and information exchange that permeate and connect entire living systems across time and space. Research into living systems is catalyzing a transition from a picture of humans as separate from and superior to other species to one of humans as inter-dependent with other species. We are discovering that as part of an inter-dependent living system, our own evolution is inseparable from the evolution of other species and the entire planet.
This shift in perspective can in itself be seen as a significant evolutionary step for humanity. It signifies a movement from a fear based, hierarchical model of ruthless competition to an intricately interconnected model of deep cooperation and mutual accountability that exists in healthy eco-systems. The transition from a picture of the world as made up of separate parts with a relationship of power and privilege among them to a holographic picture of the world as made up of complementary inter-dependent parts has profound implications for the evolution of empathy and morality. It also offers essential pathways for the healing of the planet and for healthy social and environmental stewardship.
The idea of the planet as an inter-dependent eco-system alerts us to the patterns of relationship that exists among the diverse parts. It raises for instance the possibility of a range of genetic or other types of relational codes invisibly embedded in life that influence group, inter-group and inter-species behavior and that can evolve over time.
Until humans appeared on the planet in this iteration, life had taken billions of years to evolve a win-win intricately balanced code among species. With our arrival, this intricate balance has been dangerously upset. At some point a branch of humans cut ourselves off from our natural animal instincts and our embodied intelligences that align with the life force and resonate with environmental signals. In our intoxication with accumulated knowledge, we lost the vital direct connection with nature that allows us to navigate securely among other species. We lost our innate capacity for resonance and forgot wisdom traditions that held the story of our interconnectedness. Now we are struggling to develop a healthy relational code with the environment with the significant handicap of not being able to see or feel instinctively into our inter-dependence with nature. It seems we have to learn about interconnectedness the hard way.
Our evolutionary path is to rediscover/reawaken these embodied animal inter-dependent intelligences and integrate them with our uniquely human intelligences and accumulated knowledge in order to function in a more integrative way that is aligned with life rather than destructive of it.
The DNA code of healthy relationships that enable vital eco-systems to thrive lies in a very precise formula. This formula may ultimately be described as the secret of life. It is the life enhancing balance of giving and receiving among all unique differentiated parts of an inter-connected living whole. Put very simply it can be described as the code of accurate life- enhancing mutual nourishment. The code that permeates the system and automatically directs behavior ensures that each part of the system receives the accurate physical, emotional and energetic nourishment it needs in order to realize its unique life enhancing in mutually enriching engagement with the environment. It is highly likely that this code has a precise mathematical formula directly linked to the formula of the torus.
For humans, accurate mutual nourishment includes the accurate cognitive and spiritual nourishment that allows humans to understand the world in ways that are replenishing for the entire system. This is very different from the selfish and self-defeating way in which humans have imposed themselves on the environment and taken relentlessly from it irrespective of the impact to the entire eco-system on which they depend.
Co-existing plant and animal species are a result of billions of years of refining this life principle of harmonious eco-systems, thriving in their diversity. While the relationship between species varies, the balance of giving and receiving among the animals and the eco-system occurs automatically with daily routine and migratory paths. There is constantly physical and subtle energetic forms of exchange among the species that are enlivening both to the species and to the eco-system. On the more emotional dimension, social media is filled with videos of unusual friendships and acts of compassion between species, confronting humans with our limited understanding of the richness of inter-connectedness and caring among animals.
As humans have cut ourselves off from our animal instincts we are handicapped in our instinctual interconnectedness with the environment. It seems we have to learn the art and science of accurate giving and receiving by first learning it through the experience of our own hearts, minds and bodies on a conscious rather than instinctual level. The first step involves passing through the portals of our narcissistic annihilation of the others’ experience. We are now dealing with the repercussions of our selfishness, arrogance and ignorance.
As we confront the damage we have caused, we learn that we are neither as separate from nor as superior to other species as we had previously imagined. It seems we are not much more than a recently birthed and relatively immature branch of the human species that evolved through the gateway of human knowledge disconnected from the principles of life.
We have immense power to impact the world but we have a lot of evolving to do to move from status of unwelcome guest that trashes what we encounter to one of valued inhabitant that takes up a healthy role of receiving and giving in healthy value exchange and mutual nourishment as other co-existing species have already learned to do.
Perhaps in the distant future – if we allow such a future to occur - there will be a trace of a transition to a new type of human fossils emerging from this time of potential destruction to the entire planet. Maybe future anthropologists will notice a slightly different type of human skull and body that point to a kinder, wiser humanity, with a greater awareness of the balance of giving and receiving within its environment.
We can use our unique power on this planet to actively contribute to the evolution of our own species by studying the nature of healthy relational codes for a healthy eco-system. These studies can support the evolution of humanity and offer practical pathways for new social governing structures.
The transition from separateness and hierarchy to a holographic living systems approach has profound implications for how we engage with each other and the environment. It brings with it exciting new opportunities for the healing and revitalization of humanity and the planet.