as Hindus and Buddhists each seek an exit from the endless cycle of life, known as samsara. These religions acknowledge the intricate linkage which binds life together, founding their principles and practices upon a concept which is foreign to the Western mindset.






Indeed, the Western perspective on humanity's position vis à vis the natural world is a fortress of dogma. This is in no small way due to its considerable supports.

Fuelled by the Judaeo-Christian belief in Imago Dei on the one hand, and the humanist-Enlightenment secular ethic on the other hand, the idea of humanity standing above and beyond the rest of creation has long been accepted as an indisputable fact. Such is the longevity of its stranglehold upon Western thought that its grip is now barely registered in contemporary life.

Breaking free of this fundamental mistake is perhaps the next step in our development.

Acknowledging our 'physical' place in the world will be no mean feat, however. More, should we ever fully accept that we are just another ingredient in the Earth's perpetual rearranging of matter, an even more profound conclusion will be drawn regarding our relations with our fellow human beings. For if we can be constituted from any reusable organic material, such 'ingredients' must conceivably derive from all possible sources, including past generations of human beings.

Consider, if you will, a typical flowering shrub in a rural graveyard. Its roots lie buried in a soil which, over countless generations has been steadily fertilized by human remains.

Then imagine the shrub blossoming and local honeybees transporting the accompanying pollen to their hives, where it becomes part of the honey-making process. To conclude this scenario only requires the beekeeper and his jar of freshly-made honey, ready to be sold to an eager public.










If the above example is somewhat crude there are surely more subtle means by which the deceased are reused by the living. And yet, however the situation is framed, there is no cause for horror or disgust. Rather it is a rallying call for the interconnectedness of life, as conceived of in some faiths and traditions more than others.

If this conception of physical reality were to become part of the mentality of modern society, might we not be on our way to perceiving all of reality as intrinsically valuable, human and non-human alike, and not just those portions which we deem worthy enough of the adjective?

Such a transformation in our daily lives would be nothing less than revolutionary. Spiritual considerations aside, no longer would human beings conceive of themselves as biological islands, entirely separate from the world. The principle of the re-cycle of life could become a cause célèbre as political, social and environmental issues are seen in an altogether different, more holistic and resolvable light.

Perhaps this is wishful thinking. Perhaps such ambitions are more the fare of fantasies and fictions.

Which takes me back to the tragic fate of young Tim, the apple thief. Any of us may be composed of molecules which were once gainfully employed in the act of leaf-building or root-forming. In fact, this condition is all but guaranteed. Further still, those of us who are vegan or vegetarian may, over time, possess a molecular structure largely dominated by plant material. Given this point, may be Tim's transformation is less disturbing than we first thought. After all, there may be a bit of apple tree in all of us.

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