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Next page End Essay 12: An Ecology of Devotion    by Dennis Rivers

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the scale of connectedness at what were our “parts” and how those “parts”
were hitched together.  The emerging science looks both up and down and
asks: what larger system enfolds this element (you and me), and how does
this element function in relation to that larger system?  Parts imply
wholes, as your hand implies every bit of the rest of you, raising the
extraordinary questions of what we together imply and what life implies.
We may never be able to fully grasp the larger system that enfolds us,
but we have many hints and many suggestive analogies.  Consider the fern
in your garden.  The tiniest part of a fern leaf bears the shape of the entire
fern branch.  When we turn to nature, we find that there are many such
“fractal” examples, from trees to rivers to blood vessels, in which the very
small mirrors the shape and function of the very large.  So it is much more
thinkable today than it was half a century ago, for us to feel that the
noblest impulses in us express a larger nobility that enfolds us.
Spiral Galaxy           Image Courtesy NASA
In my own life my sense of “the larger something of which I am a
part” has been deeply influenced by the teaching, affirmed by many faiths
using different vocabularies, that “God is love, and whoever dwells in love,
dwells in God and God in them” -- a truly fractal mysticism. For me, this
teaching of lovingkindness, and the people who have embodied this
lovingkindness, complete the spiral ecology of devotion.  
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