Ubuntu, Killer Bees, and What Underlies Our Pain
Many years ago I was lucky enough to go on safari in South Africa. The experience was beyond my wildest expectations. The landscape, the wildlife, the Africans themselves make up such a different, and beautiful world. There was a very different energy there, and the connection to nature was on a scale I had never experienced. The sounds vibrated through me, the scents seemed alive, the sight of the wild animals filled me with awe.
It was there that I came across the concept of Ubuntu. Ubuntu translates roughly into ‘I am because of you’, or ‘I am because we are’. It is a philosophy that underlies a relational way of life. People are not people without other people. Life is a collective, connected experience shared by all sentient life. When something happens to one person, it affects us all. People experience each other in a relational way, not as individual to individual.
What underlies so much of our pain
In contrast, in Western societies the individual self is disconnected. The search for meaning and identity is reduced to a constant state of comparison. We don’t even know how much that affects us. But when you think about it, doesn’t it make sense? So much of our pain is because we feel we haven’t achieved as much as others. We don’t have the ‘ideal’ relationship, the success, the house, the body, the vacation, the sexy boots, the talent, the quick-witted intelligence, the charm, the drive. you name it, we feel ‘lacking’ in comparison. And that causes anything from a mild sense of unease, jealousy, feelings of not being enough, to being a failure, depression and shame.
Boyd Varty was a recent guest on the Tim Ferris podcast. He is a fantastic story teller, and you’ll find the episode highly entertaining, and deeply insightful. (You can find the link below.) He has lead an extraordinary in his native South Africa. He grew up in a wildlife reserve, learning the ways of a tracker from an early age, and because of his varied experiences, and deep connection with nature conducts his life with an Ubuntu mindset.
Boyd has many stories of nearly losing his life. This one features a swarm of African killer bees. Forever curious, he was learning about the bees from a tracker when they disturbed the hive. Once a single bee stung him it communicated with the swarm through pheromones. What happened next was thousands of bees descending as one on his unprotected ankles. Later he reflected how if we could all communicate collectively in the same way but for peace, or for healing the planet how powerful that would be. As Dr. Martha Beck said
“I believe the restoration of the land will come out of a transformation in human consciousness.”
One last thought
The thought I would like to leave you with is this. In the times that you find yourself feeling sad, a bit down, looking wistfully at some instagram feed and wishing you too were on that beach, knocking yourself for not being as successful as someone you know, or whatever negative soundtrack is playing in your head and heart, shift from that lens of the individual to that of connection and being part of a whole.
When we see life through the lens of constant comparison we will always find reasons to be less happy. When we seek to connect to the greater whole our reality shifts away from the material, the ego, the limited self to something transcendent.
If any of this speaks to you, and you would like a quick chat with me personally you can book a time using this link . Or simply contact me and suggest a time that suits you.
Here is the link to the Tim Ferris podcast featuring Boyd Varty