This is NOT a religious post.

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It’s durian season in Thailand. Last Sunday, at church, my priest said something about us being branches that are attached to a big tree. The branches bear fruits, and the fruits from each tree are different, depending on where the tree is planted. The priest, a Thai, told us that the best durian trees are to be found in Rayong, where some rich people would put a THB50,000 bounty price per season on a tree with good fruits.

I reflected on his words.  We are branches, and the trees that we are attached to are  our loved ones, family, friends and community. We need them to grow, and to bear fruits. And in turn, the tree has to be connected to the Source (whatever the Source may be).

My daughter recently experimented with hydroponics. She acquired some hydroponics medium and started planting with gusto.  All was well, until she lost interest.  This is one of her sad onions.  It did well initially, but when deprived of artificial feeding, it wilted and died after the new plant had consumed up all the nutrients in the onion, because it was not connected to the Source.

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In life, I have seen people wither because they do not have the deep connections to sustain them. No man, woman or child is an island; self-sufficiency is a fallacy. We need the warmth, support and presence that unconditional love brings. Someone I knew was like an etiolated sap because he only had two or three true friends to nurture him in a sea of false acquaintances, temporary lovers and fractured familial relationships. But to find connection, we must be able to give ourselves, and to truly care for another being ….. and thus, we attract people with the same agenda. Love others as you wish to be loved yourself. Conversely, if we use people, we attract users to us, because as the wise old saying goes, birds of a feather flock together.

I am a believer that human beings need to be connected to others. In Sanskrit, this group of connected individuals are called a sangha, namely a collection of people who group together to support each other’s growth. This was echoed in the lovely philosophy of soul groups, which my aunt Joanna’s daughter Carlie told me three years ago when I was sick and hiding out in her mother’s flat in Battersea. She and I aren’t connected by blood, but we are of the same soul group: over the years, she would appear like an apparition (middle of the night, from Yorkshire) whenever I needed help to guide me out of the darkness with her words of wisdom. If you belong to the right soul group, it is the most beautiful thing ever as you move together towards a beautiful place.

This photograph (from Wikipedia) shows a murmuration of starlings, where thousands of those tiny birds flock together to create one large, moving form.  Two summers ago, I saw one for the very first time over the skies of Portchester Castle in Hampshire and brought to life what Carlie had been telling me about soul groups.