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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

Many Yet One

Do you know what’s the largest single living organism on earth? It’s not a whale. It’s not an elephant. It’s a massive collection of Quaking Aspen trees living in a forest in Utah.

These Aspens are growing in a grove called Pando, which is Latin for “I spread.” While Pando is comprised of 47,000 individual tree trunks, it’s considered a single life form because every stem shares one huge collective root system. With a combined weight of 13 million pounds, these trees represent the world’s largest single living organism in terms of mass.

47,000 trees … one shared life. Think about that. Might the same be said for us?

We like to think of ourselves as individual, separate beings, isolated by our skins from everything else around us. But the truth is, we share connections to every living thing, as described so beautifully by Thich Nhat Hanh when he coined the term Interbeing.

Like the trees in Pando grove, what affects one ultimately affects us all.

(Photographer’s Footnote: the trees you see here are not Quaking Aspens. These are redwoods I photographed in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in California.)

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