Cooperation is an aspect of individual actualization that aligns closely with the single truth and our understanding of the relational universe. When we approach life through the lens of extreme cooperation, we diminish resistance from the world around us. To speak of deep cooperation is fairly easy, but to embody it as sacred to our experience is entirely different. Cooperation is a skill learned over a lifetime, one rooted in trust in ourselves and others. It is both an attitude and a form of communication, a prioritization of what is and is not relevant in relation to the objectives at hand. To embrace cooperative individuality is to open ourselves up to our oneness with all surrounding us, to realize that in any moment, everything is an extension of us.
Cooperation requires connection with others. Connecting with others can take many forms. Connections can be joyful and loving, but they can also be frightening and frustrating. Each relationship is unique and always in context with our circumstances, leaving a wide variety of possible outcomes. All connections are risky, but we have no choice. Connection is what makes life worth living, the foundation upon which we transform imagination into creation. That is who we are as a byproduct of our ape lineage. We are a collective consciousness hurtling through a vast cosmos of information we’re yearning to know. Still, so much of it remains out of our control. Every connection to another brings with it the risk of being taken advantage of.
Consider the time experience of the child in present-day societies around the world. Birth lottery determines what type of cooperative foundation they will inherit and lays the foundation for understanding others. Cooperation is an ethos rooted in love and trust. The circumstances of our parents’ time experience at the moment of our birth play a significant role in our early understandings of the universe. Even the best-case scenarios, where a child is loved deeply and is highly secure, are not enough to insulate them from the influence of the systems that surround them. We teach them to avoid strangers for their safety but fail to adequately reinforce that the world is full of good people.
Our education is competitive. We judge our youth in comparison to others and use rankings to determine access to resources and opportunities. Recording and evaluating progress is not inherently wrong, but forcing all children to learn competitively is a harmful approach to education that ignores the fact that genius takes many forms. We infuse our children with the belief that their success is and will always be in relation to others, diminishing the creative prophecy lying dormant within them. Within our learning environments, cooperation is labeled cheating, ignoring that our ability to memorize holds little value in a universe of instantly accessible information. Our systems reinforce competitive methods of learning, interacting, and being from adolescence far into adulthood. We teach children that cooperation is secondary to competition, reinforcing ideas and beliefs about the world that prioritize individual separation from the collective experience.
Deep cooperation is challenging because it relies on interactions with others who must also be willing to cooperate. In a world of information inputs fetishizing individual merit, cooperation begins to look like weakness. With competition and comparison so deeply rooted in the social, educational, and economic systems surrounding us from birth to death, it may seem like an insurmountable obstacle to overcome. It is not. Reimagining cooperative individuality is an act of creation. The age of crisis offers us no time to spare, but if we begin now, a near-total transformation is possible within a generation.
Practicing cooperative individuality begins with embracing our individual and collective oneness with the relational universe. Everyone exists as an individual part of the greater time experience of the moment. Each occupies a unique journey, but all are bound to the single truth—we can only ever be here now. Our living expression of time within the universe ensures that those who occupy conscious coordinates within our moments are not separate from us; they are us. An ideal foundation for cooperative individuality recognizes how similar we are. We share a commonality in our myriad insecurities, fears, hopes, and desires. Our wants are universal: to love and be loved. We want to know peace and goodness in our efforts and connections. We’re all trying to navigate infinite unknowns. There is variance between us, as there is in all things, different degrees and directions of the same humanity. It’s a unity the individual is often ignorant of or ignores but is nonetheless real and inherent to our experience. Our awareness of our ability to influence the flow of the universe through the direction of our focus and energy within the moment is a shared human divinity, something to be cherished and valued. We are the gods creating ourselves and our universe in our own image. Our oneness with the relational universe is not a new idea, but we are just now scratching the surface of our control over it. Self-actualization in the age of crisis is rooted in our ability to accept others as one. Not as separate, but as whole. Because at its core, cooperation is based on trust. We must be able to trust others as we trust ourselves.
Trust is not easy, given our birth into and lifetime within systems prioritizing different values and behaviors, but once again we begin from the end. Individual actualization is a journey of developing ourselves to approach the world with deep empathy. Any individual who chooses to embark on the path infuses cooperative individuality into society by becoming it. As we scale the number of individuals who put this belief into practice, our collaborative capacity expands exponentially in all directions. It will require systems, but before any of that can happen, the individual must choose to trust deeply and proactively.
We must embrace the best in others to bring out the best in ourselves. If I am not willing to believe that all individuals hold radical potential within them, then I have no hope of developing my own powers. Our descent into the age of crisis draws heavily from our mistrust of others, those benefiting from the present arrangements use to distract and derange our focus and energy away from the severity of the moment. We must choose to overcome this as individuals before we can transcend it as a collective. This isn’t a call to ignorance or naivety; we remain aware of our surroundings and circumstances to avoid abuse. The difference is that we reject suspicion and fear as a default way of conceptualizing the other in favor of a deeper embrace. When we observe another whose circumstances within the immediate present conflict with our personal perspectives, it’s best to take a breath and consider the single truth. There is no alternative place and space that that individual could possibly occupy within the moment. We are only ever observing a fraction of the totality shaping the other. If our journeys were identical to those we look down upon, we’d likely be the ones looking up. Our choice to embody cooperation within ourselves is the catalyst that begins our expansion. Redefining meaning and experience starts with loving and trusting others.
For some, this task will be easier than for others. Unfortunately, nothing about overcoming the crisis is easy. Trauma impacts our ability to trust. Our relationships with others have been governed through systems furthering otherness. It’s not as simple as snapping our fingers and being different. In these times, we recall the single truth: change. Nothing within our universe is beyond it, which influences how we frame our beliefs and approach.
It is common to believe that the past influences the present, but it is not true. History is created in the present. The past is not an accurate predictor of the moment and is especially poor at predicting our future. Do not let the haunts of past moments dwell within your immediate present. Instead, seek to awaken to the totality of the moment, all that stretches out from our consciousness coordinates. Know that you are capable of thinking and acting beyond the past. As you must love and trust others, you must love and trust yourself. To reframe our relationship with time is to reframe our relationship with being. Over time, your pursuit of individual actualization will make it increasingly easier to leave the burdens of the past behind what is. This is the state of nature as we understand it today, ever-changing now. Cooperative individuality is an act given life through choice. It is a decision to align ourselves with the single truth and the relational universe as we reimagine our humanity in the face of the crisis.