This conversation came out of discussing The Inner Life of Trees and Finding the Mother Tree.

Q: I’ve been thinking about trees and their ability to communicate with each other and to help each other and I was wondering if their consciousness is greater than ours?

What they have kept in their evolutionary process is a groupthink, a oneness that humans have lost. We used to have it and that was where there used to be telepathic communication and the ability to communicate with each other at great distances and to be able to learn things by osmosis because it was also being learned somewhere else.

We know that this can still be true in theory; that there’s a tipping point at which when a certain number of the human population does X, then it speeds up exponentially and spreads throughout all humans much more quickly. This can happen when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and starts spreading like wildfire.

That tipping point with animals is much lower. And with nature, with trees, with plants it’s much lower because their whole connection is less interrupted than ours.

This is where the value of being in nature is so important. To get out of this humancentric view of existence that we have. We see everything as out there and as the other. Where everything else sees everything as we’re all connected, we’re all one. There is no out there. There’s all of us and that’s all that there is.  And there is an awareness of the symbiotic relationship. What they have a problem with is when it gets to a point where it’s going to kill the tree. But up until that point, if there are just general insects around, everything lives in harmony. It’s when anything gets out of balance that there’s a counter-reaction to try to bring it back into balance.

Q: The other book I was reading is called, Finding the Mother Tree that explains the significant part of Suzanne Simmard’s understanding that she’s gained that there are mother trees in the forest.  and she talked about friend trees. And they shade each other in a certain way. What was interesting is is that there’s a process of death with trees that’s very, very long, way longer than ours, decades sometimes. But when the mother tree especially realizes that he or she is dying, they have over a long period of time acquired very large deposits of carbon in them. What they do before as they die is to distribute the carbon to all the trees around them that could use it. So, by the time they die, they have shared everything that they have. And one of the things that she has been trying to lobby the Canadian government on–because there is a lot of clear-cutting in Canada–is that when they cut, they need to leave Some areas with the mother Trees. And they can’t just leave the mother tree alone. They have to also leave some other trees for her. They have to leave the group. Because the mother tree has things to share. because they said that in addition to just the physical things like carbon deposits, there’s a knowledge. There’s an understanding and awareness that gets passed on from the mother tree to all the other trees. She has shown in her research that if you leave the mother tree with a group, they will build the forest again the way it needs to be built. And that just simply replanting trees isn’t enough for healthy regrowth. When you do that, a tremendous amount is lost because they’re starting all over again.

We’re part of this whole ecosystem, but we live as though we are separate from it. And that’s what is contributing to the dis-ease in ourselves and the disease to the planet.

This is why it’s so critical that people start spending more and more time outside, thoughtfully. Not just going outside and saying, OK, I’m outside, let’s do another human distracting activity. Let’s play Frisbee, let’s do a competitive sport. Let’s do a human activity that focuses on human behavior. It’s important that people be outside as beings.

One of the things that Native Americans understood so well, that’s been mostly lost, is that everything was a being. There were the two-legged beings and the four-legged beings and the winged beings. Everything was considered a being, with none lesser or greater than any other one. There was this interconnectedness of awareness of this flow of life.

I think this is why so many people are lost now—because there’s no flow of life anymore. It’s constantly cut off and interrupted. And people are not taught—like the mother tree teaches the other trees how to be trees—nobody is teaching humans how to be human beings anymore. We’re being taught how to be capitalists. We’re being taught how to be reactionaries. But we’re not taught how to be human beings anymore.

So part of reconnecting with the inner teacher is to get back into the beingness of humans. That requires contemplation and it requires observation, and it requires honing of all the senses again and reclaiming abilities that we’ve had that we were born with, but we’ve lost because they’ve been “cultured” out of us, taught out of us and replaced with other false values that serve other institutions. But they don’t serve the human being.

The level of anxiety in the world right now—we could say Covid has been an accelerant—is off the charts. This is what triggers people into fight, flight or freeze mode.  What a huge group is choosing to do is fight. The problem is they’re fighting blindly. They don’t know what they’re fighting against, and because they’re being fed lies, they’re congealing around those lies and deciding that’s it. Because everybody is looking for what is it? It’s something. But what is it exactly?

When somebody latches on to something, there’s such a relief that “I’ve got the right answer” that there’s no examination past that point. The decision has been made. The lock has been locked, the key has been thrown away, and that becomes that person’s identity. That’s where releasing stories we tell ourselves about who we are is so important. Revisiting sacred cows is so important. Because we have to find the keys to all of these locks that are trapping us. Part of the problem is that people look at those locks as security–they’re keeping evil out. No, they’re keeping us from any understanding of life, of humanity, of what’s possible.

It’s like a turtle going into its shell. No living happens when the turtle goes into the shell; everything stops. So until we come out again and look at each other, not as a threat, but as a root system that needs this interconnectedness to be healthy–where we stop looking at each other as enemies.

The problem always is the criticism of any so-called new-age view of “Oh, that is just so naive.” Or in this case, “Oh, that is just so Treehugger” or fill in the derogatory blank. Instead, give it a try. See what happens. Have somebody guide you who actually understands and can communicate to you in English, what’s happening and why it’s happening, and why it matters.

Looking to and connecting with the inner teacher is a start. It’s like, “OK, I don’t trust out there yet because I’m still messed up from all the nonsense that’s been going on,” let’s say for the past few decades. “But I do trust myself, so if there is something in me that is a higher being or connected to a higher being, I’ll talk to that.”

So even though people think, “Yeah, OK, I trust myself. If I have an inner teacher, great.” But then what happens is they realize they don’t even really trust themselves. They don’t trust that inner voice because even that inner voice is so polluted with the influence of media and modern life that they hear two or three or four voices and say, “Oh my God, am I schizophrenic?” Or “Oh my God, which voice do I believe?” Or “Oh my God, which voice is the true voice?”

Because we’re always looking for the one right answer. Because we want complete confidence in being correct. Because all that matters in the modern world is being correct.

Another problem with that is because people are so quick to latch onto that value judgment because a grade has been attached to it since kindergarten, the value of being right is more important than exploring. Being right is more important than being open-minded. Being right is more important than growing. All of that has to be exposed as part of the pollution that can affect the clarity of how you hear that inner voice.

But how do you cleanse that, so you can begin identifying, “Aha! There is an inner voice!”

Yes, indeed there is, but that inner voice isn’t one voice; it is all-that-is. That inner voice can come from a tree that you make a complete connection with. It can come from an animal. It can come from a higher being. It can come from a piece of paper. It could come from anything, but because people have attached so many value judgments—even spirituality is so entwined with religion—that the perception is that inner voice is going to be a wise teacher. That inner voice is going to be a higher being. That inner voice is going to be my Guardian Angel.

Maybe, maybe not. Why limit it?

Part of the reason is that people feel comfortable in containers. As soon as you take people out of their containers, out of their houses, out of their work, out of their social groups, they get really insecure. Because then they are no longer certain of the rules, and everybody wants the cheat sheet to the rules so that they can be performing the one right answer.

But the problem with that is it goes back to the fight or flight thing. As soon as you take people out of their comfort zones, people either get more aggressive or they get mostly numb.

Most people don’t run away, and the reason they don’t is that their security and identity are attached to the possessions they have and the identity they’ve created in that place. So, very few people will pick up and go.

That’s why I’m always amazed when countries become so awful that mass groups of people leave with nothing because they realize all that matters ultimately is whether they are going to be alive tomorrow or not.

Then it doesn’t matter if I have this fancy house or this prestige in the community if I’m dead tomorrow—OK, I’m going. Usually, unless there’s that kind of extreme motivation, people don’t choose flight. They choose fight or freeze. And most people in the world have frozen. They don’t let themselves fully feel anymore because they already feel overwhelmed.

That’s part of the attention deficit problem around the whole world. It’s almost like a locked-in syndrome. When someone becomes locked in a body, they can’t move or talk. That can happen spiritually too. We’re living in a time in the world where that’s epidemic.

People don’t know how to reach out anymore. They don’t know how to relate. They don’t know how to communicate. So the ones who are fighting are also fighting to take over those people who have frozen because they’re looking for more soldiers. They want more people on their side because they want to win because they’re sure they’re right.

So the fighters at least are not frozen in the same way, but because they don’t have that spiritual connection to the all-that-is, they only have a perception of their truth that they’ve decided is the one right answer, that often is based on a lie or propaganda. They don’t have the truth with a capital T.

Obviously, these are gross generalizations, but I stand by them being mostly true for most people.

Q: Isn’t it all connected?

Yes, it’s all connected. And it is really as simple as saying reconnect fully with nature. And listen. Get your senses back and listen. And a whole new world will open up for you. And you’ll know things that you could never dream possible. And it will change who you are and what you feel and what matters to you. And you’ll be happy for it.

Plato’s Cave gets used too often as an example, but it’s an apt example. When you’re in the cave looking at the shadows on the wall, and that’s all you know and you think that’s reality. And somebody goes outside and sees the actual world and tries to come back and share that, they’re labeled as the crazy ones.

But that’s the problem when people want to cling to what they think they know. But they don’t “know” it. It is just information that has been handed to them that they’ve mostly just accepted as being true without doing any deep examination on their own.

But what if you could know it for yourself, inside of yourself, experientially?  And you wouldn’t have to depend on somebody else telling you their inaccurate description of a perception and blindly deciding that that’s the truth.

I guess the question is what’s the promise at the end of all of it?

And a lot of people with all of this superhero movies and Marvel Comics and everything about being outsized good and evil, and you have to be a superhero in order to make change. And all the magical powers and that’s part of what Harry Potter started—mysticism and superpowers.

The disservice that does is it brings about an impotence for people to feel that they could even come close to achieving any of those talents or abilities, so it pushes them into a fantasy world where they just fantasize about it. And that’s another form of being frozen—you don’t live life here; you go into imagination and you create the world you want to live in there. But that can’t really play itself out in any form of reality.

 Q: Or they play a video game.

That’s the worry for me with the whole AI and Virtual Reality because that’s also a disease.

“I don’t like this life because I don’t know how to live this life. So let me go into a world that is even more locked down than anything even previously imagined. But it’s going to trigger my endorphins and make me feel great, and it’ll hit all my serotonin buttons and I’m going to feel great.”

You might as well just be in a coma until you die. Because no real living happens. And no real connection happens.

Part of the problem with those types of games, too—first-person shooters—is it teaches you how to be violent. It teaches you how to be aggressive and how to shoot first and don’t ask questions later. So there’s this whole mentality of brutality that has been normalized.

But when you have so much money invested in media and entertainment as part of the capitalist machine and somebody is going to come along and say, you know what, all that stuff is really kinda not good for you.

Go outside. Be quiet. Listen. Observe. And see how fast your awareness changes. And see how fast that changes your whole life.