Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mushroom Experience

[Jesus said] For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. ... Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
–Matthew 25:35-40

Do you know what the largest living thing on the planet is? It’s not a whale. It’s not a giant redwood tree. It’s a mushroom!

I know, I was surprised, too. No, more than surprised. Amazed! And I was even more than amazed to find out that this humongous mushroom grows in the United States, in Oregon, the state I call home.

When I heard this incredible information, I started scanning the horizon, wondering if I could see in the distance something like a nuclear mushroom cloud that was in fact a mushroom, the mushroom that ate Oregon. But no, you can’t see it. The mushroom fungus grows underground, spreading out along a network of filaments. What we enjoy in our omelets and spaghetti sauce, what we think of as a mushroom, is actually the fruit of the mushroom fungus.

This particular gargantuan fungus covers over 2,200 acres (about 9 square kilometers) in eastern Oregon. I could pick a tiny mushroom in the forest and someone could pick a tiny mushroom 3.5 miles away, and both could be part of the same organism.

The more I’ve learned about this mushroom fungus, the more I’ve thought about people. Perhaps we are like that fungus, appearing to be separate, but all connected below our visual or perceptual range. We talk about oneness at a deep spiritual level. Perhaps we are a single spiritual organism, nestled safely in the dark, fertile soil of the divine, popping up here and there as individual fruits.

Perhaps when Jesus said that our actions to the “least of these” were actions “to him,” he meant exactly what he said. He didn’t say it was “like” or “as if” we were doing things to him. He said that what we do to others we do to him. Perhaps what we do to another we do to all, including ourselves, because we are all one after all.

You might have heard the expression that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Perhaps we are a fungus having a mushroom experience.

Related posts: That Man Might Be Jesus; It’s Oneness, Beloved


  1. Hi Galen,

    I am not sure what to make about your comparison of people being like fungus. :P

    But what you are trying to say reminds me of Hexagram 48 "The Well" from the Yijing. Here is the particular passage that comes to mind:

    Water over wood: the image of THE WELL.
    Thus the superior man encourages the people at their work,
    And exhorts them to help one another.

    "Just as wood as an organism imitates the action of the well, which benefits all parts of the plant, the superior man organizes human society, so that, as in a plant organism, its parts co-operate for the benefit of the whole."

    But I understand and agree with what you are trying to say. The words of Jesus describe a profound truth. We are indeed a single spiritual organism. If we all stop to look at the big picture, what we do to each other affects the world in the long run. There will always be a consequence for every action. Pursuing our own interests at all costs will only lead to unfavourable results in the longer run, if not in our generation, then the next. Unless we see the whole world as a unity, we are unlikely to co-operate for the benefit of the whole.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  2. This really made me smile, Galen! How amazing that mushrooms is. And what an interesting example of interconnectedness or interbeing.

  3. The other interpretation is like the mushroom, the most important parts of us are buried beneath the surface. Our soul, our essence, what makes us who we are is deep within us. Judging someone by what we see or presume can be a serious mistake.

  4. I loved this one. The information on the Mushroom was enlightening. We just had some mushrooms last night for dinnner. I may not look at eating them now that you have defined them as fungus. However, I know that I like eating them a lot.
    I believe we are all children of our Heavenly Father and we lived with him as spirit children in a pre-existence before we come to this earth. We are all spirit brothers and sisters.
    I like that thought.
    Blessings to you for an interesting post.

  5. Galen,

    I love the way you allow me to think my friend -I had no clue about this mushroom grandeous experience.....I love the way you use analogies!

    I ponder on this statement and it makes me want to be a better person: when Jesus said that our actions to the “least of these” were actions “to him,”

    Yes we are all ONE and all experiencing the mushroom experience....

    One love,

  6. I love the metaphor - and I love the concept.

    "We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  7. Irving--Thank you for sharing that passage from the Yijing. I love the way that many sources of wisdom complement each other, looking at the same concepts from different angles, using different language and different metaphors. Thanks for your comment.

    Sandra--Yes, that is an amzaing organism. There is another very large one, about 1500 acres, in Washington state. Unfortunately, the way they find them is by looking at areas where the trees are dying. Hopefully, the human/fungus metaphor doesn't go that far. Thanks for commenting.

    Bob--Excellent additional point about the analogy. So true that we don't know the deep below the surface parts of another person's life. Thanks for your comment.

    LeAnn--I know, I like to eat mushrooms, too, and now I know I am eating the fruit of a larger organism! I love your description of our spirit lives. Thanks for commenting.

    Nancy--Yes, those are sobering words. They make the concept of oneness very concrete. Thanks for your comment.

    Kara--"perfect in every hour" That is a beautiful phrase. Thank you so much for sharing this quote. I'm going to keep it in my file. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Oh this made me smile and my children used to say in an affected voice "There is a fungus amoungus!"

    I was at a meeting on Wednesday where a minister shared that 3 of the churches in our district were closing down because so many of their members left when the National church body said they might consider ordaining Gay folks....what kind of oneness is this? and that represents about 8,000 people in are area fleeing from another group of people and their new possibility.

    I am getting very intolerant of intolerance...

    is this not another way of self hatred expressing itself out-loudly?

  9. Hi Galen

    I love your post today ,thanks for sharing
    Kind Regards

  10. Patricia--Glad the post made you smile in balance to your sad church commentary. I appreciate your comment.

    Mel--You're welcome. Thanks for commenting.

  11. "Perhaps we are a single spiritual organism..." Indeed, we are!

  12. Galen, I loved this post! I believe you're on to something. I do believe we are one. I also believe what you do to yourself you do to another, and what you do to another you do to you. If we are angry - anger rises to the surface in others. When we are loving - the love within others is what rises to the surface. I love the mushroom metaphor. It's a great way to illustrate what is happening at a vibrational level that our physical eyes cannot detect. Awesome!

  13. Your post always makes me think - that's what I like about it.

  14. Hi Galen

    This was such a fresh concept and very enjoyable to read and ponder on! I guess it doesn't hurt that I LOVE the Fungi kingdom, the mushrooms and all in it :)

    The take away message is that definitely, yes, we are all interconnected and in so many more ways than we often realize.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  15. Galen, I can't believe you have made a fungus help me think in such a way about human life! But you have. I think we are truly connected, not separate as we think. xx

  16. JJ--Yep, all of us are fruits(!) of the same fungus! Thanks for commenting.

    Angela--I love your description of our connectedness. I have heard that sharing of emotions described as emotional contagion. Thanks for your comment.

    Inspiring--Thanks! I'm so glad you like to think! Me, too!

    Evita--The Fungi kingdom! That takes the metaphor even further! Thanks for your comment.

    Gems--Like I always say, you never know where you are going to find truth! Thanks for commenting.

  17. Very nice comparison. I always thought we are all linked, connected to one another. This mushroom story confirms it. It's so nice how we can understand life lessons through nature and its different species.
    Thank you for sharing.

  18. Marie--Yes, nature has a lot to teach us! Thanks for your comment.

  19. I do believe we are all interconnected, but I have never thought of us as " we are a fungus having a mushroom experience" - it made me laugh. :) So many places we can find new insights in life. - and too think, I thought I didn't like mushrooms.

    Ever learning new things and new perspectives :)

  20. Aileen--See? You never know! Maybe you don't like mushroom because it seems a bit cannibalistic?! Ha! Thanks for your comment.


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