Are you Related to the Scottish Pioneers?

"There is no separate self. You and your son, you and your daughter are just a continuation of many generations of ancestors. You are part of a long stream of life . . . You are wrong to think of your son as not you. Genetically, physiologically, scientifically, your son is your continuation. That is the real truth. Who is your mother? Your mother is you. You are her continuation as a descendant, and she is your ancestor. She links you to all those who came before, and you link her to all the future generations. You belong to the same stream of life.(Hanh, 2001)

The following reflection belongs in all genealogy books. It is obvious when you examine it, but we don't often look backward and reflect. The reason we need to do this exercise is because it shows that we are related; my genealogy is your genealogy. We are cousins many times removed, yet, we are cousins.

You would not be reading this unless you had a father and a mother. I hope there is no argument on this point! It takes two people to make a child (okay, an egg and a sperm).

Your parents also had to have parents. You could not be here now, looking at these words, unless you had four grandparents. March with me quickly back into history: You . . . 2 parents, 4 grandparents . . . 8 great grandparents . . . 16 G.G. grandparents . . . 32 G.G.G. grandparents . . . 64 . . . 128 . . . 256 . . . 512 . . . 1,024 . . . 2,048, etc. This is called “exponential doubling”. In the beginning of the exercise, the numbers are small and they grow slowly. But there comes a time when the numbers get incomprehensibly gigantic.

If you consider a generation to be twenty five years, then this doubling is happening every twenty five years. So, twenty five years ago your parents had you. Twenty five years earlier their parents had them, and so on. For example, I was born in 1945. My dad was born in 1920. His dad was born in 1895. My grandfather’s father was born in 1870 (approximately), and so on.

Harvard Professor of Psychology Steven Pinker, in an article called “The Genealogy Craze in America” says of this exponential doubling:

“If you assume twenty five years per generation, you can calculate that you had around three billion relatives at the time of the signing of the Magna Carta (1215), one hundred billion during the Norman invasion (1066), two quintillion at the fall of the Roman Empire (476), and around 1, 200, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 at the birth of Jesus".

It gets fuzzy (the rate of doubling slows) when cousins marry cousins, when you consider harems (one male, many females), and queen bees (same mother, multiple fathers). Still, it takes two people to make one baby; the numbers do increase dramatically the further back you look. We are all related. Your genealogy is my genealogy.

Regarding cousins, Pinker goes on to say that:

“If you force your daughter to marry her first cousin, then your son-in-law is your nephew, her father-in-law is your brother, your parent’s estate will be worth twice as much per grandchild, and the couple will never have to bicker about which side of the family to visit on holidays. For these reasons, clans and dynasties in many cultures encouraged first or second cousin marriage . . . Not only does cousin marriage amplify the average degree of relatedness among members of the clan, but it enmeshes them in a network of triangular relationships, with kinsmen valuing each other because of their many mutual kin as well as their own relatedness. As a result, the extended family, clan, or tribe can emerge as a powerful cohesive bloc . . .”

Go back to those small villages and local farms in Scotland. What you find is that the same individuals show up in your family tree more than once, sometimes more than twice, or three times, or four times, or five times, or six times! Our ancestors heavily inter-married generation after generation, cousin with cousin. When we look at a small group of Scottish families from a common region of Scotland (Ayrshire and Renfrewshire for our study), we see that they were all related. Therefore, as descendants of these families, we are also related. Our family trees crisscross over and over again.

Since I am a local historian, free from the bonds of academic political correctness (said with a smile), I can explore spiritual concepts without guilt! In all the world's religious teachings, the idea that "we are all one" is a consistent theme. This concept has many layers.

On the surface, we are all one because we are all human beings. We all share the same home, called planet earth. We also all go through the same development sequence- we are born, we age, and then we die (pass over). This developmental sequence also brings a universal, shared, set of sufferings and joys; we are all one because we all must lose love ones to illness and death; we must slowly watch ourselves and those we love age and deteriorate. None of us escape emotional trauma as we move through our lives.

The suffering inherent in the human condition is powerfully balanced by love. Human beings are hardwired for love and companionship. Within our genes are instructions for being members of a community. This drive to cooperate and communicate is vastly more powerful, more spiritual, and more healthy than the materialistic competition-driven culture currently the norm in the United States (as I write this in October, 2012). Our pioneering forefathers needed each other and they worked together to survive. The very fact that there evolved a Scottish Settlement is testament to this inherent need for a community identity (family).

Venturing further out on the limb (smile), "we are all one" because we breathe the same air. Argon is an inert substance that is found in the chemical mix that we call "air". The air we breathe in was also (literally) the air that Jesus breathed in and out, that Buddha breathed in and out, that our ancestors in the Scottish Settlement breathed in and out. The substance that we all need to survive from moment to moment is shared by all.

Our religions were created over the vast time frame of human evolution. Many of the practices and rituals of our religions were designed to address the needs of the population that existed when the practices were created. The Bible, for example, is a rich history book, as well as a spiritual gift (guide). Much of the Bible addresses the needs of very old cultures, instructing them how to behave with love.

The time period we are now in, but rapidly evolving out of (American/Western culture), is materialistic, based on Newtonian physics and Darwinism (although Darwin has been badly misinterpreted- he speaks of love and cooperation a hundred times to every mention of "survival of the fittest"). The dawning of quantum physics has dissolved the foundation of Newtonian perspectives, and has totally upended what we thought was rational and real. For a readable summary of this (a layman's perspective), see the book "The Self-Aware Universe, how consciousness creates the material world," by Amit Goswami, Ph.D. Also, Fred Wolf's "Taking the Quantum Leap," is geared to the lay reader.

Without going into a rehash of the history and findings of quantum physics, I will just summarize the findings that underline the notion of our oneness. Four results of the mathematics and interpretations that came out of the quantum physics revolution stand out:

1. The world does not manifest without an observer. Atoms, quarks, the stuff that exists at the quantum level (extremely small), only exist as potential. It stays potential until a human being (i.e. consciousness) observes.

2. Two quantum entities can be separated- even at opposite ends of the universe-but when a change occurs in one of the entities, the sister component also changes. This occurs with no gap in time, it is instantaneous. This means that something operates beyond (without) time. It also implies a matrix outside the materialist world. Current spiritual teachers assume this matrix to be a cosmic consciousness.

3. Everything is energy. The solid forms we perceive with our senses are illusions. We see at one scale of reality. Below and beyond our perceptions is an infinite world of potential energy. Nothing stays still. Everything is a process.

4. We cannot know an object's position and its velocity at the same time. We can either measure one or the other. Reality is simultaneously a wave of energy, and a packet of energy. There is a duality to essence.

Thank you for hanging in there so I could get to this place: Evidently, based on research in quantum physics, consciousness preceded the material. "We are all one" because we live in a connected net of consciousness. Our consciousness is part of the universal consciousness (call it God, if you want). Our minds extend beyond our brains- we have a quantum link to the universal.

There is also a paradox that I don't yet understand, but will put here as food for thought. Perhaps someone has the answer and can move my knowledge forward. Exponential doubling, that leads to our being related to ever more humans and proto-human creatures, comes up against the reality that the population of the earth gets smaller as we move back into history. In March, 2012, the population of the earth reached 7 billion people. In 1999, there were six billion people. In 1987 there were five billion people on earth. In 1804 the population reached one billion for the first time.

At the time of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, when you theoretically had 3 billion relatives, the population of the earth was about 340 million! This certainly is not marching back to Adam and Eve, although scientists speak of a Mytochrondial Eve (the first genetically identifiable human female). I leave that to the Biblical scholars to debate.

It was estimated that the total number of people to ever live on the earth is about 106 billion. By the time of the birth of Jesus, exponential doubling says we have many more relatives than the number of people to ever exist (this reminds me of a commercial that stated "if the number of people using the internet continues to rise at the current rate, there will soon be more people on the internet than there are people").

What is obvious is that the odds of our all being related are statistically about 100 percent. So, yeah, you are related to the Scottish Settlement pioneers! You might have to venture back near the time of the Magna Carta- pretty much when William Wallace was fighting for Scotland's independence in the 1200s, but you WILL find the connection!

I really hope (smile) that you have not written me off as a total nut case, and can relate on a human (brotherly) level to my good intentions- as I took this line of thinking about as far as it could go!

Our ancestors still exist. Our relationships extend backward into history and forward into the future.

For me, there is a very real sense that my focus (and yours) on these Scottish relatives, reconnects us to them. They are assisting in the effort to re-create their time in history.