Who are you? When we are asked that question, we usually start off answering with our name.
‘Yeah, but who are you?’ With a sigh we might begin to describe our parents, where we come from, our family or location.
‘Yeah, yeah, but who ARE you?’ Feeling a bit frustrated we begin to describe our cells and our bodies. It’s fair to say that very few of us will begin enthusiastically describing the bacteria, fungi and viruses that exist within us – and which outnumber our human cells by at least a factor of 3-1! If we were to be rational, we would describe ourselves as a diverse collection of microbes and then as an afterthought, add in that we have a few cells that make up our bones and skin.
We play host to a huge array of micro-organisms of which bacteria are the biggest collection. Collectively, our microbiome plays a large part in the health of our immune system, digestion and fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses. Recent research suggests that when we are in the womb, we are pretty much in a sterile state – with no gut bacteria or otherwise. Birthing through the vagina, we seem to pick up a ‘starter culture’ which is then enhanced via breast milk. Everything seems to operate independently by the time we are three years old.
Given then that we are a walking, talking, breathing collection of microbiomes, how then do we reconcile that with our conscious self? It’s not like we wake up in the morning and command our gut bacteria to get to work. It’s not like they receive or obey instructions from our central nervous system. They seem to operate on a completely different level, living their own life within our bodies – some of them could escape from us and continue living. And yet the links between the health of our gut bacteria and our brain (or emotions) seems to be critical to our sense of wellbeing.
It’s almost like we have a mutually beneficial relationship with our gut bacteria. They need us – sorta – and we definitely need them. We kill off millions of them as fast as they can reproduce. We throw all kinds of harmful and toxic substances their way and they process most of it, keeping us healthy and clog-free in the process. Throw into the mix that we all have a different combination of bacteria and there may be an explanation as to why one person is susceptible to a dis-ease and another is not or why one drug works on one person yet does nothing for someone else. It is the combination of bacteria we host that seems to suggest whether one thing will work for us or not.
The very latest medicine research is looking at biotics as a means of treating depression or mental disorders – ‘psychobiotic’. If we look at ancient thinking, there is a very common theme that links the base of our structure to our spirit – the old adage ‘as above, so below’ springs to mind. In ayurvedic theory, without our base chakra being healthy, it is hard for the kundalini to rise up to our crown chakra. This is the gut bacteria/base chakra affecting our spirit/crown chakra.
Related: Drugs found to harm our gut health
So if we are mostly a collection of bacteria all operating on their own independent level, then what then is the ‘us’, that piece that we refer to as the ‘I’? It cannot be our microbiome given that they exist and operate independently of us. It cannot be our cells given that they are constantly dying and being replaced by new cells. If ‘I’ was either of these two things, I would die a million deaths each day. Instead, our consciousness exists beyond the physicality of our cells and independently of our microbiome. We may be linked to both in this life but are dependent on neither in our true form – a form of energy that is able to transcend the physical and operates as a coherent and lucid being. Even more intriguing is pondering that if this being, or the ‘I Am’ is able to continue in spite of the death of billions of cells and bacteria each day, then why would it not also continue after the death of they physical body?
Images from Pixabay.com