Our Four Alienations...Plus One
In the 19th Century the German philosopher and revolutionary Karl Marx explored the topic of alienation, our sense of not belonging, of something being separate and alien to us.
Marx identified four main alienations and the first of these is humanity’s alienation from the natural world.
We don’t have to look around much to see that this is accurate, it shows up in the current wholesale destruction of habitats and ecosystems, with the wiping out of forests thousands of years old, the killing of of 75 % of insect biomass, and the thousands of animal species driven to either extinction, or teetering on the brink of it.
The second alienation Marx identified is our separation from other people. Again easily seen in the low levels of intimacy and the lack of authentic and meaningful relationships that many people experience.
As an example, how many of our neighbors do we really know? And how much of the lives, hopes or dreams of the people around us are we truly familiar with?
Marx saw the next, and third, alienation taking place in our working life, where so many of us are just putting in the time to do work that doesn’t reflect who we are, isn’t in alignment with our values, doesn’t support our ongoing development or provide a pathway to express our gifts and creativity.
The fourth, and final, alienation Marx identified was our alienation from ourselves. We are frequently alienated from our intuition and our bodies, both rich sources of information about what is right for us.
This leaves us with difficulty trusting ourselves, or even knowing where to look within for guidance, and instead looking to external sources for answers and direction.
Our Fifth Alienation
There is however another alienation, not identified by Marx, and of an entirely different order of magnitude, and also one that has the most impact as it reaches into every area of life.
This is our belief that we are separate in some way from the divine and mystical source of all life.
It is only because of this sense of fundamental alienation that the ability to treat people as commodities, destroy entire habitats or use animals as un-feeling machines in industrial farming can ever even arise in the first place.
After all these are separate and ’not me’, and therefore what have these got to do with me?
What’s Enlightenment Got To Do With It?
With Spiritual Enlightenment, everything that has always been seen as separate is discovered to be fashioned from the same one transcendent fountain and source of all life, and this direct recognition engenders a seismic reorganization of our interior.
Once it is clearly seen that nothing is, or ever was, separate from us, deep within any sense of alienation gradually begins to naturally dissolve.
Our relationship with the world, ourselves and each other begins to unify as the unbroken unity shines through all things.
Whilst it is really important to make the external changes to address issues like climate change, pollution and worldwide poverty, this in itself will not be sufficient for lasting change.
If we want to see the real transformation that so many of our are sensing is possible, it is essential that we also do the internal journey and finally step beyond our mistaken identity as a separate individual and open into our devine unity.
Then we can truly experience our fullest life and heal ourselves and our beautiful planet for the generations to come.