A worldview that contemplates an essential unity in relation to the deep nature of human beings’ consciences and, at the same time, a great diversity of capabilities, is certainly not something new.
Millennia ago this same general notion, about the decisive importance of a clear perception, as well as a fair equation and a harmonization of the differences between human beings, was affirmed by the great classic of Chinese philosophy, the I Ching, which is considered one of the oldest books known. We read there:
“Above the sky, below the lake: the image of the CONDUCT. Thus, the superior man discriminates between high and low and thus strengthens the minds of the people.
“The sky and the lake show a difference in altitude inherent to the essence of the two, which, therefore, does not arouse envy.
So, among men, there are necessarily differences in level. It is impossible to achieve universal equality. However, what matters is that the differences in level in society are not arbitrary and unfair, because in that case envy and class struggle would inevitably follow.
If, on the contrary, the differences in external level correspond to differences in internal capacity, and the internal value is the criterion for determining the external hierarchy, tranquility will reign between men and society will find order.” (I Ching: Book of Changes, Richard Wilheim, p. 56; emphasis added)
This view is present in virtually all major religious traditions, although even within those traditions it has been corrupted in countless ways, such as the caste system of Hinduism, or the stratified order of Christianity-related feudalism, among so many other examples.
In fact, this degeneration that occurred in the field of religions is an important aspect for understanding the origins of the perception flaws that are dominant in world thought today (including here science and philosophy) regarding the nature and capabilities of human beings. An analysis of these issues would take us far beyond the limits that we set out in this work.
However, the fact that we do not analyze in this work the processes and consequences of the degeneration of religious interpretations does not mean that we cannot examine, synthetically, the socio-philosophical misconceptions currently dominant, which are the central premisses of Liberalism and Marxism.
Despite this great degeneration that occurred in the field of religious thought, a foundational knowledge about human unity and diversity is present, as we said above, in the great religious traditions, although today it is, as a rule, covered by thick layers of superstition and of idolatry.
Bearing in mind this warning, let us see, even so, some quotes extracted from the texts of various religious traditions, with the purpose of showing, through the comparative method, the ancient existence of this knowledge of the two fundamental aspects mentioned above – unity and diversity. For, as it is written in one of the Vedas (from the Hindu tradition): “The truth is one, but the wise speak of it under many names”.
These quotes are mere examples, among a very large number of other passages that can be found in these religious traditions. They have been grouped into the “Unity” and “Diversity” aspects to facilitate the visualization of these two central aspects. The sequence of religions follows only the alphabetical order.
“In Essence (in the Absolute) there are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no hearing, no smell, no taste, no touch, no mental process, no objects of this mental process, no knowledge, no ignorance. There is no destruction of objects or cessation of knowledge, nor cessation of ignorance.
In the Essence (in the Absolute) there are no Four Noble Truths: there is no Pain, nor cause of Pain, nor cessation of Pain, nor Noble Path that leads to the cessation of Pain. There is no decay or death, nor destruction of the notion of decay and death. There is no knowledge of Nirvana, there is no obtaining Nirvana, nor non-obtaining Nirvana.” (Maha-Prajna-Paramita)
“Few men reach the other side of the river; most of them are content to remain on the same margin, going up and down.” (Dhammapada, 49a)
“The fool can associate with a sage all his life, but he perceives as little of the truth as the spoonful of the taste of the soup. The intelligent man can associate with a sage for a minute and perceive both the truth and the taste of the taste of the soup.” (Dhammapada, 64-65)
“Behold this world, adorned like a royal coach! The fools are perched on it, but the wise are not bound by it.” (Dhammapada, 171)
“May big, small and medium do all the best they can.” (Játacas, 121)
“God is love; he who remains in love remains in God, and in him God remains.” (John 4:16)
“Mind who says ‘I love God’, but hates your brother. Whoever loves God also loves his brother”. (John, 4: 20-21)
“From one blood He made all human generations.” (Acts, 17:26)
“Truly I say to you, how much you did to one of these my little brothers, you did to me.” (Matthew, 25:40)
“Because that is how it is [the Kingdom of Heaven] as a man who, when he was gone, called his servants and gave them his goods. And he gave one five talents, and another two, and the other gave one, each according to his ability, and left immediately.” (Parable of the Talents, Matthew, 25: 14-15)
“Behold, the sower went out to sow. When he sowed, a part of the seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it. Another part fell in the rocky places, where there was not much land; soon it was born, because the land was not deep, and when the sun came out, it was burned; and because it had no roots, it dried up. Another fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew and choked it. Another fell into the good land and bore fruit, with grains that yielded a hundred by one, another sixty, another thirty by one. He who has ears to hear, hear.” (Parable of the Sower, Matthew, 13: 3-8)
“The superior man thinks of his character; the inferior man thinks about his position. The superior man seeks what is right; the inferior, which is profitable.” (Analects, IV)
“Good and bad government depend on the leaders. Positions are to be entrusted, not to the prince’s favorites, but only to capable men. Functions must be entrusted, not to vicious men, but to men eminent for their virtues and talents.” (Chu-King, VIII, II, 5)
“True knowledge is to see an unchanging life in all beings, and to see the Inseparable One in separate beings.” (Bhagavad-Gita, XVIII)
“To love all things, big or small, as God loves them, that is true religion.” (Upanishade Hitopadexa)
“The world of men, under the control of the illusion of these three qualities of nature [“gunas”], does not understand that I am superior to them, and I remain intact and immutable in the midst of countless events and changes. This illusion is very strong, and its veil is so dense that it is difficult for human eyes to penetrate it. Only those who turn to Me and let themselves be illuminated by the flame behind the smoke, overcome the illusion and reach Me.
Evildoers and fools do not seek me, nor those who have low thoughts, nor those who see, in the vast spectacle of nature, only the game of forces, without a director; nor those who extinguished the spark of spiritual life in themselves and became fully materialistic.
There are four classes of people who turn to Me: – the unhappy, those who investigate the truth, the kind and the wise.” (Bhagavad-Gita, VII)
“Speak to men according to their mental abilities; if you talk to them about things they cannot understand, they may fall into error.” (Hadith or Mohammed’s Maxims, 143)
“Don’t we all have the same Father? Didn’t the same God create us?” (Malachi, 2:10)
“All wisdom comes from God, and with Him is and has always been, before all the centuries.” (Ecclesiastical, 1: 1)
“When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; but when the wicked are in power, the people groan.” (Proverbs, 29: 2)
“Among men, four types of character are distinguished. The neutral, who is the one who says: – ‘what is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours’. The rustic, which belongs to the one who says: – ‘what is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine’. The saint, who belongs to the one who says: – ‘what is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours’. And the wicked one, who says: – ‘what is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine’.” (Parent Maxims, 5:13)
“There is something that existed before the beginning of earth and heaven, and its name is Tao [the great universal principle, synthesizer and harmonizer of “Yin” and “Yang”]. Man adapts to the land; the land adapts to the firmament; the firmament adapts to the Tao; Tao adapts to its own nature.” (Tao-Te-King, 25)
“The Tao is nameless and hidden, and yet, all things are accomplished in it.” (Tao-Te-King, 41)
“It is easy to follow the great Tao, but the people roam the paths.” (Tao-Te-King, 53)
“For all things, big or small, the right man must be found, and they will be well managed.” (Nihongi or Chronicles of Japan, ch. 22)
As we can see, we can find in the various religious traditions teachings that corroborate the worldview where the human being is characterized by the existence of an essential unity and a great diversity of manifested capabilities.
Next, we will examine these two basic characteristics of humanity (unity and diversity) in the light of information from contemporary sciences. In the remainder of this chapter, we will gather some scientific knowledge that clarifies and corroborates the “unity” aspect. In the following chapter we will do the same in relation to the “diversity” aspect.
Fritjof Capra, internationally renowned physicist and author of the best-selling book The Tao of Physics, places the issue of unity from the point of view of contemporary physics in this work, including in comparison to the religious or mystical view of ancient Eastern traditions.
In the chapter “The Unity of All Things” he examines how quantum theory and recent experiments in the field of subatomic particle physics tend to corroborate and come very close to the mystics’ worldview.
There is no need to repeat here such theories and scientific experiments, which are known to people in the field, and can be complicated for lay people on the subject. We will quote only one paragraph in which Fritjof Capra summarizes his position on this subject:
“Modern physics, of course, works in a very different perspective and cannot go so far (as far as the mystic’s view is concerned) in the experience of the unity of all things. But in atomic theory it took a big step towards the mystics’ worldview. Quantum theory has abolished the notion of fundamentally separate objects, introduced the concept of the participant to replace that of the observer, and may even find it necessary to include human consciousness in its description of the world. She came to see the universe as an interconnected network of physical and mental relationships, whose parts are defined only through their connections to the whole.” (The Tao of Physics, p. 129)
This basic and narrow interconnection of all things in nature seems to be the limit that we can reach with the help of science, with regard to the recognition of an essential unity underlying humanity and, in fact, all things in the known universe. As we can read in F. Capra’s work, it derives very naturally from quantum theory. Such close interconnection can be seen from a scientific perspective in many other areas. Another very illuminating example is in the field of astrophysics, when we observe our complete dependence on the Sun in maintaining all the life we know today, and from where we can also infer much of the unity underlying all of nature. Let us see, in this regard, a passage from Dr. I.K. Taimni (PhD. in Chemistry, University of London), taken from his work Gayatri, in which we read:
“The Sun is the center of the solar system, around which all the planets are rotating. Science has shown that the Sun is the source of all types of energy that are necessary for life in the solar system. But science regards the Sun only as a huge fireball whose energy is being maintained by converting Hydrogen to Helium, the thermonuclear reaction underlying the production of the Hydrogen bomb. This powerful physical energy center is continuously releasing all types of energies and vibrations in the solar system, such as heat, light and other types of energies that are used to maintain life on our planet, in all its forms. The wonderful way in which these various forces operating in the solar system are well adjusted and regulated can be perceived by the fact that if the temperature of the Sun were to rise only one percent, we would all be reduced to ash instantly, and if it fell one percent, we would be frozen right away.” (p. 80)
At least with regard to the solar system, the quote above shows us clearly how, even on the material plane that we know scientifically, all forms of life have a single center on which they depend completely, reminding us of the famous statement of Hermes Trismegisto that: – “Just as the big is the small, just as what is on top is what is below, and just as what is inside is what is outside”. This quote by Dr. Taimni also highlights the close interdependence that exists in nature, as well as suggests beautifully that the whole chain of life has a single source.
Knowledge from other areas of science also corroborates this close interdependence of life forms on our planet. Biology, and especially Ecology within it, knows more and more precisely that pollution and the destruction of the natural environment of one part of the planet can cause catastrophic imbalances not only in that place, but also in other very distant areas.
It is almost unnecessary to mention examples in this regard since some of them are known to almost everyone with average knowledge today. We refer to climatic imbalances caused by the destruction of forests, the transcontinental extent of the effects of atomic disasters such as those in Chernobyl or Fukushima, acid rain caused by industrial pollution, the greenhouse effect that produces an increase in the temperature of the planet – with potentially catastrophic results – and that is due to the pollution originating, above all, from the various forms of combustion and release of carbon dioxide, or even from the hole in the ozone layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, which apparently indicates a fast growth, and also of very serious consequences, among others so many forms of pollution and devastation of the natural environment.
Even in the field of social, political and economic sciences, this interdependence becomes increasingly apparent. Just to give an example, the effects of political and economic disorganization that result in the poverty of many, inside or outside the same country, are not restricted only to those who are directly affected by the extreme poverty, but they inexorably impact on the quality of life even of the wealthier, in the form of frightening increases in crime: in thefts, robberies, kidnappings, terrorism, in the proliferation of drugs and so many other forms of social violence. All this means a huge loss in the quality of life even for those people apparently not affected by poverty, or even the richest.
As we said, the proof of the existence of this close interconnection between all things, human or non-human, is perhaps the limit as far as science can help us, in the sense of corroborating the aspect of the existence of a unit that underlies all human beings. But the fact is that it is already something very significant. From all angles that can be analyzed, the advances in scientific knowledge have only reinforced and pointed in the direction of an ever more apparent uniqueness among all things and phenomena of nature. And the human species, as we have seen, is certainly no exception to this rule. The pole of unity underlying the human family can therefore find, within the scientific knowledge available to us today, many arguments and inferences in its favor.