Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation

Who Really Knows?

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Great Chain of Being

Who Really Knows?
Monday, February 2, 2015

The human species is the first link in the Great Chain of Being that is able to know that it does know, which we might call full consciousness. We can stand back and reflect upon our experiences, which is what we might mean by awareness. We can be choice-fully and intentionally loving, and we can also stand back and see ourselves hate, fear, lie, and hurt others. In that sense, an awful lot of people are rather un-conscious because they do not see such things.

The animals give God glory just through their simple existence. Ducks do the duck thing, squirrels do the squirrel thing without any resistance to themselves or envy of the other. Eckhart Tolle, in his book Guardians of Being, says, “We have forgotten what rocks, plants, and animals still know. We have forgotten how to be—to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: Here and Now. . . . What is it that so many people find enchanting in animals? Their essence—their Being—is not covered up by the mind, as it is in most humans. And whenever you feel that essence in another, you also feel it in yourself.” I think that is very true.

My black Lab, Venus, puts her head on the side of my bed many mornings and looks right at me until I make eye contact with her. She can maintain eye contact much longer than most humans can. I often wonder, “What is she looking at? What is she seeing that she likes so much?” or maybe even “What is she seeing that I cannot see?” I am convinced that many creatures—that we think just live at a rudimentary level of consciousness or mere “instinct”—might be seeing “the one thing necessary”! They don’t get lost in our so called “thinking,” which is largely labeling and judging everything up or down. Animals can seemingly connect out of pure naked being without any filters, except of course fear of rejection or harm. Is this innocence? Whatever it is, it is a gift! And a gift that you and I have to reclaim and relearn with great difficulty.

Gateway to Silence:
Loving God in creation

Adapted from Christ, Cosmology, and Consciousness (MP3 download); and
The Great Chain of Being: Simplifying Our Lives (MP3 download)

Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.