The Pandemic of the Separate Self
Heartfulness eMagazine|August 2021
DAN SIEGEL is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and executive director of the Mindsight Institute. In part 2 of his interview with UDAY KUMAR, he speaks about intraconnectedness, alloparenting, presence, connection, open awareness, and love.
UDAY KUMAR

Q: My teacher, Daaji, says that while survival of the fittest may apply in the overall scheme of survival, human beings evolve only through cooperation.

Totally. We’ve forgotten that.

Q: Then, you were talking about the sense of Self, and I remembered that once he said, “If you’re sitting in this room, the walls create the impression of space inside and space outside. And if I take away the walls, then what remains? It’s just space.”

Exactly. Just this morning I finished writing a book about exactly that topic, called Intraconnected. I think it’s a moment for humanity to take a deep breath and say, “Okay, we did it this way, we tried to make it work, but it’s not going to work like this. So what’s another way to do it?” The book makes suggestions, not on specific things, but rather, “What’s a way to be in the world that resonates?”

Q: You’re not talking about small fixes here and there. You’re addressing the question: How do I conduct my life on this planet itself? This needs to be rethought. I would love to read it, because you mention the five pandemics – one of them is about the environment. Many times, people ask the question: How do we live in tune with nature? Daaji says that living in tune with nature is actually resonating with the principles of nature. And he says if that’s the case, if you look at a mango tree or an apple tree, it doesn’t need mango juice or apple juice to give you fruits. It takes a little water and sunlight, and gives you the best fruit in return. So, one principle in nature is to take the minimum and give the maximum. And for human beings, the most important thing is to accept minimum love and give maximum love.

I think it’s a moment of bridging these areas of science and spirituality. It’s all in the idea of being in service, and how we can learn from the wisdom of ancient teachings and contemplative practices. Weave it together with this cross-disciplinary view of science, and come to some thoughtful ways that collectively we can move forward. We really need to think deeply about the next steps for humanity.

Whether you’re a parent raising your children, a teacher in a school, people in the medical world, people running a business, people running a government or non-profit, there are billions and billions of people on our planet. So how do we actually make a shift where people realize that it’s survival of the most cooperative? It’s survival of the most compassionate. The science that I review in the book shows how our origins as a species were collaborative. We have something called “alloparenting,” for example, which means we let our babies be taken care of by more than just the mother.

Q: Sarah Hrdy, right?

Yes, Mothers and Others by Sarah Hrdy.

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