The meaning of collective healing

Whenever we talk about healing, practice, Qi Gong and meditation we talk about humans - that is already in plural. Even though we live in very egocentric times, you need to understand there is no such thing as an actual single human. It is often difficult to see this clearly as modern society introduced the existence of a 'single' but this is a relatively new concept. And in fact even the singles are not really alone, there is no human being that exists solely in and of itself. Even the person who never wants to connect to anyone must definitely have had a mother, and by all the rules of nature must also have had a father. Even if he does not know his father, or if he does not know his mother, they still must exist. And if we realize the single has a mother then it follows that his mother had a mother and a father, and so on - there is never just one human being. We are interconnected as in a big web even though we don't seem to see that any longer.

The question of altruism and interconnection

When we talk about healing it is never just us. The Daoists have understood long before that it will be very difficult to heal if you just think about yourself. To be clear, I don't mean being altruistic, it is not a matter of saying: 'I don't care for myself, I don't want to heal myself, I want to heal the whole world, I just want everybody else to get better'- no. You can be very egoistic, which is okay, you can say: 'I just want to heal myself'. You cannot attempt to heal yourself without bringing awareness to the healing of the collective.

If you are stranded on an island you still have a mother and a father. And still, your mother had a mother and a father, and your father had a mother and a father, so there are a lot of people involved. I guess even if you were stranded alone on the island, a ‘single’, there will be some people out there who miss you. It could be somebody from the past: maybe your mother or father would miss you. Or somebody might miss you from the future: perhaps there was someone you were supposed to meet but you never arrived because you got stranded on this island. We are interconnected, this is what the Daoists saw and this is a big chance in how healing can be approached. Your doctor will probably not be too impressed by this, and this is not to blame the doctor, they are trained in a different model, although the field of epigenetics offers us insights into interconnectedness of humans. The strength of Daoist practice is that it offers a different perspective that might help us to deal with certain issues we couldn't otherwise tackle because, as a culture, we hold on to a view that things are separate.

The uniqueness of human pregnancy and dependency

Another point is that human beings have nine months of pregnancy which is quite long. There are some animals, like elephants, that have a longer time of pregnancy but not too many. So again we see how much we are connected: you are a living being in the womb of your mother for nine months which is quite a while and connects you deeply.

Then the next special thing in human beings is that even though we are in the womb for a fairly long time, we are born too early. When babies get born at six months we know they are premature but even when you are born at nine months, in a way, you are still too early. If you wanted to be as fit as a baby chimpanzee at the moment of birth then you would have to stay 16 months in the womb of your mother. When human babies are born we cannot walk, we cannot stand, we cannot see. We are born prematurely because we can no longer stay in the mother's womb as our head gets too big for the pelvis that is too narrow. We couldn't stay 16 months to be fully developed and this is down to the development of the human brain.

As we are born too early we need a lot of care. Again that binds us dramatically: firstly to your mother of course, as in the pregnancy, but that is not the whole truth. In fact your mother alone cannot take care of you, even if this is an approach we tend to take nowadays. However, somebody has to take care of the mother as she takes care of you. It is more clearly seen in the cultures that still live in the model of a clan or big families, how very interconnected we are in our development.

The overlap of generations

Another good example of this interconnection of human beings is how new life is formed. We are conceived when a sperm fertilizes an egg and nine months later we see the light of the world. However, the egg that gets fertilized by the sperm, that is a part of us from the mother's side, was already in place in the womb of your grandmother when your mother was an embryo. I realize this is often difficult to grasp but it is plain physiology, western science. It is not a daoist or an esoteric concept, even though it sounds very New Age. The plain fact is that when your mother was in the womb of your grandmother as an embryo, this is when the eggs in the ovaries of your mother- still an embryo- were already formed. Out of these eggs, one in time has become you. Here you can see how generations are physically interconnected: you lived a number of months in the womb of your grandmother. And then you lived the whole life of your mother until you were born.

This is why it is interesting when we do the Buddha questions in the interactive meditation and we ask: how old are you? People answer with the date of their birth and then with their age, which is okay, and then the rest is maybe New Age but what I am talking about is not. If you know you come from this egg it means you are much older than you might have thought. Therefore, whatever has happened in your mother's life, you were already an egg in her ovaries, so you lived it. Same goes with whatever has happened to your grandmother at least in the time of her pregnancy with your mother. This way you can see how healing is interconnected and collective. This also means there are a lot of things we drag around that are definitely not ours in a personal way but stem from the fact that we are a human collective, where all is interwoven and on some level we are connected to everybody.

The buddhist perspective

This theme is also present in Buddhism, where we basically differentiate the schools of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. I will make it simple for the sake of my argument. Hinayana is about freeing oneself: the Buddha sat down in deep despair to search for insight and when he got enlightened he realized he could see what the truth is and what the reality is. This is the school of Hinayana: you free yourself, you embrace the truth and in that way you look for your own progress. But the story goes on that when Buddha was enlightened the one thing he saw was that he won't be able to free himself until everybody is free and that is the essence of the school of Mahayana. The Hinayana is translated as 'the small vehicle' and Mahayana - 'the big vehicle'. The Hinayana talks about freeing yourself in a process of cultivation or practice, while the Mahayana says that you have to care for everybody else because you can't free yourself until everybody else is free. That pays due to the human collective, as I have just discussed. Now the Buddhists take it even a little further and talk about the collective of all beings, which includes the human collective and other beings from ghosts to gods and animals, so it is an even bigger task - and I personally think it makes sense.

The value of collective practice

Therefore we have collective practices, like interactive meditation, Taijiquan and Bagua Circle Walking. We can take the example of the “Cloud Hands - Five Directions Form” - a fabulous practice to do together. This is when a collective feeling can start: when you do things with people together, synchronize and move as one organism. It is very beautiful and it is beyond words. One can explain a little bit and people might be able to rationally understand but what takes place there is really beyond logic. If you move with Taiji Practice in a group, even for an hour or half an hour, all together, something really touching happens. Only human beings do that, as far as I know there are no animals that do Taijiquan or Bagua. There are all these human beings practicing together and it doesn't have to be your mother or your father- it can be whoever is at harm, or in need of healing. Because we are all humans working with the same intention. In this collective field, it will spread out as everybody is connected. This is how collective healing can happen.

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Ron Timm Qi Gong Tai Chi Still Power