Learning from Mushrooms
We grow out of this world like mushrooms grow out of a mycelium. In case you haven’t heard that word: there is little known about mushrooms – it might surprise you that biologists categorize them in between plants and animals. Even though we believe mushrooms only “appear” during rainy seasons and then die, the underlying root-network called “mycelium” that brings them forth spreads for ten thousands of miles unseen below the earths’ surface and is thousands, possibly millions of years old. The mycelium possibly contains one of the oldest, assembled pools of this earth’s information, knowledge and wisdom - long before and after the death of the individual mushroom.
Mushrooms (really all kinds of fungi) have been misunderstood for many millennia as nuisance, corrupting stored foods, clothing and housing. Only recently, humans have attempted to understand their function in nature and discovered that these highly adaptable creatures are vital to this earth’s “immune system”. Fungi cultures are the most successful “transformers” reintegrating all kinds of materials into fertile, organic base matters (“earth”). Today, they are used not only in producing Antibiotics and other lifesaving medicines but are also used to clean up oil-spills. Confronted with various toxins, they find ways to naturalize destructive chemicals and clean up otherwise disastrous pollution within weeks.
What fascinates me about fungi is their worldwide network that cannot be destroyed by killing a few individual mushrooms. They have developed a superior information sharing strategy that humans would also benefit from: once a fungi anywhere in the world has learned how to neutralize an unknown toxin, the fungal worldwide network shares this new information. (Just think of the “Borg” in Star Trek, haha). This strategy created a highly adaptable intelligence inhabiting our planet that we have been mostly unaware of.
Various indigenous cultures and traditions have used fungi and their inherent hallucinogenics in order to tune into the intelligence of this world, which is a form of consciousness in its own right. Shamanic traditions worldwide have used mushrooms to convene with this intelligence in times of crisis to receive guidance. Shaman of various traditions believe that by accessing the network of the fungi by allowing it to become part of their body (eating or smoking it) they share all information accumulated by the worldwide mycelium and thereby access the “will of the world”.
Learning from mushrooms, we could realize that the individual does not exist independent of the underlying network that connects us all. While mushrooms have a worldwide connected root-system (mycelium), we humans could be seen as having a “wireless sub-consciousness” connecting us worldwide. The more we learn to tune into this amazing source of information, the less we need to rely on the tiny bits of knowledge we manage to acquire in each individual lifetime. Unfortunately, our current educational system seems oblivious to the fact of our “wireless uplink” to universal intelligence that is far superior to the old “analog” ways of passing on knowledge through mere “hard drive-storage” in the frontal lobes of the brain. Tuning into deeper levels of knowledge we might become aware that mushrooms are the true stewards of this world, not us humans.