In lesson three we looked at the principle of diversity in Nature and understood that our differences are to be accepted, because diversity is what makes nature resilient. In this lesson we will explore the principle of interdependence to see how the interconnectedness and inter-relationships of the diverse elements enable harmony within the whole. 

The health of each element is enhanced by the greater diversity within the whole. This is called ‘biological diversity’ or ‘biodiversity’ for short. The result is a complex web made up of many forms of life. For this web to work best there is a tendency towards variety and away from uniformity and, crucially, no one element can survive for long in isolation. There is a deep mutual interdependence within the system, which is active at all levels, sustaining the individual components so that the great diversity of life can flourish within the controlling limits of the whole. 

A good place to start exploring how interdependence works within the whole is our own bodies. The human body is an amazing and complete system made up of billions of living cells, which work in ordered and dynamic inter-relationships to keep us alive. Scientists have come a long way in figuring out the exact number of cells to be around 30 to 40 trillion. These cells work harmoniously, without conscious command from ourselves, as long as we keep supplying them the essential needs. (Oxygen, water, food, warmth, sleep). This process of supplying essential needs to our bodies has led us to have an economic relationship with the natural world. It goes without saying that, being part of the natural order means that we are hardwired to want to make the best use of the natural environment around us for our own survival. 

Humans need nature; we have created civilisation from it, we eat plants and animals, we use trees, sand, and rocks for building. We use chemicals and elements extracted from rock and water and air to power our civilisation. We use plant materials for energy, to clothe ourselves, and we breathe air that is kept at 21 percent oxygen by a complex suite of chemical equations much larger than any of us can comprehend.  We must remember that what we exhale, the trees are inhaling; what the trees exhale, we are inhaling every moment of our life. 

Going around without being aware of these processes is a “spiritual blindness.” Spirituality is about inclusiveness; allowing our consciousness to embrace the whole existence and our part in it. The wisdom of elders can help us begin to look at the world around us more holistic with eyes that see the essential power of interdependence and diversity. Fundamentally, the principle of interdependence teaches us that we are individual entities within a whole and to thrive, we must interact respectfully with each other because no single human can exist without input from others. Furthermore, it is our joint responsibility to ensure that our economic activities are ethical so that the extraction of resources from our planet is respectful of our planet; the only home known to humans. 

If we start by the awareness that the relationships that are inside us are also outside, and that no single organism can survive on its own, perhaps then we might look at the world more differently. If we observe relationships in the natural world, we will see that the principle of interdependence is
one of giving and taking. Sadly our “development” mode is focused on limitless growth and mechanistic view that does not put value on natural environments. 

The principle of interdependence requires us to think more holistic, respect relationships with other elements of Nature and to take nothing for granted. This way, we can cooperate as a global community in taking care of our shared planet. 

I will end the lesson with a nice summary from the Dalai Lama: 

“Interdependence is a fundamental law of nature. Even tiny insects survive by mutual cooperation based on innate recognition of their interconnectedness. It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence. Therefore we need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others.” 

To be able to create this “sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others” we chose the values of TRUST AND COOPERATION for the principle of interdependence 

Trust: is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. 

Cooperation: is the action or process of working together to the same end. 

For any cooperation to succeed, all parties must have trust that everyone will act according to what is agreed. In its narrowest sense, TRUST is the expectation that others will act morally.

Competency: Conceptual Thinking. 

Conceptual thinking is the ability to see things as a whole, relate different events, past experiences and new information to make connections and see patterns which can then be used to interpret complex situations.

For further explanation and understanding, please read our handbook from page 39 to 42 on


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