Throughout the past year interconnectedness has been a recurring concept in many pieces of film and literature which I have come across. In its simplest form interconnectedness breaks down into the idea that everything is connected together.
Why God Won’t Go Away states that every religion relies on a form of interconnectedness. Andrew Newberg, et al, claims that there are two forms of interconnectedness found in different religions. There is either a union of mankind with the rest of the world or a union of the individual with a greater individual.
The former is found in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Hinduism explains the interconnectedness of self or Atman with others through Brahman. The latter form of interconnectedness is more complicated. This form is found in religions such as Christianity. Through intense prayer individuals feel a profound connection with Christ. Through this connection with Christ individuals realize a connection with all of humanity.
In I ♥ Huckabees we find a form of existential interconnectedness which is very similar to that of Buddhism. Bernard Jaffe presents us with a blanket which he says represents the universe.
Say this blanket represents all the matter and energy in the universe, okay? This is me, this is you, and over here, this is the Eiffel Tower, right, it’s Paris!
Bernard’s blanket is eerily familiar to the Buddhist analogy of Indra’s Net. Indra’s Net is an infinitely long net. Within each knot of the net is a multifaceted jewel which reflects each other jewel. This analogy is made in order to show that everything in the universe exists in a complex relationship with all other beings. Like Jaffe’s blanket, we are all connected to each other and while we may feel like individuals in reality we can’t tell where my nose stops and space begins.
Interconnectedness is not only found in religions. Atheists also believe in the interconnectedness of everything, this time it comes in the form of energy. One of the foundations of modern physics is that energy cannot be created or destroyed. The first law of thermodynamics says that the total inflow of energy into a system must equal the total outflow of energy from the system, plus the change in the energy contained within the system.
When I cease to exist, whether I go to Heaven or Hell or back to Earth in the form of another being, my energy must go somewhere. Like the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, my actions as a living being will have an effect on the future. Whether my karma results in a reincarnation or I have a reincarnation through scientific means (i.e. my carcass turns to soil from which a tree sprouts), my energy will have an effect on future life.
The atheistic concept of interconnectedness is summed up well through a scene in Waking Life. A purely scientific outlook upon the world leaves us with a problem of free will. If we are all physical systems then we all rely on the rules which govern these systems. We are all part of a system of cause and effect. This system of cause and effect leaves us with the question of how we make decisions, how we can truly choose to do anything.
This is a problem which has faced humanity since we have been philosophizing. Freedom of will versus determinism first took shape in the form of God making decisions for us, but even without an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being deciding our fate, we have this casual relationship between all beings which can remove our true freedom.
This causal relationship is the basis for human interconnectedness. An atheist may not believe that there is a soul or Atman at the root of our essence. Even without this belief we run into the concept of energy which has always existed and cannot be destroyed, we also are presented with a form of Buddhist conditioned genesis through causal relationships between all beings.
Interconnectedness is a concept which seems to reoccur in all social sciences. Sociology, archeology, religions, (and anti-religions) all come back to this concept of cause and effect. This link between all of us may not be psychic but it definitely seems to exist, whether through energy or some greater being.